To announce the exciting release of FILM NOTES, here are all the practical film photography tips I’ve learned I want to share with you:
1. It is better to overexpose your film than underexposure your film
With film photography, always aim to over exposure or make your film photos brighter. Why? Because it is easy to recover highlights with film. It is practically impossible to “blow out your highlights” with film photography.
In digital photography, the principle is opposite. In digital, it is better to under expose, because in RAW it is easy to pull details out of the shadows.
However with film, if your photos are too dark or under exposed, your photos will look like crap.
So to be frank, the most important thing about film photography is just mastering your exposure.
– Bright sunny day: f/8, 1/1000th shutter speed, ISO 400
– Indoors: f/2 (or wide open), 1/15th shutter speed, ISO 400
– Outdoors shade: f/8, 1/60 or 1/125 shutter speed, ISO 400
– Sunrise or sunset: f/8, 1/250 shutter speed, ISO 400
The reason you wanna shoot at f8 is to have more depth of field, and to have more things in your photo in focus. You can’t fix a out of focus photo. Don’t try to shoot everything wide open on film.
Also good photos tend to have an interesting foreground, middle ground, and background. F8 will give you more layers and depth in your street photography.
Recommended film: Kodak Portra 400 for color. For black and white, Japan Camera Hunter JCH Streetpan 400, Kodak Tri-X 400, Ilford HP5.
Buy your film on camerafilmphoto.com
2. Don’t be stingy with your film
If you see a good scene that interests you, shoot 36 photos of it (or a whole roll of film on it).
The mistake we make in film photography is that we are afraid to hit the shutter more than once or twice. Rather, be picky about what you decide to photograph. But once you find a good scene, make as many photos of it as humanly possible.
For example, I can walk around for eight hours and see nothing interesting to me.
But once I see something good, I’ll shoot 10-30 photos of it.
So, summed up:
Rather than shoot 1 photo of 36 things you see, shoot 36 photos of 1 thing you see.
3. Have fun
To be frank, we take ourselves too seriously in photography. Rather, see shooting film as a chance to play. To experiment. To mess around, to feel like a big kid again.
To me, I enjoy the process of shooting film, and the joy of shooting film is how it slows me down, how it makes me appreciate moments more, and how it helps me appreciate the art of photography more.
Shooting film will make you a better photographer. It will help you better understand the light, expression, mood, gesture, color, textures, and soul.
So friend, if you want to start shooting film photography and have no idea where to start, pick up a copy of FILM NOTES.
If you’re interested in learning how to shoot film, start with this guide:
- Film Street Photography Manual
- Introduction to Shooting Film in Street Photography
- What I Learned Shooting 100 Rolls of Black and White Film
- What I Learned Processing 164 Rolls of Film After Waiting a Year
- My Experiences Shooting Medium-Format Film in Street Photography
- A Guide on How to Shoot Street Photography on a Film Leica (or Rangefinder)
- Why Digital Is Dead For Me In Street Photography
- Video: Why I’m Switching Back to Black and White Film for Street Photography