As you know, I started my 2016 film saga last month. I managed to shoot three rolls of film that I sent off to thefindlab.com to get developed. They were tricky rolls, though - one expired 35mm roll that I shot with my Canon Rebel, one expired 120 roll that I shot with my Seagull, and one 120 roll of Portra 400 that I shot on my newtome Hasselblad.
I had some challenges to meet when I was getting started. I wasn't sure what to shoot, or what was worthy to shoot, and the weather wasn't conducive to running around town to do street photography (soon, though!). Plus, my goals were to really shoot just to find out how the camera works. In the end, I also knew that since some of my rolls were expired (I have many that I will be going through this year), I didn't want to shoot "important" things, because I had no clue how they would turn out. I really didn't have any exciting subjects, but I did especially enjoy shooting some Legos and the construction at the kids' school with the Hasselblad. Here is a random crazy shot from my expired film showing me my shutter speed was way too slow - but still pretty cool result:
I am really loving that Hasselblad. Its a beast, and so beautiful! I am still learning, and still have to think about how to load film into it. I've only loaded film twice into at this point, but I will get the hang of it quick. I found a really fantastic video about loading film into it that is way more helpful than the manual.
One of the other challenges that I am facing is taking notes. I have no record of what my settings were for any of the pictures. Unlike shooting digital, none of that is recorded unless I do it by hand. Part of me thinks this would be a good way to learn the way the film works (not the expired film - that's a crapshoot), but if I am using a lightmeter each time to find the "correct" exposure, I'm not sure it really matters. I am still working through this in my mind and occasionally write down notes about what I've shot. I messed up pretty good on my first Hasselblad shot - I didn't use a lightmeter. I fell prey to "look how gorgeous it looks in the viewfinder" and just focused on focusing on the little Legos. A bit later in the day, I realized what I had done, but couldn't find my lightmeter, so I grabbed my digital camera to use as my lightmeter, then reshot. My first shot:
You can see here the comparison between my digital camera shot (first image below) and the Hasselblad shot (second image below) that I took using the same settings once I realized my error:
When I received the scans back from thefindlab.com, I was holding my breath expecting nothing special, but honestly hoping that the Hasselblad shots were decent. I knew the expired film ones wouldn't be anything like what I shot, but I had no clue how they would be different from my expectations. One of the best parts about thefindlab.com is that you can choose levels of development - what I mean is that you can just get your images developed, you can get them developed and they can include commentary on how to improve your photography, or even more choices. I decided since I am really trying to learn, having someone who wasn't here with me while I was taking the photographs giving some input would be very helpful. I was blown away before I even looked at my scans. The comments were encouraging and so informative. For me, it was well worth the additional investment to have the input from the pros at the lab, and I intend to continue to use this option.
I learned from my expired film scans that when using expired film, I'm going to get darker and more grainy photos, so I will need to add at least one stop of exposure when I'm using my expired films. I also learned that cloudy days will need a stop of exposure on non-expired film, even when using a lightmeter. This is something that I forgot about while using digital, and I think this is a good place for me to start experimenting. Unless, of course, we can start getting some sunshine around here again! See how dark and grainy they are?
And I did manage to get a decently exposed shot of the construction at the school with the Hasselblad (thank you, lightmeter!):
All in all, I was pretty excited about the whole process this month, and I am super excited about shooting more film over the next few weeks. I will let you know how it goes at the end of March. Until then, please leave a comment below so that I know you were here. Let me know if you've ever shot film or if you do now. I'd love to hear about your experiences, too!
Related Posts: My Film Saga Begins
For a long time I’ve wanted to go back to shooting film. I have had a 35mm and a Seagull TLR for a long time.
The Seagull is a whole different world from the 35mm camera. It has a waist level view finder, and it is manual focus. Something that I don’t have a lot of experience with yet! I’ve shot two rolls on the Seagull and have never gotten the film developed yet. I just finished one this weekend, and I don’t even know where the other one is (or what is on it!) - its been THAT long! Also, the screen is reversed and, because its a twin lens, what you see is not exactly what you get.
I have an expired roll of film in the 35mm that I’m slowly working through. Working with expired film is a crapshoot - no clue how it will come out, so really, its about learning the camera again rather than how the film shoots. Which, for me, is fun. I have a ton of old rolls that I've found around the house. Most expired five or more years ago.
I received some new rolls of film in the mail this week that I’m planning to use to start learning how the film works.
My super exciting thing is that I have a new camera on the way soon - a Hasselblad 501C. My plan is to really get to know that camera with one specific type of film and then branch out.
I know I am nerdy, but I am really excited about this part of my journey. I will be sharing images from time to time here on my blog. So now, a question or two for you…Do you shoot film? Any suggestions for subjects to practice shooting on? Leave a message in the comments!