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Old School Photography

As I mentioned in my earlier post, The 35mm Project, I finally invested in a film scanner and have been creating digital files from my old negatives, including some of the old black and white negatives from my college photography course.

For reasons that make no sense to me today, I got my degree in drawing and painting, even though I love photography and had friends at the time who really thought I should have majored in photography instead of drawing and painting. Well, what can I say? At the time I thought I wanted to be an illustrator. Then I ended up becoming a graphic designer, and, later on, an author and book publisher. Go figure.

Photography 101

Sadly, I only took one photography course in college. The first requirement was to buy a 35mm SLR camera, so I bought a Nikkormat FT3, which I used for decades. The course covered basic black and white outdoor photography, and I used Kodak Plus-X Pan film. It was a nice, medium speed film with very little grain, which, sadly, is no longer available today. We also had to develop our own film and make our own prints. There was nothing quite like spending a Sunday afternoon in the darkroom. Once I was in there I lost all track of time.

The instructor gave us plenty of tips on the technical stuff, but we were free to choose our subject matter. I attended Arizona State University, so I spent a lot of time photographing the campus. ASU has plenty of interesting architecture. I also took photos at other locations near the campus. The secret of good photography is, of course, using lights and shadows and creating interesting compositions. When shooting in black and white those lights and shadows can really pop out, and you can create some stunning dramatic images. To me, that’s what makes it stand out from color photography.

The other nice thing about black and white film is its longevity. Forty years later and my black and white negatives have really aged well. You would hardly know they were over forty years old.

Gayle Martin


Hunt’s Tomb circa 1978.
Old Mill Avenue Bridge circa 1978. (Sadly, this bridge is no longer there.)