I am often surprised by the lack of editing I see in people posting their film photo’s. I don’t know of it is a) lack of understanding of post processing b) laziness c) some sort of purity mentality regarding film d) just liking the look of it. When I get my film back from the lab I am rarely satisfied with the result. My images are often over or underexposed and very under saturated. I am not going to argue that everybody should edit their photos but I would like to show that sometimes it is really worth it. This is not a showcase for my photo editing skills, which aren’t the best, but just to show there are more possibilities with your film.
Here is an example where the scan I received from the lab didn’t have any real black colors. I set a black point using curves and upped the vibrance.
Here I shot some expired Provia film receiving a very green tinted image after having it cross-processed. Some people may like this color shift, but it is way too much for me. After some editing I got a bit of a more normal image out of it, though a bit muddy.
Here is another roll of expired roll of Provia I shot, but I actually developed as a slide film. I did not expect the green color shift so I did some editing to take it out.
This was some basic Fuji Superia 200 film. The original scan was lacking contrast and color. When shooting sprocket with Superia the color lines are a good indicator what the right amount of color is. It’s quite easy to go overboard with the vibrance of saturation slider and those color lines should help you in determining the right amount of adjustment.
Expired 100 Sensia which was then cross processed. My expired Fuji films tend to go green when cross processed ( except some crazy Provia roll which went nuclear pink on me). Taking out the green tones gives me a much better image. You may ask then what is the point of shooting expired film and crossprocessing it if I don’t like color shifts and tints. Well I love the unpredictability of it and sometimes it works, but in the images where it doesn’t work I like to have the option to edit them so I can have images I do enjoy.
When I started taking pictures 15 years ago I had my Olympus mju2 and would buy some Kodak 200 and go out and shoot. And when I spent 3 months abroad in Hong Kong in 2001 and came back with 13 rolls of film, most people thought I had gone mad and photographed every moment. Later on, I jumped on the digital revolution and still I shoot film. When I have my film camera, things slow down.
I know my roll of film is limited to thirty-six exposures and I realize it will take one week at the earliest to see my photos. This allows me to slow down.
I lift up my camera and now I get into the moment and think about the best possible composition, I crouch, move around, consider the background and light coming in. I think if I want to shoot wide open or have the whole scene sharp. And if I am shooting in black and white I consider what this photo will look like and if it is truly special. And after all that then I squeeze down my index finger and hear that satisfying clank of my shutter and hear the film forwarding.
Then comes the best part of it all. I see the image I just shot in my head and it is absolutely perfect. The depth of field is magnificent, the subject has a perfect look with piercing eyes, a ray of sunlight hits her hair creating a halo around her.
Knowing I have taken a photo that any gallery and photo book would die to display and print, fills me with intense satisfaction. That is off course until one week later when I pick up my negatives and images scanned to CD and notice, I had focused on her shoulder, and I had actually underexposed by one stop and somebody stepped into the frame leading to a unattached arm swinging in my photo. “Oh boy” I think, “Didn’t get it this time, but next time I will”
Having that vision of a perfect photo thirty-six times per roll makes it so worth shooting film to me.
Every time someone tells me how sharp my photos are, I assume that it isn’t a very interesting photograph. If it was, they would have more to say. – Anonymous
When I use my film camera the EOS 500 with the nifty fifty I switch to manual focus. The autofocus doesn’t work well or at all on that camera so I have to work on my manual focus skills. And as you can see by the title of this article I am still not that great with it.
What makes it even more challenging is that I always shoot wide open and at 1.8 you have a very narrow focus depth to deal with. Often I miss and the results aren’t always bad. If I had the perfect focus it often meant another snapshot, but having a blurry subject often leads to something surprising and new.
Sharpness is a bourgeois concept. – Henri Cartier-Bresson
In the end by lacking perfection and having such an obvious flaw it makes these images interesting, challanging. We know the basic rules of photography and what makes an image “right” and by breaking such rules on purpose or by accident we create a reality that was there present at that moment that we may have not have seen, but cannot be denied.
