Thursday, April 9, 2009

your mum's camera was better!

haha, this week I'm bringing analogue back! actually, in a lot of people's eyes- it's never gone away...
on the menu we have TWO special guests that are going to answer a few questions about how they photograph stuff. I will be posting these on SATURDAY and SUNDAY, to space out the inspiration! trust me- you don't have to be a professional to get good images on film! and it's more fun! I'm going to run through a few basics and some tips and tricks- then I want you to shuffle on down and load those babies up with light sensitive plastic!

I know that not being able to see what you're shooting is a scary thought, but basically- I want this to reassure those of you who are afraid of film, and to give those a little push who want to try and maybe if you shoot film already learn something new or get inspired.

The most important thing I can say about bringing photography into your life is to ALWAYS have a camera. It takes some getting used to- but you'll thank me later. And if you're too scared to go straight into taking film shots- try applying the Lomography Rules to the way you shoot at the moment. a little bit of risk goes a long way!

What kind of camera? Good question. haha! there are three types of film cameras in my mind;
The SLR- this is the big hunky guy with interchangeable lenses and lots of settings, professional looking and probably old school.

The Point and Shoot- I generally think of these as a camera with a fixed lense, no zooming. you get what you get, the Lomo or a cheap thrifted camera.

The 'Toy Camera'- this includes all Instant (like Polaroid) cameras, fisheye, cameras with four lenses, Holgas, disposable etc.
Obviously there are some exceptions to the list, but that's how i think of it. There really is no 'easy' option because they all have their pros and cons, but if you are thinking about buying a camera for some fun and to play around with- I recommend a Toy camera- just the look of them makes you (and your friends) want to giggle and takes all the seriousness out of this whole picture-taking ordeal.
Disposables are very underrated. Seriously- they are magical, and if you like thrift shops, ask at the counter if they have any old disposables or expired film. I've been lucky a few times. Can you say cheap?

What kind of film? First of all you need to think-

Colour or Black and White?! I would say go with colour (unless you have access to a darkroom) because you can take it to any shop and get it processed and printed for you within the hour- some places will have to send away your B&W for three weeks, and they charge you lots for each print- because the process is different. If you really want B&W and can't find a place that will do it for you, think about using that Kodak B&W C41 film which gives you B&W images, but can be processed like colour or-shooting on colour, scanning the prints and making then B&W on photoshop.

Print Film/Slide Film. I get this question alot- How do you get those amazing colours? It's all in the type of film. Print film is the everyday film- y'know, Kodak, Agfa, Fuji etc- the kind that comes standard in any disposable and that you can pick up at the counter of any shop. It is called Print Film because the negatives will give you prints. The technical name for the chemicals it uses to process is called 'C-41'. Slide film is the old school film that give you negatives with fit into slide holders which you put into a slide projector- remember these?

(this is great film, btw!)
To get slides from Slide Film, you use 'E6' chemical process. BUT- here is the kicker, Cross Processing is where you get the funky colours from. If you have a roll of slide film and you put it through C-41 (the print film chemicals) then the film goes 'Hold on! this isn't right!' and you'll get tints of colours and all sorts of magical things, in a print! But if you put Print Film in E6 (the slide film chemicals) you'll get washed out, desaturated, gray images. I recommend playing with Slide Film in C-41. but just WARNING: there is no telling what is it going to do. you might get really really green images, super dooper red shadows, crazy tinted grays where the black should be and very odd skin colours. Here are some examples of the 'worst' I've gotten back;

To buy Slide Film, you might have to order it online, but try a camera shop (i know Boots in england has some slidefilm, also SnappySnaps is good)- 7DayShop is nice and cheap, but is very friendly although you might have to wait! There are tons of makes and types of film- it's best to just TRY anything! Agfa is my favourite for cross processing, but Fuji has been good to me too.

