Sunday, February 23, 2014

Living the analog life again

Adam and I went down to Catlettsburg KY to see if the Crounse Corp. towboat Leslie M. Neal was there. Since 2009 or 2010, we had seen other versions of the new Crounse boats -- the Linda Reed, the Paula Ruble, the Janis R. Brewer and the Jackie Englert. But the Neal had eluded us, as it rarely gets up to our part of the Ohio River.

We didn't see the boat we were looking for, but we did get a couple of other interesting pictures, aided by the high water. I raised my Nikon FM2 at a guy working on some barges, snapped the shutter and looked at the camera back to see what image I got. Then I remembered I was shooting with a film camera, and the idea of waiting a few days to finish the roll and then have it processed to see what I got felt oh so wrong.

My good digital camera is out of action for now, and I don't have the money to replace it, so I'm making do with what I have. In this case, I figured I would try an old roll of Kodak color film that has been hanging around my house for a few years. I was going to try it in a camera I bought in 1976, but the camera does not have a battery for the exposure meter and I didn't feel like investing in one for just one or two rolls of film.

The Nikon's batteries still worked, so I've been trying it out. The lens has been giving me a hard time, though. It's one I bought at a pawn shop when my others started wearing out from being banged around too many times since I bought them in 1984, when I ordered the camera from 47th Street Photo in New York. The lens didn't want to let me change the aperture easily or focus easily.

For the record, the FM2 has been a great fully manual camera for me. But "manual" is the word. You set the shutter speed and the aperture manually, just as you have to do with the film's ISO setting on the shutter dial. The only thing automatic about it is how the electronic exposure meter shuts off after 30 seconds.

The FM2 has been with me around the world. I bought it so I could take it to Jerusalem. Unfortunately, on the trip over part of it started coming apart. A cab driver took me to a repair shop where the owner fixed it for free. The Nikon went with me in 1986 on a trip up and down the river. It's been with me on walks on the river bank in subfreezing temperatures. We drove the Pacific Coast highway from the Golden Gate to Los Angeles. Its last big trip, I guess, was to Japan in 2000 for a two-week trip sponsored in part by the Japanese Auto Manufacturers Association.

I went digital in 2007 and never really looked back. The DSLR I have now has a crack in the display window, and the battery doesn't want to charge. Plus it feels old, and I wonder when the shutter will have reached its limit and say no mas.

Assuming the old roll of film I'm shooting is still good, I will post any interesting pictures I get from it. Right now it's hard reliving the days when you took a picture and waited a week to see the image. And having to take care composing the shot and the exposure because you only get so many pictures on a roll. And thinking if I don't get it right the first time, there's no shooting three dozen more images in hopes of one turning out okay. And ... you get the idea.

Maybe soon my DSLR battery will decide to work again, but the trust has been broken. Until then, it's using lesser cameras and trying to find that right image at the exact right moment. In other words, I have to think again. And that hurts.