35mm Film Photography For Beginners | David Miller | Skillshare
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9 Lessons (40m)
    • 1. 35mm Film Photography Intro

      7:03
    • 2. 35mm Film Cameras

      6:16
    • 3. Film Types + Development

      2:26
    • 4. Specialty Films

      2:01
    • 5. Contact Sheets

      5:13
    • 6. ISO + Grain

      5:57
    • 7. Loading FIlm and Double Exposure

      4:11
    • 8. Scanning Film

      4:17
    • 9. 35mm Photography Wrap Up

      2:11
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About This Class

Before there was digital photography, 35mm film ruled the imaging landscape.  We had 24 to 36 frames per roll of film to express ourselves creatively and capture moments.  In the modern era, there are tons of analogue film options available that allow for unique and authentic-feeling experiences that evoke a strong, personal style of photography.  This course explores:

  • various film cameras, from SLRs to Lomo-style toy cameras and everything in between
  • methods of developing and scanning our film
  • unique methods of presenting our photo work
  • incorporating film grain and the push/ pull technique

and much more!

Transcripts

1. 35mm Film Photography Intro: Hello, friends. My name is David Miller, Phoenix Arizona photographer, multimedia artist. I want to welcome you to this course on 35 millimeter photography. This is how I started out in the nineties. I originally shot 35 millimeter film with my friends in high school as my models. And then, after a little bit of graphic design school, I got into the work of Sebastian Salgado. He is a black and white photographer, does not work in 35 millimeter. He shoots a combination of digital and large format today. But in that era, if you wanted to get in photography chances where you're going to start with 35 millimeter film. This was something that was really common in all the grocery stores, department stores, pre digital, and now it's considered an alternative process. There are filmmakers that still choose to work exclusively with, say, Lloyd and film, because it provides a particular aesthetic that makes sense to the pieces that they make in their movies. There certainly are a lot of photographers who choose to shoot 35 millimeter film today because for one reason or another, they're displeased with the digital process. It doesn't speak to them as well as 35 millimeter film does. And we're going to cover some of why you might choose 35 millimeter over digital because there are some things that you can I don't want to say Onley doing 35 millimeter but that make a logical sense to do with 35 millimeter film versus digital photography trying to fake things in a photo editing application. But for the beginners 35 millimeter film comes in rolls that are either 24 frames or 36 frames. This means you have a very limited number of shots each time you go out to do your photography and as many films shooters can attest to, you think a little harder about your shots when you utilize a limited number of frames. I also shoot digital. When I do a photo shoots with a model a subject. I easily take 800 pictures. I would never do that with my film photography. I would take those limited number of shots. I would try to make every single one the best there is. It's just a mentality that you adopt when you have limited resource is, and in many ways that pushes us to be better at what we do, rather than the phrase spray and pray where somebody it takes a lot of photos. They have a camera on a continuous high, and it's just going about that. Back that up and you're hoping that one of those is any. There are a wide number of 35 millimeter films available that have special effects that have inherent characteristics that are unique to those films. And there's ways of presenting film that is unique to that format, Certainly through manipulation through Photoshopped through light room, we can attempt to evoke a lot of these special effects. Ah, lot of these presentation methods, but they aren't riel. And if you want something to look as good as possible, my opinion is you need to do it as real as possible. One more characteristic that is inherent in 35 millimeter film is a tonality range that is superior to digital photography. What do I mean by that? In photography, you have a range of tones. You have the lightest light that darkest dark, and a traditionalist like Ansel Adams would put forth that you should have detail in that highlight in that shadow black area. There should be some detail within those spaces. Digital photography, even shooting in raw format, which is intended to capture the widest range of tonality, still cannot recover detail. If you overexpose or under exposed within a certain range of exposure, exposure has to do with light as it comes to your lens and is read by the sensor or film within your camera. So if you shoot something too bright on accident or too dark on accident and you're trying to recover detail in those spaces, you're not going to be able to do it even in the raw format as well as you can in film photography. When I shoot somebody outside on a bright day and have got super right sunlight blasting on other things around my subject, I have water or snow causing flares and reflections. Film is going to capture that detail. It's gonna put something on the film. So under certain scenarios, with what we might calm or extreme lighting conditions, you might be better served by shooting 35 millimeter film and lastly, to speak about 35 millimeter film. There are a lot of cameras on the market that are