Rifqi's photo

My photographic journey

Cat

The photos in this post are all from my third roll of film. I’m enjoying my old Mamiya C330 a lot, even though I shoot very little with it. There’s something very special about looking into that huge viewfinder, taking your time to compose and focus before you finally press the shutter and hear the mechanical click as a frame of film is exposed.  Then comes the long and uncertain wait, the excitement that you might have something really good, the dread that it might be a complete failure. Finally you get your scans or negatives back and you can see what it actually was you captured, all in the glorious format that is medium format film.

Lake

I was really looking forward to seeing the above photo but when I got it back I was very disappointed by how under exposed it was. I think the explanation is that I had an ND filter on the camera but I forgot that I turned off the ND filter on my X100S that I use for metering. I’ve lifted the shadows a bit in post but you can’t do much with low resolution jpegs. However, after looking at it for a couple of days I realized that I still like the photo. There’s a soul to it that wouldn’t be there with a similarily failed shot made with digital. Part of it comes from the film itself and another part from the character of medium format, compared to the smaller formats of crop sensor or full frame.

Flower

Here’s another shot that was completely failed. My excuse this time is that I was a bit rushed. The sun kept going in and out of the clouds, so I had to decide what to expose for and take the shot when the conditions were right. At the same time my daughter was rather impatient. I don’t really know how I could have missed to focus so badly though.

Boat

This is from the same place a few minutes earlier when the sun was behind the clouds. I almost got this one right but the focus is a bit off because the boat was moving. I definitely need more practice focusing and my less than stellar eye sight doesn’t exactly make it easier. Neither does the fact that my most prolific subject rarely stays in the same focal plane for more than half a second.

Cat

Here’s one where pretty much everything is spot on. I think this might be the only one of these shots that wasn’t at f2.8. If I remember correctly it was at f4 because I didn’t have the ND filter with me and it was too bright for f2.8 at 1/500, which is the maximum shutter speed. I could be wrong though, it feels a bit weird not to have the exif data readily available.

Dog

This photo of my mom’s dog is very soft but I don’t think it’s entirely because of poor focus. For one thing I can’t see any part of the frame that’s sharper than the subject. The softness might come from shooting close and wide open. Perhaps there’s some motion blur as well, the click of the shutter caught my subject’s attention.

The lesson to be learned from this roll of film is that I need to slow down even more and pay even more attention to all the details. I even managed to mess up when loading the film this time. Luckily I realized what I had done afterwards, so I knew that the last frame would be useless. Otherwise it could have been very annoying if I had shot something good on that frame only to find out that there wasn’t enough film left for more than half a frame.

Even though the results weren’t quite up to expectations this time, I can tell you that the whole process of shooting with an old camera like this is a lot of fun. I have a couple more shots from this trip on the roll that’s currently loaded but it might be months before I get to see them – the reason being that I’m very selective with what I shoot and I need to finish the roll first. I might even forget what it was I shot and hopefully get a nice surprise when I get the results back.

/Rifqi

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13 Responses to “Learning to shoot film”

  1. Mike Powell

    I too have been thinking about shooting some film and I very much enjoyed reading about your experiences. It sounds like you really have to change your entire approach to shooting and think consciously about many of the things that we take for granted when shooting digital (like the ability to make instant adjustments when viewing a shot that we have taken). I have a friend with some medium format gear and we’ve talked about using it. I am encouraged by your shots, which I really like.

    Reply
    • Rifqi

      I can heartily recommend giving it a try. I would also argue for going straight to medium format since the cost isn’t all that different from 35mm and you get to experience a look that most mortals can only dream of in the digital world. I’m hoping that the lessons learned from shooting film will also carry over to digital and make me pay more attention to detail.

      Reply
  2. [Gm]

    I am amazed by the cats more than anything. They seem to be very calm hahaha… your daughter have a funny way of holding a cat…

    Reply
    • Rifqi

      They were handled a lot by other kids when they were little, so they’re used to it. Her technique is because of their size, it was easier for he last year when they were just kittens.

      Reply
  3. Victor Bezrukov, photographer

    I find that developing and scanning at home are great solutions for me with goal to learn film photography process. I dev only bw at home but can scan everything so as result i can play with hi res raw files. I love your learning way and results.

    Reply
    • Rifqi

      I have no real interest in developing but I’m planning to get a scanner if I start shooting more film. It will pay for itself within 20 rolls or so and I’ll get higher resolution files that I can print from as well. Paying a lab for that kind of resolution would be very expensive.

      Reply
      • Victor Bezrukov, photographer

        Exactly was my point. Btw the scanning need some technique to find and again – to research and to lern. I use Epson V500 and find it very fast and great for film but a plastic to put film inside is very cheap and results are unfocused and not crispy as i wanted to get.

      • Rifqi

        I’ve gathered that scanning can be a bit tricky. I’ve also been looking at the Epson V500/V600. The V700 is nice but probably outside my budget. From what I’ve seen you can get other film holders than the ones included with the scanner and a lot of people also recommend different software, VueScan being the one mentioned most often. Whenever I think I know pretty much everything I need to know about photography, up pops another area that requires lots of research.

      • Rifqi

        I’ll keep that method in mind when the time comes for me to do my own scans. All tips are useful.

    • Rifqi

      Thanks, I’ve started enjoying these kind of simple photos a lot more since I started shooting film. It just gives it more soul somehow.

      Reply
      • Ani Trone

        totally agree about the tangible quality of shooting film..when I have a roll developed and scanned it just gives me a different emotion towards the image.

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