Film

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Back in 2018, my cousin gifted me with his old film camera. It was unexpected but I am so grateful for it. It brought back many memories of when I first started in photography. At that time, there was no digital photography. Everything was on a negative film. But what had initially sparked my interest in photography was being able to go out with my friends and capturing portraits of them with my SLR camera, point and shoot, and even disposable cameras. It was just something fun for us to do and I used to love seeing pictures I took on my friend’s bedroom walls or lockers. So from that point on, everywhere I went, I had a camera on me.

Obviously with a “new camera” comes new adventures so when I got the film camera, I was excited to start experimenting with it. It’s been a while since I have used film so along the way, I’ve learned to take my time with composition and framing. I learned that each frame is precious and should not be taken for granted, especially since a roll is film is just 24 or 36 frames. Photograph the moments that really speak to you. And practice patience in creating and developing the images.

But omg, that sound of the shutter too! It instantly brought back so many memories.

So I thought it would be fun to go through some images that I’ve taken in the past year or so with my Canon T70 and 35-70mm lens. By the way, none of these images on this post have been edited. I may or may not edit them in the future, but for now, it’s just fun seeing the results of the film.

My first set of images were taken in August 2018. I brought it on a peach picking trip with me and it was really just to see if the camera was working if there were any light leaks and a refresher on how to use film. I’m sorry to say that I forgot what kind of film these were captured on. I tried going through my Amazon orders and I don’t see any film listed. It may have just been some old rolls of film my cousin had in his camera bag. Although it’s a little fuzzy, this roll of film got me excited to start shooting again.

Delaplane, Virginia August 2018

Nowadays, I find myself researching different kinds of film and cameras, just to see what’s out there. I love watching youtube videos of other photographers getting great images with their analog cameras. I have to admit though, it’s a little hard for me to capture film images. I have my digital camera which I love, but it’s hard to balance the time between my digital and film camera. I spend most of my time shooting on my digital camera because I’m so used to it that sometimes I’ll even forget that I have a film camera on me.

It has helped to go on photo outings that are dedicated to just film. I’ll leave my digital camera at home and I love the feeling of roaming with such light equipment. Since I don’t have additional lenses or equipment for my film camera, it has been a nice change of pace to just have one camera with one lens.

Kodak UltraMax 400: San Diego, California January 2019

Kodak UltraMax 400: San Diego, California January 2019

Expired Film

I am extremely grateful for my friend, Jim. He was my photography mentor when I interned at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum while I was in high school. We’ve been able to reconnect through social media which was really cool when we found each other! Last year, he was kind enough to give me a whole bunch of expired Portra film 400 and 800 rolls of film. It has been so fun to try to go through all the rolls. I’m nowhere near completing them, but to see how the expired film develops has been super interesting.

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Greetings. About one month has passed since I posted my first COVID 19 update, I figured I’d send out another one.

In the past few weeks and even days, I’ve started realizing all the things I used to take for granted. I used to take for granted meeting up with a friend for lunch. I never even considered the fact that I would be unsafe walking past someone on the sidewalk. I took for granted being able to run to the grocery store real quick when we ran out of eggs. Now it’s a lengthy discussion with Andrew as to who’s going to go, what we want to eat for the next couple of days and if we have all the ingredients, fun snacks and even to make a note to look out for toilet paper (which we’re running dangerously low on!). Needless to say, it’s a crazy time where I’ve been feeling a lot of ups and downs. When I’m feeling up, I am productive doing things that make me happy.

A few images from an expired roll of Porta 400 film from cherry blossom season. I got these images developed from PhotoVision.

When I’m feeling down, I try my best to journal or write at least write down the things that I’m grateful for. Going on neighborhood walks has helped. Sitting down and expressing my feelings out to Andrew or friends on the phone has been great too. I’m still constantly thinking about what’s going to happen after all of this is done, when it’s going to be done but I just know all this uncertainty can’t be answered right now. When I catch myself feeling like this, I try to remember how I’m blessed to even have my health and almost instantly feel better.

