Tag: Film Photography

Why It’s Time to be Careful When Flying with Film

Why It’s Time to be Careful When Flying with Film

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 

Why You Don’t Always Have to Photograph During the Golden Hour

Why You Don’t Always Have to Photograph During the Golden Hour

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 

Why the Canon AE-1  Makes a Great Film Camera

Why the Canon AE-1 Makes a Great Film Camera

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, and done well.

Film photography has been experiencing a resurgence since its bleaker days. Cameras that used to cost very little have become more and more expensive.

When film had become unpopular with the rise of digital cameras, I grabbed some discount deals on a number of excellent film cameras—Leica M6, Mamiya 7 and a Canon F-1. Yes, there was a time when these cameras were more than half of the price they are now.

Traverse City, Michigan
Camera: Canon AE-1

It didn’t take long for the word to spread that I was an avid film photographer. Before long, thankfully, family and friends would send me old film cameras. It was extremely humbling and I’m forever thankful.

One camera that was given to me by gracious friends—it previously belonged to their father—was a Canon AE-1. I’d heard that the camera was a solid workhorse, and it is. The only reason I didn’t purchase one earlier was because I’d already had a Canon F-1 in my stable, and an older Canon TX.

As usual, I won’t get into too many technical descriptions in this post; those can be found here.

What I will talk about is how usable and fun the Canon AE-1 is.

Traverse City, Michigan
Camera: Canon AE-1

Old cameras can be fussy. So, it took a bit for this camera to be fun.

When I first pressed the shutter of the camera, an audible wheezing sound was emitted instead of the ka-thwack of a properly working shutter mirror.

Almost every one of my film cameras are sent off for a CLA (clean, lube, adjust) service. That way, I know I won’t be guessing if everything is working, and I’ll know when it’s been serviced. It’s just easier, and I’m sure I waste heaps less film by putting my rolls through faulty cameras.

A quick Google search lead me to camera repair technician extraordinaire, Joe Careta. He sent it back to me quickly after doing his magic to the camera. The camera looked, felt and sounded like it was new.

Freshly-serviced Canon AE-1 in hand, I couldn’t wait to hit the field with it. My lens of choice was the Canon 50mm FD f/1.4 S.S.C. This is a lens that produces stunning results, outside of what, and how, the photographer chooses to photograph.

In the Field with the Canon AE-1

Loaded with some Kodak Portra ISO 400 35mm film, I carried the camera with me until every one of the 36 exposures on the roll were exposed.

Let me tell you, this camera is fantastic and a pleasure to use.

The Canon AE-1 doesn’t hold you, or itself, back. It isn’t too heavy or too light; the shutter sound isn’t too quiet or too loud; and the viewfinder isn’t too dark or too bright—as if there is such a thing as a viewfinder that’s too bright.

And, one of the most important considerations, it’s priced extremely reasonably. A quick search on eBay resulted in me finding some nice examples of the camera for between $100-$200. Actually, for the price, this is probably one of the best values around.

Traverse City, Michigan
Camera: Canon AE-1

The one aspect of this camera I didn’t test was the light meter. I’ve become accustomed to using my handheld light meter, so I didn’t test the camera’s built-in one. The needle was bobbing up and down, though, responsively with exposure suggestions.

There’s a lot to be said for a camera that is easy to use. One of my favorite photographic experiences is when a camera setup doesn’t get in the way of a photograph. The AE-1 allows the user to quickly control the shutter speed and aperture, which allows complete creative control to the user.

With the AE-1, as soon as I wanted to take a picture, I lifted the camera to my eye and snapped the shutter button. The shutter sound was pleasant and the size of the camera was perfect.

Since the Canon AE-1 is older, it has that vintage component to it that also enhances the photographic experience.

Michigan
Camera: Canon AE-1

If you’re looking for your first film camera, or you’d like to have a general purpose camera that will work and won’t break the bank if something happens to it, or would simply like to have an enjoyable film-shooting experience, I can’t recommend the Canon AE-1 enough.

