Most people love taking pictures, but the art of film photography is something special. With its intricate process, stunning results, and a warm, analog feel, the craft of film photography draws in many enthusiasts. However, getting started can be daunting. From film types and camera bodies to light meters and processing, there are a lot of things to consider when you’re shooting on film. But with some practice and the right tools, you can learn the basics of film photography easily and take your photos to the next level.
What’s the Difference Between Film and Digital Photography?
The main difference between film and digital photography is that with film, you’re using light-sensitive chemicals to capture images; digital media uses an electronic sensor to record the picture. With traditional film photography, you’re forced to think about each shot more carefully, since there’s a limited number of exposures available on each roll. In digital photography, you have the freedom to take nearly limitless numbers of photos, then review them immediately on a screen and delete any mistakes.
Choosing the Right Film Camera
There are three main types of film cameras: 35 mm, medium-format, and large-format. The most common and popular choice is 35 mm for most photographers who shoot on film.
A 35 mm camera uses standard-sized film that captures a frame that measures 24 by 36 mm. Most 35 mm cameras are very lightweight and compact, making them an ideal choice for travel photographers or street shooters. They also offer a wide variety of lens choices, so you can experiment with different focal lengths, perspective control lenses, and macro lenses.
Medium-format cameras use 120 film to create larger negatives, so you can achieve higher-resolution images than with a 35 mm camera. These cameras are ideal for studio work and portrait photography because of their flexibility in controlling the depth of field and background blur.
Large-format cameras shoot onto a single sheet of film that’s 4 by 5 inches or larger in size. They produce the highest-resolution images you can get with film photography. Large-format cameras are typically used for still life, landscape, and architectural photography due to their viewing system, which allows photographers to fine-tune compositions before taking the shot.
Choosing the Right Film
After selecting the right camera size, the next step is to select the right film, the material that captures images when exposed to light. You can get film stock in either color or black and white, with each offering its own unique look. Just remember that when selecting film, you may want to consider the types of photos you’ll be taking as well as the environment. Color film is generally used for everyday photography, while slide film is best for more specialized shots with controlled lighting. For instance, if you’re going to be taking portraits in a studio or photographing landscapes on an overcast day, slide film, also called reversal film, can help bring out the subtle details.
Using a Light Meter
A light meter is used to measure the amount of light in a scene and calculate the optimal exposure settings for your camera. Without it, you’ll have to guess the correct exposure settings, which could result in an image that is either too dark or washed out. You’ll need an analog or digital light meter that measures the amount of incident light (the light falling on the subject) and not just the ambient brightness.
After shooting a roll of film, you’ll need to get it developed at a lab or process it yourself. If you want to do your own processing, you’ll need a few basic supplies, such as film tanks, developing chemicals, thermometers, and measuring cups. It’s also important to set up a darkroom in order to safely handle the film during development. The basic steps for processing film at home include loading the film into a film tank, pre-soaking it in water, developing the film in chemicals, stopping the development process, and fixing and washing the film. After that, you can scan your negatives or make prints.
What Kids Need to Know About Film Photography
Teaching kids the basics of film photography is an excellent way to introduce them to the art. Not only will they learn the fundamentals, but they’ll also develop an appreciation for photography in general.
Start with teaching kids about the different types of cameras and film available. You can also explain the basics of shutter speed, aperture, and ISO settings as well as how they affect the exposure. Once the kids understand the basics, you can then introduce them to light meters and teach them about composition and lighting. Explain how different types of lighting can be used to create different effects and how the framing of a photo is an important part of creating interesting images. Finally, show them how to develop film at home and make prints from their negatives.
If they’re interested in exploring more advanced film photography, teach them about darkroom printing, special effects filters, and digital scanning techniques. Encourage them to experiment with different types of film and camera settings, and give them tips on how to create unique photos. Just remember that with film photography, as with anything else, practice makes perfect. Kids need to take their time and understand the fundamentals before they rush into more complex techniques.
- Digital vs. Film Photography
- Understanding Film Photography
- How Photographic Film Works
- The Chemistry of Photography
- Beginner’s Guide to 35 mm Film Cameras
- How to Use Almost Any 35 mm Film Camera
- Color Photography
- Introduction to Medium-Format Film Photography
- Large-Format Joy
- Understanding Large-Format Film Photography
- The Basics of Large-Format Film Photography
- Picture-Digitizing Service
- A Photographer’s Guide to Film Development
- Basic Principles of Photography
- Complete Guide to Film Photography