Fashion Show. Transparent Jacket.

It's funny to think how much photography has changed since I was a younger person walking around with a camera. Now we can display images on the web with a few deft clicks and thousands or millions of people will see them. We've made enormous transitions from film to digital and supposedly lenses have gotten better and better. But when I go back into a box of 11 x 14 inch, black and white prints and really look I am struck by how much the same the actual images look from then to now. As if we've changed all the external parameters and left only the core event untouched.

I took this with a Contax SLR and I used a Zeiss 135mm f2.8 lens. There was no image stabilization and the noise was what the noise would be using Tri-X or Agfa 400 speed black and white film. The printing was limited by my own skills at the time. The black edge is actual light from the gap between the "live" film and the edge of the negative carrier. The negative carrier was filed out one evening so it would always show the full frame.

But seeing the image when I was taking the image; the when of pressing the shutter button and the framing overall, those things haven't changed with the new technologies. Those things are innate to the artist, not the cameras.

Convection ovens are invented, juicers are modified, knives are re-invented but at the end of the day it is all about the flavor of the food served in a fine restaurant. Pretty much the same with photography. Images are to be eaten by the eyes and enjoyed. Doesn't matter which "oven" they were baked in.

recipe for model on runway at fashion show, old school:  carefully meter white runway. Set exposure 1.5 stops slower than meter indication. Pray you nailed exposure for skin tone. Stay in the 2 by 2 foot box/boundary that you taped onto the floor of the shooting platform so you don't jostle the other 50 shooters who have also marked their territories on the crowded shooting platform. Remember that you only have 36 frames on the roll and you don't want to be re-loading during a fun imaging moment. Be sparing with your shutter finger. Pre-focus into the zone in which you think you'll be shooting and then make small corrections in real time (no AF on that camera...). Don't get too excited early on and use up all your film. Save a couple of rolls for the grand finalĂ©. 


  1. Kirk,

    Reading your event workflow, I have to ask: Film aesthetics aside, don't you just love digital and EVF's and "live view?"

  2. Mike, Yes and no. I am a nostalgic photographer and my mastery of traditional photography felt good. Sometimes now I feel that it has become so easy that I must be cheating...

  3. About once a year I shoot a roll of B&W film with my Nikon F3. Two habits have changed. After the shot I "chimp" at the back of the camera to see what I got and see the end tab off the little film box in the slot telling me I have 36 shots at a speed of 400. the other is I forget to advance the film......How soon we forget.

  4. 36 frames per roll! that was a hard limit and we just lived with it. Now people complain if batteries last less than forever

  5. Kirk

    those who mastered the technique with traditional photography (film) have an edge over those who learned with the fully automated cameras.

    If it feels easy, its due to your traditional film mastery and your experience possibly more so than the tech

  6. In reference to Michael Reeds comments about 36 frames.....I especially miss the cavalier attitude of frames...say 1 through 3. Then the moments of sheer terror when a rapidly changing subject enters your sphere and you are at frame # 34 or 35.....or better yet 36. One shot left and the "defining moment" is unfolding right there in your viewfinder.


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