5 Frames on a Morning Walk with a Nikon F2A – By Stephen Hanka
I have been fooling with cameras for almost 60 years, since I was in junior high school in the early 1960s in the Detroit, Michigan area. In those days the Nikon F series of film cameras was the professional’s choice and I lusted after them. I was unable to float the cost of such a device back then, but I finally purchased my first Nikon F2A at the post exchange in Seoul, Korea in 1974 when I was stationed at Yongsan as part of my military service. The 1974 price was around $400 (U.S.), which is about $2400 in today’s valuation. These days I buy almost pristine used models of all the Nikon line on eBay for a fraction of their original cost. I sold my original F2A in 1976 but purchased this one in the spring of 2022 for $240 in March.
The F2 camera bodies were produced between 1971 and 1980, featuring some improvements over the original Nikon F produced between 1959 and 1973. The camera I purchased this year was made in 1977 according to the serial number. The F2 is a fully mechanical camera, but the shutter speed was tightened to 1/2000 second over the Nikon F 1/1000 second, added better motor drive support, has hinged rear door, and faster flash sync.
Since the F2 uses the standard F-mount lenses, my old glass from the 1980’s works with the camera. I have Nikkor 28mm, 50mm, 105mm, 135mm, and 300mm lenses from my F3 and they work in the F2, all the later F series cameras, and even in a D850.
I love close-up work and photographing flowers. Flowers are easy subjects. They don’t complain, are easy to pose, and often produce startling images. My wife grows them, and I shoot them. These five frames were taken in the neighborhood around my house outside of Salt Lake City, Utah in October of 2022. I captured them with a 105mm NIkkor lens and a 13mm extension tube. The extension tube and 105mm glass lets me get close-ups while standing back enough to prevent casting a shadow on the image.
The film is Kodak Tri-X 400 and was developed in Cinestill Df96 at 70 Degrees Fahrenheit (21 Degrees C) for six minutes. The negatives were scanned on an Epson V600 flatbed photo scanner at 6400 dots per inch and 16-bit grayscale. They were converted to 24-bit jpeg and resized for this blog page.
I only recently started processing my own film again and had to get the hang of winding it onto the stainless-steel reels in a changing bag. I kinked more than one roll while relearning the technique. The other problem is preventing water spots on the negatives. At first, I used too much PhotoFlo in the final rinse solution leaving some of the negatives with odd stains. I cleaned up the stains and a few stray hairs and dust particles with GIMP. Other post-processing was minimal.
All the shots were hand-held using a monopod to steady my now not-so-steady hand. Shutter speeds were between 1/125th and 1/250th at f11 or smaller in bright sunlight. I cropped the images down from the original negatives.
These are Rose of Sharon blossoms on a tree next to my house. The morning sun gives their violet hue a bright, ragged appearance. They appear fairy-like on the Tri-X.
The bark of a tree a few blocks away. I was going for texture and the rough bark didn’t disappoint.
Dahlias are marvelous blossoms. With color film they produce almost glowing images. The Tri-X gives them a fine, almost sinister look with dark lines along the edges of the petals. I think Morticia Adams would like this rendering.
These tall, grassy bushes were glowing in the morning sunlight, and I stood right up in the plants with the monopod. The black and white image is not much different than the color image of the same plant. Fine seeds and razor-wire fronds.
These orange gazanias present themselves with wonderful edge detail in the afternoon sun. They caught my eye every day this summer. They close every night and only reopen in the early afternoon when the light is bright. The Tri-X captured their petal folds and texture with little grain.
Kurt Vonnegut, the author and humorist, is quoted as saying “I tell you, we are on this earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you different.” Thanks, Kurt, for the inspiration. I retired from my job as a software developer last spring and major part of my retirement routine is to fart around with cameras. I don’t feel guilty at all. None of these are great photographs, but I had a very good time making them.
And thanks to Sok Sun, my lovely wife of 47 years, for fussing over the blossoms around our house. She lets me indulge my passions and obsessions with nary a complaint.
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