Shooting 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.

Expired Kodak Portra 400: Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, DC January 2020

I especially love seeing the grain on these images. It gives it sort of an old-time feel, even with modern-day subjects.

Expired Kodak Portra 400: Amanda, Washington DC January 2020

In general, it’s always a good idea to refrigerate and keep the old film cold. These particular rolls of film were not kept that way, so they may be a little bit grainer and darker than they should be. With that being the case, I did try to overexpose a few images, but it’s just so difficult to know what you’re actually going to come out with in the end.

Expired Kodak Portra 400: Jim’s Camera, Washington DC February 2020

Expired Kodak Portra 800: Washington DC, December 2019

Expired Kodak Portra 800: Washington DC, December 2019

Expired Kodak Portra 800: Washington DC, April 2019

For these rolls of film that I was gifted, I’ve found that the Portra 800 blacks are a lot more black while the colors and tones in Portra 400 look softer. It’s hard to say which one I like better. I guess it just depends on the images and mood I am trying to create.

Expired Kodak Portra 400: Cherry Blossom Festival, Washington DC, March 2020

Expired Kodak Portra 400: Cherry Blossom Festival, Washington DC, March 2020

Fun Film

In between experiments with expired Kodak Portra film, I bought a few rolls of what I like to call “fun film”. Lomography makes some interesting looking 35mm films that I’d like to try in the future but I stumbled upon a brand called Dubble Film which caught my eye. Unfortunately, I can’t find the link to the exact rolls of film I purchased, but the ones I got were Dubble Film Moonstruck and Dubble Film Sunstroke. They seem to have a whole line of fun films that can be found on Amazon. I found mine on What gravitated me towards these two rolls of film, in particular, was that they are already color-toned film. I wanted to see what it would look like, so I tried out the Moonstruck first thinking I’ll be taking a lot of landscape images with it and the cooler tone would look nice.

Dubble Film Moonstruck 200: Shenandoah National Park, May 2019

After getting these developed, I learned that I should have made it known that this roll of film has a cooler tone. In my head, I thought they would see the camera roll and automatically know. Next time I know to note special developing instructions. 

Dubble Film Moonstruck 200: Turks and Caicos, June 2019

The results of this film’s colors were a bit wonky but in general, this roll of film was very easy to use, even with an ISO 200.

Disposable Cameras

Since I was on such a film kick, I also purchased a few disposable cameras as well. A few Kodak FunSavers and even more Fuji QuickSnap cameras. It has been so fun to take them out when I’m with my friends. Just like the good ‘ole days.  They’re so light and small that it easily fits in my purse. My preference goes towards the Fuji QuickSnap. It’s easier to use, smaller, and I just like the way the images come out better. I have also come to realize that it’s best to always shoot with flash with either one of the camera brands. Even if you’re outdoors, flash on!

Fuji QuickSnap: February 2020

Fuji QuickSnap: (L) National Air and Space Museum, Chantilly, Virginia December 2019 (R) Washington DC, September 2019

Creating pictures on my disposable camera is just fun. They aren’t meant to be my artful photography images, but just another way to preserve fun memories with friends and family.

See more about my film adventures here.

I’m grateful for film to have introduced me to my life long love in photography. And I’m grateful to have it back in my life to help teach me new things. In the past 1.5 years or so with film photography, I have not been shooting as much as I would like with it. This blog post was mostly to reminisce on some images I’ve created and to inspire to create more. I know there will be more and in the future and I’d like to try other types of cameras and film.  This whole journey has been relearning and learning new things and I’m so excited about shooting even more!