Toronto and the Nikon FE2 | Bill Smith

I’m going to be up front, there are times I have to agree with the late Anthony Bourdain: Toronto isn’t a pretty city, like, say, London, or Paris. Its charm is on the ground, in the streets, and most importantly in the neighbourhoods and park systems providing a never ending wealth of photographic opportunities. 

Skyline Riverdale Park

Skyline Riverdale Park

So you’re planning to visit Toronto: if you have any leeway in timing take a pass in the winter and head up to Quebec City instead, they have winter charm cornered. Spring Summer and Autumn are much better times to visit. I’ve told friends we pretty much share Chicago’s climate minus the snowfall. In fact in some ways we’re a Chicago, tilted sideways, and with exponentially less gun crime. If you road tripped up from the US, just park the car where you are staying: Toronto rush hour isn’t for the weak, especially on the Gardiner Expressway, Don Valley Parkway, or the 401. Buy a PRESTO Card which you can buy at any GO Train Station, TTC Subway Station and Shoppers Drug Mart, load it up with money. You can use PRESTO on any public transit system in The Greater Toronto Hamilton Region including GO Transit. Fares will vary on each system. 

Friday Morning on the DVP Northbound

Friday Morning on the DVP Northbound

Logistics are out of the way: we’re downtown, it’s morning and we will be headed east on the 504b Street Car, and enjoying the ride through Toronto’s downtown core, crossing the Don Valley and up Broadview Ave. We’re not going all the way up to Broadview Subway Station on Danforth. Get off at Withrow Avenue, why here? Across the street is Riverdale Park, and there’s a reason why we start here, there’s a great skyline view of downtown Toronto. The other reason, and when I plan photowalks, is they have to start with decent coffee, in this The Rooster Coffee House on Broadview. 

The Rooster in the Shade

The Rooster in the Shade

From here you can go in multiple directions, like deeper into the east end through Chinatown East and down into Leslieville, or, go down into the valley and take the pedestrian overpass into Cabbagetown. This is just a few examples with just one starting point; you can even stay downtown and wander around, or go down to the harbour. I do strongly recommend, if you’re coming to Toronto, connect with one of the local film photography communities like The Toronto Film Shooters Facebook Group; they are filled with local knowledge. 

 Now that’s my town.  For your consideration, the one of many cameras I own that I take with me on my urban adventures is the Nikon FE2. At first glance it looks like its mechanical stablemate of the FM2, but under the hood the FE2 is a different camera. 

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Produced between 1983 and 1987 as a replacement model for the FE, the FE2 was marketed to advanced amateurs during a very dynamic time in camera evolution. Unlike the FA stablemate, the FE2 was quite conservative in features, with just aperture priority, bulb to 1/4000 shutter speed, and a mechanical 1/250, and that’s it. Under the skin there were a lot of shared electronics, particularly with the TTL Off The Plane Flash metering system. 

Unlike the Canon AE-1P and Minolta X-700, the FE2 was all metal construction built to take a ton of abuse. Of course, that reflects in the original selling price. Nikon did respectably well with the FE2 but by the late 1980s with autofocus bodies being introduced by all the major camera brands, Nikon streamlined the product line in favour of cutting edge technology. 

That’s the history lesson; what’s the Nikon FE2 like to work with? 

 Short answer: much like the FE but with higher shutter speeds. To expand, the FE2 has a great match needle display which is the opposite of the FM2, which was LED, or the FA, which is LCD like the F3. Nikon was shrewd to have an auto exposure capable camera for advanced shooters who don’t need multiple modes, which is pretty much me. 

I love this camera for multiple assignments be it in the city or out hiking, and it would make a decent camera for travelling. Batteries shouldn’t be an issue as Energizer 357’s and S76’s are pretty much common everywhere, but it’s wise to pack some spares just in case. 

The next question is, should I get one? 

Well, that depends. If you are a Nikon shooter with with a large stable of Ai, Ais and even AF-D Nikkor lenses, I would whole-heartedly say yes, the FE2 would make a great addition to the camera bag. If there’s one Achilles heal, you can’t use Pre-Ai Nikkor lenses on the FE2 like you can with the FE, and meter stop down. If you try, it will end in tears, regret, and a repair bill along with a stern glance of condescension from your go-to repair tech for being dumb. So yeah, don’t put Pre Ai lenses on the FE2, the same goes with the FM2 and the FA.

