When it comes to street photography, there are heaps of places that come to mind. New York City, Chicago, Paris and many others have been the settings for legendary street photographers such Daniel Arnold, Vivian Meier and Henri Cartier-Bresson. After all, they are incredible cities …
The ability to capture a genuine, authentic moment in time is what immediately drew me into photography. There’s a magic to photographing a scene and knowing you did it without posing or manipulating a scene. Once I discovered that street photography encapsulated this type of …
Photographing with film is my absolute favorite method of capturing images. If it wasn’t for the cost and sometimes inconvenience, I’d photograph with film all the time.
Alas, there are costs and inconveniences that result from photographing with film.
It would seem that inconveniences have been added to the film photographer’s process.
Normally, I like to include posts about inspiration and tips on this blog. However, after what happened to me, I feel the need to inform anyone out there who shoots film.
Last Thanksgiving we planned a trip to Estes Park, Colorado for Thanksgiving. We could fly from our small town, but it’s almost always less expensive to drive two to four boring hours to a larger airport to not only save money, but also to reduce layovers.
Our flight was early and we cruised smoothly through the line to have our identification checked.
Arms raised and feet in position, we made it successfully through the scanners. Once I arrived on the other side, though, a Transportation Security Administration officer leaned over the counter. She told me that their scanners were stronger now, and that it would be advised for me to hand check my film.
This was completely new to me.
For years I’ve flown with film of all formats and haven’t had a problem. I’ve never used a lead bag because I’d heard (read) stories of the x-ray technicians simply increasing the power of the x-ray, thereby ruining the film.
Sweat forming and worry commencing, I was appalled at this advice I’d just received.
As surprised as I was, I was also extremely thankful to hear about the new scanners. Being an avid film photographer, this type of information is invaluable.
While in Colorado, I photographed as if my film would turn out completely fine. We stayed in Denver and my plan was to photograph some of the incredible architecture that exists in the area. As far as worrying that my film had been possibly ruined, there was nothing I could do at that point, so it was my priority to simply make the best out of a bad situation.
When the day came to return to Michigan, I made sure to have the TSA agent hand check my film. This was the Sunday after Thanksgiving weekend, so the airport was quite busy.
The agents involved with my film couldn’t have been more polite, patient and helpful.
Only about ten minutes of time were taken to check the film, and we were on our way to our airline gate for home.
Once home, I immediately sent my film off for processing. My lab of choice is The Darkroom Lab in California. Their service, quality, turnaround time and price has been unbeatable, for me.
When the day came that my negatives had been scanned, I received an email telling me that my downloads were ready. I was equal parts scared and excited.
As soon as I saw that some images were downloading I was relieved. My main concern was that the powerful x-ray had ruined all the negatives. I knew that as long as I had some images to work with I’d be okay.
Upon examining the images further, in Lightroom, I could tell that there was some degradation in quality. After flying with Kodak Portra 400 35mm film for as long as I have (and not having problems), I could tell fairly quickly that there was a graininess, and what can best be described as ‘muddled’, look to the images.
The photos I’ve presented here may not look too bad, but this is after a lot of adjustments to grain, color and contrast.
Thankfully, I was able to salvage a lot of the photos in post processing.
Having the advice to hand check my film was so important, I wanted to make sure to let you all know about it. So, the takeaway here is to give yourself a few extra film-check minutes and account for that when planning your travel.
Your photos may turn out fine if you don’t, but why take the chance?
Film photography has enough hassles, challenges and costs associated with it. Put high-strength x-ray machines on the list of challenges, I guess.
As film photographers—or photographers in general, I’d say—go though, we forge ahead. We do whatever it takes to make art in the magic that is film photography.
Here’s to film photography, it’s grain and all it’s perfect imperfections.
When the pandemic had resulted in so many aspects of life to be put on hold back in 2020, my photographic interests turned from people to architecture. My partner, Meg, had given me a photo book of Detroit architecture and it really spoke to me. …
Every year for the past eight years we’ve traveled to Colorado for Thanksgiving. Our families are small so that makes it simple to pack our things and meet up in one of the most beautiful sections of the U.S. I’ve ever seen. Call it the …
It is written in many tutorials that in order to photograph successfully, one must photograph during the Hour of Gold.
Fear not, fellow photographers, for a beautiful photograph may be captured any time you’re out with your camera, even if that time isn’t the golden hour.
Before we travel into this post, however, it must be stated that the hours around and during the golden hour are indeed sublime. With the rising and setting of the sun, colors elude a whimsy that makes Golden Pond envious. In this magical time, tones of warmth have been known to propel themselves toward photographers in a dizzying array.
That low sun indeed equals gorgeous light. And, being photographers, gorgeous light is what it’s all about.
However, the purpose of this post is that wonderful photos can be taken outside of the golden hour. Don’t let the fact that you aren’t able to photograph during this time deter you from grabbing your camera, lacing up your comfortable shoes, and heading out of your doorway to make pictures.
I say this because I’ve let the fact that I’m not able to photograph during the golden hour stop me from photographing. I’d think to myself, “If I can’t photograph when the light is perfect, why photograph at all?”
This was a mistake.
So many times I’ve photographed during midday and returned with wonderful results.
If the day is cloudy and you’re offered some nice diffused light, then you’re all set. The time of day in which you photograph doesn’t matter as much because even light is much more manageable.
