In the sweltering Berlin summer of 2010 I sat over what should become my second Adobe Lightroom book. Because of the heat I got up early in the morning to go out and shoot stuff for the chapter of the day, with a Panasonic Lumix GF1. I wrote in my friend Cyrill’s place, taking care of his cat while he travelled. On his fridge was a bowl with a lovely Nikon FE in it, which no one used. It ended up as an image in the book, and years later Cyrill gave me the camera as a present. I carried it around with me, not using it either. I gave my last darkroom and enlarger away in 2001, switched via the Nikon CoolPix 995 to full digital and never looked back.
Until now. 2019 marked the time I returned to film, I got myself an M6, two Leitz Focomat enlargers, and turn the bath into a darkroom once a week. A trip to Italy some weeks ago was the chance to put some Tri-X into the good old FE. With a Nikkor 35mm ƒ1,4 attached, almost too heavy for the slender body I roamed the streets of Bologna and Florence. The FE gets totally out of the way, the finder is completely uncluttered with the transparent needle-based exposure meter display tugged away unobtrusively on the left and the very bright focusing screen type B with a clear circle in the center. Fast focusing the 35 is no problem, and the AUTO-exposure setting is very helpful.
Running through Florence, the river Arno is a place to hang out away from the main tourist spots, and boy, that town gets crowded. Located between two of the main bridges runs a weir which is not packed because you need to climb to reach it. I got there right around sunset with a beer, when this couple started kissing. Leaving the bottle I ran over to them, snapped and got lucky because it was image 36A, the last of the roll. (After taking the first couple of pictures I found out that the image counter did not work)
The other thing I discovered after developing the films was light leaks in some of my most anticipated pictures. (This had not occurred to me, back in the 1980s when working with new FE2, FM2 and F3 bodies I had no clue that there was foam in the cameras to keep the sun out). Well, as some of you know I guess, it degrades over time and leaves a sticky black slug that can be thrown from the mirror buffer onto the screen and all over the place. I found a «Kameradoktor» in Bochum who supplied me with a set of replacement foam for the FE. I still quite like the image very much, even with the ray of light exactly in the young woman’s face.
Carnival in Fiesole, Tuscanny. The whole town celebrated, a brass band played to the kids having confetti fights while I shot almost a whole film in ten minutes at the center of the party.
Early morning on the Ponte Amerigo Vespucci bridge, Florence. One year ago regular guy Roberto Pirrone decided to grab his gun, walk out of his door and kill the next person walking his way. This person was Idy Diene from Senegal. I did not know about this incident while I took the pictures, but was intrigued by the solemn mood of the usually busy place. This worker waited for the mayors arrival.
This is the same location and time, this gentleman was not amused by me pointing the Nikon in his face.
40 years after its introduction the Nikon FE is still a capable companion for street and travel photography. I sold the FE2 in the 1980s a bit too quick for the F3, and am quite happy to work with this one now. Compared to shooting with the Leica M6 Classic and its left-right LED arrow based light meter the FE is comfortable like an old friend. The 5 frames were reproduced with a Nikon ES-2 adapter on a D3s body and edited in Photoshop and Lightroom.
Thank you for your time!