I was contacted a short while back by a friend who told me she had recently purchased a home in the area. The former owners had left her with basically all their possessions, including an “old camera”. Knowing that I love photography, she told me the camera was mine if I wanted it. I couldn’t say “Yes, please!” quickly enough! My mind was instantly filled with the imaginative anticipation of what the “old camera” could be since the possibilities were endless.
Hannah arrived at my house a few days later with a weathered and worn, leather camera bag. I took the bag from her and was shocked at the sheer weight of what the bag contained. Quickly, I took the bag inside. I could hardly contain my excitement to unzip the ancient leather bag and reveal the mystery. Opening the bag, I was greeted with an “every-ready” style camera case. The case was a cracked and aging with the name “Nikon” emblazoned across the front. I opened it and was greeted with a very large “F” on the over-sized prism. It was indeed a Nikon F in all its bulky, silver and black glory. I couldn’t have been more thrilled since I have been a devoted Nikon fan for many years.
A perfect companion
The arrival of this classic Nikon SLR happened to coincide with a photo project I had been planning for several years. Each July, on the Kenai Peninsula where I live in Alaska, sockeye salmon begin their spawning run up the Kenai River. Well in excess of one million sockeye salmon annually migrate up the river to their spawning grounds. It is during this time of year that dip-netting, one of the most sacred rituals of southeast Alaska, happens at the mouth of the Kenai River. I have long desired to document this unique element of Alaskan culture.
Dip-netting is a messy, muddy, and sandy activity. The Nikon F has proven to be a workhorse with a resume filled with grueling military conflicts. It has proven its ability to take a beating and keep on firing. The “F” seemed perfect for the task I was planning.
A suitable film and lens
For the film portion of the project (I also shot with my Sony a6300 and Nikon D610), I chose Ilford’s Delta 400 film. I selected Delta 400 because it was fast enough to shoot stopped down so I that I wouldn’t have to worry about perfect focus as I captured the action. I also knew from experience it would provide an appropriate amount of grain, suitable for the grungy conditions I would be photographing. The lens I decided on was the pristine Nikkor Q 135mm f2.8 which was one of the lenses included with the camera. As a result of the longer focal length, I was able to maintain a workable distance from the fisherman yet still capture the details of their work.
Thanks for joining me on the Kenai Beach for an event that must be seen to be believed. If you are interested, you can see the entire project HERE.