But, let’s say it is a day of straight sun. All hope is not lost. One technique you could employ is to photograph in the shade. Shade light is even and diffused, much like cloudy light, and allows you to photograph without harsh shadows and/or highlights.
Another method to adopt when photographing during midday is to focus on clean, graphic compositions. With less-jumbled content in your viewfinder, you won’t have to worry as much about an extremely cluttered and contrast-filled scene.
If the scene or area you’re photographing has an extreme amount of contrast, a fantastic method of overcoming this is to overexpose your image so the shadows aren’t as bad. This is easier to do with film, for me, but it works with digital ,too. Especially with current digital camera models.
Finally, even if there’s no getting around the fact that there’s a lot of distracting elements in the scene and the sun is beating down from directly above, simply take pictures and have fun.
Sometimes, in scenarios like this, a strength or strengths in the image will overcome undesired lighting conditions.
There’s a terrific interview with photographer Joe Greer that can be read here. He talks about rewarding it can be to photograph at times of the day that aren’t the golden hour. The interview is full of many useful tips and advice, so I strongly encourage you to read it.
“Good light is obviously what’s going to make a great photo, but also the lack of light, low light, understanding artificial light, bringing in a flash… we don’t just have to shoot at 6pm golden hour or just a sunrise. I like to shoot in harsh light, and I think film renders very beautifully in that midday sun. A lot of photographers run away from it. Understanding light across several different avenues and how to harness that is going to take you so far in this game.”Joe Greer
Hopefully you’re inspired to head out with your camera, no matter what conditions are out there, and take pictures. A good photograph, moment, color combination, etc. can be just the capture to make your picture(s) successful.
Choosing the right film camera can be incredibly overwhelming. There are seemingly endless options out there for you to use. But, worry not. If you’re looking for a simple camera that can be found for a reasonable price, the Canon AE-1 gets the job done, …
Portrait photography is one of my favorite genres within the craft. To meet someone and make a portrait of that person, or people, is special. While working for different newspapers, it was portraits that made up so many daily assignments. The goal was to photograph …
The creative journey is different for everyone. It can be a slow ascent, then a whiplash-fast descent and everything in-between, and then it can change again. And that’s okay, because it’s all part of that journey.
Do not fret fellow creatives. There are ways to pause, create and feel fulfilled.
Greenery is in full green around Michigan. Tourists and seasonal residents have arrived to experience the area in its peak season of beauty. Summer in northern Michigan is so gorgeous that it makes one forget that ice, snow and clouds spend more time in the skies than sun.
Due to the beauty and warmth of summer, that also means that it becomes incredibly busy. Obligations, chores and family require time that all takes away from making pictures, writing words, crafting textiles or whatever your chosen creative pursuit may be.
In fact, summer can be one of the times where my creative output is put to the test. If you blink, the month is gone. Summer used to threaten to be one of my least creative times. Thankfully, I employed some simple tips to keep that from happening.
This leads me to my first tip about how to be creative during the summer…
1) Make Time for Yourself
This is the most important point on this entire post. If you don’t make time for yourself, no one else will.
Schedule a block of time that you’ll use to do what fulfills you.
Once you have a dedicated window that belongs only to you, it’s not only empowering, but you’ll also find that it gives you permission to do what you enjoy doing.
2) Don’t Overthink Things
This is one of the most challenging aspects of the creative process for me. Before heading out to take pictures, I can fall down a rabbit hole of decisions. Decisions like: What camera should I bring? Where should I go? What should I photograph?
I’ve learned to simply choose something, quickly, and then act on and be accepting of that decision.
A perfect example is that recently I’ve not been taking as many photos as I normally do. With my iPhone in hand, though, it’s easier than ever to take pictures.
Whenever someone asks me if a cell phone can take good pictures, I answer with a resounding “Yes.”
Photographing with a cell phone is so convenient, and the quality is at such a high level, there’s no excuse to not use it, if using nothing else.
3) Don’t Wait for the Perfect Time to Create
If you wait for a perfect time to create, you risk the danger of not creating. Try to get outside of your head and have fun with taking pictures.
One aspect of photography that I’ve noticed is that once I take some photos, the rest become easier. By starting out taking pictures, you’re basically priming the creative pump. Once you’ve taken some pictures, the rest tend to come easier.
In this post, you’ll see some images that I made recently with my iPhone. I’d love to have a long-term project to post here or a photo essay of something meaningful that I photographed with my film camera. But, I don’t have those things at the moment.
What I do have on me is an iPhone though. Boom, there you have it.
I made some photos at varying times throughout my workweek and at different times during any given day so that, even though the days were busy, I was taking photos. The photos on this post are the results of those captures.
Some of the photos posted here are during errands and some are taken during my lunch hour at work. One was taken ten minutes ago, as I’m listening to some Tom Petty on vinyl on this beautiful Sunday evening.
To close, try to find a plan that work for you and with your schedule. One of the most important aspects of creating is that you need to tailor your schedule to you. Carve out some time, even if it’s a few minutes a day, and soon you’ll find yourself more fulfilled as you make time for yourself to create.
As always, thank you for making time to read my posts. Please subscribe to my blog for updates on new posts and more photography tips.
It was December 24, 2022. Our plan, by way of yearly tradition, was to travel north and visit family for the holidays. Nature’s plan, though, was to make the Michigan roads as undriveable as possible through a weather assault of wind, snow, cold and ice. …