Daily Inspiration #143 by Nick Williams

Hi Steve,

I submitted a pic a while ago of a motorbike jumping out of a stairwell and thought it’s about time to share something else, also a bit of a life change from the loving Leica M9 to film! After reading about your review on the Leica MP and the gorgeous photos you get from film I thought I’d give it a crack. I grew up in a era where digital was the norm so missed out on the joys of film, the smells, the feel, you can almost taste the emulsion. Seeing my photos appear almost magically onto a piece of film as it dries in the bathroom really makes me feel….accomplished… I can actually finally say, I’m a photographer. I made the switch from canon to Leica this year and since have come to love the rangefinder way of shooting. It certainly has slowed me down. But not enough…..

I knew after my first few rolls of film through an M6 that I needed the pace only film brings. The technical approach needed to nailing exposure and framing as each shot cost money really makes it feel special. Since then my gorgeous M9 has sat in it’s bag for almost 3 months…. criminal! The love of film has taken hold and I’ve made my M6, and newly acquired Hasselblad H1 the new “old” babies in my camera bag. Who says film is dead……

The following shots in order are

Leica M9 35mm ND1.2

Leica M9, lens unknown only a 35 or 50.

Hasselblad H1 Kodak T-max

Hasselblad H1 Kodak T-max 2.8


  1. Hi Nick,
    Simply GREAT!

    I like second one with the baby the best!
    It really has something in this pic It constantly “calls” me back…
    The very first time I saw it, I simply knew it was special.
    This one tells us true story about life without a single lie,
    just what it is…
    One of the best photos I have found on Steve Huff’s web

    Congrats and keep shooting

  2. Thanks Conor, nailed the feelings I was trying to share. The only reason I made the “I’m a photographer” comment is I’ve always felt like a student, With no training and no classes Its been a road of trial and error for me learning the art literally through manuals.
    Top that off with me being my worst critic so I was never sure enough of myself to say those words “photographer”

    This last step felt like my official graduation into “your world” the great photographers who read Steves site.

  3. Digital or film again, huh?… each to their own I say… and what’s wrong with a bit of both… there are advantages and disadvantages to using either.

    Unless I’ve missed something, I don’t see in what Nick wrote any assertion (explicit or otherwise) that he was shooting film and developing it himself to be “elitist” or that he felt himself to be superior because he did so.. he simply said that he felt accomplished by doing so.

    Feeling that it entitles him to finally say “I am a photographer” is not at all the same as saying you are not a photographer if you don’t do it the same way.

    I personally feel that sentence contributes to the texture and context of the piece and don’t consider his sharing of his experience to be “BS”… nor do I as a digital shooter feel threatened by it.

    Nice photos Nick… no. 1 and no. 4 are my favourites… one from each camp, as it were 😉

  4. lol, right you are about no M6 shots. guess I should have thought about that before submitting.
    The H1 shots are with a film back though, and you’d be surprised how cheap they are with film, half the price of an M9. Then when you need digital you can hire the backs.

  5. I’m confused. The article is about film not being dead but the pictures were labeled M9 and H1? Where are the M6 pictures? I can’t afford a H1! You said the M9 was in the closet for 3 months. So, where are the M6 shots? Just sayin’!

  6. @ Jo,
    I shot with Kodak Tmax, scanned with an Epson V700 using the included silverfast software. I always find you need to play with the film stock setting in silverfast. It seems to be way off sometimes.

    I’ve also bought a 100ft load of 35mm Kodak Tri-X and some Diafine chemicals I’m hanging to test out.

  7. Wow, the 2nd and 4th photos are really amazing.

    Love the colors and how casual the 2nd is, and the 4th is just hypnotizing.

    On the Leica vs. Film vs. Consumer Cam issue…

    For some of us Film is something special. It brings up emotions from the past. Although I have a great Nex, that I use to capture my son growing up, I also love to use the Porst Camera my Dad gave me a year ago. It was the first film slr I had in my hands when I was 10 or so.

    For me, it’s very special.

    Thank you Nick for inspiring me.

  8. @Harald,

    I agree with you comments, it doesn’t make you a better photographer being able to process and shoot film. It does however make you more accomplished, how can any addition to your skills not be an accomplishment! Did you not feel accomplished when you got your drivers licence, passed an exam, learnt how to post a comment!

    It marks a milestone in my personal accomplishments, as I’m sure it has with others from your remark about it being previously posted here before.