Film Speeds. Okay, a bit of technical knowledge here (is your head hurting yet?), what are the numbers on film packets, 400, 200, 800, 100? Without going into too much detail, the lower the number, the slower the film. i.e. 100 is slow. Having a slow film means that you need more light to get an image that is going to be in focus all the time(due to camera shake). Your camera has a thing called a shutter speed- this is the amount of time that each frame gets exposed to light. If you have a slower speed film, your camera will need more light. In practical use- if it's summer, use a low speed film, i.e. 100 or 200, and in winter it's better to use a faster 800 depending on how dreary your day is (and inside faster is better). Really, though- most cameras can handle whatever you load up, but if your images are crazy bright or really dark- that could be the issue. Also a little note on Film Grain- the faster the speed of film, the more grain you're going to get. generally looked on as a 'bad' thing, but it's all down to personal taste.

Camera Settings; Automatic is great for anyone, and its really handy if you don't have the time or the brain power to pick settings before that moment is gone. I am not a settings snob- they put Automatic on your camera for a reason, don't be embarrassed to use it! I do not recommend sticking your camera on Manual if you just want to have some fun. I do think Manual is a great way to learn about your camera, but it can get frustrating. Personally I use Aperture Priority (Av) all the time. I set it to the lowest number (like 3.5- this is an 'f stop') because I like it when I get that blurryness wherever I'm not focusing(called Depth Of Field), then it automatically chooses the shutter speed for me. This is handy because I know I'm always getting the fastest my camera can give me- which is really important because England is very grey all the time and pubs have very tricky low-lighting. Anyway, I'm kind of rambling now. If you want help with settings on your camera, shoot me a comment or an e-mail ( and I'll see if I can advise. On most of my film cameras, there aren't many settings and especially on the toy cameras, they are super lo-fi (which means the opposite of 'high tech'), and I usually just go with it, and I'll take one without flash and one with flash just incase i'm not sure if it will come out. this has saved quite a few moments.

The Mindset- there are tons of ways to shoot, untill you find out what kind of photographer you are- it's best to TRY EVERYTHING! but don't be too heart broken if it doesn't come out perfect. try resting the camera on a table and shooting that way

try not using flash in low-light

try using flash in the daytime

try not looking through the viewfinder and just shooting 'from the hip'.
there are really no rules set in stone, except remember to take the lensecap off!

I've put together a little Q&A...

Kara's Questionnaire---

Q: What camera(s) do you use? And your favourite?
I use a Canon 10S, a film SLR. It used to be my grandma's and I love it to death.
gah. this is a good season in life.
Q: What is your film of choice? Why?
I like Fujifilm, ISO 400. I honestly don't know much about films and just use whatever I can find.

Q: Favourite place/thing to shoot?

I love taking film pictures in my backyard, that's where I take most of them.gah. i'm in love with disposable cameras.

Q: Flash or no flash?

No flash, usually. Though I do want to start experimenting more.smoking kills.

Q: How do you deal with low-light conditions?

Run away?

Q: Are you technical, or more of a ‘shoot-and-see’ kind of photographer?

Shoot and see with film, I'm so scared to go Manual with film. With my digital camera, I should soley in Manual and am more technical that way.

Q: Do you take your camera with you all the time?

No. But, that's because I'm naughty... Gotta work on that.

Q: Tripods and other kit? Do you carry one around with you or only sometimes, or not at all?

I have a Tripod, but I never use it with film

.my life.

Q: Do you use any Post-processing?

Once scanning in the film, I usually darken things up a bit, but I don't play around much. I love what comes strange out of the camera.

Q: Did you take any courses/classes at school in photography? Were they beneficial technically?

I take photography classes at my highschool. I've learned a lot of technical stuff and a lot of art theory. So grateful for them.

Film. Week One.

Q: Do you develop your film yourself or at a shop? Shop.

Q: How many rolls a week or month do you take? Usually between one and two rolls a month.

Q: What made you decide to ‘go analogue!’?
I think film possesses a quality that digital can't achieve. When I asked my grandma for her film camera, I've been hooked ever since. I love the DOF and the natural vignetting and beautiful colors that come out of the camera.
film plus dandelion.

Kim's Questionnaire---

Q: What camera(s) do you use? And your favourite?
A: I have a lot of cameras, haha. I use a digital SLR (Canon EOS 400D), a Lomo Lc-a, a Fisheye, a Holga, a film SLR, and a Polaroid the most. It depends what week it is, and which one I am favouring more. But at the moment I love my Film SLR (it’s a Minolta).

