Exploring Hawaii with Film

Exploring Hawaii with Film

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:

Velvia 50

Colors of Fuji Velvia 50

 

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:

Portra 160

Waikiki long exposure with Kodak Portra 160

 

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.

Velvia

Overexposed Velvia. Colors are faded, but for this shot it works

 

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:

Boards on Ektar 100

Boards on Ektar 100

 

Jumping

Jumping on Provia 100

 

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.

 

Waikiki

Waikiki. Portra 400 film shot with Canon 50mm f1.0 lens

 

Waikiki Shops

Waikiki Shops. Portra film and Canon 50mm f1.0 lens

 

Waikiki

Waikiki tree. Portra film

 

Umbrella

Umbrella on Velvia 100 film

 

Hawaii

Umbrellas on Velvia 50 film with 50mm f1.0 lens

 

Going surfing

Going surfing on Kodak Ektar 100 film

 

Trees on Portra

Trees on Portra

 

Boards. Kodak Portra 400 and Canon 50mm f1.0 lens

Boards. Kodak Portra 400 and Canon 50mm f1.0 lens

 

Waikiki Night

Waikiki Night. Velvia 100

 

Which type of film do you like best? Would you ever try shooting film too, or do you prefer digital?

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Comments ( 2 )

  • Aunt Kathy

    WOW, Edward!!!
    Your Dad shared your website on his recent visit. I feel like I am actually experiencing your travels, although vicariously. I am so very proud of you. Safe travels, and keep those excellent pics and stimulating commentary coming!
    Love,
    Aunt Kathy XO

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