Film Photography: Going Old School

To sum up simply, photographic film is a plastic strip–the film strip–coated with a gelatin filled with tiny light-sensitive crystals. A film camera briefly exposes sections of this plastic film strip to light, which is imprinted into these crystals to form your exposure.

In practical terms, film presents a few considerations that will be new to digital photographers. For one, the ISO you’re shooting with is determined by the film you’re using, so the only way to change your ISO when shooting is to wait to finish the roll. Also, many film cameras don’t have automatic light metering, so film photographers must carry either a light meter, or, for those of us that are technologically dependent, one of the many light-metering smartphone apps. The shutter speed, aperture and focus have to be done manually (usually on the lens itself), so there’s almost always some setup involved before each shot.

Finally, digital photographers have the luxury of snapping dozens of pictures for every scene that catches their eye. Analog photographers have to be much more cautious, as every exposure is much more precious (and more costly). Many will argue that this scarcity of photos to take is actually a benefit to one’s photography since it forces the photographer to work with much more foresight, patience, and direction.

Both technically and practically, the specifics of the film you’ll use, the way the camera works with it, and the subsequent development process all depend on what sort of film you’re working with. 

For the next parts of the class we will continue using the darkroom. but instead of shooting direct to paper as we did with the pinhole camera. We will be using the the next evolution in photography. Film.

To help simplify this task, you will be using the ideas on the Scavenger Hunt seen here, to help you speed up the shooting process.

You will choose 24 items to shoot corresponding to the 24 possible image frames on the film. Remember you must shoot all 24 images in one class period. 

Cameras will be available for overnight check out after the initial shooting process is underway.

The Film Process

In simple terms...

You expose the film ( ie..Take Pictures )

Load the film into the developing tank ( In total Darkness )

Develop the film & Dry it 

Produce a Contact Sheet ( Transfer the negative to a positive )

Produce Test prints

Produce Final Prints

Because we use many different film cameras, it is impracticable to demonstrate just a single system here.. but in an effort to help general knowledge the following images should give a guide to proper loading of film.

Download It Here

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