Retro photography – just do it

Almost a year ago I blogged about how I was going to go play with my old film cameras.

Well, like the grand old duke of York, I marched them up to the top of the hill, then marched them down again. I bought some fresh film, even bought an extra camera through ebay (a totally mechanical Balda Baldessa from the 1950’s), and then did nothing.

Not quite true. I put some film in my old Olympus Trip and may old Vivitar SLR, but I didn’t, like, actually do anything as radical as take a picture.

Well there was an article on the ABC at the weekend (another one) on how film was making a comeback. Incidentally, this isn’t just hype, the price of working retro cameras on ebay has been steadily climbing, and the last time I was in the big Camera Warehouse in Albury they were stocking film and advertising they could process it for you.

So, yesterday, I took my old Olympus Trip down to Chiltern with me, and after my day’s documentation I stopped off at the railway station.

Chiltern railway station is unmanned these days and fairly quiet allowing me to geek about. I’d timed my visit to coincide with the arrival of a train, but the train was late, meaning I had the station more or less to myself.

I realised that I’d forgotten to set the film speed, and I couldn’t remember what film I’d loaded, so I took a guess at 100ASA and set the camera to that.

I took some fairly crappy shots of the old station building – probably badly composed and amateurish, but actually I found the experience useful to bring back old skills – like you do need to use the viewfinder, you do need to line up and compose your shot, and the time to wind on set up the next shot is more, much more, than with digital.

All in all, I’ve probably taken around ten fairly poor shots, but I’ll go back in a few days, and try and do it in a more composed manner.

I’m not going to try my own processing and scanning this early in the exercise, I’ll let the photo lab process and scan the negatives for me. I’ve already played with Gimp enough to work out how to both convert a negative image to positive and play with light and contrast, so we might be in with a chance, plus I might learn something …


About dgm

Former IT professional, previously a digital archiving and repository person, ex research psychologist, blogger, twitterer, and amateur classical medieval and nineteenth century historian ...
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