Neighbourhood roses take on new light when film is converted to digital.

Photographer back to film era

Norman Silverstone teaches photography through North Island College and Eldercollege in Port Alberni.

I am shooting using film cameras…yes film cameras. One camera is the Nikon SLR F90x, the latest in modern technology before digital. The F90 has full automatic focus as well as all the other goodies. The camera is sporting a Tamron AF LD 28–200mm  f3.5 / 5.6. The F90 is loaded with 400 ASA colour film.

The other camera that I am using is a fully manual Nikon, the FM2. The FM2 has a 28mm f2.8 lens on it and is using 200 ASA colour negative film.

I bring the film in to one of the two places that still develop colour film and have the films developed into negatives only—no prints—and not cut, so that I have a strip of 24 negatives. When I get back to the workplace I cut the negatives into strips of six and feed them into my computer.

The results are astounding. The definition is sharper in the film, making the subject three-dimensional.

The range of colours in the same hue is subtler, and more detail in the dark areas gives the image more detail in the shadows.

The photo of the rose accompanying this column was taken while walking in the neighbourhood. I shot it on the Nikon f90x handheld, using the macro part of the Tamron zoom lens. I was on 200mm, aperture f5.6 @1/400-second speed and had the camera loaded with 800 ASA colour film.

There are a few reasons as to why I am shooting film: the first is because I wanted to see the difference or even if there was a difference between digital and film. The second reason is because I have a ton of film and a ton of film cameras.

The third reason is that there will not be a way that future generations would be able to see this digital era. We are storing our photographic treasures in a cloud or burning them onto DVDs, or backing them up on a hard drive. A cloud can be hacked, DVDs are being discontinued, hard drives are changing format right now.

The only legacy that I could leave to be interpreted in the future will always be negatives or positives.

Yes, I am shooting film again and loving it. Of course I do have to bring the roll of film in and scan the negs later but hey, that is all part of the experience.

Using the FM2 is reality itself. Everything is  manual: the focus, the meter, the f-stops, the shutter speeds, the re-winding and advancing of the film. It now takes me twice as long to take the photo but that is all fine and dandy.

I look at the subject differently; what attracted me to the subject or object, what is the light like, I would like to have some detail in the shadows, and so on.

My next step will be to take out the Hasselblad, shoot in black and white, develop the negatives myself and scan the negs into the computer to be printed as giclée or otherwise.

Any questions?  E-mail me at or see me online at


*Norman Silverstone teaches photography through North Island College and Eldercollege in Port Alberni.

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