unMonday: the magic of film

It was only a few months ago that Kyle was telling me how excited he was to be using his film camera. I didn’t understand what the big deal was, or how it could possibly be much different than digital. A photo is a photo is a photo… right? I don’t actually do much editing to my digital photos (for the most part), so I thought it must be pretty much the same as using film. Kyle tried to tell me that shooting film was almost like “magic.” Well, even though I didn’t understand the draw to film, all the talk did get me thinking, and I decided I should try out a pinhole camera. This would be my opportunity to learn about how film photography worked, and how cameras really worked since I would be building the camera. After I shot my first roll, I was holding my breath as I opened the envelope with the developed pictures… hoping to see any image on the paper. I wasn’t sure if I’d built the camera correctly, or if the exposures I’d done would work. It was so exciting to see those photos actually turned out! I couldn’t wait to try shooting another roll. And after that, I started to think it might be neat to find an old film camera and shoot some photos with a little more control than what I could do with the pinhole. That’s when I got the Canon AT-1, and truly got bitten by the film bug.

First, I must say that I would not have enjoyed film photography nearly as much if I hadn’t worked so hard on shooting purely manual with my digital camera for the past few years. Constantly adjusting all of the settings has become second nature, and I found myself able to switch the settings on the film camera as needed for my photos. The time I had used a film camera before (at least 10 years ago), I really struggled to properly expose the film… let alone know what aperture even meant. So, with my new understanding, film photography really is like magic! :) It’s still crazy to me how the pinhole works – a minuscule hole in a dark box in front of some film is opened for a few seconds, and the film records the scene from the light allowed through the hole. And to see what is possible with the little ol’ Canon… it just blows me away. How can I be in complete control, focusing and everything, and those photos come out?! Some of them look pretty cool even, I think!

The part I like best about film photography is that it makes me more discerning with my photos. I don’t want to take a bunch of shots that are the same, and I don’t have the luxury of reviewing my photo and re-taking it if I didn’t execute my planned shot very well. It’s now or never when it comes to film photos. This pushes me both creatively and in my technical skill with a camera. It’s just what I need! And I love the excitement and anticipation when a roll of film is in to be developed. I go through three stages of feelings about my film photos every time. 1) Hooray! There are photos – I didn’t screw up the roll! 2) Mm… I could have done a better job on these. I don’t really like them. 3) Oh hey, they aren’t so bad after all. Look – this one’s kind of neat! Hahaha.

The enduring nature of old film photos is also a draw for me. As a little kid, I loved flipping through our photo albums, and I’m excited to have an album around here. I know, digital photos will last forever. It just doesn’t feel the same, or I should say it doesn’t feel as special. The photos I’m sharing with you today were taken by my Grandma a couple of decades ago. She could always be counted on to snap pictures of anything exciting going on. Above are some black bears in their yard… invading for apples. These were delicious apples destined to be apple sauce and other good eats, so it was always a battle to get them harvested before the bears got to them. Below is my Grandpa keeping an eye on a treed bear while my Mom picked boxes of apples. (Isn’t she pretty?) If you know me, perhaps my family braving the night against some bears for apples helps explain some things. :)

Well, my Grandma is my biggest fan, and she follows this blog. She’s also the biggest photographer in our family and I love hearing her thoughts on my photos and getting advice and encouragement from her on what to shoot. Now she is giving me a huge gift! She has decided to send me her old Minolta and all of the lenses and gear she has for it. I guess she was thinking of giving it to the Salvation Army or something, but luckily she keeps track of me… so she thought I might be interested. Yes! I am so excited to learn how to use another film camera, and to get to play with all the neat lenses she has… and it makes both of us happy to be keeping this equipment in our family. I’ll share the new gear once it gets here!


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