Going back to shooting with film - Part 1 / by Karthik Rajagopal

I was about 11 years old when I used a camera for the first time. And that was in 1990's when film and transparencies were the only media to shoot images and digital photography was not in vogue. Later once I finished my Engineering and moved to Chennai, I bought Nikon FM10 which was my first professional SLR, followed by Canon EOS 5 , Electro 35 & Nikon FE2. While I sold all gears I used during film days, I kept Nikon FE2 that I bought from Sekar anna as a matter of beautiful memories associated with learning photography in film.

 Madras War Cemetry shot with Nikon FM10 and Novapan film. Printed with an enlarger and then scanned. 

Madras War Cemetry shot with Nikon FM10 and Novapan film. Printed with an enlarger and then scanned. 

I was lucky enough to learn film developing and printing from my first photography teacher K.L. Raja Ponsing at Ambitions4 Academy in 2005. May be, I am one of the last from my generation to have learnt photography using film and working in a darkroom. 

Honestly, for a good photographer this film/ digital choice is not something I want to get into. But, there is something in it which makes me crazy and run behind film. Its two reasons:

  1. The whole process with a suspense and surprise. If you do not understand... Its like magic... An image slowly appears on white paper when dipped in a magic chemical called the developer. And you get to expose twice ;)
  2. That arty filmy look you get when manually printed. 

With this in mind, I decided to clean and put my FE2 back to life. Thanks to Khaleel Bhai who did a through work on cleaning my lovely camera.  

  My Nikon FE2 cleaned 2 weeks ago

 My Nikon FE2 cleaned 2 weeks ago

So, why not shoot wedding photographs in analog and also print it manually. Atleast to mee silver hallide prints are more arty as compared to dye based prints. On one side it satisfies my fancy craving and on other side I thought I could delight my clients with a fancy offering which they may not otherwise get from a commercial photographer. I shared this thought with a few friends and I was humbled by the amount of support i got from them and through social media. 

 Film Rolls from Makka's refrigerator

Film Rolls from Makka's refrigerator

First of the help came from my friend Bhagath Makka who happily gave his treasured expired rolls that wer stored in his freezer. While I wanted to B&W, he showed me the creative variations and tones possible with colour film. I wish, they were all available and affordable in Chennai.

  Can you see those two Zeiss Milvus lenses?

 Can you see those two Zeiss Milvus lenses?

Carl Zeiss always had supported me. Be it workshops or anything I wanted to experiment. I would say its a luxury to have Milvus lenses for a test shoot. Thanks to Vivek Infocom and Sachin.

 FE2 with Zeiss Milvus 85 mm f/1.4 and Fomapan ISO 400 film

FE2 with Zeiss Milvus 85 mm f/1.4 and Fomapan ISO 400 film

My friend Thaseen Jeelani has been helping me with film stock. He arranged couple of fresh rolls of Fomapan in 1 days notice. 

 Complete set along with Sony A7R ii

Complete set along with Sony A7R ii

Digital media is now indespensable to give a commercial delivery. So, I packed my Sony A7R II kit with Godox flash, accessories a nd other lenses. I should thank Vinoth Vincent (Chennai Cameras) for offering me a Vivitar flash at the time of need. Madhavan Sir also offered to help me with flash. I should say I felt lucky to have help from the photographers community on my experiment to shoot wedding with film.

 Zeiss Milvus 85 mm f/1.4 on Nikon FE2

Zeiss Milvus 85 mm f/1.4 on Nikon FE2

As the Milvus lenses were F mount, i will not be able to use on my Sony. And I always make sure my kit is as small as possible. That makes me mobile and checked concentrate on the picture. But, its almost impossible to find a Nikon to Sony adaptor for rent. Buying it would set me down by atleast Rs 5000. I just posted the requirement on FB, and KitKarma was ready with the solution within minutes.

 fotodiox F mount to EF adaptor

fotodiox F mount to EF adaptor

Its a true case where #kitkarma a peer to peer equipment sharing platform has helped me get an adaptor for rent. And for a reasonable Rs 50 per day. Peer to peer sharing helps professions when they come across a situation where you require something you never use for a brief period of time. Hope I can soon find Leica M6 on #KitKarma.

 Beauty it is...

Beauty it is...

I am indebted to the community of photographers for supporting me. This is my first shoot with film after 10 years of break. My idea is to just establish the workflow so that I can do it in a seamless way next time. I will write another blog to share my shooting and developing experince soon...