Exploring St. Petersburg with a 50-year-old film camera


Downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. Olympus Pen FT 38mm f1.8 Kodak Ektar 100
Olympus Pen FT // 38mm f1.8 // Kodak Ektar 100

After surviving our first Alaskan winter, my wife and I finally found time for some much needed R&R. We packed our bags this past week and flew down to Saint Petersburg, Florida for a few days of fun in the sun before heading up to Georgia to visit family and friends.

We’ve heard a lot of good things about St. Pete over the years (and a few bad ones) but we were eager to check out things for ourselves. We lucked out and booked an Air B&B with some of the coolest hosts we’ve ever met who helped us out with some killer recommendations and even bought us drinks our last night out on the town (thanks Justin and Carla!).

St. Pete quant downtown district is quite walkable with a series shops, restaurants, and bars all lined up within a few miles. You won’t find any big box stores here and not many chains, and in my book that’s a good thing. Outside of downtown, however, it’s a city to tackle by car or Uber, although there is a trolley (AKA a fancy bus) with connections from downtown to St. Pete Beach and other touristy spots along the coast.


Film photos with Kodak Ektar 100.
Olympus Pen FT // 38mm f1.8 // Ektar 100

I don’t think I’d call the city center “dense” by big-city standards, but it is full of life, walkable, and lends itself to some good-old-fashioned street photography. After spending a full year in a one-red-light town in rural Alaska, I was eager to stretch my photography muscles and try out my new old camera, an Olympus Pen FT made in 1968 that I picked up on eBay a few weeks back.

My trusty Pen shoots 35mm film, but it’s not exactly a 35mm camera. Instead it shoots “half-frame” shots, meaning photos are about half to the size of a typical 35mm image (that’s why all the photos in this post appear in pairs!).

Street photography in downtown Saint Petersburg, FL.
Olympus Pen FT // 38mm f1.8 // Ektar 100


Storefronts in Saint Petersburg, FL.
Olympus Pen FT // 38mm f1.8 // Ektar 100


Parks near St. Pete marina.
Olympus Pen FT // 38mm f1.8 // Ektar 100


Street scenes in St. Pete.
Olympus Pen FT // 38mm f1.8 // Ektar 100



Clay Duda is a freelance journalist and photographer. People usually pay him to write things. Here he does it for free.