very cheap have cool qualities to them. Work as well as digital cameras do, in some cases, might be better manufactured than modern digital cameras and their cameras available, such as the ones from the company Lamo, which have very unique and bizarre effects that you can achieve Onley on film. Taking advantage of these cameras requires us to shoot with 35 millimeter photography, So hopefully I've given you a broad number of reasons why we might want to reconsider 35 millimeter photography. I know for myself because I have a history with it. A lot of times it feels like I'm going back to that era when I was 1920 21 focusing on this particular style. Uh, I have found that the people I photograph value and along photography be it Polaroid 35 millimeter a lot more than they do the digital shots. They just see the character that's in that. And I also happen to shoot a lot of experimental work or things that reflect other areas such as the seventies and eighties. And you know what? If I'm gonna focus on that kind of aesthetic than 35 mil is the way to go. Hopefully, you're intrigued. Let's get started with our class 2. 35mm Film Cameras: so there are a variety of 35 millimeter cameras that were produced in the 20th and 21st century. Traditionally, people got their start in photography with a point and shoot camera. This is a simple plastic camera with not a whole lot of functionality to it. The intention was, you put the film in, you hold the camera up and you take the picture, and that's that. You can get variations of those cameras in stores today, as disposable cameras and disposable cameras are intended for a single use only it already comes prepackaged with film. You take it out. Teoh might put him across a bunch of tables at a wedding reception, and you do your business. You drop off that camera, you get the film back. You never see that plastic camera again. Then you have the category of single lens reflex cameras. Very common. One is the cannon E one, but there's many from many different companies. And if you are to take a college course and 35 millimeter photography, this is probably where you're going to start. Single lens reflex means that light enters through the lens, bounces off a mirror. Inside that camera goes up and goes out through a viewfinder, so you're able to place that camera up to your face, see through the viewfinder. Even though the viewfinder isn't directly behind the lens, you're able to see through the lens and compose and shoot really quickly the fact that you can compose this way, in which you can't necessarily with a point and shoot camera, even though that has a view finder. It's a little bit off that allows for more professional photography to take place using that SLR camera and the digital equivalent is the DSLR digital single lens reflex. Uh, and I would argue that within the last 45 years, the electronic viewfinder cameras that our digital, even though they do not have a mirror inside them. They are the modern inheritors of that SLR thrown. This video that you're watching is being shot on a mirror list digital camera. Right now, there's also a brand of camera called a range finder, and the range finder does not have a mirror inside that flips up and down. The range finder has a set of numbers that specify how many feet you are away from your subject and This was very popular with TheStreet photographers of the 19 fifties and sixties, because when you have a range finder instead of composing in the eye view, you can have it down here, adjust your focus and you never have to put up to your face. It's kind of a sneaky way to do a lot of photography, But that was street photography of the 19 fifties and sixties, of course, in the modern air with privacy issues. It's not advised to be so sneaky when you're walking down a public street. But there was a lot of wonderful photography of that era from Garry Winogrand, Dan Arbess, So on and so forth. Another category of 35 millimeter cameras is the low mow type Camera. The Loma Graphic society. Lamar griffey dot com. This is a company and a subculture that is based around a incredibly unprofessional natural aesthetic, and I say in professional Onley to indicate that proper focus, proper exposure are not what LaMotta for seek. They're looking for flaws. They want surprises. They want things to feel as riel as when you go to an antique store and you rifle through all the unprofessional family photos that are in those bins for 1/4. And I'm a big proponent of the limo aesthetic. A. Somebody has been shooting photography for over 20 years. Being surprised is very important to me. So a lot of the Loma cameras are cheaper and they're made of plastic parts. They're made of materials that sometimes introduce deliberate, overlapping frames, deliberate light leaks. This is where light gets into the camera and actually creates burns on the film, and I think it is a lot of fun. Uh, when you are making a lot of mistakes in your film, it can also be very expensive. So having described these options to you, whichever one you get into with 35 millimeter photography, just know that the gear is likely very cheap. It is very easy to find 35 millimeter cameras anywhere from 10 to $80. The last time I bought a cannon E one, a very powerful camera with a good lens on it. I think I paid in the neighborhood of $60 maybe even less, because I bought into the secondhand store. It's very easy to get the gear for 35 millimeter photography, the expense of course lies in purchasing of the film, developing the film and scanning the film. If you don't have your own scanner, so there's