My favorite feeling in the world is advancing a frame on my Nikon F. It’s a manual advance and it sings to my heart each time I rip one over. The sound of the shutter opening is a close second. For me, on the other end of that frame advance is possibility. It’s happiness. From once there was nothing, and now there is something, even if it’s garbage. In my mind there’s a completely different process than digital as far as feel and setup are concerned. Talk to any photographer that’s been in the biz before digital and they’ll share war and horror stories that will have you holding your breath.
Everyone will tell you about on that sports or dance job, an event with fast action. Did I get the shot? Even in portraits, is it in focus, are the highlights burnt. I’m in some random city in the middle of no where… Do I find a quick lab here to process or do I take my rolls through security at the airport and hope X-ray doesn’t bleach the rolls? (It’s happened.) Overnight contact sheets back to the client halfway around the world and hope to make the deadline. Nowadays I get questioned, “Are these rolls of film?… Who still shoots film?” Uhhh, I do, sir.
More importantly the process of shooting film focuses you to the feel of lining up the shot. Everything slows down. You’ve got one frame to get it right. Depth of field, focus, framing, exposure. Whether you’re shooting film or digitally this week, slow your roll. Take in the process, be present as you find and line up your flower on the street or that perfect picnic scene.
Feel the Frame Advance.