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.
- I am WAY more buoyant than I thought I was. I believe a weight belt might be necessary for me and my models.
- 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.
- It is better to start in the shallow end and work your way deeper.
- 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.