    The whole rangefinder/leica lifestyle for me and I’m assuming a vast majority of users include going back to your roots, connecting with the subject and shooting in a style lost in mass manufactured SLR’s.
    Why do we buy a 7grand leica when a canon 5DMk2 will accomplish the same results? partly because the design and build oozes a manufacturing technique lost with new world design.
    Part of that nostalgia of a lost time includes film. A medium that’s been around a lot longer than digital and was used by all the great rangefinder photographers of past.

    Does it surprise you then that a website dedicated to Leica has a higher than normal ratio of shooters that love film.

    Learning the history and techniques of any hobby/profession can only add a positive improvement to your choice of work.

    That’s my 2 cents worth, I will however now refrain from comments that sound like film shooters are better than digital. 😉

    • Maybe I’m just not all that nostalgically inclined. I shot and processed more film, b+w and colour (heck, I even worked in a professional photo lab for a while when I was at university – studied design and a little photography) than I can or like to remember.

      Maybe you misunderstood me but I don’t have a problem with film. There are things I like and dislike about it, same as I do with digital. If playing with chemicals and learning the skills needed to produce excellent prints the “analog” way is something you desire or simply just want to cross off your photographic bucket-list then more power to you.

      The problem I have is with this elitist thinking that one is more of a photographer because of shooting with film. That is plain BS.
      I know elitist thinking and Leica go often hand in hand, yet to me a Leica is just a camera, a tool.
      Of course there are reasons why I choose a M9 over a 5DMk2 but none of them has to do with the allure of owning a Leica or old/new world design. Frankly, as long as it works I don’t even care whether my camera got assembled by a robot or Frau Schmidt (or whatever the person’s name is).

  9. Although I own an M9, I love seeing any pictures taken with film camera’s.
    Very nice pictures BTW. Keep posting these.

  10. No offense to Nick or his work but would it be asked too much if we all could refrain in the future from posting BS like “(film) really makes me feel….accomplished… I can actually finally say, I’m a photographer.”

    I am sick and tired of this constant snobbishness that is, intentionally or not, implied with statements like this. Shooting film doesn’t make one a better photographer or a more accomplished one.
    It is not about which one is superior/inferior but rather film and digital are two completely different mediums. No matter whether one prefers the chemical or binary way of “post production”, to get excellent results one needs to be as accomplished for one as for the other medium. Period.

    Frankly, to me this constant ‘I shoot film, therefore I’m a real photographer’ nonsense is becoming a big turn-off for me to visit this site.

    • In my case it’s the rather constant “(Leica – M!!!! – rangefinder!!!! -) brings out in me the photographer that I really am!!!!, and the rest is cr*p” stuff that’s bothering me every once in a while.

      I look at the images mostly, and not a lot at the sometimes tiresome accompanying narrative.

      Let’s just say it’s all people enjoying what they’re doing and they like to impress that on us. Nothing very wrong with that.

  11. love the 2nd and the 4th. beautiful grain.

    may I ask what film, what scanner, scanner software were used to create these beautiful pictures? thanks for the reply.
    I use MP, M7 and M8.2 bodies. I have try to scan with my newly squired Canoscan 9000F with silverfast plus. the result is not to my liking yet. maybe it is my setting. maybe it is my expectation after years of digital processing. So I am thinking about sending a batch to scancafe to compare.

  12. This whole experience of digital vs film makes me think of my other big passion which is music. Although CD removed the cracking and some noise, something was lost from the sound of LP’s (or vinyl as it is so fashionably called now-days by the hip people 😉 ) I can totally relate to going from digital back to analog. Getting rid of the possibilities of skipping tracks via the remote, the bigger covers and the sound, the SOUND! all makes it so much more enjoyable to me. It’s very similar moving from a modern DSLR to rangefinder. Going analog is just the final logical step! 🙂

    I cannot wait to receive my M4-2 in a few weeks time!
    (I still dream of an M9 of course! Who wouldn’t!? But why can’t you have both? 🙂 )

    Thank you for your beautiful shots Nick!!

  13. thanks guys, I used to spend so much time running Nik effects software to
    create film grain and it just never looks as good. (admittedly I thought it looked awesome
    till I scanned my first roll of film.)

    It just doesn’t seem right to spend so much time post processing when with film
    it’s pretty much just right out off the drying rack.

  14. I love that first one! How the shadows make those highlights pop! Looks almost like an old painting. Maybe not the subject, but the way you used light and shadows. It really draws me in the picture. BRAVO!

  15. Thanks for sharing. I personally like #3 the best. Film is a blast to shoot with. It makes me be selective. It is just another tool in the bag, but I find it to be a lot of fun.

  16. 2nd and 4th are awesome, and other two are still beautiful images. Love the grain on the 4th, shows why film will always be the best.

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