2018: On Reflection, Part One

2018 was the year I dove back into Photography in a big way. That isn’t to say I had stopped completely, but 2018 was definitely the year when I said, “LET’S DO THIS!”

I listened to all the podcasts (Sunny 16 and Analog Talk are my favourites). I took my camera (or more accurately, cameras) almost everywhere and I started this blog/ website/ photography archive. I backed a bunch of photography related things on Kickstarter including (but not limited to) PhotoKlassik International Magazine and PinBox by Hamm Camera Company. I even signed up to an after work college course (which didn’t happen because not enough people signed up to it).

Why reflect?

I want to improve my skills and stay motivated.

There are lots of ways I could do this, I could obviously just keep getting outside with my camera. But I feel like without some reflection on my previous year in photography I won’t be able to decide what I did well, what I didn’t do so well, what I enjoyed and what felt like a chore. Without taking the time to analyse these things, how am I going to actually improve?

I am not going to be studying every single photo I took last year and analyse it, I have never studied photography so I don’t believe this would be the best use of my time. I, however, welcome anyone to give me critique and advice. I instead will look at my film choices, which cameras and gear I enjoyed using as well as picking out some of my favourite photos of 2018. In this part of my reflection, I am going to focus on my Film Choices of 2018.

Film Choices

This is a very basic look at which films I like shooting with as well as some I didn’t and why. I do most of my photography in whatever natural light I am afforded in the South West of England. Last year I was very lucky and went to Canada which was incredibly hot and sunny all the time.

Redscale: Unless it is very well lit I just don’t get on with this film. I think if I were to ever visit a dessert I would maybe use it just to try and make it look like I was on Mars. But otherwise, I don’t care for this film.

Olympus AF-1 Twin R.I.P | Redscale | 35mm
I actually kind of like this picture because Colleen looks like she has a fish on her head.

Kodak Ektar 100: 2018 was the first time I ever shot with this film and I learnt that it is great in the sun, but give it too much shade or don’t expose it perfectly and you soon lose detail in the shadows.

Pentax ME Super | Kodak Ektar 100 | 35mm
Asides from the fact that this is a bit out of focus I like the colours that you get from Ektar film.
Pentax ME Super | Kodak Ektar 100 | 35mm
You can see this picture had lots of light and I think in regards to the exposure I didn’t do a bad job. I love how the greens and blues stand out and the film has a nice matte look to it.
Pentax ME Super | Kodak Ektar 100 | 35mm
I love how this film captures the colour of the sunset.

FujiFilm Superia X-TRA 400: Another favourite of mine, it is good in low light and sunny days. I love the colours of this film and it also isn’t super expensive. I will try and always have some of this in my fridge.

Pentax Super A | FujiFilm Superia X-TRA 400 | 35mm
One of my favourite photos because of the contrast between the book cover and Chris’ face. He really enjoyed that book.

Ilford HP5: I actually don’t think you can go wrong with any Ilford film but HP5 is one of my favourites. It is very forgiving and the grain has that nice vintage look. It is also really cheap most of the time and can be picked up in most shops online and in store.

Pentax ME Super | Ilford HP5 | 35mm
I think I could have done with exposing more for the light here because the highlights are blown out a bit more than I would like.

Lomo Colour 800: Now that FujiFilm 1600 seems near impossible to get a hold of, 800-speed film is the fastest you can get in a colour negative emulsion. There are two reasons I buy 800-speed film; the first is so that I can shoot in low light and the second is to make sure that even when outside in daylight I can shoot with a fast shutter speed.

Pentax ME Super | Lomo Colour 800 | 35mm
This little bird friend was being nice and stayed pretty still.

FujiFilm Pro 400: I haven’t shot this film very much but I really like it every time I do use it. The colours are just great!

Pentax ME Super | FujiFilm Pro 400 35mm
I like the skin tones and the pastel colours of this image.

