Monday, June 28, 2010

Shoot some film!

I've recently rediscovered the beauty of film. It's exciting. I learned on film and shot it for 6 years before finally going digital (honestly, never wanted to go digital, but it has its advantages). There's a look, color, and tonal rendition that are tough to come by digitally. Shooting film also requires great care and discipline with each shutter click. Film and processing cost money so I try not to waste any shots. It makes me think even harder about a composition and makes me more patient, too. I had these shots processed recently and finally purchased a good scanner to go along with it. I wanted to share the product of a week and 36 shots around my house with my boys. I used Portra 160NC, a professional, natural color film. Iso 160 is pretty slow, so these had to be outdoors. Hope this inspires you to pick up your old film camera or buy a used one (you can get them for less than $100 and they'll work with your current lenses).

If you decide film isn't for you, try this: limit yourself to 36 shots for an entire week or even an entire outing to the zoo, park, etc. Don't delete any shots or even review them. Try to get it right in-camera. The discipline and skill it takes are invaluable to good technique and will help you further your technical skills. Hope you try it out. Here's a sample of those shots.

About shooting color film: there's no "auto white balance" so shooting in different types of light will not produce the same color renditions (i.e., shooting on a cloudy day will produce cooler images, etc, when shooting with a daylight balanced film). You'll notice this in the color casts throughout this set. Here is a sample of that roll:


  1. How long did it take from taking the last picture on the film, until you had the pictures on your PC?

    Thats why I don't use film.

    Don't have the time nor patience to buy film, get it processed, fiddle with the scanner to get pictures that require a lot of attention in Photoshop to reach the same level of quality as those I shoot digitally. I can always add noise and mute the colors in post-processing if I want that "film look".

    Sorry, but its a no-go for me..

  2. Greetings Anonymous,

    I know for me, shooting film is not about the convenience...obviously. Its more about the entire process. I love the way I actually shoot when I have a film camera. I slow things down and 'think' a lot more. I think more about light, more about composition. Granted, I am generally happier with my digital shots, but I think I enjoy shooting film more. For me, its more organic.

    With that said, I dont think any of us can deny the convenience of digital :)


  3. Kenneth SoerensenJune 30, 2010 at 1:45 PM

    Hi Chuck,

    Thanks for your comment to my comment.

    I can recognize the feeling about the entire process that you are describing, I get that too. I have my fathers old Nikon F2 with a 50 mm lens sitting here and the idea of the all metal body, manual focus lens, taking a light reading before exposure and so on, makes me want to pick it up and start shooting.

    Only problem is that I enjoy sharing my photos with friends and families, and when I see those film photos on my pc, I always get very disappointed, its just not a quality that I would like to share.

    And I haven't even mentioned the cost of film, processing and scanning :-)

    I have been thinking about getting a manual focus lens as this will certainly also slow down the process, but keep the quality high.

    Best regards,
    Kenneth Soerensen

  4. as i mentioned, i stopped shooting film originally b/c of the cost and time for scanning, etc-my shooting has changed over the last couple years, however, and convenience isn't as important as it used to be

    with this roll, i dropped it off at a professional processing lab and picked it up the next day-scanning took a couple hours (but this was my first time with this new scanner)-it's not for everybody but i'm hoping that even people who shoot 100% digital will learn some lessons from film: patience, getting it right in-camera, emphasis on timing (since you can't "spray and pray" as with digital), and moving away from a reliance on processing to make your images work

    appreciate your input, kenneth


  5. Hi Daniel,
    Definitely love the film look! Do you know what kind of processing the lab used? Just asking because the labs around here have the machines where they just load the film in, it's auto-processed, then the film is scanned and prints made from the digital files - not directly from the film. When I've asked about an enlarger instead of the printer, they blink and point me to the scanner! :(

    My dad and I used to process and print B&W for the school yearbook 30+ years ago. Had a very modest setup with an enlarger, timer, light meter, grey card and a few trays. Definitely something to be said for keeping it "analogue" all the way!

    Thanks for putting the time and effort into this blog. I've really enjoyed following you guys and find myself taking more photos all the time!