Film 101 - How to Shoot Your First Roll of Film
Hey hey film friends! In my last few film posts, I shared my tips for choosing a film camera, as well as a film stock that fits your needs (you can check out those posts below).
Now that you have this fun film camera, I’m sure you are a little nervous about shooting your first roll of film, right? Don’t worry. I was too. Even though I grew up on film (although I was always rocking a simple point and shoot film camera), loading my first roll of film into my new film camera after MANY years was definitely nerve-wracking. So whether you are trying to get back into shooting film or are maybe getting ready to shoot your first roll of film ever, these tips are for you!
(And I just want to take a quick sec to clarify something - these are my tips for shooting your first roll of film (or maybe your first few rolls of film! After you get those rolls back, I recommend you study your rolls and your notes and THEN get down to the real business of shooting film where you meter your light, set your camera and all that jazz…. M’kay? Sound like a plan??)
TIP 1: GRAB A ROLL OF PORTRA 400
As you might have read, I recommend Portra 400 for anyone starting new to film! Portra is so incredibly versatile in a variety of lighting conditions and can handle underexposure better than any other film stock. Coming from a digital mindset, you likely will still err on the side of underexposure because it’s hard to tell your mind to OVEREXPOSE. But trust me here….definitely err on the side of overexposure!
TIP 2: SET YOUR CAMERA ISO TO 200
After you load your film, set your camera’s ISO to a reading of 200. This is going to overexpose your film by one stop (Portra 400 has a working ISO of 400, so by lowering your ISO to read 200, you are telling your camera the film speed is 200 vs. 400, thus, overexposing your film by one stop of light).
TIP 3: SET YOUR EXPOSURE COMPENSATION TO +1
Do you see what I’m doing here, lol?? We are STILL overexposing your film because, yup, your film LOVES light! After you set your ISO to 200, set your exposure compensation to +1 to overexpose your film yet again.
TIP 4: SHOOT AWAY, ENJOY + TAKE NOTES
Here’s where the fun comes in! Now that your camera is loaded and your settings are set to err on the side of overexposure, shoot away and enjoy every second of the process! No more worrying about that digital playback display. No more randomly snapping 1000+ images of the same scene (remember you’re limited to 36 frames). And no more culling, editing, culling, editing and being stuck behind your computer, amiright??? Be sure to take notes along as you are shooting so you can compare your notes to your finished images and learn from them. I suggest making note of the lighting conditions (front light, side light, harsh light), the quality of the light (good, low, poor) as well as your camera settings (aperture and shutter speed).
TIP 5: MAIL YOUR FILM TO A LAB FOR DEVELOPING
Once you’ve finished your roll, pack your film up in a double ziploc bag with an order form from the lab you are shipping to and drop it in the mail. (You can also upload inspiration images to your lab to give them an idea of the look you are going for if you want. Remember - communication with your lab is key!). Then wait on pins and needles for those amazing film scans to hit your inbox! I promise they will be magical!
There you have it! These tips will have you well on your way to shooting your first roll of film!
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