First off Portra 400 has never really been my favourite film to shoot. Every time I load a roll I feel like I have set my expectations too high. Wether it’s 35mm or 120 my disappointment in the results tend to be the same. My first thought is why does this film cost so much? While my second thought is why does everyone love the muted soft colours this film produces? Those questions are probably best answered by Portra fans for sure. This last roll I shot however got me thinking. Thinking about why we put some much stock into the actual emulsion we are shooting instead of just pre-visualizing the look we would like and then just making it happen. Regardless of what type of film we are using. Some would say that it is blasphemy to bring a film negative into the digital darkroom instead of the traditional dark room but I ask the “Purists” these two questions. Isn’t all Photography just artistic expression? Shouldn’t we just focus on telling the story that we really want to tell? Now sure I have my favorite films I like to shoot and Portra may not be one of them but with a little drop of Contrast and a touch of Saturation I can get it where I feel like it needs to be. Here’s to telling “your” story.
One might argue that a brilliant camera like the Nikon FT deserves a more deserving film but you couldn’t be more wrong. The partnership between these two seems to be spot on. Have a look at 5 of my favorite images shot from my first two rolls on the Nikon FT with the 50mm f1.8D.
I keep coming back to Kodak Gold 200 for a number of reasons. Reason 1 is the price. In Canada I can purchase a 24 exposure 3 pack from Walmart for only $12.99, that’s only $4.33 a roll or 18 cents a frame. Now that’s cheap. Reason number 2 is it’s unique look that tends to favour warm tones even in mid-day light. These shot’s were taken on a Pentax PC35-AFM point and shoot camera, a true thrift store gem.
If there was ever a white whale camera that I would love to have in my film photography arsenal it would be the Hasselblad XPAN. The XPAN is a very unique camera that gives the photographer the ability to shoot wide cinematic scenes on 35mm film. The problem with wanting a one trick pony camera like the XPAN is that it is extreamly expensive and can sell for up to $5000 dollars on the used market. 5K is far beyond my thrift store budget so instead I am using an 80+ year old Zeiss Icon icarette 6x9 camera. The 6x9 format lends itself well to shooting 35mm panoramas but the only challenge is how do you load 35mm film in a 120 medium format camera. This problem is quite easily solved with a 35mm to 120 adapter and take up spool. These can pretty readily found on eBay or if your fortunate enough to have a 3D printer at home you can quickly print one up and start shooting. Fortunately a second side hobby of mine is 3D printing so I did just that.
Loading and shooting 35mm film on an old folding camera like this is really pretty simple. The first thing I did was start with a dummy roll of film to help determine how far to wind each frame. Without frame counters you need to be a bit creative so I decided to place a piece of tape at the beginning of my frame and count how many full turns it took to advance to the next frame. In my case it took 3 and a bit turns, OK it’s not an exact science. Once I was able to determine the right distance to advance each frame I loaded a roll of TriX 400 and drove down to the Harbor where I often go to find inspiration. Below are 5 of the 10 frames I shot. I was actually blown away at the sharpness the lens on this old folder was able to produce. The one tip I would give is to make sure that your frames are level and a tripod is very helpful tool for this. I hope you enjoy the images below and feel free to let me know what you think in the comments section below.
Accidental double exposure, but I kinda like it.
Weathered sailboat bow.
All images scanned on the Epson V600.
Images shot on Expired Kodak Ultramax 400 and the Pentax Spotmatic with the Super Takumar 55mm f1.8 lens.
Let’s face it nobody cares about your photography except for you, so why do we bother? The things we incessantly ask ourselves are questions like, is the composition right, is my exposure accurate, is it sharp enough, will it move people, does it tell a story and countless other things that paralyze us from simply just being creative. This is precisely why the cult following of Lomography is so popular. Avid Lomographers could care less about the questions above and would rather enjoy the spontaneity of just simply shooting. They enjoy things like blur and light leaks or scratches and grain, in fact they are really the band of misfits that push back against what the main stream says in aesthetically pleasing. This is all well and good but I don’t think I would consider myself one of these misfits however I did thouroughly enjoy creating these images. The point of the LOMO process is to just simply shoot and enjoy. This is what precisely happened. I could see myself doing this again and again. It’s just simply fun. All of the images below were shot Lomography Color 400 120 film with the Diana F+ camera and home processed with the unicolour c-41 kit. Let me know what it is that you love about this process.
When it comes to shooting film I would more often be drawn to professional films like Portra or Ektar but they are not always the best when you just want to shoot for the sake of shooting. Sunny days during the winter on Vancouver Island are far and few between so my wife and I took some time to wander though Rathtrevor Park just outside of Parksville. Below are just a few of the images I shot. What is your favourite drug store variety film, or does your drug store even carry film any longer?
Shot with the Yashica Mat 124G on Lomography Color 400.
Each and every film emulsion is unique, exhibiting characteristics that make them easily distinguishable. Kodak Portra is no exception. One of the characteristics that keeps Portra shooters coming back for more are the bright soft muted tones. Below is an image that displays just that. The image was captured mid day on my Yashica Mat 124G TLR at f8 & 1/250 of a second.
Testing out a camera with Portra 400 is expensive and therefor a tad bit risky. At over $10 per roll at most available locations it’s a hard roll to waste. Fortunately though this little beauty worked just fine. I shot it all at about a half stop over exposed and as expected Portra shined. As one of the most forgiving films out there Portra has up to 8 stops of latitude. That makes shooting this stuff a breeze.
A quick word regarding the Minolta AF. This camera was super simple to use, your only option to manipulate your exposure is to adjust the ISO dial. This little Rangefider camera is also auto focus which some might find to be a great feature. I actually find it a bit boring to shoot with. The shutter sound is wimpy and the over all feel is very Plasticky. I guess one can’t complain for only $15 bucks. I think I will go back to my compact SLR’s (the Pentax ME and the Canon AE1). What you can’t argue about on this camera is it’s image quality. When it locks it’s focus the results are actually pretty decent. See for yourself below and feel free to reach out and let me know what you think of this Camera and remember whoever you are and wherever you are keep shooting.