Time for part two of my hobby update. In the first entry, I shared how I had sold all my camera equipment. I ended that post by mentioning I had also done something unexpected and possibly dumb.

In those weeks after I sold my camera gear, I did everything I could to quash any second-thoughts about the decision. I unsubscribed from every photography website, podcast, YouTube channel, Instagram account, etc. I wanted nothing to enter my information feeds that might make me start looking at replacement gear.

I didn’t realize that things having nothing to do with cameras might get into my head.

One night I was watching a video filmed in California, and fell in love with the gorgeous, hazy, 1970s Kodachrome vibes it had. I’ve always loved that style, but was also always frustrated with how many options there are to recreate those looks in modern digital cameras. There were just too many sliders and buttons to tweak, and when I used, say, Fujifilm’s Classic Chrome film simulation, I was never satisfied with the final result.

But as I watched these videos, I realized there was a way around the endless possibilities that come with digital photography.

Shooting on film.

So after about 36 hours of furious research and hemming and hawing, I purchased a film camera.

Good Lord.

For about $150 I got a Nikon FE and a 50mm lens that were in very good shape. I ordered some film, shot a roll, and shipped it off for processing. I’m still waiting on the results (I’ll get more into the reality of film photography in 2023 in a future post). I’m waiting to shoot another roll until I see those first images to make sure that everything is functioning properly on the Nikon. The ASA dial refuses to lock, so I’m hoping I didn’t ruin the roll by shooting at the wrong ISO. My exposure settings were always lined up so I should be ok. Other than that, the camera seemed to be in great condition and had even been serviced by the seller. Fingers crossed any issues with the photos will be only because of operator error.

I have to say those first 36 exposures were a little strange. I’ve shot plenty of point-and-shoot film cameras in my life. In fact, the girls and I were just flipping through a bunch of my old photo albums the other night. This was the first time I had ever used a manual film camera, though. I’ve got the basics down from shooting my Fuji X-T2 in manual, but it was still a very different experience.

For example, focusing. When I looked through the viewfinder I was not presented with a bright, perfect view of what the lens saw. Instead it was blurry and rather dark until I focused in on my subject.

That wasn’t a big deal. What did drive me crazy was not being able to move the focus point around the frame as you can on a digital camera. I kept wanting to use a D pad or joystick to shift the focus. I constantly had to remind myself to focus on my subject then recompose for desired framing.

Getting used to winding the film when I was ready to shoot again was also weird.

So why the hell did I do this?

I obviously still have a photography itch that needs scratching. After all that research and consideration, I decided that shooting on film should do just that, without some of the paralysis by analysis that was present with digital cameras. Once I’ve loaded my film, I will have very little control over how my images will appear. The film stock and speed will take care of all of that. I just have to frame, focus, and expose properly.

Naturally, as with any new hobby, I started thinking about what lenses I can add. A portrait lens? Something wide for landscapes?

Then I remembered the biggest reason I ditched my digital gear: my iPhone is sufficient for 90% of my needs.

The Nikon is purely for fun, for artistic pursuits, and for using something that involves more effort than tapping the screen to capture an image.

When I showed S my new purchase, she just rolled her eyes and asked, “You’re not going to build a darkroom are you?” and went back to her charting.

No, I’m not going to build a darkroom. We have enough chemicals in our basement because of the pool already. I don’t need to worry about storing/disposing of development chemicals.

I would be lying, though, if I didn’t admit to looking into systems for scanning my negatives once they’ve been developed…

Anyway, that’s my new, dumb pastime. Feel free to mock me at your leisure. Or ask me to capture you on film the next time you see me.