Sunday, October 11, 2009


When I first got into photography digital was hardly a thought.   Now, film is being very quickly replaced in nearly all aspects of photography. has qualities that you can't really get very easy with digital.  The look and feel.. the expectation and not knowing if your shot turns out until it's processed still has me hooked on film.

I got the Nikon FE film SLR kit from a friend of my mom's who had taken very good care of it.   Complete with the case, it's a 1980s high quality professional SLR.  I even got a flash, a 50mm lens and a 40-205mm Macro lens which I used here to capture a funny moment with my wife.  No flash was needed here I shot this with ISO200 film indoors.

I used to love to process my own film and plan to do it again.   I just need the gear and the chemicals which here in Portland should not be too hard to find.  This shot shows the effect film has.   It was taken with a very low aperture setting thus giving it real depth.    It's been a while since I've used a film SLR and so these shots were the first few I've ever taken with this camera.  I bought a 3volt battery for it and the Nikon FE was ready to go.   It's got an auto-shutter speed that's very acurate, mulch-exposure..and many other cool features.  However..shooting film these days this way is not very practice since it costs allot of money to process.   However.. now that I have an SLR again..there's some stuff I can do with film and I can also most likely use the Nikon lenses that came with it if I eventually buy a Nikon digital SLR again.
 This shot was taken with a flash and although its a bit over exposed it shows the best way to capture a portrait.   Make sure you have a flash that can angle upwards brightly or to the side so that you don't hit the subject directly.  I angled my flash nearly up to the sealing for this shot.  I left the camera on auto shutter which would be 90 and put the TTL flash in the correct mode for my 200 iso film.  Aperture adjustment is critical when using film with a flash because it's the only thing keeping your film from being overexposed.

 This is a nightshot long exposure.  I held it down for about 1/2half of a sec. or so..just enough time for a car to go by.  Of course the car is not visable because it was not in the picture long enough thus you only see the headlights and reflective surfaces.

Like the shot above this shot was taken on a tripod with a shutter release cable.  This is criticle when doing night exposures to avoid camerashake.  The exact same vantagepoint here only this time you see the local light rail (The Max) train going by.   It's lights and reflections made for more and more of an exposure.

Another nightshot of a local back yard.   This was a shot I just thought I would try on my own, holding the shutter open in B-mode.   Useing a shutter release cable with the camera on a was probubly about 20-30sec exposure with iso200 film.

 The stars can be seen in this night exposure as well as some blur caused by the wind while the shutter was open.  I left the shutter open for this shot for nearly 60sec.

Another shot showing depth.. focus on what you want to see the depth in.  For example.. set your lens for f4 or it's lowest setting and then focus on the tracks.  Thus the objects in the foregroud will be in focus and the background will be slightly blurred giving a depth.   This time I focused about half a comprehencive view.

Shooting spiders is not easy and even harder with 35mm film.  Espeically with the limitied two lenses I have here and the fact that I have not used a film camera in a long time!   But I did ok and managed to get quite a few good shots.   This was when the spider was climbing out to catch a small fly that landed in it's web.


When shooting macro shots with a 35mm film camera I've found that it can be very important to use a digital camera to see what your pictures exposure will be like if you have one.   Set everything up exactly as the film camera will be, ISO, white balance to sunlight..shutter and aperture.  Digital cameras are built to emulate film cameras so they can give you a good approximation.   Most film SLRs have a sensor for light measurement built towards the center of the image.  But you will get an overexposed picture unless you set your shutter for a bright image.   So if shooting in direct sunlight, setup your shot (aperture and shutter for correct lighting) on something well lit with the same sunlight.  As a small spider or other reflection will not give correct readings with most film SLRs.  You can compensate with EV+/- or by setting up a shot where most everything in the image is as illuminated as your intended subject.   Otherwise you might get an overexposed spider as in this shot.

This was one of the shots I just had to trust on. I used the flash and set the camera to both take advantage of that and natural light.   Setting up macro shots from a distance with a flash can be difficult but even older equipment often has charts on it to work out distance settings for the flash.  You can sometimes compensate by covering the flashes sensor or setting it to manual and adding more light as well as upping the Fstop to F16 or higher to compensate for the bright flash.  It will take some practice.  It's a good idea to mark your shots. Each picture what your settings were in a small log so you can go back and find out what you did wrong later.   I use a digital recorder for this purpose which stores files one by one.. so I can go to each picture and recall what my settings were so if it did not turn out I can figure out why.   This was the first time I've ever used a Nikon FE and the first time I've used a film SLR in almost 2 years.  It came back to me quickly.   The FE is an automatic camera except for the film advance and aperture controls if you want it to be.   It also has a wide range of creative settings including multiple exposure ability and the link for a moterdrive.  When I was a kid and dreamed of taking pictures of spiders for the first time, this was a very expensive high-end camera.

This one turned out best although I wish I had better film to work with.   I also am limited to Wallgreens scanner which makes 1mb JPEG files out of my negitives.   That's not bad.. but not as good as it would be if scanned with a pro-scanner.

Webs are easy to capture in bright sunlight but often spiders wont' want to show themselves.  They can be coaxed out of there hiding spots but that does not always work.   This is a case where I should focus on a group of leaves nearby thats fully lit to find out what settings I should use for my camera and then use them on this area with the spider because the background is so dark.    The spider can very easy be overexposed if you don't compensate.   Make use of natural light when ever possible because it's the best light.    Focus will be very fine so be sure you set your f-stop to give you enough depth of field for the shot.  This is a small spider and the web was in a good place.     Shooting with film can be exiting and interesting as effects happen with it that often don't with digital.  I also like the anticipation of not knowing how good the shot is and then getting better and better at knowing if it will turn out or not.   Once again.. a good measure is to "clone" a digital SLR or camera to your film camera's settings and see how well it's doing.   Keeping logs of how well you did and what your settings were when you took your shots can be very helpful in the future.  It's all about practice.   You can use programs like Photoshop and Picasa to adjust some degree of color temperature in 35mm.  It may not be as good as a RAW file, but it is worth trying if your pictures are off color.

I want to express my deepest thankyou to Mike and Julle Mudd for donating this camera to me after all my SLRs were destroyed in our house fire.   It will take me years probably, but eventually I plan to buy a Nikon digital SLR now so that I can use the lenses I already have.   Even Nikon's older manual lenses can be used on new digital SLRs.  You just have to focus them manually and also remember to set the f-stop manually.   Hopefully by the time I can afford a new digital SLR that will still be possible because there are alot of good lenses out there!