This is a little thing, but it shows the systematic generosity of FILM and how it makes life a little happier.

This weekend I shot a birthday party for some friends. A 90th birthday.
It was a big deal, lots of friends, lots of family, and a very, very good time.

I knew lots of the folks: friends from the neighborhood, from church, and the town in which I live. Perfect.

The job was to record the event, casually but professionally, and get lots of pictures of folks over 80 years. Show the life, not the wrinkles. Don't be in the way. ( and from hard experience, something that would be deathly to try with digital ).

Here's how I shot the 'do'.

I used a Nikon F2, with a 50/1.4 and an 85/1.8.

A vintage Metz 60 ( with a remote sensor ) and a Chimera 16x22 lightbox.

The Metz is about 25 years old, and has survived two swimming pools and a hot tub, numerous baggage handlers, and bizarre incident involving a dog, a jeep, and two goats. Don't ask.

Basically, a state of the art outfit, circa 1980. I shot Fuji NPS. It was processed and printed on a Fuji Frontier.

I remember the recent days of labs perversely proofing 35mm through mylar sheets. I don't miss that one bit.

The shooting was easy, fun, and I was confident the exposures would be good. With the extended useful range of NPS ( like EK's Portra ) I could over-expose by 5 stops and still be alright. But quick meter readings beforehand showed the old non-TTL flash was +/- 1/2 stop throughout the hall, from 4 feet to 20 feet, and I exposed with a little generosity.

For close-ups of the birthday girl, and some of her friends, a Nikon Soft 1 discretely went onto the lens.

It was all "f/4 and be there."

And the dinner was great. The entire "WORKFLOW" was no more than:
1. Shoot 2. Drop off the film 3. Pick up the pictures 4. Deliver, and get hugged.

When I picked up the snaps today, it was like every other time since I was 16 when it all worked out right. Rich color, accurate color, flattering lighting ( with the Chimera box, eyeglasses didn't even glare ) and the form, and bone structure of all the faces of men and women... of a certain age... looked great with not an unseemly wrinkle to be found.

I knew everybody would be happy.

And, surprised, I reaized somebody was looking over my shoulder.

He said, "Great shots, man."

- Gosh, thanks.

"Which camera you using ?"

- Uh, umm. Nikon ?

"Oh, the D2X ? "

- Umm, no an F2... old camera.

"You shooting film ?"

- Um, uh, well, yeah.

We looked at the pictures.

"TTL ?"

- No. Just dialed in a little overexposure.

"Why are they so good ?"

- Film did the hard work, I just went to the party.

Be good everybody. Shoot film, have fun.

And three cheers for NPS and Portra, and the dazzling printers that make us look SO good.

And the Metz. But NEVER ask about the goats.