How Film Photography Can Make You A Better Portrait Photographer

How Film Photography Can Make You A Better Portrait Photographer

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 

Photographing in a Snowstorm for Five Minutes

Photographing in a Snowstorm for Five Minutes

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. 

Voyaging: A 2023 Springtime Photo Trip to Saginaw, Michigan

Voyaging: A 2023 Springtime Photo Trip to Saginaw, Michigan

Tell someone you’re going away for a weekend to Saginaw, Michigan to take photos, and you may receive puzzling expressions—I certainly did. The responses of wonderment I received were mostly from the people I encountered in Saginaw, too.

Saginaw, Michigan

Saginaw is often on lists, but they’re not the types of lists that garner praise or accolades. The lists are usually rankings of dangerous cities in Michigan or the United States. Saginaw is often close to the top in the state and nationally.

So why travel to Saginaw? I went there because even though it’s a city with challenges, poverty and crime, it’s still a city where people live and since it’s a piece of the fabric that makes up the state of Michigan, it deserves to be documented.

Saginaw, Michigan

Also, there are some incredible aspects to Saginaw. There are some fantastic people there, mind-blowing architecture and the best place to buy a tortilla I’ve ever been. Much more importantly, it’s a city with vast potential and with strong communities, along with a rich history.

I previously created a blog post, here, about working as a photojournalist intern at the Saginaw News in 2005 and returning years later to photograph.

Saginaw, Michigan

In addition, Saginaw is only about two hours from home so it’s easily traveled to, and from, in a weekend.

My favorite place to stay when heading to Saginaw is the Relax Inn. It’s in a quiet section of country away from the hustle and bustle, the staff is kind and the prices are phenomenal.

Relax Inn
Saginaw, Michigan

On the particular weekend I was there, the weather was to be quite cold, and it sure was. When I woke up on Saturday morning, it had snowed a lot and the wind was creating a wind chill that tested even my Michigan blood.

Saginaw, Michigan

However, photo weekends are precious and not to be squandered, so once I put my extra vest on and warm gloves and a stocking hat, it was out the door I went.

A film camera, accompanied by my iPhone, was my only rig for this trip. Sometimes I bring a film camera and digital camera, but more equipment tends to make things a hassle and I wanted to keep things simple on this trip.

Earlier I mentioned that Saginaw has a reputation for being dangerous so I’ll mention here that the same rules apply when in Saginaw as when in any big city: Use common sense, be aware of your surroundings and don’t wander in unfamiliar and unsafe areas at night.

Saginaw, Michigan

As I began my photo excursion in the city, I began to notice some buildings that had been removed since the last time I’d visited. This is a shame because the buildings were architectural gems. The good news though is that some of the best architectural gems remained.

My travels began near the apartment building on Thompson Street where I once lived. It seemed like a fitting place for a photo outing since it’s one of the first internships I had when I started my photojournalism career.

Across the street from the apartment building was a beautiful green Mercedes Benz car in a church parking lot.

Saginaw, Michigan

My travels afterward included some fine examples of mid-century modern architecture. It’s abundant there. It was especially important to me to document these buildings now, since one never knows when a building will be torn down.

To me, this is one of the most important reasons to photograph. You’ll find, if you haven’t already, that documenting what you do can become an important historical record. This is especially true as time moves on.

Saginaw, Michigan

When I wasn’t photographing architecture, I was wandering about Old Saginaw City. There are vignettes, especially in the Old Town area, that speak to the grit and authenticity of the area.

Saginaw, Michigan

It was fulfilling and so great to be back in Saginaw. Being there for the weekend confirmed what I felt about it: it’s a tough city with some beautiful features.

I can’t wait to return.

