The Nikonos Project: Day 1 | Leighton DaCosta, Charleston Photographer

The Nikonos V underwater camera.

The Nikonos V underwater camera.

I don't know what got into me, but in a moment of ambition, I wanted to add something personally creative to my 2018 portfolio collection. When all else fails, always go back to the fundamentals. For me, this meant a trek back to film. I remember loading my first roll of 35mm film back in 1991, and yet, almost 30 years later, the smell of a fresh opened canister is but all too familiar. For this new journey, I decided to purchase an underwater camera, and a medium format camera. I purchased both on eBay, and while the underwater camera, the Nikonos V, arrived right away, as of the publishing of this post, I still have not received the Pentax 645 that I ordered. Such is the life of the online auction bidder. 

The one thing I know about shooting with new equipment is to always do a test roll first, just so that you can have a baseline, or to learn things that you wouldn't see unless you were shooting. The worst time to find out something is wrong is when you're on a shoot for a paying client. 

I found an old roll of Kodak MAX 800, which I thought would have been perfect for this test shoot. The only variable though, was the age of this roll. Honestly, I thought the roll was probably 15-20 years old. The problem with expired film is that you never know how it will react, if at all. 

So I loaded the Nikonos V with MAX 800, and went to the community pool to do a few tests. The most important was whether or not the camera was watertight. PROTIP: When doing initial inspection, be sure to lubricate all o-rings with silicone dive grease. The rest of the test is was to see how well the camera would expose in different modes, and whether or not my focusing ability would be able to make great shots. 

GOOD NEWS: The camera was watertight as can be, which was a great thing. BAD NEWS: according to the local lab, none of the images exposed. At first I thought it was because of an improper loading technique on my part, but remembered making it to the actual physical stop of the film. This leads me to believe that the film was just "too" old and probably would have benefited from longer exposure times, I'm hoping. So as of yet, no direct feedback on images. 

Lessons learned:

  1. I am WAY more buoyant than I thought I was. I believe a weight belt might be necessary for me and my models.
  2. The Aperture priority mode "sounds" likes it works well. I could feel the shutter speed change as I pointed in different areas of the pool. 
  3. It is better to start in the shallow end and work your way deeper. 
  4. Holding your breath, composing, shooting is hard. 

I went out today and purchased 3 rolls of 400MAX with an expiration of 5/20, to try and run my tests again. I will update in a future post. 

Stay tuned...

Leighton DaCosta

Hello, I'm Leighton and I help people around the world tell their story. Let me introduce myself. Whether it's for online dating, or a professional profile, it always seems that the "About Me" section is always the hardest to write. Not because you have nothing to say about yourself, but because you want to be sincere, genuine, interesting, and brief all at the same time. I have never been a fan of writing about me in the third person, like: "Leighton DaCosta, was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and moved to Brooklyn, NY at an early age when his parents wanted to form a new life for themselves and their children. In the third grade, the family moved to Orlando, Fl, where Leighton considers his home town. After spending 3 tours in the Navy, he settled in Jacksonville, and now Miramar, Florida, where he now calls home. Today, still wanted by many, he does work as a fashion and wedding photographer. If you have a wedding(or photo shoot)... if no one else can help... and if you can find him... maybe you can hire... ok.. this is not The A- Team." But you see what I mean? What do you know about me? How can we connect? Did you know that my FAVORITE food is Pizza and Sushi? Or that my favorite color is Purple? When I go to the wine bars, I usually order Mimosas, because even the cheapest champagne tastes great with some good ole OJ. When I travel, I like staying in nice hotels. Not because of the name, (even though I AM partial to Hyatt) but because of the bathrooms. One of my favorite hotels is the Viking in Newport, Rhode Island. Small rooms, but AWESOME bathrooms. I LOVE TO EAT, and eating as much as I have, has led me to be about 100 pounds more than I was in High School... Yeah there is some muscle there, but if it was all muscle, I'm sorry folks, I wouldn't be taking photos, I would be retiring from the NFL. If you want to see some of my favorite dishes, follow me on Instagram. Because of that, I find myself now in the gym more than ever. Trying to stay fit and alive... I workout, so I can EAT! Well that's enough for now, if you want to know more about me, follow my blog. Better yet, I want to find out more about YOU. So let's talk!