To wrap this up: Toronto is a fun place to visit, in the spring, summer or fall. There are tons of places to photograph and explore, and do start your photowalk with a decent coffee and end off with beer. The Nikon FE2 is a great camera to add to your kit if you’re a Nikon shooter and is one of my go to bodies in my Nikon kit.


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Bill Smith, an Ontario-based film photographer, specializes in landscape, street, architecture and portraiture. Follow Bill on Twitter or Instagram.

In the Place Where the Winds Rest | Shin Noguchi

Friends, today I (Amy Jasek) would like to present to you film photographer Shin Noguchi, who graciously agreed to share one of his projects with us. I have followed (been captivated by, and admired!) his work for a while on Instagram, and was particularly beguiled by the photographs he shared recently from some time spent in Hawaii. In my mind, having never been there myself, it is an island paradise punctuated by dangerous and fascinating volcanic activity. What I saw in Shin’s photographs was even better: a poignant reality, populated by interesting people. The icing on the cake for me, as a lover of words as well as images, is his expressive, evocative writing, which you can read below.

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In the Place Where the Winds Rest

I reached here again. When I was walking on this island, sometimes I met the wind resting without being tied to anyone, and without worrying about time. Additionally, I also met the “winds” who chose this island as their land of the end from where they were born and raised, such as England, Texas, New Jersey, Florida...

Cheerfulness, beauty, rest and quiet.. among with them, and political issues, poverty, persecution, discrimination, disparities.. that can never be separated from them, were also flowing on this island: the island of Oahu in Hawaii is known as "The Gathering Place.”

I will definitely come back here, in the place where the winds rest, and want to be close to them. As a person who came to this land before asking myself why.

Below is our interview, via email; words in bold are mine, Shin’s responses follow in plain type.

How did you get started with photography? Specifically, how did you get started with street photography?

I grew up surrounded by many arts, foreign movies, and Jazz and Rock music because of my parents’ influence, and I wanted to record it using something when I noticed that the extraordinary moments I saw in my childhood were existing in our daily life, our ordinary life. In my teens, my father gave me an old Fujica camera, and I would shoot, shoot, and shoot my own life and other people's lives. I really love the candid / unposed photographs of people from long ago. It has been around ten years since I came to focus more deeply on the concept of human beings / society, and now people call me a "street photographer" in this society.

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What do you enjoy most about street photography?

I think that street photography always projects the "truth". The "truth" that I talk about isn't necessarily what I can see, but what also exists in society, in the street, in people's lives. I always try to capture this reality beyond my own values and viewpoint / perspective, and I think, in addition to catching the truth, visual and emotional depth appears in the photographs as a result of being particular about the details. To shoot people with a camera is, for me, is like saying "hello". Sometime I use my mouth for it, sometime I use my eyes, and sometimes my camera, that's it. I just really enjoy "talking" or making conversation with people in the street, and if I use a camera for it, I always use the viewfinder; I never use hip-shots to hide myself.

Do you feel like your photography evolved in the time that passed between your trips to Hawaii? Did you find yourself looking at the place in a different way during your most recent trip, compared to when you visited in the past?

23 years ago, when I was 20 years old, I went there for the first time to visit my future wife, who was living and studying in university alone. I took some photos, but it was my first trip abroad and I could only record the superficial part of the land like other tourists. I really wanted to see and know what kind of life the locals were living, and I was able to visit there again in 2016 for the first time in 20 years. I enjoyed walking and shooting in the local streets better than last time, and this time, I tried to click the shutter by following the flow of the wind with which the locals were spending.

Why do you choose to use film?

I use Leica M6 and MP for personal work, and digital Leica M9-P for some assignments mainly. I really love the tone of the atmosphere that the film has over digital, especially Kodak Portra 400 that I have been using always. A digital sensor may be able to record almost every bit of information in the frame, but it can not capture an atmosphere, and I think the most important element in expressing human beings exists in this layer. In this layer that I call "the tone of the atmosphere," which also includes the photographer's own thoughts and process until clicking the shutter, that just existed before the photograph was born, and that arises from the fusion of "content" and "form".

Your family is obviously a big part of your life (I love the photographs of your daughters!). How do they feel about your photography?

