Over the last year I have been shooting with film again. This started with wanting to make black & white photos that looked, uhh well, better. Digital cameras can create black & white photos or you can convert the digital image later to b&w in your favorite editing app but somehow the result misses something.
And so I got a film camera, one very similar to the camera I had nearly forty years ago.
In addition I wanted to make the photo taking more involved: so no zoom lenses, but a fixed lens, no autofocus.
This took some getting used to, and a feeling that I was relearning how to photograph. The first roll was mostly a throwaway – many pictures I forgot to focus or were poorly exposed. I had to get used again to needing to wind the film before you can take the next shot. You need to step back and forth, left and right a little to frame the shot, you have to wait until you can see the photo you just took.
One thing let to another and the collection of film cameras has been growing. In my Instagram feed I stumbled upon something called lomography.
A movement that puts the attention much more on just shooting what you see rather than the perfect pixel, the perfect composition and lighting. You may get light leaks, soft focus, lo-fi, oversaturation. The Sprocket Rocket does two delightful things: it is a wide angle camera that shoots two 35mm frames at a time, and it exposes the film sprockets as well. And you can very easily take double exposure or overlapping photos.
It’s all manual. You get two lens opening settings (sunny or not), two exposure settings (1/100 or bulb) and that’s it. A lot of fun.
Some special instructions to your developer are needed though and to not have them cut the negatives because the frames are either wider or flow over into each other.
Then another addition happened, another Lomography camera, their Belair 6×12. It shoots 120 film and is a folder like the cameras of the 1930’s!
It came with two lenses, 58mm and 90mm. And a rangefinder for each.
It is surprisingly light for a medium format camera. If you’ve ever handled a Mamiya Rb 6×7… When folded the Belair almost fits in your back pocket.
Its concept is similar to the Sprocket Rocket: minimal controls, just go shoot! Their film even says so on the back paper! I just shot my first roll with it and I am eager to see the results.
While the world seemed have gone all digital – every phone can take great photos – there is still a wide choice of film out there. The ones that have been around for decades like Ilford’s black & white films, Kodak’s Porta and TMax, and Fujifilm. But there are also new films still being made. You can even buy 35mm film that was originally developed for surveillance cameras.
And all this has let to the next step: developing my own black & white film which will be the topic of a next post.