In 1973, my mother gave me a Canon FTb 35mm camera. It was my introduction to seeing things differently. I had little idea of what I was doing, but learned enough from trial and error (and chats with other photographers) to eventually get fairly good at taking candid shots at family gatherings, pictures of local buildings, landscapes and such. I didn’t have a flash, so I learned to use available light, and was drawn toward films that could be “pushed” (Kodak Tri-X for black and white prints and Ektachrome slide film for color). To this day even with a digital point and shoot camera I nearly always turn the flash off and shoot with the light that’s there.
Eventually the old FTb sat collecting dust, having been abandoned in favor of cheap film cameras that were easier to carry, and then digital cameras as that technology arrived. A few years ago I sent it in for cleaning and light meter repair, but even after that, it sat in the attic or on a closet shelf, patiently awaiting the day when someone would again be delighted with what it can do.
I’m a smarter photographer now, meaning that I understand a lot more about composition, light, lens, film and exposure. I believe that I’m finally able to begin exploring with my old FTb in a manner that befits its capabilities. I’m also ready to grow with it beyond the single 50MM lens and available light.
I’ll be posting some scans here from time to time. The first roll of 24 (Kodak BW400CN) turned out alright, with about a third of the shots being decent enough to share. You can find them (along with any future black and white scans) on this Flickr set. Please be kind in your criticism, as I’m still learning. Also, yes – I am aware that my scanner platen needs to be cleaned. :)
The photo above is one of a series I took last evening of raindrops on various windows in our house. I’m fairly pleased with three of them, which might eventually become a triptych of some sort.
I would be interested in feedback, particularly from other film photographers. Pointers to interesting images and websites would also be welcome.
The great depression-era photojournalist Dorothea Lange once said “The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” I hope to learn a great bit more about how to see during the last decades of my life.