• Tom Mills

Local photo expedition to Sully Historic Site

Analog photography has me venturing out for photo expeditions again. I remember regularly venturing out on photo expeditions when I started shooting a digital SLR over film. I would take my beautiful Nikon D200 out to shoot in the streets and memorials of Washington DC but found I'd spend lots of time chimping, taking shots over and over to get the "perfect" shot.

Slave quarters, Sully Historic Site, Mamiya 645, Mamiya-Sekor 45mm f/2.8, Lomography Color Negative 400

In retrospect, not sure why I obsessively chimped though... a large CF card ensured hours of photo taking fun with ne'er a worry about "running out of film". The tiny LCD also made it difficult to really determine if the shot was awesome or not, even with the ability to zoom while viewing the picture in the monitor. In the end, probably spent more time fidgeting around with the menu options and chimping than actually taking the picture.


Continued to shoot with different digital SLRs for the next decade but dedicated "photography trips" became few and far between. The SLR was merely a tool for specific engagements; volleyball tournaments, marching band, indoor drumline competitions and the occasional "family portrait" day during holiday gatherings.


Packing the SLR for any trip became a hassle; volleyball required me to take the camera, a fast zoom lens for indoor shooting (in this case, a Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 VRII), a fast prime lens for "portraits" (85mm f/1.8), and a fast mid-range zoom (in this case, a 24-70 f/2.8 AF-S G). Marching band and indoor drumline required a fast wide angle lens (20mm f/2.8, replaced by 20mm f/1.8).

Tip over the net for the point, Nikon D5, Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 VRII

Lots of camera, lots of lenses, and when I shot, I would just blast away, hoping for the best. Photography became a chore, poring through the hundreds of pictures to find one that was "good enough". I did purchase a Fuji X100F in a bid to re-ignite my passion for for photography but still had the same problems mentioned above; spending time fidgeting around with menu options and chimping, taking oodles of pictures and slogging through what felt like an "endless" film roll in post-processing.


Analog photography has changed my viewpoint; with 645, I know that I only have 15 images to capture on film. With 35mm, 24 or 36 shots depending on the film I use. Knowing the limitations forces me to pre-view, compose, and focus on taking the picture, all the things that made photography fun. Processing the film is equally fun, although I do admit C-41 process is still a bit stressful for me, but I love the anticipation of finding out what I captured after all is said and done.

Main House, Sully Historic Site, Mamiya 645 Pro, Mamiya-Sekor 45mm f/2.8, Lomography Color Negative 400

I still have problems with my film scanning but want to get better at developing before I focus on fluid mounting and better scanning. I still panic loading film onto the Patterson reel; for this last run, I had to try the 35mm film twice before placing the reel into the tank, 120 film was done on the first try, but I think it was luck. One step at a time and while the scans are not the best, they're not awful either.

Zigzag fence, Sully Historic Site, Leica M7, 35mm Summicron f/2, FujiColor 200

I haven't had this much fun with photography in such a long time and I look forward to more expeditions and rolls of film to shoot and develop; I even had a brief moment of insanity where I contemplated dumping my digital gear... Anyway, can't wait for the E-6 kit to arrive so I can see what's on an old roll of Velvia I've been holding on to for over 10 years. I'll post if anything can be salvaged from those decade old exposed rolls.

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