Q: What is your film of choice? Why?
A: I love Slide Film, and cross processing it. Agfa is the brand I’ve been using lately. Normally I use 400 speed or faster, only because England is pretty dark, but I’m going to be trying some low speed (100) this spring. For Black and Whites, I always go Ilford (HP5 mostly)!

Q: Any favourite settings on your camera you use a lot? (i.e. slightly overexposed?)
A: I’m an Av girl. I’ll pop my camera on that, and set it to the biggest aperture(normally 3.5) and just go with it. I love the depth of field it gives. I love having things slightly overexposed as well, so I often use exposure compensation to make things lighter, but only if the conditions allow it.

Q: Favourite place/thing to shoot?
A: I love to shoot my friends and anything retro, or stylish. My everyday inspires me, candid shots, and I love pictures of the boy [:

Q: Flash or no flash?
A: My general rule is No Flash!!! But at parties/clubs/night time/if I have to, I don’t mind using the built-in-flash on my camera or attaching my nifty RingFlash, which has coloured flashes. I used to have a real problem with flash, but we’ve come to an agreement now. Haha.

Q: How do you deal with low-light conditions?
A: This is a major struggle for me, as I never want to ruin the ‘vibe’ by setting off a flash at a chillout party or in a pub. I will normally try to remember to load a really fast film and if I don’t, I just tell my camera that it’s faster than it is- I use my Av setting and hope for the best. Sometimes I try to use exposure compensation to darken the image, but a lot of the time it doesn’t work so well, and it’s often super grainy. But flash is always the ‘safe bet’, although not as dreamy.

Q: Are you technical, or more of a ‘shoot-and-see’ kind of photographer?
A: I would say I’m a pretty ‘happy snapper’, that’s half the fun- not knowing till you get your prints!

Q: Do you take your camera with you all the time?
A: I’ve never not been with at least one camera for at least 3 years. Too many times when I’ve looked back and said ‘oh- I wish…’ so now I always have the option.

Q: Tripods and other kit? Do you carry one around with you or only sometimes, or not at all?
A: I very rarely take my tripod with me, only if I know I’m going to be doing self portraits or long exposures. If I take my fisheye, the ringflash goes in the bag too, other than that I always have a spare battery and film, although sometimes it’s fun to see what film you can find/buy on the spot.

Q: Do you use any Post-processing?
A; With my film images, I never edit them. Maybe clean up some dust and scratches, but I like the organic look.

Q: Did you take any courses/classes at school in photography? Were they beneficial technically?
A: Yeah- I’m in art college at the moment, but I had to teach myself about Aperture and Depth Of Field and how film worked and everything really because all of my classes have always been ‘project based’ instead of technical, although we've done a lot of good study on artists, which I love. I’ve taken two summer courses about how camera’s work but, books and practice are marvellous things. I'm a geek like that.

Q: Do you develop your film yourself or at a shop?
A: I do my black and whites by hand, but for all things colour- Snappy Snaps or Boots (like Walgreens).

Q: How many rolls a week or month do you take?
A: I take about 3-4 rolls of film a month. I wish I could take more, but it's a budget thing.

Q: What made you decide to ‘go analogue!’?
A: My first camera was my Minolta, but I used my Digital a lot while I was learning and trying things, but Lomography did it for me. I completely fell in love. I got the Holga and then the Lomo Lc-a. I just can’t put them down. Plus I prefer the look to film photographs as well, it’s just something that my heart knows that it loves.

okay, the person who throws light in every direction this time will get a little travel journal made by yours truly. i smell summer!
Please post your pictures by April the 23rd in the flickr group- or link us in the comment section!

(remember to come back tomorrow and sunday for more inspiration!)


Kiki K said...

Great post!!! thank you for all the info and inspiration. I'm recently bitten by the "lomo bug" lol! and I'm experimenting. I want to buy the oktomat and color splash (I'm expecting to bring them to the local shop). Love the b/w films but you are SO right for the processing issues...

shaina said...

i have re-discovered my love of film thanks to you. oh yeah!!
here is a link:

(also added to the WYS flickr group)

thanks so much ladies!!