Illinois Photographer Prefers Film over Digital
Student Steps Into Past with Vintage Camera
OTTAWA, Ill. (AP) — Pay close attention out and about in Ottawa, and the sight of a young man roaming the city with a vintage sheet film camera and tripod photographing buildings and landscapes may take you back.
It’s taken 22-year-old Illinois Valley Community College student Joey Urso back more than 100 years.
Urso not only loves film — remember film? — but he also has put together a makeshift portable darkroom to develop his own black and white film and photos.
And, when he is not working as manager at Francesa’s Pizza in Norway, he is engrossed in his hobby.
“About two years ago, I realized I didn’t have any physical photos, only digital files,” he explained. “I thought about the empty spot my generations has on their own personal time lines. People have digital images, but very few have actual photographs anymore.”
Using an antique 100-plus year-old Premo B camera purchased at a local auction for $12, he decided to teach himself the art of black and white photography, which certifies him as not only a photographer, but also a chemist.
He uses various photographic chemicals in his home, makeshift darkroom to develop the large 4- by-5 sheet negatives and crystal sharp paper prints.
“My research on this camera makes me think it was made in 1897,” he said and laughed. “I have proven there’s life in the old girl yet.”
Online research shows the Premo B camera was manufactured by the Rochester Optical Company from 1894 to about 1901.
Using 4-by-5-inch sheet film in holders, the camera was a popular hand and tripod model among amateurs providing a universal, quality camera at a moderate cost. It is constructed of mahogany, covered in leather and finished with polished and lacquered brass metal hardware.
Urso’s camera shows a lot of wear, which makes it look even more classic.
“I love this camera and the photos I am getting out of it,” Urso said. “Yes, it is more work, but I enjoy using it. When everything works out, the photos are of great quality and it is personally satisfying.
“There is something about film, the quality is unique. I think the photos are more involved, more detailed.”
Urso said, yes he still uses a digital camera on occasion, and that he has used local drug stores for some of his 35mm film color processing. He also has digitized his large negatives for use online and other purposes.
“But the drug stores labs scans the negatives and only returns the digital files,” he said. “They throw the negatives away after they are scanned. I have to send out the 4-by-5 color film sheets for processing ($10 per sheet) to out-of-state professional labs.”
The IVCC student is taking and processing photos for an upcoming art show.
“I hope to enter about 50 different images for the show next month, so I have a lot of work to do before then,” he said. “But I’m having fun doing it. I love the creative process.”
Info from: The Daily Times, http://bit.ly/2vKATGt