Friday, April 25, 2014

Not bad for primitive technology

stones wide view

Reveling in the speed my VueScan software give me with its batch scan feature, I digitized all 89 black and white images from the 1972 Indianapolis concert by the Rolling Stones last evening.

It was the first time I’ve been able to really examine some of them and there were some very pleasant surprises.

Looking at them, I’m struck by how good they are considering the relatively primitive nature of my equipment. I had two cameras with me – a Pentax Spotmatic that had a built-in light meter and a Pentax without a meter. It didn’t really matter whether I had a meter or not because it would read an average and render spotlit faces hopelessly overexposed and blown out. I used exposure settings gleaned from lots of reading about how to shoot concerts and, as you can see, it worked out pretty well.

One camera mounted my f/1.4 50mm “normal” lens, which produced images like the one above. The other was fitted with my Accura fixed-focal length (meaning non-zoom) f/3.5 200mm telephoto lens. It produced images like the one below.


Auto-focus was years in the future, so every shot had to be manually focused. I was glad to have two cameras so I didn’t have to switch lenses back and forth. Pentax cameras had screw-in lenses in those days – not the quick-change bayonet style mount pioneered by Nikon. Changing screw-in lenses in a hurry in the dark, trying to avoid cross-threading, was maddening and I cursed the Pentax designers every time I changed lenses.

Unlike digital cameras that can shoot hundreds or thousands of images on a single memory card, I had to change film after every 36 shots. And manually advance the film after every shot – something I haven’t had to do in years.

And, of course, I had no idea how well I did until my negatives came out of the fixer in the darkroom. No LCD on the back of the camera that let me review each image immediately.

I never had the patience to get good at making photographic prints in the darkroom, so a lot of less-than-perfect images never got printed.

Now, with Photoshop, those marginal images can come to life for the first time, like the one above of Mick Jagger gazing at me over a monitor speaker.

A good scanner and image editing software allow me to reclaim thousands of previously ignored images and I’m having a great time rediscovering photos I shot as much as 48 years ago when I bought my first 35mm camera.

1 comment:

Johannes Bols said...

Any chance of seeing the other 85 images?