Fabulous Film Fridays, May 20 – The Beauty of Black ‘n White Film

I haven’t posted too many images yet from my Nikon FE camera (‘Effy’) so I thought I would feature this little gal this time.  Effy has a soft spot in my heart as it was my primary camera that I had when I was studying law in Europe; I traveled everywhere with it and was very happy with the results I brought back even though I was basically on program mode most of the time!  I also only have one lens, a 50mm f1.8 but the FE is compatible with my Nikkor 60mm f2.8 macro lens because the image circle on the macro is designed for a full-frame sensor:  I can avoid that black tunnel of vignetting that shows up when I put my other lenses on Effy.

This time, I thought it would be fun to load up some black and white film.  We had some old Ilford XP2 400 film in the fridge to play with.  Here is a tip that film shooters know but digital shooters may not:  make a note of the film you put in your camera!  A month or more later, and you might forget what you are shooting with!  Or at least I wasn’t totally sure as 35 shots later I wondered if this roll would ever end.

So, there are lots of images on the roll, but here are some taken with the Nikkor 60mm macro lens on Effy.  The plant is what my Mom calls an elephant ear plant.  It has striking, large leaves that are green on top with white spots but are often red to chartreuse underneath.  A cool subject!

I did virtually no processing, just cleaned up some dust spots and a little sharpening for the Web.  I really liked the soft and subtle contrast of tones.  To often with digital the temptation is to push pixels toward the ends of the tonal contrast spectrum for dramatic effect.  But the Ilford 400 speed film returned a wonderful soft grain and gentle atmosphere that I really liked.  No curves or levels for this baby!  Also, the colours translated into interesting tones almost like an infrared capture.  Here are two more images demonstrating the shallow depth-of-field possible with the macro lens.

Shooting macro always involves more physical exercise than I expect.  Especially since I refused to cut any of the leaves off the plant for ease of access.  The tripod I was using was a rickety old one with a screw in ballhead (hence why I was using it; no L-bracket for Effy!) which did not permit me to get very low to the ground.  The leaves were backlit by sun from the window which meant I had to get under the leaves to capture that wonderful red and green translucence.  The final image was made with me laying on the floor with Effy resting on my face.  Hold breath, focus, try and snap picture without breathing or moving.  This was difficult, and to any stranger who would have walked by the window, I must have looked liked I’d passed out.  But worth it!  A fun shoot.


~ by Samantha on May 20, 2011.

9 Responses to “Fabulous Film Fridays, May 20 – The Beauty of Black ‘n White Film”

  1. […] week Samantha used her Nikon FE and did some cool macro shots of plant leaves using Ilford XP-2 400 B+W film. The […]


  3. […] week Samantha used her Nikon FE and did some cool macro shots of plant leaves using Ilford XP-2 400 B+W film. The […]

  4. Beautiful work..

  5. Nice composition, but more than that, I was knocked out by the subtle tone. Beautiful work! I agree that we tend to be obsessed by dynamic range, but I have been feeling developing photographer’s own tone is missed since digital age. So did you scan the film or printed the images? I have never used C-41 B&W film.

  6. Mysterious and magical!

  7. Beautiful. I see the veins of the leaves as flowing rivers or arterioles delivering the life blood . M

  8. Very, very nice Sam! I love the subtle tones and the delicateness of the leaves.

  9. Thanks for the comments, everyone!

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