For those of us already used to digital photography as a result of having smartphones; the in-built cameras of our phones, as well as the semi-pro digital cameras that are available to us in the market these days, enable us an only a limited idea of how the photographic process actually works.
All such cameras have settings that help us to capture such images as they are programmed to automatically focus on to enable you to make the most of what the cameras see. Hence, they simply set the appropriate exposure and focus, leaving us to enjoy the best pictures possible as a result.
However, in the case of traditional photography, the quality of the picture depends largely on how well you can manipulate the settings to capture the best image possible of the kind of camera you are using. The advantage of this process is that once you can master the process and achieve professional shots with a film camera, it will become quite easy for you to capture masterpieces with a digital camera.
So, here are 5 tips that can help beginners in mastering film photography
1. Make Use of 35mm for an Easy Beginning
The 35mm (or 135) is the most popular type of film and it allows you to be able to choose the kind of camera that is best suited to you because the film can be used with almost all types of cameras. The film also allows you to take up to 36 shots against the 16 pictures for medium and large formats.
Some of the cameras well-suited to the 35mm include the Leica M-A, Pentax K1000, Canon AE-1, Nikon F2, Leica M6 TTL, as well as the Olympus OM-1.
2. Learn the Exposure Triangle Rule
The exposure triangle rule is a basic principle of analog photography that prevents you from wasting dozens of films when exposing. While some professionals may argue that following this rule will hinder your creativity; that would happen only if you blindly embrace the rule without first mastering them.
Since the first film cameras were manual; this rule required you to first set the three parameters of the ISO, aperture (f/stops), and the shutter speed. Since the settings of these three parameters are interrelated, for you to properly set up your analog camera, therefore, you then need to first be able, to sum up, the illumination of the shot, the capacity of your film, and your task.
For instance, if your objective is to obtain a lighter frame; then you would need a higher ISO, a slower shutter speed, and a wider aperture. Thus the sunny rule as an example requires you to set your aperture to f/16 for sunny days with the shutter speed and ISO the same; e.g. shutter speed 1/50 with ISO 50; or shutter speed 1/100 with ISO 100.
3. Learn How to Use Focus
Analog cameras have significantly slower autofocus than their digital alternatives. As a result, moving objects are often blurred or out of focus in images. This is because the shutter moves too slowly or too late consequently allowing the images to get out of your frame.
Since manual camera focus requires you to adjust it yourself, it, therefore, takes courage, training and a good eye to be able to capture clear pictures with them. This ‘Do-It-Yourself’ process allows you to boost your professional skills.
Practice this on stationary objects and progressively move on to moving objects to challenge yourself. A good piece of advice though is that you should ensure that you write down the camera settings and other tricks that you used for a particular photograph so that you can easily reference them later.
4. Learn How to Shoot Black and White
If your objective is to learn how to manipulate light and shadow to achieve classic black and white images; then you should learn to shoot black and white film. Although black and white photography can be more challenging because the natural world is not composed in black and white; working with B&W film can help us to master how to use contrast, forms, shapes, textures, and composition of the frame to obtain spectacular B&W photos.
5. Rely on Frames, Leading Lines, and Golden Ratio Rule
The photographic appeal of your work to your audience depends largely on your ability to balance the composition of your photographs. To obtain great film photography, make sure that you apply the time-honored composition rules from your digital process. Keep photographic balance by using natural frames such as shooting through a window.
Film photography is a time-tested and honored practice that every true professional should learn to shoot. Besides, the fad is back!
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