a trade off and there's a trade off in whatever art meeting in you end up choosing to express yourself. I do know that having 35 millimeter cameras and 35 millimeter film in my bag has saved me on several shoots where my digital camera batteries went dead, where the weather was not the kind that I felt comfortable taking my camera with all the digital parts $2000 worth of gear out of. But I can take this range finder, this plastic camera that I spent $30 on. 3. Film Types + Development: Let's talk about the film that goes into 35 millimeter cameras. You have black and white film hundreds of varieties of these, something you can easily develop at your house if you have the right equipment and you buy the chemistry. Because black and white film chemistry is a powder and it's mixed with water and the water is of a certain temperature. But it's one that's achievable in your house. You utilize a plastic or metal tank to agitate this material, depending on the specifications of the chemistry and the effects that you want on the film , and when you're done, you run it through a stop bath, which stops development. You run it through fixer, which clears the film You what the film and let it dry, also utilising other cheap chemicals to make sure there's not streaks and runs from the water. We used to utilize something on photo flow. Color film is a little bit different. There's two essential kinds of color film. One is a C 41 color negative, and the other is E six slide film. Now see 41 is the process of clearing a color negative. That's where you end up with this kind of stuff, the stuff that looks reddish. It actually has all of the colors within the imagery, but that is separated through the scanning or the color printing filtration process. E six chemistry is for slide. Film and slides were commonly used in the 20th century. Not so much anymore. They were considered superior to color negative. They had a little better fidelity. You could take the color film and run in the slide chemistry. You could take this slide film and run it in the color from chemistry for some unusual effects. This was called cross Processing. This is something I did a lot in college. 4. Specialty Films: within those black and white film groups, those color film groups, you have hundreds and hundreds of choices you still do, even though it's an alternative process. In fact, from my point of view, you have a wider variety of weird film choices because this is what appeals to the demographic that still shoots film through the demographic society. I have made use of Loma Purple and Lamo Metropolis. These are films that have color shifts, one direction or another. I have made use of a company called Revel Logs Films. They have Snow Blocks, which has this white snowy appearance that appears on every frame of this black and white film. I have made use of film that has lightning on it. There's double film which has bubbles all the way across it. There's film that has intentional light leaks already on it. There's film that was intended just for tests and is now marketed to the general public, and this film waas super high contrast and had numbers all the way across it. I have made use of so many different kinds of unique films, and while the results aren't always the kind of thing that you classify as arts, the result of always been interesting because when there's an inherent flaw built into the film, you don't know where it's gonna fall. You can never plan. Okay, this frame is the one where you have the number on your forehead. Like this frame is the one where the snowy dots go directly over your eyes. I have no idea what's on the film when I'm shooting it. I have no idea where the lightning falls the dots. I have no idea what's going to shift colors one way or another, but that's part of the beauty of the process. 5. Contact Sheets: once your color negative or slide film is processed, if you ask for Do not cut. This is what you get back from your film developer comes all rolled up Nice. If you do this at home, you're gonna get something similar to this. Of course, they would be black and white if you were doing at home, not color. Negative as this is. And then you can cut in sleeve your work like so. This is a good way to store your stuff, of course, but it also gives you the opportunity to make a contact sheet. And when I was in college, we had to make contact sheets for every single roll of film that we shot. The reason for the contact sheet is to see what is on each one of these frames. I can look at this color negative work, and I can say, Oh, I can see her expression. I can see that it's in focus. That's the one I want to print. But Step one in college was always making contact sheet, which means you're going to put a piece of photographic paper underneath here. This is going to have a piece of glass on top to sandwich all that together, you're gonna shine some light through, and you're gonna be able to see what all the frames are. That's not just for my benefit in college, but it was also the benefit of my classmates and my teacher so they could all look at the frames and pick out which one tells the story. The best is the best portrait meets the criteria of the assignment so on and so forth. That also gives you clues on how you were to expose when you were in the black and white or color dark room. I love contact sheets because I think as a form they are really interesting. They're not just behind the scenes of the one image that we ended up processing. There is a book that came out fairly recently called Contact High, the visual history of Hip hop, and