Ilford Delta 3200: I love the grain that you get from this film and I tried it out in 2018 to shoot a Roller Derby game. It massively let me down. I had some really good results from using it to shoot at night in London a few years ago so I thought, this will be fine in a low light indoor sports hall. But it really wasn’t that great. I guess combined with the need for high-speed shutters of at least 1/500 mixed with the low light it just really struggled. Also, it is HARD to shoot fast moving objects with manual focus.

Pentax ME (R.I.P) | Ilford Delta 3200 | 35mm
There is the possibility that the reason I struggled with this film was actually that the camera was about to die on me. I think I got to the last frame of this film and the camera just totally broke.

Kodak TMax 3200: The same day that I shot Roller Derby using Ilford Delta 3200 I shot with the Kodak TMax 3200. I used my Pentax Super A that I had at the time and the results were much better than with the Ilford Delta 3200.

Pentax Super A | Kodak TMax 3200 | 35mm
I found it easier to shoot this film in the same low light and fast action conditions as the Ilford Delta 3200 but like I said previously, it could also have something to do with the camera I was using.

Kodak Portra 800 @1600: This was another experiment for me in terms of shooting Roller Derby with film. I didn’t shoot the whole roll there because I actually did the entire game with a digital camera (blasphemy! but it is easier). I found that shooting at 1600 instead of 800 worked fine but it did get a bit washed out at times and I think the colours are a bit too blue.

Pentax ME Super | Kodak Portra 800 @1600 | 35mm
Everything is just a bit too muted for my liking in this environment.
Pentax ME Super | Kodak Portra 800 @1600 | 35mm
Shooting in the sun with the f/stop all the way up to 22 still meant that the colours were a bit washed out.

FujiFilm Superia X-TRA 400 @800: Shooting this film at 800 instead of 400 was another experiment to see how it might fair for Roller Derby. I didn’t take many pictures during the game but one thing that stands out about pushing this film is it makes those colours POP. I like it.

Pentax ME Super | FujiFilm Superia X-TRA 400 @800 | 35mm
I probably won’t push this film again unless I want to get this sort of colour from it.

Kodak Portra 400: My first roll of Portra in medium format. I didn’t want to spend much on the film I was putting into my TLR because the results were always a bit mixed because I’m not always great at measuring light and also I can’t focus that well with this camera. I got a new light meter (which is awesome – Weston Master V) so I was a bit more confident that pictures were going to be lit properly.

This. film. is. beautiful.

Montanus Delmonta | Kodak Portra 400 | 120 film
I personally think I should have measured the darks a bit more on this image but the colours are just so pretty I am going to continue buying this film for my medium format compatible cameras.

Kodak Gold: I am a big fan of Kodak Gold, it is inexpensive and you can buy it at Boots (UK chemist). It also has nice warm tones and using it in cities like Bath, Oxford and Cambridge brings out the warm brick of the old architecture.

Pentax Super A | Kodak Gold | 35mm
I love all the different creamy colours of the buildings.

Expired Kodak Colour Film: I was given a few rolls of expired Kodak 35mm which I used as an opportunity to test all my point and shoot cameras. Maybe this is something that happens with all expired colour film but I found that on very sunny days you got a very saturated look to the photos. On an overcast day, everything was a lot more muted.

Ricoh XF30 R.I.P | Expired Kodak Colour | 35mm
Ricoh XF30 R.I.P | Expired Kodak Colour 200 | 35mm

This about wraps it up for this part in my reflection. Please let me know if you have any critique you can offer up – all advice is welcome. I want to use this as a learning experience.

In Summary

There are some clear winners in my opinion. Kodak Portra 400 for medium format, FujiFilm Superia X-TRA 400 or Pro 400H for 35mm cameras and for B&W, well, I still have a lot of 120 Kodak Tri 400 to shoot and for 35mm, I think I am going to stick will Ilford HP5.

Next Time

In the next part of my reflection, I will be looking at the cameras and lenses that I used in 2018.

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to leave me a comment and follow me to be notified when I post part two: camera choices. You can also follow me on Instagram @sisboombah.

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