From a walk on the Mt Vernon Trail before the stay at home order in Virginia.

I’ve also realized that every time I step foot outside my house, I’m concerned about the coronavirus. Even if it’s just to walk Frankie, I’m on the lookout to see who’s about to come near us and I feel so disturbed having those feelings. This has also hindered my photography. I’m not going out nearly as much as I used to but still feel the urge to capture images. I’ve taken a few pictures around my neighborhood and surrounding areas which has been nice.

Our local grocery store that I can walk to.

One day, Andrew and I just needed to get out so we decided we’d go fo a car ride. It was great to get out but so weird to see the streets of DC so quite. Frankie loved the little outing too. I also need to make a mental note that whenever I leave the house, I should bring my camera. I want to get better at that, especially since it doesn’t happen very often.

We didn’t get out of the car. Just enjoyed the views from inside.

While I’m home, I’ve been working on a few personal projects. One project that I’ve mentioned in my newsletter and on Instagram is that I’ve been scanning old family pictures. Luckily, my mom gave me a few photo albums before everything really broke out so it’s been keeping me busy. I’ve also taken the time out to scan images from high school.

A few family scans

But a majority of the time I’ve been trying to learn more. I want to take this time to try to improve my own photography. I love watching youtube videos of other photographers and attending webinars. I’ve learned that one thing that I don’t want to take for granted now is all this extra time we’ve been given. No more time spent stuck in traffic, no more time even commuting anywhere or even running mindless errands has given me so much “extra” time. All those things that I use to say that I would do if I had more time, I’m going to try to do them now!

I’ve also been going back and editing some older images. (L) Our first snowstorm in March 2018. (R) Surfer in San Diego in January 2019

But I think one of the most rewarding experiences so far has been running again. It’s been a great release for me. Andrew and I used to run a lot together when we first started dating. But after I ran a half marathon in 2015, I haven’t ran much. Running now has shown me how much stronger I have gotten over the years just by working out at the gym (which has now been replaced by virtual workouts). But in general, I feel less winded and my mile has definitely gotten faster. I am starting to feel really good when I go out for a run too. After all of this, I’m not sure if I’ll still continue running. But for now, I’m am grateful to be able to concentrate more on my health.

That’s all from me. This update was kind of all over the place with all the things I’ve been thinking about and doing but I hope you enjoyed it. Sending you much love and well wishes. Stay safe!

PS If there are any particular blog posts or photo content that you’d like to see from me, please let me know in the comments below! I’d love to use my skills to try to make you feel safe and more comfortable at home.

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A couple of weeks ago, I met up with a few friends for a photo walk but with only film. I was pumped.

We met at the Hirshhorn Museum and made our way to the National Gallery of Art where we spent a good amount of time photographing each other and the area.

On the way to NGA, I was surprised at how well this turned out. I watched him get his food from the food truck and sit down at this bench to eat his hamburger. When I captured it, I knew for sure I missed it because I didn’t look through the viewfinder. I just kind of pointed and hoped everything was lined up. If I had to do it over again, I just wish I didn’t get the white plastic bag sitting next to him.

By the way, none of these images are edited. Straight from the negatives.

Film photographers in the wild! Candid portraits of Quyen and Amanda outside the National Gallery of Art.

3/4ths of the film crew, Albert, Me and Amanda. Some call us the A-team. JK. LOL.

Amanda and I originally connected because she was the photo teacher at my old high school after I graduated of course! So crazy how small the world is.

On the way to our next photo location, we found this building that had all this steam coming from its side. We obviously had to stop and capture a few photos too.

All these images were taken with my Canon T70 and expired Porta 400 film.

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I got another roll of film developed! It’s always so exciting to get your rolls of film back, don’t you think? For some reason, I always forget most of the images I photograph so getting to see the images is so fun. Tell me why I had images of snow and cherry blossoms on the same roll! LOL. I don’t always procrastinate on stuff, but I guess capturing images on film is one of those things that I think can wait.