While I'm scanning/editing photographs, my lovely three daughters watch and they give me some response, like "Dad I know this place!", "I was here when Dad captured this moment!", and they talk to each other about these moments. I think it's a very important thing / moment for the family to spend together, as well as making money to support my family, and I'm also trying to increase the time of parent-child communication through photography.

How great that they enjoy it so much! Do you ever let them borrow a camera to make pictures of their own?

If you’re asking “do you give your Leica to them when they want to use it to take pictures?” my answer is no, it’s too heavy for them, but don’t worry I give compact cameras to them, (not my smartphone!) and not just one: three cameras that I choose for each of them. I’m sure every father does this for their child; they choose amazing moments we never see with adult eyes.

Thank you so much for sharing your work and some of your story with us! I’ll be looking forward to seeing what you do next.


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See more of Shin Noguchi’s work on his website (the full story on his experiences in Hawaii is here) , and on his Instagram. Also, be sure to check out Eyeshot Magazine; he is featured in the June issue! He is a member of the UP international photography collective. His new photobook will published this year in Italy, so be on the lookout for news about that as well.


Austin, TX Photowalk | Katie Mollon, Chris Ullrich, Amy Jasek

Several weeks ago, three of us were able to get together for a film photowalk in Austin, TX. These sorts of things are often discussed but rarely take place; however, on this occasion we had the special treat of a fellow FSC member in town for a visit, and everything came together just right! Here are some of our favorite photographs from that day.

Katie Mollon

I'm so happy that Amy wanted to organize an FSC walk in Austin when I told her that I would be in town. For the few days leading up to our event, I had been bumming around downtown while my husband attended SXSW. While the people-watching was fun in the city, the monotony of modern business buildings had me itching for new scenery. I felt inspired by the energy of South Congress: the neighborhood that Amy selected for our walk. The first thing I saw upon exiting my Lyft was an outdoor artist market, and knew I was amongst my kind.

We met up at Jo's Coffee stand, which itself was visually unique. That Saturday was particularly perfect weather: people were out in droves. I'm normally very shy about photographing people, but it becomes much easier in large public crowds. Chris, Amy, and I slowly made our way down the street past the colorful boutique shops and restaurants with outdoor patios. I was drawn to all of the Texas iconography: cactuses, cowboy boots, and long-horn skulls. However, I announced, my photograph of a scooter in front of Willie Nelson truly summarized my SXSW experience of Austin.

I packed my three easiest “point and shoot” cameras for the trip: a classic Holga, a Plastic Filmtastic Debonair, and a Yashica T4 Super. I like variety, so I loaded the Holga with Ilford FP4, the Debonair with Lomography 800 (the faster the better with plastic cameras), and the T4 with Psychedelic Blues #4. I was using the T4 for a lot of my downtown snaps, so I mainly focused on the first two cameras for this walk. I love alternating between double-exposures and singles. Some subjects beg to be layered, while others you don't want to lose in the details.

Chris Ullrich

South Congress Photowalk with the Nikon L35AF

I’ve been making photographs for a long time and part of the fun, especially when shooting film, has always been trying out different cameras. I have my favorites, of course (the Leica M6 and Nikon FM2n chief among them), but this time around I was toting a pair of Nikon L35AF point-and-shoots I had picked up on eBay for about 20 bucks each. One was loaded with Tri-X and the other Fuji Superia. Each was rated at box speed (ISO 400 in both cases).

I don’t typically use a point-and-shoot because I like having total control over exposure and focus, and I had never used the Nikon L35AF before at all, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’d read a few reviews and knew the camera had worked well for other photographers, so I was pretty sure I’d be able to make some acceptable photographs with them.

Turns out, I was correct. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy the Nikon L35AF was to shoot with. It pretty much nailed exposure and focus on every frame, even in some difficult high-contrast situations, and the images scanned well, requiring very little to no adjustment in Lightroom.

All in all, I had a very good experience with these cameras and plan on using one again very soon. In fact, I may just keep one in my bag all the time, just in case.

Amy Jasek

I was lucky enough to get to photowalk with Katie two days in a row, so I’ve included a photograph from the day before in East Austin as well (it’s the first one). I had my Hasselblad 500 c/m and Nikon F with me, both loaded with Tri-X.


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See more of Katie, Chris, and Amy’s work on their Instagrams!