Tristan Jud

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Adventures in Film Photography: A Pro Digital Photographer Dives In

Guest Post by Tristan Jud. Tristan is a husband, photographer, and the founder and editor of RAW and RAW Live on Facebook. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Instagram.

My story starts over a year ago, back in April to be exact. At that stage we were posting one Interview with a photographer a day on RAW and I had come across Rachel and her film work. It didn’t take long to find “I Still Shoot Film” and my curiosity started to swirl inside me.

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At that stage I was still reserved about shooting film. I had no idea and thought It would be a large expense, shooting and then getting the film developed and scanned, but more on that a little later.

About a month after we published the first interview with Rachel and I had started to follow her blog more closely, I got the opportunity to chat over skype with her. Her passion for film and “her babies” as she calls her film cameras,  inspired me to perhaps delve in and give film photography ago.

Onto my earlier point, my concern was the ongoing cost of shooting film. I was still in the mind set of shooting in a digital medium where it was not uncommon for me to fire off 200-300 frames per shoot. Thinking like that and looking at the development and scanning costs, were proving that this little experience could be very costly.The monetary aspect was one thing but what about the extra time.

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A few months had passed and I started to follow a few street photographers who all raved about shooting street with film and rangefinders. I had tried my hand at street photography before with both my phone and my dSLR, but the experience wasn’t there. The dSLR was too big and I didn’t feel like I could blend in. My experience with shooting street with my phone wasn’t too bad however I still wanted to shoot film and see what all the fuss was about.

I hopped on eBay to look at some rangefinders. I bid on a few and didn’t win, which was a pity, at the same time I was checking out vintage markets but I wasn’t finding anything special there. Then one day I came across a “new-old stock” Fed 5. I thought since it’s brand new I may as well grab it while it’s available.

At the same time I ordered 3 rolls of Ilford Pan 400 to test it out. I wanted the full experience, I had decided that I wanted to develop my own film and scan it myself.

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The film arrived the same day as the Fed 5, I timed that right. It was time to load some film and head out.  The first roll was purely trial and error. I had no idea what to expect and the whole shooting experience was completely foreign to what I was used to, everything seemed a lot slower.

I had been told that film was fairly forgiving when it came to exposure, well thats true. The funny thing is though, I found that I was thinking more about my shots. This is something that has been documented countless times.

After the first roll was shot, which actually took me about 3 days. It was time to develop. After reading the instructions getting everything together it was time. Shout out to Peter Bowdige for giving me a spare bag, spools and canister for developing. Anyway with great anticipation the film was drying. It looked good as negatives. They weren’t all completely white or black so I knew they weren’t over or underexposed.

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The scanning was done and the photos were there in front of me. The photos were crap but the experience was amazing and since then I’ve been hooked. My developing is still hit and miss at the moment. Sometimes I nail it other times I’ve agitated it too much or something and the photos aren’t as clear as they should be, however I look at it completely different than digital. I look more at the photo and what is captured than the actual sharpness and level or grain. I think the unpredictability of film and the entire process of developing it gives you greater connection to the image. You actually feel like you are creating something more than just capturing it on a sensor and tweaking what you don’t like in Photoshop.

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Since then I’ve been shooting lots of street photography, I published an article on how to get started which has been translated into Italian by Cultor College and has spurred a followup article with a few more things that I’ve picked up.

Where to from here, well I’ll continue to shoot street photography on my Fed 5 but I’m going to start moving into shooting landscapes and portraits with a Minolta SRT101 that I have. Eventually I’ll get myself a medium format, something that I have my eye for at the moment. I’m also going to look at how to incorporate some film into my portrait work, so there seems to be a place for film in my photography life after all.

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