My 35mm Film Journey - Part 1

For the longest time I have pondered film photography. A lot of factors inspire me into pursuing film photography, well the theories of it at least. I have never shot film, I have never owned a film camera, and I am a complete novice to the discipline. I consider myself quite an advanced digital photographer, but film is going to be a big learning curve... I suspect.

This week (early August 2018), I decided to eventually buy a 35mm film camera. I currently shoot with two Nikon DSLR cameras, the D810 and D500, and I wanted a film camera to complement those cameras. I also wanted to use my current lenses on my film camera. I chose a second hand 35mm Nikon F100 pictured below.

 
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WHY FILM?

I've been following an American film photographer for a long time by the name of Ben Horne, he shoots large format 8x10 film and primarily shoots landscapes of the American south west. He documents his photography beautifully on his Youtube channel. Through his stories and film experiences, he has inspired me to pursue film photography. There are a few reasons why Ben inspires me to shoot film - he spends a lot time figuring out the precise moment to capture an image, he pays exceptional attention to light, attention to compositions and is so dedicated to capturing that one perfect image. Obviously, I try and achieve this with digital, but too often I end up shooting a lot of rubbish before I capture something good. I hope by shooting film it will assist me in becoming a better photographer, help me choose moments better, influence me in becoming more dedicated to capturing fewer but better images, and help me pay more attention to the specifics of photography. I also like the limitations of film. You cannot preview your image after taking it, so it forces you to be become technically proficient as a photographer, and it forces you to think more about what you are doing. Digital has made me a lazy photographer - its easy to preview what you have done and fix the mistakes!

Another photographer who has inspired me to take up film photography is Greg Du Toit, a fantastic wildlife photographer from South Africa. His photography in general is so inspiring, but its a specific shot that tipped the scales in favour of film for me. He took a star trail photograph above a massive Baobab tree (see image below) on 35mm film, and this is the epitome of what I wish to accomplish with film. Not necessarily an image exactly like this, but more of what it represents to me. The time, dedication, patience, technical know how and vision that Greg had to make this image on 35mm film is something I want to take motivation from. I want to spend more time figuring out images, paying special attention to all the elements that make up a good photograph, rather than relying on the comfort and ease of use with digital cameras.

To see more of the photography of Greg Du Toit, please visit his website at www.gregdutoit.com - (Image used with permission).

 
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I will always primarily be a digital landscape and wildlife photographer, but I intend on doing a lot of film photography as a side project in the future, learning the discipline and getting back to basics which I so often forget with the ease of digital photography today.

WHICH FILM?

My photography is broken down into 2 categories, landscapes and wildlife. I have chosen to start with 2 different kinds of 35mm film for these styles of shooting. I have chosen Kodak Ektar 100 (colour negative film) and a black and white film Ilford HP5 PLUS 400. I'm sure after some experience with these films my choices may change, but I have made an informed decision to start with these 2 films through the advice from other film photographers.

 
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WILL I EDIT MY FILM IMAGES?

My intentions with film images, after they have been developed and scanned, is to share them with you on social media and my website without anything done to them digitally. The whole purpose for me with film is to get everything as right in camera as possible, and I don't want to add any digital enhancements besides sharpening of the output file. I want the images to be an exact representation of the film. I am forcing myself to shoot with zero cropping abilities in mind as well, so what the film captures is what you will see! Zero digital enhancement! These goals will force me to think even more about capturing photographs I feel.

Do you shoot with film? If you do I would love to hear from you, why you enjoy it so much - let me know in the comments below.

In part 2 of my 35mm film journey, I hope to bring you some new images and thoughts from my travels in the near future.