it included all the contact sheets from these incredibly famous album cover. Rapper shoots from the seventies eighties nineties and early two thousands until they stopped making album artwork with film photography and went Maurin this digital direction. And, um, you got to see what it was like to be on the set, you got a sense of who Some of these people were some of these rappers who really put themselves out there as being like super serious dudes. But in their photos, you could see him joking around, having a good time. And it also gave you a clue to the photographer and art directors mentalities when selecting what is the iconic image that they're going to use? Uh, it's a lot like looking at an artist sketch book to me. Not to mention that as somebody who is a big appreciator of the comics, art forms sequential art. When you see sequences of images in a row, that's a story, and it doesn't matter if they're all the same size blocks. I mean, comic strips in newspapers tend to be the same size blocks to, but you can do some really cool stuff with a contact sheet. You also have this data information thes little barcodes, thes numbers that correspond in the frames Kodak logo, the Fuji logo. That stuff is really interesting to me. It adds aesthetically to the peace, so I enjoy making contact sheets. I've tried to make some fake contact sheets digitally and did not work. I have done experiments where I have created one image across the whole contact sheet. And believe me, I needed a piece of paper on the sketch to keep track of this stuff when I was shooting it . I've been able to sell my contact sheets the same way that I've sold Prince of Final Pieces . Um, because it's kind of like a unique thing that people don't often see in a market. If somebody is in the mood to buy model prints and they see a contact sheet that has not just one of their favorite model but 36 images of their favorite model I mean, that's something pretty cool. And me personally, I feel like that's a unique thing that you don't get the opportunity by. The more unique your work is, the more likely it is to find a buyer. The contact sheet is an incredible art form unto itself. I know I've gone into museums and seeing the famous work here and then the contact sheet next to it, so you got a sense of what this final piece was really about. If you've never made a contact sheet and you have no access to a dark room to make one check with your local film developer. I get all of my contact sheets done at the same place that develops. My film cost me on $9 a sheet to do it, and I've never regretted it. Many of the things I present on my social media now are not just the single one good image , but the contact sheet or a chunk of the contact sheet that maybe has four images, six images, these air riel, good attention getters. And I feel like further kind of photography that I'm interested in making they tell the story better than the single image itself does. 6. ISO + Grain: now, one thing that analog photography and digital photography has in common is that you're working with exposures onto a light sensitive surface. In digital photography, you have the shutter speed. How long this whole on your lens stays open. You have the aperture, how wide that hole is and you have ice. Oh, how sensitive. Your image sensor is too light and you control all three of these things. You utilize a light meter inside your camera. This is a little ruler type device that points you towards the centre. When you manipulate those three items in analog film photography, you have all three of those to work with. If you're shooting with an SLR camera, it's likely have a light meter inside of it. But you manipulate the I. So by buying film that is specified a particular speed. And when I grew up, we had 100 speed film with a box that had a picture of the sun on it, and we had 400 speed film that had a little party hat image on it. Those just indicated to us, you know, one is good for outdoor, and when is good for indoor, and if you had the outdoor film in your camera, you shot 12 frames and almost sudden here comes the thunderstorm. Everybody's gotta run inside and you need to shoot in there. You need to figure out how to burn off those last frames, or you just sacrificed them so you could switch your film to the indoor film. The way that I so works with film photography is there are molecules that absorb the light on black and white film. It's silver Halide crystals on color from not quite sure, but it's the same function thes molecules, these Granules, the larger they are, the easier it is for them to absorb the light. So a film that is rated 3200 I so 3200 has very large grain to it. And a lot of people in the old film days definitely tried to shy away from using things that had grain. I always been a fan of green. I had a professor early on that told me, grain is beautiful. Even in my own digital photography. I use a function in light room to add grain, because that's kind of my preferred way to look at images So you have a nice A rating on your film, and you can purchase a whole bunch of this stuff If you shoot over a long period of time, you pretty much figure out what kind of environments to plan for what you're comfortable shooting in. I tend to get film that is rated 400 so I could shoot it outside or it could shoot indoors . And when I was younger, I very much liked this, uh, punchy look. Whether was my black and white work or my color work, something that had a lot of contrast to it. So I utilize a method called Pushing the film, which is where you deliberately under expose your film