When I make black & white photo conversions, I pretty much always go for a stroll down memory lane.
I grew up shooting B&W (I know, I’m old). My first camera was a Kodak Brownie that I paid for myself selling greeting cards I got through an ad in Boy’s Life when I was in fifth grade. It was a simple camera that took great pictures because the film was large. You just moved your feet to zoom, and everything was in focus because of the small aperture. It had a flash gun that used flash bulbs that caused the coating on the bulb to bubble because they got so hot when they went off. And of course you used blue flash bulbs if you splurged for a roll of Kodacolor. There was no instant gratification of today’s digital world — the film went to a lab and a week later you got prints.
Part of the stroll that I sometimes go on includes a visit to my days shooting 35mm film in SLR cameras. My first SLR was a Mimaya Sekor that had a built in exposure meter. Everything else was manual, of course. Like everyone else in those days, I mostly shot color — either prints or slides. But every once in a while, I’d buy a roll of B&W, usually Kodak Tri-X. It was sort of magic, because you could shoot in lower light, without flash. Nothing like what today’s cameras will do in low light, of course, but fun anyway. And occasionally I had access to a dark room with an enlarger and an automated print developer. But in those days I didn’t know about dodging and burning — the art of improving a photo by post processing.
Occasionally, I have a yearning for a taste of those simpler days, and think about shooting some B&W film. Maybe some day I will, but frankly, I’m spoiled by the capabilities of my digital cameras and what can be done in the digital post processing world. Realistically, I can produce much better B&W photos this way than I could shooting film. But still, there’s a tug.
Photo Notes: Nikon V1. Processed using Lightroom 4 and Nik Silver Efex Pro.