Why Shoot Film? / by Michael Rennie

'Why shoot with old film cameras, when modern digital cameras are so capable?' I hear you ask.

Well I guess I shoot film because it's different, it's fun and it's challenging. It makes me slow down, think about what I want from a photo and how I'm going to achieve it, before I press the shutter release.

I don't know if the word authentic really means anything (except I'm a hipster) but I do think the colours and tones seem more 'real' on film than if I create the same effect in post processing with digital negatives. I also enjoy the delayed gratification of not seeing the shots immediately, it is a rare thing in the age of instant everything so I guess perversely, I like the fact it's a bit awkward.

Anticipation of the prints is another major reason I love film; the excitement of a pack of prints coming through the letter box is truly something special even if the initial excitement sometimes turns to disappointment when I find out I missed the focus, exposure setting or left the lens cap on (yes this has happened!)

To be totally honest, the hit rate on my first few rolls of film (shot on a £12 Ebay Minolta 35mm SLR) was pretty poor! I'd been spoilt by high ISO capability, instant focusing and image stabilisation; I didn't actually know how to take a photo, despite my eBay Minolta being a pretty advanced SLR in it's day.

All this means that when I do get a 'hit' it is all the sweeter and I'd say my hit rate has gone up considerably since those first rolls of film.

Greg at the bar

Real black and white film is another reason to shoot film, knowing you're shooting B+W rather than converting shots with blown highlights in post makes you think differently about light and texture. I shoot a lot of C41 B+W white film but love a bit of Kodak Tri-X when I can find it, which is another thing about film photography, at times film feels like ancient treasure, it almost seems a shame to open it sometimes; especially if it is out of production.

Then there is medium format, 6cm x 6cm negatives full of detail, paper thin DOF, and an awesome glow to the shots. These can be scanned to very high resolution and have a beautiful quality that is hard to describe. I've only recently acquired a medium format TLR (Twin Lens Reflex) camera and it's a fussy bit of kit to use but the results can be beautiful.

St Andrews harbour

I think often people look better on film, it hides blemishes and is just a bit more forgiving than digital can be, especially with the shallow depth of field that a fast prime lens can give on 35mm camera. Some of my favourite portraits I've taken have been on film and they are hard to recreate on my digital camera.

Then there is the colours, every film has a different look, Poundland Agfa Vista is super saturated greens and reds and and I love this for summer time shots. Then there is Portra 160 and 400, both give great skin tones and pastel colours, great for evening light. Fuji Pro 400H does amazing greens and has a cooler look, good for landscapes.

I already knew I was a becoming a film geek but writing all this down is proof to myself that I really have become obsessed with film. I should have realised this when the top shelf of the fridge was converted from food storage to a film storage area; pass the Portra!

If you want to get into the world of film photography, then check out my friends at Photoghost in Aberdeen for all your development, scanning and prints.
If you are already a film lover then head over to shootfilmco and check out their range of stickers and badges to show the world film is alive!