by one stop and then you develop it longer or you ask the person who is going to develop it for you. The lab, you say Push it one stop So you have a picture that would be a little bit dark, but because it's being developed longer, it's causes the grain to be more prominent. It causes the contrast to pop a little bit more. This would be the same as me saying that I'm going to take 400. I so film, and I'm going to shoot it as if it was 800. I so film and I did that for special effect. But this is something very common with film photographers who find themselves shooting in dark environments like a concert or a wedding hall, where you're not allowed to use a lot of flash. You're asked not to use flash, and then everybody else in the audience pulls out their cameras with flashes and shoots with it. That's what pushing film is all about. There is the opposite in the spectrum called polling film, where you overexpose it in the shooting process by one stop by two stops, and then you ask your film developer or in the process of you developing it, you develop it in less amount of time so it spends less time in the chemistry. It spends less time cooking, and you end up with something that totally does not have the widest contrast. It's actually quite flat looking. That's not a look that I have particularly gone for, but these air to techniques you can use to make your photography look a little bit more flashy if you're only using analog techniques Now, if you plan on doing any light room or photo shop or photo editing with your scans, we will get into that. I certainly do manipulation to my film scans after the fact, if for no other reason that if you're doing your own scanning at home, it's very likely you're gonna have some incorrect colors. You're gonna have some dust. You might get some hair on your scanner. Fingerprints. More a pattern from where the light creates this strange pattern as it bounces off the shiny gloss of your negative. These air things you're gonna fix anyways. So by no means should you feel shame if you are going to add contrast clarity do other manipulations to your analog scans. 7. Loading FIlm and Double Exposure: I want to talk briefly about loading 35 millimeter film in the camera. And then I want to tell you about a little trick to getting double exposures with your 35 millimeter film. Whether you have a camera that has that functionality or not, UH, toe load 35 mil. You have these sprockets on the top and bottom of your film. You pull it out gently. From its canister, you bend the little tab that isn't the same size of the rest of your film. You insert that into the spinning part, and then you wind your film until you're sure it's nice and tight. Make sure that the sprockets are feeding into the sprocket holes, and then you go ahead. Close your camera, wind it till it is at frame one. Then it's just a simple matter of shooting. Until your cameras used up all the frames, you can wind it back into its canister. Now what happens if you don't finish off your roll of film in a particular lighting condition and then you want to shoot in it something totally different. You don't have to trash your film if I've shot 12 frames in a super sunny environment by shot in Arizona. Then I flew up to San Francisco, and it was a totally different lighting. It was very dark, and they wanted to use a different kind of film in my camera. Uh, I would simply wind of the film back into its canister as if it was completed, and then I would take a piece of paper or a Sharpie would make a note somewhere with that film that I've already shot 12 frames. Use a small clip that goes into the film canister. Pull that guy out, rewind your film in the camera, and then either with a lens cap over your lens or placing your camera lens down on something like a towel or a tabletop or in a closet. Just shoot through those 1st 12 frames and make sure that you're shooting complete darkness on them. That's gonna protect the images you already shot, and then we get to frame 13. You're good to go. That's one way that we can spare our film that we can, uh, save it for when it's the appropriate moment to use a particular kind of film that you have in the camera. you don't need to waste all those frames, frames or money like we used to say. This technique happens to be a good way to do double exposures, though, if that's what you want to do for doing double exposures. That just simply means that there's two pictures on a single frame of film. And sometimes those two pictures can be a person and an object. A person in an animal. Uh, that best way to get results that are consistent by doing double exposures is an object and a texture. So if you did some buildings and then you shot some clouds, that is a way to get some kind of cool overlap. If you did a person's face and some concrete, some bricks than whatever the shadow areas are of a person, the bricks would appear The shadow areas tend to showcase. The texture is the best. Um, again, this is simply a matter of shooting your entire roll of film, winding it back into the canister, using the clip to pull the film out a little bit, and then rewind it into your camera and then shoot. Ah, hole, role of textures. Whatever it is you want to have double exposed on your original material, and it's quite likely that your frames are not gonna line properly and be very unusual if they did, Um, but it's a lot of fun, and it's yet another creative way to surprise yourself with the final results. 