So here are just a few of my favorite images I received. The one above is of the Smithsonian Castle captured from the steps of the Hirshhorn Museum. I don’t think I’ve ever noticed how the Washington Monument can be seen from this point of view. I loved all the layering and points.

It’s like spring all over again. Looking up at the cherry blossom at the Tidal Basin.

Classic view of the cherry blossoms with the Washington Monument in the frame.

This image was captured on a spring afternoon on a walk around Georgetown with my friend, Andy. We decided to get some bubble tea after we left Dumbarton Oaks and this was along the way.

A selfie in the “Mirror. Mirror” art display in Alexandria’s Waterfront Park in Virginia. This is very cool to see in person and would recommend stopping by if you’re in the area. Luckily, I was there when no one else was so I was able to get this solo self-portrait.

Obviously, these are a little out of order but it’s just so weird seeing this snow image with all the others. I love this view from the View of DC. So obviously I had to go check it out when the city was covered in snow. I think this image turned out pretty well considering it was photographed through a window.

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Guess what, y’all? I brought my film camera to Joshua Tree! LOL. Most exciting news you’ll hear on a Monday.

It was fun having two cameras with me. It’s even funner when I forget what I shot and pick up the roll of film to find all these images.

The above image was on our hike along the Arch Rock Trail. Our first taste of boulders in Joshua Tree NPS and I thought they were so cool. I love how massive they are and the beautiful formations. It sort of felt like you were on another planet.
PS. None of these images are edited. They’re all straight out of the camera.

I love all the brown tones in this image. Although this was taken at different times of day, check out my digital version of this.

Another little cacti action for the love of texture.

This image was captured on New Year’s day at sunrise along the Baker Dam Trail. The sun had come up a little and made the rocks glow in orange.

This morning was honestly one of the coldest mornings I’ve had in recent memory. It may not look cold but it was so windy, it felt fridged. I remember feeling the cold air through my shoes and thinking I did not wear enough on my feet. That was even through hiking socks and boots.

Out of all the images I captured, this is the only one I managed to take of the Joshua Trees on my film camera. I distinctly remember taking it because it reminded me of a heart. I <3 Joshua Tree and can’t wait to go back again.

Let me know what you guys think of these images. Shooting film is so nostalgic for me and I really enjoy it from time to time.

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A few weeks ago my cousin, Vincent gave me his old film camera. It came as a total surprise and I was really excited about it. It’s been forever since I shot with film but then I started getting all these questions in my head. Like, would I still remember how to use it? Where do I buy film? Where do you even get it developed? When would I even use it? Questions that I had never even thought about for at least 10 years.

In the past year or so, I’ve realized that film has kinda been making a come back. I see more and more people uploading film images onto their instagram and I never really thought anything of it. I’m not really into instagram fads so I never really considered it for myself but since I was gifted with a camera, I might as well as take advantage of it. We popped some fresh double “A” batteries in it and I opened the back to see if there was film in the camera. Oops, there was. Oh well, I figured a light leak here or there could be cool. HAHA.

I started taking pictures around their house just to test it out. After my first click, I lowered my camera to look at the back of it and immediately laughed. It was a habit that I had obviously created and never really realized. Even my nephew, Axl, asked to look at it after I took the picture. The 3 year old was confused about the fact that “it wasn’t that kind of camera”. LOL.

So I brought it peach picking with us and here are the results. Hope you enjoy.

Also, let me know if you’d be interested in seeing more film images. This was kinda fun and it definietly made me slow down and really think about what I was shooting. Considering the fact that I was limited to 24 frames (when I’m used to 1,000+), it was so different. OHHH and that film shutter sound 🙂

Its funny though. I got the roll of film developed and put onto a flashdrive. I pulled them up on my computer when I got home and the first thing that came out of Andrew’s mouth was “it looks like an instagram filter”. HAHAHA!