Hi, film friends! @samoffit here, pictured with my muffin-cake of a son, Logan! I am a Virginia-based, hybrid wedding photographer with a background in digital studio headshots and fashion retouching (I know, I know, "Eww," says almost every film photographer in the world). My film journey has been a wild ride over the past few years, full of many learning curves and life lessons. I have always had a case of "perfectionist paralysis," so shooting film has really pushed me as an artist and helped me to "break free, break from the chains” (gold star if you can name the movie!) and let go of control—a constant struggle in my life. I am so, so, SO excited to be hosting a #pvtakeover this week! I hope to bring a little humor, inspiration and education to your lives this week in a series I will call, "Shan's Top 12 Lessons Learned from Shooting Film." Can’t wait to begin!
📷 by @rachelmayphoto.
Lesson One, *Mentoring* 🤝: A mentoring session can be good for you every once in awhile. Whether you are a new or seasoned film photographer, watching another photographer in their element can teach you a lot about yourself in terms of strengths and weaknesses. Not only will it give you a kick out of your comfort zone, but it will also give you a different perspective on running a business. Working with Laura Gordon opened my eyes to a more artistic way of shooting, focused on the styling and mood of a portrait session, rather than on trying to achieve perfect focus and posing.
Lesson Two, *Editing Scans* 📏: The “Lens Correction” and “Transform Tab” in Lightroom can make a good film scan, Grrrrreat! (🐯 Channel your inner cereal tiger!) You are talking to Straight Line McGee over here, trust me on this. For this particular image, I added +5 distortion control (make sure to check the “constrain crop” box) and rotated the image +3 to make the horizon line straight. The #Zeiss80mm has a slight distortion, so I use this trick whenever I am photographing architecture.
Lesson Three, *Panning* 🏃 : Panning is the act of following a moving object along an axis in order to keep that object in focus. I have learned that catching a running couple on #film at 1/15th of a second is almost like trying to write an English paper drunk—it’s nearly impossible. Out of the other 15 panned images I took, this is the single one that came out. My advice: Pan as gently as possible, hold your breath, expect a handful of duds and hope for a winner.
@samoffit Takeover Lesson Four, *Embrace Blur* 👌: As a classically-trained photographer, taught to *always* get eyes and front objects in focus, I had a hard time getting comfortable shooting my Contax at f/2. This particular shoot was a turning point for me. I decided I would let go of control, shoot everything wide open, embrace some blur and focus on the *moments,* instead of perfection.
Lesson Five, *Movement* 💃: I have shot plenty of moving objects digitally, but on film, the result is like sitting on a private beach at sunset with Channing Tatum giving you a back massage . . . pure bliss. Movement can render like paint tossed beautifully across a canvas, it is just heavenly. After many failed attempts at capturing movement with film (see Lesson Three and my “rejects” folder in Lightroom), my most successful spinning shot has been at 1/8th of a second, while leaning the camera on a table.
Lesson Six, *1/8th of a Second* 🌸: To expand on the topic of slow shutter speed, I have learned that film has an uncanny ability to pull through when it is dark and create beautiful images at 1/8th. Ask me to take a photo with my digital camera at 1/8th, and you will get a *very* blurry photo. Film wins the handheld, slow-shutter-speed race every time. This shot was taken while holding my breath and slowly rolling my finger on the shutter button.
Lesson Seven, *Close-up Rings* 💍: I have learned a few things about close-ups since shooting film. One, it is nearly impossible to get a sharp photo at f/2 with a Hoya filter (see my “rejects” folder in Lightroom) and two, it’s best to err on the side of overexposing when using a filter. The Hoya macro filter works just like a 90mm or 105mm macro lens, which are typically used for close-ups or portraits. This was taken on a Contax645 through a #Zeiss80mm at f/4 with a +2 Hoya macro filter, and then cropped closer in Lightroom.
Lesson Eight, *Metering* 📷: This photo is from a personal project I did at the beginning of my film journey to explore #metering. I did not fully understand the difference between metering for shadows vs. highlights until this shoot. This image resulted from metering for highlights on the low, camera-right shoulder, bulb out, pointing back at the camera. (This image is part of a series that was featured in #RangefinderMagazine for their 2015 Photo Annual Awards.)
Lesson Nine, *Travel with Film* 🌎: Just last year I started taking my Contax with me when I travel (since it is *such* a light camera), and I have really loved how photos of architecture and environments look on film through an 80mm lens. Since there is less pressure when you shoot buildings vs. paying clients, I have been able to experiment with exposures, push processing and filters, which has really helped me master the technical side of shooting film.
Lesson Ten, *Black + White* 🖤: I first learned photography in 2010, with a 35mm Canon AE-1 and 40 rolls of Kodak Tri-X. Since switching to digital, and then adding medium format to my bag of tricks, I never really thought about using the Contax to shoot black + white. (I assumed I would just convert color to b+w in post, like I do digitally.) This was one of the first rolls I shot on #Ilford3200, and the grain and richness in the lights and darks are magical unicorn status. 🦄 I highly recommend trying out a few rolls of #Ilfordfilm if you have not.
Lesson Eleven, *Sun Placement* ☀: As with digital photography, placing the sun just outside your lens’ field of view can make a hazy, flare-filled, low-contrast image look a lot better (unless you are doing it on purpose, of course). In this image, I metered the white dress bulb out, facing my camera. Before clicking the shutter, I moved my body to the left to make sure I was not getting any direct sun in my lens.
Lesson Twelve, *Closeups of People* 👰: Macro filters can be used for other subjects besides rings. This is a close-up portrait shot using a Hoya +2 filter during a branding shoot for The Hybrid Atelier!
Thank you again for tuning in to my #pvtakeover. “Call me, beep me, if you wanna reach me.” 😉