Thursday, February 27, 2014

Spotlight: Nikon F

Nikon F with 50mm 1:2 Lens, Non-metered finder, metal hood, and cat

The Nikon F is a 35mm SLR made by Nikon in 1959 (It's actually the first SLR Nikon ever produced). It's a full system camera, featuring a multitude of interchangeable lenses, finders, focusing screens, and backs. Along with being a fantastic camera, the "F" has an important history.

Up until the "F" came out, professional news photographers pretty much only used German rangefinders, such as the Leica M3 and Contax IIa. This all changed when the Nikon F was released. The "F" system allowed for the use of many different types of lenses, from ultra-wide angle to extreme telephoto. The system also incorporated many different focusing screens and finders, allowing the photographer to adapt to any shooting situation. Rangefinders did not have this kind of flexibility, as a rangefinder can only accurately use lenses that the camera body has frame-lines for (unless you use a cumbersome accessory finder). Interchangeable finders were also out of the question for rangefinders. So, basically, the Nikon F was way more versatile than any Leica or Contax camera, which led to its popularity and ultimate commercial success. Nikon's success with the "F" system paved the way for other Japanese camera manufacturers such as Pentax, Olympus, Minolta, and Canon, which would all eventually take the world by storm with their various SLR systems.

Nikon F with prism viewfinder removed

My shooting experience with the Nikon F was a positive one. Being a fully manual 35mm camera, the focusing screen and viewfinder are free from any match needles, numbers, or blinking lights that are present in more recent SLR cameras. Some people may miss seeing aperture, shutter-speed, and other information in the viewfinder, but I found it refreshing. There's nothing distracting you from the beautiful bright image on the focusing screen. I was surprised by how bright and contrasty the image is in the viewfinder. While the image is not quite as nice as on my Pentax LX or Olympus OM-2n (much newer cameras), it beats out other cameras of its age such as the Exakta VX and Pentax Spotmatic by a long-shot.

I was also pleasantly surprised by how quiet the shutter is. Many SLR cameras from the late 50's/early 60's make a deafening "CA-CLACK!" when the shutter is fired, but the Nikon F only makes a soft (yet satisfying) "ch-chunk." I took a few pictures of random people in a mall while testing out the camera, and no one seemed to be bothered.

Here are some photos that I took while testing out my Nikon F...

Friday, February 21, 2014

Print: Chairs in Suspense

I found this bizarre wall of chairs inside a shop in the French Quarter of New Orleans. The light was very poor; I had to shoot wide open at f1.8 in order to get an acceptable hand-holdable shutter-speed of 1/60th. So... while it's not the sharpest photo I've ever taken, I'm proud of how it came out given the conditions. I tilted the composition a little bit for the final print to give the chair more of a floating look. I used my Olympus Pen FT with a 38mm lens on Kodak Tri-X 400 film. The physical print is 5x7 inches.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Print: Faceless Gaze

While I was stuck at Woodfield Mall a few weeks ago while my fiance, Katie, and her mom shopped, I made a photo of this particularly eery mannequin. He/She may not have a face, but I can feel it staring. I used my Olympus Pen FT with a 38mm Lens and Kodak Tri-X 400 film. The physical print is 7x9 inches.

Thanks for looking!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Roll: New Orleans

Triple Exposure of three doorways in the French Quarter

Here are the photographs I took in New Orleans that did not get turned into prints. Don't call them "rejects" yet, though... I may get around to printing some of them sooner or later. I used my Pentax LX and a 50mm 1.4 lens on Ilford HP5+ film to make all of these.


New Orleans was a fantastic city to visit; it's a hell of a lot different than Chicago, that's for sure. Contrary to popular belief, there's more to do in New Orleans than getting drunk.

This is my 100th post! Thank you so much for looking! :)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Print: Bedroom Window

This is another mansion on the Laura Plantation in Louisiana. I believe it belonged to the plantation owner's mother in-law. Unlike the main house, this one has not been restored at all. Trees and bushes have started to consume it. I took this photo with my Pentax LX and a 50mm 1.4 lens on Ilford HP5+ film. I used a yellow filter for added contrast.The physical print is 8x10 inches.

Thanks for looking!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Print: Lower 9th

I took this photo in New Orleans when we visited the Lower 9th Ward. The Lower 9th Ward was hit the hardest by Katrina out of any part of New Orleans, and still has not recovered. There are still blocks upon blocks of empty lots and abandoned houses. It's amazing how much destruction still remains. I made this photo using my Pentax LX with a 50mm 1.4 lens on Ilford HP5+ film. The physical print is 7x10 inches.

Thanks for looking!