Hawaii was the first trip I’ve done while shooting exclusively on film, and I loved it.
I like film because of it’s simplicity and because it makes me think. Shooting film is like playing a game of chess or playing a musical instrument: anybody can learn the basics, but dig deeper and it becomes as complex as you choose to make it. Film is easy; anybody can shoot film. But there are subtleties and complexities which make it vastly rewarding as you work your way through the finer points of the medium.
One of the things I like most about film is the inability to see your picture after it was shot. It’s so freeing not to have an LCD screen instantly pop up with your photo after you shoot, taking you out of the moment and into yet another computer screen. Here in the year 2014, I think we already have more than enough computer screens to distract us. With film, you snap and you move on, and you never leave the moment.
Film requires more planning than digital, and I like that too because my pictures are usually better when I think through them in advance. With film, you need to decide what kind of film you’re going to load into your camera. Which film you choose depends on the kinds of pictures you want to take and the look you are going for. Pick a strong and saturated film like Velvia, and your shots will come out oozing color and contrast:
Pick a subdued film like Portra 160 (good for portraits, as the name implies), and your shots will show less color but convey more of a “mood” depending on what you shoot:
Then there’s how you expose each shot. Overexpose a Velvia, and you’ll wash out the color and do away with much of the contrast. You’ll loose some detail in the brighter areas, but that might be okay depending on the shot.
Finally there are in-between films like Ektar and Provia. These films do a good job overall of capturing what you see with your eyes without distorting reality too much, although they each are very different as evidenced here:
I don’t really have a favorite film because they each excel in their own way, although at this moment I’m slightly partial to Kodak Ektar because I think it provides the best balance between color saturation and capturing details.
It’s up to the photographer to know when and how to use each film to obtain the desired look. There are so many ways to use each film though, that there is hardly ever a “wrong” answer. There are just different answers and different looks.
Hawaii was my first and only travel experience so far this year, and I’m already missing it. I might have the opportunity for more time off soon. If that happens, a later summer visit to Europe might be in the cards… We’ll see, but in the meantime here are a few more film shots from Hawaii.
Which type of film do you like best? Would you ever try shooting film too, or do you prefer digital?