If you’re anything like me, the last thing you see at night is a little flickering screen and it’s the first thing you see in the morning as you attend to the endless notifications, alerts, messages and clickbait. Two years ago, I ordered a Canon 1V and 30 rolls of Ilford HP5 400 from B&H and it is one of the best things I’ve done. It’s one of the few things that truly forces me to slow down.
In a world that goes push, push, push, the art of shooting film forces you to come to a screaming halt. As a motorsport photographer, I’m used to my trusty old Canon 1D that can effortlessly reel off 10FPS, so in a pinch you know you can just “spray & pray”. It’s a method that’s frowned upon by purists, but it’s always there and ready to answer the call.
When you’ve got a mere 36 frames at your disposal, it gives significant value to each and every frame. As I write this, I am actually in the process of scanning a roll of Kodak Portra 400 through a Nikon Super Coolscan 5000 that I managed to breathe new life into. Written for 32 bit software in 2003 that was never updated, it had no interest in working with Windows 10. A few hours of scouring the web and a few more trying some weird and wonderful things, I managed to get them to play nicely. I’m still paying to get my negatives developed, but one step at a time, there’s no rush. I’ve figured out where I can fit a darkroom under the house though!
Being forced to slow down is one of the greatest things shooting film has done for me. I’m confident that it’s helped my digital shooting, as I need to work with extreme speed and accuracy when I’m on the job shooting motorsport, but this process encourages me to slow down and think about the exposure and the framing. Have I got it just right? When you hit that button and use up a precious frame, you’d better be sure you got it right.
When you bugger up a shot on the film camera it’s the most annoying feeling and it grinds at you. Having to shoot the same frame a second time, reminds you in not so subtle fashion to take another moment and think it through next time.
Right here in Brisbane there is a thriving film community and people are all too happy you get started. Places like FotoFast at Taringa are keeping the dream alive and a 35mm camera can be picked up on the cheap. I shoot with a Canon 1V as it is highly regarded as a sports shooting camera which was my main intention when I purchased it from eBay out of Japan.
Even thought it’s both time consuming and expensive, it’s been some of the most rewarding photography by far. I’m using it more than anything with family and to capture precious moments, the way I look back at my childhood memories is a spectacular feeling. There is so much care and effort that goes into every frame and the excitement of waiting to see them developed would be a hazy memory for most and a relic of the past for the rest. It’s wonderful and I can’t encourage you enough to give it a go.
Until next time…
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