Going back to Film by Sue

I recently got inspired to seek out my old Minolta X300 film camera and try my hand at photography the old fashioned way. It came about after looking through my old albums and seeing old images on facebook and in the news. This is my all time fave of Daniel Taken on a rainy day in a caravan at a race track.

So inspired I went on line and ordered two films, a fuji 400 and a Kodak 200 film speed. Eagerly awaiting their arrival I dug out my old faithful Minolta. It was dead. I had the small batteries it takes to hand so replacing them I turned it on and… Still dead. This just sent my mood plummeting, thoughts of never being able to use my once pride and joy ever again flashed through my mind. But after taking the batteries out and scrubbing the contacts a bit it finally kicked in to life.

I’m wondering now if you could use it without anyway. The batteries I think are just used for metering and that is really basic. Anyway the day came when my films arrived. I loaded the 400 Fuji as the next evening a few of us were meeting up at the fair. I would need the higher ISO for the dark scenes. I decided there and then that this was all I was taking, my old camera loaded with new film, sporting an old 28 to 70m lens never tested that I got from Loughborough Market for £10. I was so excited!

We started off with a pint of beer in The Swan, well I had a half. Andrew, Clive, Kev and Colin were already there and looked a tad surprised that I had only the old film camera. ‘It feels so liberating’ I said and it really was. My mind was already working on what flavours of the fair I wanted to capture as I would have to be choosy. What shutter speeds would I be able to get away with and with no white balance control how would my colours look post developing?

I can honestly say that the first thing that struck me was ‘what should I leave out?’ I had 36 shots for the whole evening and there was a lot going on. It really stopped me trying crappy shots I just knew wouldn’t work anyway, but because with digital, it’s free and you can just delete and retake we do, we all do. It was great not to, almost relaxing…

As I took my first shot I instantly regretted it. My composition was rubbish and the faster Shutter to try and freeze any action meant loads of grain, I remembered that from my old days. There was just so much to think about so many things to consider with each shot, it was bloody great! I kept telling Clive, ‘there’s another one wasted’. If someone walked in front of you just at the wrong moment, another one wasted! No second chances without compromising the next shot.

But I can honestly say that when I took my time and waited and used what I had to the best of my ability, the minute I pressed the shutter I just knew it had worked and would produce a great print. And it did. Well in my opinion anyway I was pleased with the results.

And I remember taking each shot, I remember how I wanted it to look, the depth of field I aimed for and which part of the photo would have the lighting just right.

The ones I knew would work did and that made me very happy. These are just a few of the fair photos, since then I have taken some more colour on the 200 film and some black and white which have been put up on the club site already.

My 200 film was even more challenging and it never occurred to me that there would be so much difference. I put on my old Minolta 50m lens which lets you go down to 1.7 aperture. Ensuring loads of light but a very narrow depth of field. Using it indoors meant that I needed the 1.7 but to freeze any movement I also needed a decent shutter speed. 60 was the lowest I used when taking photos of my gorgeous grand children Lacey and Ethan. But I usually needed the light it provided.

A group of us went to the Rosliston country park to take shots of the falcons. This time I took both Film and digital I took most of the shots with my Nikon but I couldn’t wait to use the film but again being choosy what I took with it.

The better shots were definitely the portrait type ones and this just made me determined to get some good action or high speed photos from my film camera.

And so to Jerez and the chance to shoot some fast bikes!

This shot of Ian was taken down the pit straight. I had to have a fast shutter as I focused on the Track and waited for him to shoot into my View finder. His speed at the time was a measly 160mph he says. To freeze that and get the right Bike in the first place was a challenge, a challenge I relished. I’m hooked on film. It makes you work at it all over again.
The excitement of waiting for the photos to come back from developing was almost too much to take. Every day I drove Ian mad texting home to see if the postman had been. Were my photos there yet? And when they were!? Opening that envelope and seeing the heart and soul that I had put into everyone, even the crappy ones, it was amazing.

I must admit that when I got the photos back although I was pleased with the results some were a bit darker than I thought they would be. I expected blur if anything not that they would be a bit dark. The disc that I loaded on to the computer however showed far more detail in some of the shots that were actually on the prints. A few that I had metered in the shadows had really come out well on the disc yet the print blacked out most of that. This made me even more pleased with my efforts.
In a strange way I like film because it makes me focus and I find that very relaxing. It is for me almost as if the world is blotted out for a while and all that there is is me and the world I want to see in my view finder. And my thoughts of how I know the photo will turn out to be. The not taking the shot is also just as rewarding because you just take in the scene, you see all of it and you choose to just enjoy it while it is there or to capture it forever. When you have to be selective you realise what you want to capture, to be able to see again, years later. When it is more important that you get it right, you really try that little bit harder.

I recommend that you all have a go. You will know what I mean.