Recently, I decided to dive into the attic, recover a couple of old cameras inherited from my family and have a go at some black and white photography. I decided to start with a Pentax ME 35mm as it has auto exposure and is light and easy to use. The film is remarkably easy to get both locally and on the internet.
If you haven’t done any black and white for a long time and have been using digital as I have, the first shock is not being able to preview what you have taken. The urge to seek out a button to press after taking a shot is irresistible but however long you search, you won’t find one. On the plus side though, the anticipation of wondering what will emerge when you do the processing is fantastic and usually worth waiting for.
It takes a while to adjust to looking at composition, light and shade rather than colour when shooting but again I think it brings us back to basics and hopefully makes us into better photographers eventually. It has certainly made me more aware of ISO settings, aperture and exposure time which should help when I get back to the digital camera. I am also trying a large range of ISO from 50 to 3200 as noise can be an attractive feature in black and white as opposed to digital where we try to avoid it like the plague normally.
I made lots of mistakes with my first film. I forgot to change the film speed on the camera, so the exposures were all wrong. Then after fiddling with the controls to put it right, I noticed that the camera back had come open slightly. I held it tight and rewound the film only to forget to press the film release button and probably destroy the sprockets on the film. So if I can get it into the developing tank, we will have to wait and see what I have got. But as I said above, that’s all part of the fun.