The Film Shooter

My wife and I made Panorama Drive part of our Sunday walk routine—entering the loop at Louisiana. After we exited onto Alabama, at cross-street Madison, Annie pointed out a group of people meandering down the sidewalk ahead. She wondered if we should choose another way. Understanding that everyone would have to squeeze by, I asked to continue on. Before proceeding even 10 paces, I saw the cameras. Lots of them. We had come upon an apparent photo walk.

We passed through the throng, with many people stopping to shoot anything and everything about. University Heights is one of San Diego’s oldest neighborhoods. As such, in part because of different construction eras—following world wars, for example—the housing architecture is distinct and varied. The contrast is striking compared to what locals call North County, where whole areas of homes look one and alike.

When we reached the last person, I stopped and asked about the group—and he confirmed what I suspected: Photo walk, and his first in two years. Blame the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 pandemic for that.

Jim Martin was the oldster of today’s group, which was more Millennials. The photo walks are organized on Facebook, mainly, and, if I heard him correctly, some people associated with Nelson Photo—from where I bought Leica Q in May 2017—were involved. After some quick banter, and not wanting to too separate him from the others, we parted.

But a block onward, I asked Annie if she wouldn’t mind walking home alone, so that I could go after Jim and ask to take a portrait. After all, in more than 14 years living in SD, I had never encountered a photo walk before; I wanted to make a memory in this post, with accompanying illustration.

I caught up with Jim at Adams and Mississippi, where he graciously obliged my request. I took three photos, each at different apertures (f/2, f/2.8, f/4), using Leica Q2. Vitals for the Featured Image: f/2, ISO 100, 1/1600 sec, 28mm; 10:36 a.m. PST.

Jim is old school—a film shooter. He holds the Nikon S2 rangefinder, which is a fairly new acquisition; so I understood. Slung back is the Nikon F, the company’s first SLR and introduced 63 years ago. Jim was lucky enough to buy one in pristine condition—put away and unused. But the electronics were shot, nevertheless. So he sent the Nikon F to someone who repairs cameras; for electronics replacement and update to modern battery compatibility.

You can follow Jim on Flickr or Instagram (the latter I don’t link to).