8. Scanning Film: scanning and altering 35 millimeter film, I utilize a home scanner. It is an Epson Perfection 600. There are a whole range of film scanners that you can buy. The cheapest ones are around $150. The absent perfection that I utilize, I believe I got it around 202 20. There certainly ones that costs a lot more. But just to give you a good price range, you're looking at 1 52 225. These film scanners have a variety of DP i that they scan it. I usually use mine at 2400. The scanners also have a few features. When you are in the process, they have best removal on sharp mask color correction. Feel free to make use of all of those. If you're doing your own scanning, generally, you're going to output a JPEG image unless you have it set otherwise. And if you need to do further corrections on a J peg image and re save over them, say in Photoshop than you're going to reduce the fidelity every single time you save that J peg. It's better to get the best scan possible on the moment of initial capture. Now, certainly you could have a service do this for you. When you drop off your film or you mail it in. That is an option. I think that everywhere provides today that they scan your work to a CD. I know the company that I drop off my film and have develop. It will give me four by six scans that won't have any dust on them at all. They'll be crisp and clean. That said, for my six isn't enough for me and also with the amount of film that I shoot not just 35 millimeter, but some of the larger formats. It was becoming cost prohibitive to have the company do my scans over and over when I could do this stuff at home with the film scanner, not to mention my entire archive of 35 millimeter that I had from over 20 years ago. I'd like to have a re scan. The last time I scanned it was about 5 4006 and those scans aren't looking so good compared to what you can do in 2020. The process of scanning can be fun, and it can have a lot of revelations for you because, uh, your deeply involved in the image making process in the way that we would have been in the dark room days where we saw each image one of the time, instead of when I do my digital shoots with art models. And I see you know all 400 images at the same time and already saw them in camera. And I already have a good idea. What's the winner? You know, I love to be surprised era that I grew up in. That was how it was. We got our film developed at the grocery store and we saw her prince and we said, Wow, I can't believe that this was what we got. I develop my film in college, and then I went the darker, made the contact sheet, looked through the loop, made my prince, treated each image individually and sort of appreciated what each image had to offer. Scanning is the closest I can come to that feeling right now, and when you are scanning best practices where cotton gloves something that's not going to leave little bits of debris on your film is you handle it. Utilize on anti magnetic brush, maybe an air blower. Make sure the surface of your scanner is clean when you're scanning it. If you have anything on the scanning surface or anything on the film, that's going to block a large chunk of your negative. And the worst is when you get dust or hair on somebody's face. Now a lot of my negatives I've been leaving some of that dust on there. But when it distorts the individual when it ruins the portrait part of the person, I'm not a big fan of that. So those images, I tend to have to go into photo shop and do a lot of cloning if I don't have the option to redo the scan. And, of course, if you have a home scanner and you have all the cleaning materials, you can just go ahead and redo that scan. Try and make sure the face is fully intact. 9. 35mm Photography Wrap Up: guys, I want to thank you so much for sticking with this course on 35 millimeter film photography . It is a subject that means a lot to me. Personally. I began my photographic career with 35 millimeter film, and in 2020 when I'm doing this recording, it has come back in a way that has gotten me excited about photography and way. I haven't been excited about it in a long period of time. Right now I have film that I've dropped off at the developers. I know. It was shot on both a range finder and a few of the Loma plastic cameras. I utilized unusual kinds of film that I got from Lome. Oh, and some of the other camera manufacturers that create weird film. It's gonna be a blast to see what happens. I shot a lot of this work on digital the same period of time. I am going to do a little comparing contrast for you right now on the screen. And if your aesthetic leans towards digital, that's okay. Obviously I'm still shooting digital work. The interest in 35 millimeter by no means takes away from the fact that I utilize a digital camera that said, I feel like it is helping me create images that feel more authentic to who I am and my own personal vision, and I think that's what it's really about. If you enjoy the 35 millimeter process and it feels authentic to you, then you should continue it. You should pursue it. You should get better at it. And if you try the 35 millimeter process and you feel like it's not getting you what you want, there's no camera police, no photography police, no art Police in the world that are out there to make you continue say that this is the only real way to do photography. And if you don't do this, then you're not a real artist, man. I mean, none of that stuff matters. It's all about if you enjoy the process of getting results that you like. If you have clients, if you're pleasing your clients. So once again, thanks for sticking around, and I want to wish you the best of luck in your own creative endeavours. Talk to you next time