Tips for Photographing in the Midday Sun

Tips for Photographing in the Midday Sun

As photographers, we obviously would like to photography when the light is optimum. The golden hour, the blue hour, sunsets, sunrises—these are all times of day when the light can turn gorgeous and can result in exquisite images. But, what do you do when the 

Why Fujifilm 200 is an Excellent Choice

Why Fujifilm 200 is an Excellent Choice

When it comes to photography, especially film photography, I keep my equipment as consistent and simple as possible. The less one has to think about while taking pictures, the better. Kodak Portra 400 35mm (the 120 is great too, I just don’t use as much 

Why The Leica M6 is the Perfect Camera (But,You Don’t Need One)

Why The Leica M6 is the Perfect Camera (But,You Don’t Need One)

Photography is a personal creative journey. On our journey we should select a tool that will help us along the way. When it comes to cameras, the options can easily become overwhelming.

Megapixels, pixel size, lenses, weatherproofing, DxO scores, and on and on are discussed. The most important thing though, is that you have a camera that you enjoy using.

The exact post escapes me, but photographer extraordinaire Michael Friberg had a blog post years ago. In it, he talked about camera equipment. One point he made stuck with me and still sticks with me: he stated that a bad photo at 6 megapixels will still be a bad photo at 100 megapixels, or something along those lines.

It’s so true.

Dollar Bay, Michigan
Camera: Leica M6

There was a time when the only camera brands I knew about was Canon and Nikon. Until one day, someone said, “Those are good brands, but they’re not as good as a Leica.”

From that day forward, I became a little (lot) obsessed. Legendary photos were taken with a Leica. Icons of photography used Leica. The most expensive cameras were <sigh> Leica.

Finally, in 2015, I bought one. It was a black M6 in really good condition. In 2015, film camera prices, even for a Leica, were much lower than what they are now. Mine was in fantastic condition and the cost was $1,300.

Traverse City, Michigan
Camera: Leica M6

From the first time I’d clicked the shutter button and listened with delight as the shutter made its almost-silent click, it was an infatuation for the M6. That love stemmed from the fact that the Leica rangefinder involved me in the process of photographing like no other camera had before.

Leica M6

You select the shutter speed and aperture, then click the shutter button. It’s a little more “work” to make good pictures with a Leica, but it’s also quite rewarding to see your photographic results after being deliberate with the composition, shutter speed, aperture—you know, photography.

There are, of course, other cameras that are simple, but, the Leica is extremely well-built and the quality is palpable when holding one. It has a substantial heft that feels like quality. And, most importantly, it’s pure joy to use.

Michigan
Camera: Leica M6

Do you need one? Of course not. I’ve never been able to identify what camera was used to make an image, just by looking at the image. There are many good and beautiful cameras out there that are more than enough for a photographer’s needs. I picked up a Canonet QL17 GIII for under $100 and I was blown away by the quality of the images, and the shooting experience as well.

The prices for Leica cameras have increased dramatically. I found mine for $1,300 (remember, it was 2015 when I bought mine) and the cameras have doubled in price. Some scoff at Leica as a rich person’s toy. They are indeed expensive. At their current prices, I don’t think I’d replace mine if something were to happen to it. An important note though: a good used Leica can be purchased for about the price of some of the current digital cameras. Also, Leica film cameras have not only held their value, but have increased in value.

Actually, if you’re looking for a great film camera and have Canon lenses, just buy the Canon 1V and be done. That camera is exquisitely engineered. But, there are heaps of options out there. The Olympus PEN, the OM-1, the Nikon F2, F3, etc. There are a lot of wonderful cameras.

Leica M6—and almost all of the Leica film cameras—has the potential to offer a rewarding photographic experience to anyone who uses one. It’s not necessary to have one to enjoy photography though, please know that. Also, the Leica M6 is perfect…for me. It’s up to you to use a camera that you feel comfortable with and that allows you to make the types of images you want. And, that is the most important thing.

“The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.”

Ansel Adams

The paramount objective is for you to be taking pictures with whatever photographic tool you have that allows you to make images and have fun.

How to Boost Your Creativity in Your Own Town

How to Boost Your Creativity in Your Own Town

It can be the most difficult surrounding to photograph. Out of nowhere, you may find yourself stopped in the tracks of creativity before you even know what hit you. Or, it may hit you right away. You may walk, or drive, for hours looking for