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year one of learning film photography
"kodak portra 400 this kodak portra 400 that"
With a digital camera, I’ll snap 100 pics in 15 minutes and attend an optometrist’s appointment in Lightroom afterwards: does it look better with 1 or does it look better with 2? But with film, it all takes a beat longer. The scene is metered. Frame lines are noted. The focus is dialed. Double checked. Shot. Wound. Sent to the lab. Whatever comes back is what it is (mostly).
It’s slow. It’s expensive. It’s terribly fun.
Throughout the year I reminded myself to not be precious about it. Take the photo. Shoot a roll on the 20 minute walk to drop it off at the lab. Just take the photo. It’s the only way to get better.
Over thirty 35mm thirty-six exposure rolls and a year later, it’s a bit better. “Better” for me means building up a more and more accurate intuition for how to get a particular frame that I have in mind. It’s knowing how different variables (subject, light, time, film, accessories, lens, camera, development, scan, paper stock, etc) interact and change the final piece, and being able to go off of gut feel, turning calculations into instincts.
A year later, I’ve worked on some of the basics and have a few photos I really like, but I’ve still barely scratched the surface.
What I worked on last year
Mostly 35mm with 50mm lenses
The basics — how to load the film, how the cameras work.
Being able to find focus (and faster).
Starting to get a feel for what shutter speed / aperture I need based on the lighting conditions and film sensitivity.
A general feel for a few film stocks at box speed. I went through a lot of Portra and Ultramax and tried some Fuji, Ektar, Ektachrome, Cinestill, a few experimental ones and a few b&w rolls.
What I wanna work on this year
A deeper feel for a few film stocks. What they look like pushed. Shooting at not-box-speed. More Cinestill.
Different field of views. Expanding into a wider angle and some sort of telephoto. More medium format.
Shooting more black & white + home development. Sampling various black & white film stocks, maybe choosing one to go deep on.
Using a tripod. More low light photos.
More interesting photos. I’m tired of the rule of thirds and symmetry. I want motion. I want God; I want poetry; I want sin.
(goddam there’s a roll of portra 400 w/flash that might be my favourite of the year tho)
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