Black and White Photography

My first real camera was the Pentax K-1000 that my parents gave to me as a Christmas gift in 1983. It was a used camera, and it came with a 28mm lens. During that time, I did some photography in black in white (in the photography club at school and with my father). I still have that camera today, but the last time I shot with it was sometime around 2002 and it had developed a light leak through one of the seals, so I continued to shoot with my P3n until I was able to afford a digital camera.

When I bought my Pentax K-x digital SLR, I inherited a lot of old Pentax gear since I could use those lenses. This included the bodies, and so I inherited some bodies as well. In addition to my K1000 and my P3n, I inherited my father’s MX, his MZ-6, and my uncle’s S1a and Spotmatic, along with a couple of old light meters, accessories for the S1a/Spotmatic, an F1.8 55mm M42 screw mount lens, an F2 55mm M42 lens, a 35mm F3.5 M42 lens, and a rather unspectacular 200mm F6.3 Alpex lens. I also have some of the accessories and a couple of rolls of Kodak high speed Ektachrome, ASA 125 with 36 exposures and both with a best before date of May 1975. Very nifty, but I don’t think I want to shoot those rolls. At least not yet.

In this year of 2020, my Pentax K-x is having issues with a dial that happens to be the dial that’s used to adjust all of my manual settings. While I can get it working properly for a while with some contact cleaner, I thought about replacing that camera with a new DSLR, but then I got to thinking about my photography as an art. I am confident in my skill that I could shoot a fully manual camera and get the exposures correct based on my experience with my DSLR. I understand how to develop black and white film, which is still available. Black and white has been my favourite as of late. It was also an opportunity to use those great old lenses as they were fully intended without any crop factor. We had tickets to go see 54-40, one of my favourite 80’s bands that I would have loved to photograph on high speed black and white if I had the chance to back then, and so I realized I had a unique opportunity to realize that dream when I discovered that Kodak had re-released their TMax 3200.

Ready for the concert

I picked the S1a for this because it’s the oldest camera in my collection, as well as in the best shape. It has a sticker inside telling me it was last serviced on May of 1987. I believe its condition is so good because my uncle eventually got a Spotmatic which he probably used a lot more (though the Spotmatic itself is in fine shape), plus the fact that it is a purely mechanical camera that does not take a battery. In fact, there is no light meter built into this camera; though it did come with a light meter attachment, it took a battery and was damaged when a battery leaked a long time ago. I did have a Weston Master III light meter in excellent shape, which was working perfectly fine and also did not require a battery. Finally, I decided to also bring along the Cherry self timer so that I could get into the shot. I attached the F1.8 55mm lens, and brought along the 35mm lens. No flash was necessary nor wanted, as the TMax 3200 was plenty fast enough with the lenses I was using.

Nicely composed, shame about the focus.

People immediately recognized it as a 35mm film camera and were delighted to see it. As we stood in line waiting for the doors to open, one eager attendee offered to take a photo of all of us as a group. I set the proper exposure and reminded him that it was a very old camera that needed to be focused, but I guess he forgot in his excitement and fired off an out-of-focus shot of our group. This was no fault of the camera, as the bright focus screen made focusing easy even in low light; the image would “Pop” when the focus was right.

The opening act was the Stephen Stanley band, where I started to practice my shots, finding the right angles and figuring out the right exposures. The lighting kept changing, which made things challenging when attempting to get a reading from an old light meter, so I resorted to bracketing and trying to time the lights.

As you can see, this worked out quite well for me and most of the 36 exposures on this roll of film were properly exposed. In case you were wondering about the tasteful watermark, that is my new art photography business name. You see, in the year 2020, there is a considerable expense in black and white film photography, and this is my art medium of choice. Add in my decades of training in the art of photography, and I believe these represent a marketable product. In the year 2020, I have finally decided to move forward with my fine art film photography business that I’ve been dreaming about since I first held my K1000.

Thanks for reading.