Intimate Underwater Photography Captured with a 1980s Nikonos

Gallery Mode

Photographer

Andrew T Kearns

Camera

Nikonos V

Film

Fuji Natura 1600 (RIP), Kodak Tri-X 400, Portra 160, 400

Back to article
Fallback
Fallback

Intimate Underwater Photography Captured with a 1980s Nikonos

Stirring film photos and the love/hate struggle of shooting film, in the ocean, with a 30+ year old camera

Intimate Underwater Photography Captured with a 1980s Nikonos

Author

Andrew T Kearns

Photographer

Andrew T Kearns

Camera

Nikonos V

Film

Fuji Natura 1600 (RIP), Kodak Tri-X 400, Portra 160, 400

https://www.fieldmag.com/articles/nikonos-v-underwater-dive-surf-film-photographs-andrew-kearns

Andrew Kearns is a photographer interested in documenting how others experience nature—a subject he explores in his forethcoming photo book, "How Does It Feel". He is currently traveling along the west coast living out of his truck and pop up camper.

I started off on the Nikonos IV—It was simple. Built between 1980 and 1983, the classic underwater camera has a small dot in the viewfinder that would either blink or remain constant. When the dot was constant, it meant exposure was even. I tend to overexpose my film, so I would go brighter until it started blinking. I would wait for my shot and shoot it. It was simple.

Then my Nikonos IV broke, so I “upgraded” to the V, which meters differently. I’m unsure if it’s because I suck at math (I do) or what, but something just doesn’t compute in my head when I’m looking at the blinking numbers, indicating what shutter speed to be at for even exposure. As you’re reading this you’re probably saying “If you wanna overexpose, drop the shutter, open your aperture, dumbass.

Andrew-T-Kearns-Nikonos-Diver-Fieldmag-2

Andrew-T-Kearns-Nikonos-Divers-Fieldmag-7
Andrew-T-Kearns-Nikonos-Diver-Fieldmag-4

It’s easy to remember as I sit here writing this. But, in the midst of waves crashing over, battling against currents, avoiding another reef wound, surfers whizzing by and diving under their fins, and (most importantly!) trying to not anger the locals, math just doesn’t come easy. Oh yeah, also in the midst of all of this you have to zone focus everything.

I dodged, swam, pissed off some locals and apologized to make these shots. They weren't easy to create. More than anything shooting the Nikonos like playing the lottery, and I feel lucky when I get a few I like.

"It’s a complicated and expensive relationship, but I think I love it."

Andrew-T-Kearns-Nikonos-Diver-Fieldmag-1

Out of all my cameras the Nikonos is the hardest to operate—it’s a challenge and that’s why I love shooting it, and it’s also why I don’t shoot it as often as I should. It’s a complicated and expensive relationship, but I think I love it.

Andrew-T-Kearns-Nikonos-Diver-Fieldmag-8
Andrew-T-Kearns-Nikonos-Surfer-Fieldmag-3
Andrew-T-Kearns-Nikonos-Surfer-Fieldmag-9

Andrew-T-Kearns-Nikonos-Hawaii-Fieldmag-5

Fallback

Related articles

Q&A: Alimo on Balancing Art, Adventure, and Sustainability
Q&A: Multimedia Artist Alimo on Creating Art You Recognize, But Don't Know

How artist Sean Kesterson, aka "Alimo," developed his signature style of vibrant, familiar depictions of life outdoors

13 Best Montauk Beach House Rentals, Cottages, & Surf Shacks
The 13 Best Beach Rentals in Montauk for Year Round Escapes From NYC

Spend weekend away from New York City, among surfers and artists in one of these quaint cottages, classic cabins, and contemporary surf shacks

Photographer Daniel Fuller Offers Fresh Perspectives on Seascapes
Photographer and Pro Surfer Daniel Fuller Offers Fresh Perspectives on Seascapes

Aptly titled "Liquid Horizons" presents an abstracted, emotive body of work born of a life at sea

Go.Go.Go: Skiing, Surfing, a Super 8 Camera, and Micro RV in Japan
Video: Super 8 Film Documents an Epic Ski & Surf Road Trip Through Japan by RV

Pro skiers Callum Pettit & Mike Henitiuk roam the South Island in a micro RV to ski, surf, and explore in new short film

Album Surf x Old Pal Provisions Release Soft Top Collaboration
Your Summer Soft Top Shred Sled Just Got a Whole Lot Groovier, Man

A Spicoli approved collection of fully recyclable, USA-made surfboards from cannabis cool kids Old Pal and the experimental shapers at Album Surf

“She Surf” Is The Unexpected Anthology Women’s Surfing Deserves
New Book “She Surf” Gives Women's Surfing the Respect it Deserves

A conversation with Surfer Lauren Hill on her decade-long pursuit to document the rich and intersectional history of female surfing

More articles
Fallback
Fallback