1/60 at f2.8 and Be There with Film for $8

I was with some friends last weekend for dinner who afterward were going to a book reading and launch party by a relative of theirs (and an acquaintence of mine) and they invited me along. I was going to bring along a digital camera, but then figured they would be shooting phone photos so I brought a Nikon F2 with a 24mm f2.8 and a roll of Ilford HP5+, my go-to black and white film. That would be good for some candid photographs.

As it turns out, by the time I arrived, the event had already started. I squeezed in just inside the door and that was the perfect place to photograph the author reading from her book and answering questions. I was upstage and a bit behind her so I could see both her and the group that she was addressing.

If I were hired to photograph this for a news article, that would have been the position I would have taken. Perfect.

I ended up using the whole roll as the aftermath was a lot of meet and greet moments and I knew a lot of the people there and figured it would make a good photo story.

All told, the roll of film cost me $7 and the home processing and scanning couldn’t have been more than $1, so we’ll call it $8. For the price of a craft beer here in Boulder, I was able to make multiple black-and-white photos and document her special evening and performance. Photographing with film doesn’t have to be expensive.

I guessed the exposure to be 1/60 at f2.8–that was using my standard way of working indoors: Wide open as slow as you dare. I know people will start to blur at 1/30 (I tell students to photograph the people they don’t like at 1/30 and slower as those are the photos that won’t turn out), so 1/60 it was.

I ended up pushing the film to 800 just to make sure there was enough lightness to the faces. (Remember, pushing film doesn’t affect the shadows where there may not be any detail, it just boosts the density of the highlights.)

Here’re the photos. A wonderful evening and a chance to document it for a young author.

I photograph to document memories, to freeze time for the people and places that are a part of my world.

If you want to buy the book, it’s available in Kindle form or in paperback.

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