Rookies seeks sharper image.
Pro’s seeks to make money.
Artist seeks light. – Anonymous
dip·tych \ˈdip-(ˌ)tik\: a work made up of two matching parts
In the pre-digital era these were created with half frame camera’s. I briefly discussed this before in my golden half review. Not everybody shot in this way, some people would cut the frame in two seperating the two images, but some would compose with a diptich in mind, making sure that the two separate picture arranged together create one stronger image.
Now in the digital era this is done with Photoshop and with that in mind I had a walk around the central business district of Singapore to create diptychs. I am not happy with the results but I had fun thinking of combining two elements and how to frame and arrange. I looked at other diptychs people had created on flickr and I liked the unbalanced aspect. Both images don’t have to be the same size this creates some tension which I enjoy.
I think the next time I go out to shoot diptychs I want to combine elements not so obviously related yet still function together to create one image. A portrait session with the intent of creating diptycs also sounds like a fun challenge.
Love them or hate them, but when you are a fan of older film camera’s these unpredictable elements are often a reality. I am myself caught in between. More often than not I prefer my images without light leaks, but sometimes, they do make an image better in an unpredictable manner.
I have three cameras with light leaks, my Lubitel 2, Holga 120N and cheap older Olympus Mju 2. All of them except the Mju 2 I can tape up and make light leaks proof. Despite rolling my Mju2 in kilometers of tape, somehow light is still coming in through a hole that wasn’t the lens. In the end I resorted to buying another Mju2.
Some opinions on Light leaks I found across the wide world of the web
“Yuck, how do I get rid of these things? Is there any hope or should I suck it up and buy a new camera?”
“I love my Holga light leaks, I often drop my cam on purpose in order to create more exciting and unexpected leaks. Does this work on kids too?”
“These non-visible lights are actually auras and gives us an insight into other dimensions and spirit worlds that communicate to us through light leaks and expired negative or slide film”
Laid back, with my mind on my theme and my theme on my mind
Going out to shoot with a specific theme in mind can be very productive. Its helps you visualize images you may have otherwise not seen. It doesn’t prevent you from taking shots outside this theme but it allows you to structure each angle and perspective into whatever theme you are working with. You can revisit locations you have been to many times before and create new images by working within the boundaries of the theme.
I went out last Sunday to the Central Business District of Singapore (CBD), with the theme “urban desolate” in mind. The first thing I did when I get there is to notice I had forgotten my memory cards. I then had a lunch in frustration, went home, took an angry nap and returned a few hours later. The CBD during weekdays is crowded place and walking around on Sunday is a stark contrast and I wanted my images to reflect that. I had some other themes I always enjoy as a standby, “street lines” is one of them and on my next post I will show a picture of that.
Looking up the definition of desolation on dictionary.com gives me:
1. A state of complete emptiness or destruction.
2. Anguished misery or loneliness
That sounds stronger and harsher than what I wanted to portray so maybe words like empty or lonely are more applicable.
Enjoy the following nine photography quotes and two of my images using film.
“A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know.”
“Anyone can take a picture…a person with a passion sees the picture before it’s taken.”
“The pictures you want tomorrow, you have to take today.”
“The world’s coming to an end! …Quick, grab your camera!”
“Life is about turning up. The more you get yourself out there, whether you wake up at 5:00 a.m. to pouring rain or not, the more you’re likely to experience the wonderful happenings that are going on all around you. Sometimes the most interesting visual phenomena occur when you least expect it. Other times, you think you’re getting something amazing and the photographs turn out to be boring and predictable. So I think that’s why, a long time ago, I consciously tried to let go of artist’s angst, and instead just hope for the best and enjoy it. I love the journey as much as the destination. If I wasn’t a photographer, I’d still be a traveler.”
“It is an illusion that photos are made with the camera… they are made with the eye, heart and head.”
“There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.”
“A hundredth of a second here, a hundredth of a second there–even if you put them end to end, they still only add up to one, two, perhaps three seconds, snatched from eternity.”
“Every photograph is a battle of form versus content.”