Shooting Film

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011 14

Back in July when we were visiting Melissa and Tom, I received an email that made me very happy. The message was from Kim Miller, a photographer whose work I admire, informing me that I’d won a give-away posted on her blog for a Canon AE-1 film camera. I was super excited as I’ve been trolling the used section of B&H for about 2 years debating about purchasing this very camera. So the Universe must have simply decided it was time.

Although I have been shooting film with my Diana and my Polaroids, shooting film on a camera like the AE-1 is a whole different ballgame. Since the Diana is a toy camera (no pejorative-ness intended) there aren’t aperture and shutter speed settings to actually manipulate. Similarly, the Polaroid cameras I shoot with have little in the way of adjusting save focusing and lighten/darken (not that this makes shooting with Polaroids a no-brainer). But the AE-1, this baby is all manual.

I was excited to load up this new-to-me camera with the first roll of 35mm film and get shooting. But I was also nervous to shoot completely in manual mode (i.e., selecting every setting on the camera–aperture, shutter speed, ISO, focusing). I understand how to shoot in manual, but typically shoot in aperture priority with my digital SLR. I usually want a shallow depth of field (blurry background for those of you thinking, “what the hell is she talking about?”) and so typically live in this setting, allowing my camera to do the work it knows how to do in choosing the appropriate shutter speed. So I knew the AE-1 would bring new and creative challenges.

I spent time in my neighborhood, my backyard, and the Farmer’s Market shooting through this first roll of film. I found myself giddy as I traipsed around town shooting with this sleek little black beauty. Like my Polaroid and Diana cameras, people stopped to ask me about the AE-1, amazed that there are people who still shoot with film. I had so much fun! Not being able to see my results instantly on an LCD screen or on a developing piece of film in my hand added so much charm to my experience. And a bit of anxiety. I was worried I wasn’t using my photography knowledge correctly, not setting the camera appropriately, basically “not doing it right.”

So imagine my anticipation in picking up this roll of film once it had been processed. I was nervous! I couldn’t even wait to get home before I took a look. I sat in the car, took a deep breath, and opened the envelope of photos. These 6 photos are some of the beauties that I discovered. I was beyond pleased with this first roll of images. It was like photography became brand new to me all over again. The look and feel of film photography is really just so different from digital. These photos were shot with an expired roll of film, and I think that adds to the dreaminess of the images. I’m loving them.

I still have lots to learn about shooting with the AE-1. I need to brush up on types of film and practice, practice, practice. I also have some scanning issues to work on as I’d love to be able to simply scan my negatives and then choose which photos to actually get made into prints rather than printing the entire roll each time (trying to save a little $$$). But as of now, I’m still working out the kinks of matching the color of the scanned negatives to the color of the actual photos. (BTW, the 2 photos here that have white borders are scans of actual photos while the other 4 are scans of negatives).

A huge thank you to Kim for being so generous with this awesome give-away. So grateful I won! And now, I can’t wait to get the next roll of film loaded up.

Do you shoot film? Do you have any favorite types of film? If you don’t shoot film, do you miss it at all? Do you notice a difference between film and digital photos?

14 Responses

  1. Beautiful pictures, Meghan! They make me feel happy. πŸ™‚

  2. Debra says:

    These are gorgeous Meghan! You and others are inspiring me to dive deeper into the film photography wormhole. I’ve got the Polaroids and a Diana is on order. I’m now regretting not asking my dad if I could take his old film Canon home with me when I was there earlier in the summer (I’m now picturing the gorgeousness that I could make with film and his 50mm f1.4 lens!). Thanks for sharing!

  3. Such beautiful shots — and a very interesting read for a non-photographer!

  4. Phoe says:

    What a happy little camera. I do shoot film and have an AE-1 Program and a Canon EOS-3. In short, I’m keen on it. πŸ™‚

  5. Brandi Marie says:

    Meghan, These are just beautiful. Can’t believe it was your first roll! I would love to hear more about how scanning the negatives works. You will be at Squam this year, yes? I recently tried out some expired slide film in my Diana and was very pleased with the results. Definitely need to scan them.

    Thank you so much for sharing!

  6. Melissa says:

    Wow, wow, wow. I love the spirit and mood you captured with these photos. And fantastic shallow depth of field. That last one of the cherry tomatoes is particularly amazing. Go you! So excited to see where this new camera takes you. Looks like it will be to many beautiful places.

  7. […] beautiful, and I can’t believe it’s her first dive into 35mm film. Be sure to visit Meghan at Life Refocused and check it […]

  8. Nicole says:

    Oh film. How I love film. And I’m so excited that now you get to play with it. Since I no longer have a digital camera, it’s all film for me. It’s been nerve wracking and exciting — definitely everything you described!

    I totally think film should make a come back.

  9. Darlene. says:

    Great photos – my first camera after my pentax 1000 was a cannon ae1 – I ended up owning 8 after that and now I am onto Cannon 50d
    I still shoot film – love it – need to post some – gotta have negatives developed and cd made!!!
    Love your blog

  10. Celina says:

    These are beautiful! They all have a very distinct color tone that I love!

  11. Laura Eliza says:

    Beautiful shots! I have been looking into getting an AE-1 myself… and the results you got have just about sold me =) I especially love the first image, I almost feel as if I can step into it.

  12. […] Life Refocused Using photography to build a creative life and focus on what matters. Skip to content HomeAboutContact ← Shooting Film […]

  13. […] been shooting with alot of film of late (please don’t tell my digital SLR). I’m simply having a love affair with analog […]

  14. Jeffrey says:

    Film is a great way to go. {There is no delete button.} Your pictures are colorful & fun. Let’s add black & white to your film “to-do” list! (Yes, the Canon AE-1 or AE-1P[rogram] is a great camera!!)

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