My early days of film photography started in 1998, well actually earlier in 1978! I got hold of my parents Kodak Instamatic 33 camera and shot 24 frames of our pigeons we kept. When caught out, I claimed that I only shot 2 frames and got a hiding for that! Later, around 1982, our family friend Rob, gave me a Kodak Junior to try out.
After getting married in 1998 and going on honeymoon to the Kruger National Park; spending how many hours in the heat waiting for the proverbial hippo yawn to take place at Kanniedood Dam in the North of the park, snapping the shot with a point and shoot camera, feeling elated about it, did I think that I had made it big!
The joke was, after returning home, and developing the film, finding out to my absolute HORROR, that the hippo was merely the size of a match stick head in a postcard size print! It looked NOTHING like the coffee table books I had seen!! It was there and then that I decided to purchase my first real film camera! This was to be a Pentax MZ-50 with a 80-320mm lens for wildlife. I then bought a Tamron 28-200 for all other purposes. I shot a lot of wildlife, sport and weddings on film at that time. The film photography bug had bitten!
My favourite film for film photography was Agfa Professional Film. I especially enjoyed the slow Agfa Ultra 50 for extremely punchy colours and ultra fine grain. This was a fine arts film with an exaggerated color palette; skin tones will appear orange, so this was not for photographing people (unless you like orange faces!), but perfect for landscapes and other subjects. My other choice was Agfa Optima II Prestige ISO 100, 200 and 400, of which I still have an unopened roll of Agfa Optima II Prestige ISO 400 in the fridge. By keeping film in the fridge, it helps prevent it from ageing as it is under a constant temperature.
The Pentax later grew up and became a Nikon F90X, which I still have and use today. This was my first introduction to Nikon gear. I am glad I had my foundations of photography based on film photography. In the day, film was expensive and every frame had to count, more so professional film. There was no image preview, no delete and try again, everything was manual. Exposures had to be perfect, if you weren’t sure you could work off of sunny f/16 or ISO 100 for sunny days, ISO 200 for cloudy days, ISO 400 for rainy days and sport, and ISO 800 for night shots. Another trick was to check the persons pupils for the amount of dilation and then determine your f-stop accordingly.
I then went on to join ELPS and grew photographically. We were required to complete set subjects for the month until our next meeting. Above that we had to shoot in different film mediums; that being monochrome, slide or transparency and film. That being said, we had to shoot in different genrés to stretch and extend ourselves; this forced one to grow photographically. Once our goals and objectives were achieved, we were then promoted to the next level. Ultimately, one could achieve a licentiate through PSSA.
Later came photographic competitions, my inspiration was the Agfa Wildlife Competition, the entrants of the day were Richard du Toit, Nigel Dennis to name a few. I never made the grade for the Agfa Wildlife, but did excel locally though.
Finally came publications in local magazines SA 4×4 Magazine.
Click on the images and articles for full view.
December 2004 – Full page spread 62; single pages 63, 64.
December 2005 – Single page 42 and 47
February 2006 – Double page spread – pg 46, 47; single pages 48 and 51.
I entered a competition run by Buffalo City Tourism in 2002 in East-London and came out tops with an aerial shot of the East-London breakwall, unfortunately the second shot wasnt sharp, as this was taken from a rather windy and bumpy helicopter ride on the day. I would have preferred this to have been the winning shot.
Thankfully film photography is not dead, and I can still shoot film. If you havent tried film, I suggest give it a try, you will grow in leaps and bounds, as it will slow you down to think about your composition, your settings etc. Another thing, it may even offer you a better marketing strategy to say that you shoot film, not many people do these days.
Winning shot on the board.
I hope you will be inspired by this blog to try film photography, furthermore to push yourself past your expectations, who knows, perhaps your images would appear in a recognised magazine too.
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