A film project

Warning: this might just be a boring post for the non photography nerd.

For quite a while now, I’ve been dreaming about working with film. It started quite a while ago and I actually ended up buying an old SLR (more about this later, though). I bought a roll of film, hissed at the prices of developing, managed to expose the full film by accident and never bothered trying again.

Meanwhile, before and afterwards, my father has been talking about digitizing all of the old slide film that is kept in my old childhood home. There are hundreds, thousands even, of old slide films that can barely be show on the old and broken projector we have there. Granted, digitizing them would be a solution to many issues as well as enabling us to share the photos within the family. Obviously, the responsibility for this task landed on me, being the photo geek in the family.

Meanwhile, heavily influenced by various bloggers, I wanted to explore the idea of digitizing by simply photographing the negative (or positive in this case) with a macro lens (or in this case, a 50 mm + an extension ring). It would turn out to be quite a hassle. Below is an example of the type of results I was getting.

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Eventually I would get slightly better results, but it became clear that I would either have to build a pretty advanced setup to get good quality scans, or simply give up.

Now, one day my father declared that he had ended up buying a flatbed scanner for the purpose of scanning the slide films. I agreed to take it upon me to carry this on and started experimenting with various scanning settings. To be honest, the quality isn’t really up there compared to modern DSLRs. I would scan at 3200 dpi and there seemed to be perhaps 4 megapixels of info in the files. Scanning negatives would yield slightly better image quality as well as resolution. This was really the most important part for me personally. But again, more about that later.

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The results were more than enough satisfying to show on a tv screen and to eventually send around on USB memories to family memebers and to revive old memories of family trips decades ago.

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Do notice the dust in the sky in this example. It’s an issue, but nothing I will really bother cloning out for this purpose. Also, using the dust removing software would only add softness to the picture. I prefer this, really.

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Now, over to the other part of the story: my dream of shooting film once again. This is the SLR I ended up buying a year or two ago: a Pentax Me from the late 70’s. Along came a 28 mm f 2.8 and a 135 mm f 2.8.

Last time I tried it I shot a roll of film and ended up exposing it by accident as I failed to rewind it properly. I gave up for the time being and put it back into the paper bag I brought it home with from the seller.

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The dream is to be able to develop the black and white negatives at home, scan them using my fathers flatbed scanner and digitizing them that way over to my computer.

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My reasons for wanting to try film this way are many. For one there are so many cheap old 35 mm cameras and lenses out there to try for fun without spending a fortune. Then there’s getting that special film feel when you only have a set amount of shots per roll, rather than just shooting away without having to think about this. I am hoping this will make me conscious of each shot and each decision that comes with it.

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Then there’s also the aesthetics of shooting black and white film, possible pushing it in development quite a bit to get that nasty, nice grainy look to the pictures.

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Eventually I would also look to move on to medium format and actually get that very specific look and an actual advantage in terms of image quality. But then that is a-whole-nother story for a later time.

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All in all I’m quite excited about the idea of shooting my own film, developing it and exploring the film world. Hopefully next time I bring it up I will have some actual results to show.

/Martin

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