I didn’t post any photographs on my Nikon FE write up as I hadn’t processed any, but the first roll is now finished, processed and scanned so I can share the highlights and talk a bit more about using the camera.
So, I loaded the camera up with a roll of fairly out of date Ilford FP4+ film mounted my trusty Nikkor 35mm f2.0 AF-D lens to the front and went to explore the back streets of Edinburgh in that way that i like to do these days.
The Nikon FE was manufactured between 1978 and 1983, and judging by the serial number on mine it was probably assembled about the time I was born. I don’t know who owned mine in the intervening years before it came to me, but it seams they locked it away in a cupboard and forgot about it. It feels like it was made yesterday (in a good way) which i guess is testament to the quality of the materials used and the manufacturing methods.
It is literally a modern classic and a pure joy to use. What strikes me first compared to a modern digital SLR is how small and thin it is, yet with such a big and bright viewfinder. Framing an image is a genuinely pleasurably experience with a slick shutter clonk and a smooth wind on to the next frame. I’ve used a lot of mechanical cameras in my time, but probably nothing as well engineered as this.
I often feel self-conscious with a big ‘look at me’ camera that stops me taking all the pictures I want to, but the FE is nice and discrete so I felt more obliged to shoot at will.
I guess overall photographic my style is about finding interesting images in mundane subjects (often drawing strange looks from passers by, hence my self-consciousness). The image above, for example, is just a blank looking doorway opposite some council offices but in all that drabness I saw a multitude of tones and textures that come together to give a rich velvety monochrome image. I like the door-within-a-door framing, and the mix of stone, concrete timber and cobbles. Magic.
With only a 35mm lens to hand I was forced to move about more to frame the images as I wanted and these images are generally the full frame or only a slight crop. This often meant standing in the middle of the road which meant quick handling of the camera was key to avoiding major injury.
Again the FE performed well. In the bright daylight I set it to Aperture priority and generally followed the universally useful ‘f8 and be there’ mantra. This ensures that precise focusing is not fully necessary, as the small aperture gives a decent depth of field with a 35mm lens. Used thus the camera almost disappears leaving you alone with your creative vision.
For this final image I wanted to include some life in the frame (something I usually avoid) to give a sense of scale and ground the image with a clear subject. Without
the luxury of unlimited digital tries to play with I had to frame the view and trip the shutter at just the right moment to capture something interesting. This was my first and only frame. Not a bad attempt I think.
So there we go, the first roll of many through my ‘new’ camera and some decent shots to boot. The camera is great for exploring with as it’s small, quick to use and offers enough control to get the shot you want. Oh, and the light meter seems pretty spot on as the negatives produced were perfect for scanning.
As with most of my shoots, 6 or 8 of the best shots from the roll on are on my Flickr stream, click on any of the above images to go there.