Film Initiative

Today, I got a film camera.

I’d shot film back in the early fall as a part of my basic photograpy class and at the time I wasn’t really into it. They didn’t let us choose if we wanted to shoot film or not and this was back before I really understood how to manually control the exposure on a camera. Long story short, I had to re-shoot my first assignment a total of 3 times due to camera and development issues. That turned me off to film quite quickly, and the moment they allowed us to start shooting digital I left the darkroom behind and didn’t look back.

Recently though, since I began thinking about and planning new goals for myself in photography, I became interested in shooting film again. I had been researching street photography and it’s various styles on the internet, and since I didn’t exactly have $8000 lying around to spend on a Leica, I started looking around to see if there were any budget rangefinders that I could get and use casually while I transitioned into analog and rangefinder photography. Well, I found out about the Yashica Electro 35 and all it’s variants about 2 weeks ago, and began keeping an eye out for one on the cheap in Ebay’s listings. Eventually, I found a good deal about a week ago and was able to snatch one up for just under $30. Extremely cheap. While I was waiting for it to arrive I was able to bum some TMax 400 film off my photo teacher, and since then it’s just been a waiting game for the thing to show up.

Well, it finally did today. Out of the box I was suprised by how large the thing was. I suppose that’s a side effect of primarily using a Pentax Q to shoot street, but even when compared to modern DSLR’s it seemed right up there in size, or at least how large in felt in my hands. Albeit being chunky, the thing feels like it was built like a tank, and I have no doutb that it’ll hold up well to my street-treks. Unfortunately, the seller didn’t feel obligated to send the camera with a battery included, so I had to run out to Lowes earlier this evening and pick up 1, 3volt and 2, 1.5volt batteries which somehow miraculously fit right in the Electro’s battery compartment which was original designed for an old mercury battery, and satisfy it’s voltage requirement. Once I popped those in I was able to use the battery check button on the back of the camera to see if the electronics were all functioning properly. Indeed they were.

I got this camera mainly so that I can get a little more experience shooting with film, and so that I can get more properly associated with the rangefinder style of shooting that so many famous street photographers favor. I think I’ll try and integrate film into my currently all-digital workflow. Film, from my experience and from what I’ve heard online, has a way of making you not only spend a lot more time on each shot, but also helps with choosing which shots are best as you have a delay between when you shoot the picture, and when you actually get to see that shot for the first time. Eric Kim calls this letting his pictures “Marinate” and I think that doing that with my film will really help me in the long term to create better images and be able to seperate them from the chaff. That and getting to use a rangefinder for real instead of sort of aping that style on my Pentax Q is really interesting. I’m really looking forward to getting used to how best to shoot on this camera as well as getting used to how to properly expose shots using it and different types of film.

All in all, it’s another new step in the journey. I’ve been taking quite a few of those “new steps” recently, and they’re really exciting. I hope to keep shooting film for years to come, and looking back I think I’ll be happy that I chose a rangefinder such as this for my first foray.

Until next time,

~M