Every once in a while I stumble upon a resource that changes some aspect of my business. I’ve read blog entries from Jasmine Star that have encouraged me to try new settings, or tutorials from Justin & Mary that push me to expand my knowledge of exterior lighting, or entries from Katelyn James that put some much-needed pep back into my step. So when I started to yearn for film again, I knew I needed a kick in the pants. I was honestly a bit scared to start back into film- I began my photographic journey in a dark room, but that was with black and white Kodak T-MAX, a pretty simple film to understand. This time around, I knew I wanted to play with COLOR film, and to be honest? I was pretty darn intimidated. I had NO idea what I was doing.
I was at Barnes & Noble a couple of months ago, perusing the photography section for Elizabeth’s Messina’s new book (more on that at a later time), when I came across a title that stuck out to me: “Film Is Not Dead.” I racked my brain trying to remember where I’d heard that title because it definitely sounded familiar when I finally remembered Terra mentioning it in passing well over a year ago. So I grabbed the simplistic gray and white fabric cover, took a seat and started reading.
It was one of those moments when I realized I’d struck an absolute goldmine of information, a wealth of education, just waiting for me to read it and take it all in. I read hungrily for the hour I was there until it was time to go at which time I painstakingly put the book back on the shelf. “I’ll be back, don’t worry” I whipsered to the book. And back I was- I returned a week later to finish speed reading through FIND, only to wish I owned the book for myself so that I could read it again and again. Unfortunately I’d already spent my education budget for the time and couldn’t justify the $60 price tag, so I told myself I’d have to keep coming back until I could afford to own a copy myself. I HAD to have this book.
And then God’s sovereignty struck in the form of a FIND giveaway, sponsored by Jonathan Canlas himself, the author of my new source of yearning. I never win anything (I don’t!), but I figured it was worth a shot so I submitted my name. A week or so later, after I’d thoroughly forgotten about the contest, I received an email congratulating me on winning an autographed copy! SO EFFIN STOKED! The book arrived a couple of weeks later and I tore into the packaging like a kid on Christmas. Here it was! All mine! Never again to return to the B&N shelf!
If you’re at all interested in diving into the world of film photography, you MUST have this book. Jonathan has a gift for breaking down film into understandable steps and options so that what used to feel painfully overwhelming now feels completely digestable. I was so intimidated by all the different types of film available, plus the various formats, different cameras, and the necessity of using a light meter. Jonathan explains them all in different chapters, giving easy to understand examples of each and steps to understanding how to use them. He even breaks down how to use a light meter according to which film you’re using- talk about detailed!
When I was taking the dark room class at Radford that began my love affair with photography, I was shooting on 35mm. I’d heard people mention different formats of film but I really had no idea what the difference was, other than the fact that someone told me “medium format” negatives were larger than 35mm negs. Not understanding the difference made me really afraid to try anything other than my precious 35mm film. Well, Jonathan Canlas breaks it ALL down in this book- 35mm, medium format, slide film, even toy cameras. Literally- EVERYTHING.
The chapter on the various types of film was my favorite- it thoroughly explained the differences between Kodak Portra and Fuji 400H, the two films I’ve been going back and forth between. He also explains in-depth about overexposure and how you various lighting circumstances affect your metering, and the differences between metering for C-41 (color film) vs. black and white. I shot my first few rolls of medium format film at this past weekend’s styled shoot and the only reason I had the courage to try was because of this book. I carried it around like a security blanket in the days leading up to the shoot, reading whenever I had a free minute, because I wanted to be as absolutely prepared as possible.
Go buy this book. Really- go do it. Even though the book is a guide for understanding and shooting film, it’s already manifested itself in my digital work, making me a better photographer all around. I think more before I click my shutter, I’m paying more attention to my in-camera settings, and I’m beginning to understand light in a more thorough capacity- I LOVE IT. I just sent off my rolls of 120 from this past weekend to Indie Film Lab and I’m already doing the impatient dance- I cannot WAIT to see how they turned out!
Also, I realize the irony of me shooting these images with my 5dmkii, very-much-so digital camera. Give me a break- I only decided what I was going to blog when I was washing my hair this morning. (being in the middle of leaving a corporate job and transitioning to full-time photography is KIND of stressful)