First Roll Ever!

Roll #: 1
Film: Fujifilm 200
Developer: Costco
Mode: Programmed AE/Shutter-Priority AE

So! I got my first roll of film back from Costco yesterday. I was really skeptical at first about whether to send my stuff over to them to develop or not, because it’s a wholesale supermarket, essentially, and the guy at the photo station told me they develop in 300 dpi. But then I read some online forums about how dpi apparently doesn’t matter, and that Costco has the best results for the buck ($5 for a 24-exposure roll and CD, in case you’re wondering). I figured it was my first roll and all anyway, so eh, the expectations weren’t meant to be that elevated anyway. Why not just try it out.

Well, Costco ended up being really good! My photos obviously have a long way to go before they become excellent like a lot of the young photographers’ pictures on Flickr, of course, but for now, I’m just glad they even turned out focused/visible/reasonably saturated. They gave me the negatives, which are actually the film strips with all the pictures imprinted on them, in an envelope, as well as the digital copies on the CD. I’ve tucked them into the niche in my closet now, which is officially where all my photography stuff (camera, strap spare parts, film canisters, etc.) goes. One day I’m going to have to invest in some sort of filing system for all my negatives and CDs. But gradually, gradually.

So now I’m going to go over some of the pictures that I took for the purposes of instructing myself, a complete newbie, and all those who wish to read and learn along. It’s important to remember things and take notes if one wishes to get better at film photography, I think, because the main drawback with film is that you can’t instantaneously review and playback your pics like you can on a digital camera. Time erodes, you soon forget exactly which aperture and shutter speed and lighting was present, and so on and so forth. So I’m going to do it here, while I still somewhat remember, and hope that I (and maybe others!) can learn from thereon.

073421-R1-14-10A

Alrighty, first picture. First thing to note: I remember feeling really weird about looking through things through the rangefinder and being like, “Wait, is this really what’s going to show up on the film once I click the shutter button? What if I’m too close and I’m not seeing the whole frame?” It’s still pretty unreal, because I seem to recall the pumpkin being a lot bigger in the rangefinder than it is in reality here, but oh well.

Dayum, though, look at all that fine detail on the concrete and the subject! The soft natural look of sunlight veiling everything…God, I love film. This was overall a success photo, so I don’t have anything much to learn from this, other than the fact that I have to figure out what the numbers on the meter actually mean. This one was like 5.6 or something. I think, whatever the number is, that it directly relates to the amount of sunlight in the picture. But is it aperture? Overall exposure? I don’t know.

073421-R1-16-8A

Dang it, it’s not in focus!Or so I thought, until I saw the very top of the picture and realized that the camera had actually been focusing on the leaves and part-chicken there. I don’t know why, because it was in focus when I took the picture, but maybe I had been focusing on the white chicken, and thus missed the bulk of the actual frame in the process.

This could have been a really nice shot, though, what with the golden chicken’s color matching nicely with the ground, and my sister’s boots on the right side. Not your conventional cutesy hipster footwear, but I like the color contrast it brings to the picture. The thing about film, though–at least in my worshipping opinion right now–is that even blurry pictures look kinda…good. It’s really just the color composition that makes my eyes sigh and curl up in contentment. (If eyes can even curl…that’s a weird image).

073421-R1-17-7A

I wanted to get the two chickens together, and they were moving rapidly, so I switched to Shutter-Priority AE and putting the shutter speed to something high, 500 or 1000. It turned out pretty well! I love how crisp the white is against the background, but most of all, I love the texture of the leaves underfoot! It’s soooo clear. Good green areas in the background too, and it was perfect that the fence was there because it makes for a very interesting blurry backdrop. Brings an almost mathematical pattern and symmetry to the shot. On the right side where the ivy is,  could that be considered bokeh? Because I really love it, regardless the name.

073421-R1-18-6A

Looks like the debris/leaves are really good subjects for texture and a range of dark-light colors. I have a feeling film in the fall would be utterly magnificent. But my favorite part of this picture is the sunlight coming out in the middle. There’s no other adjective for it but “golden,” and that is in every sense of the word. Love how it falls on and highlights the black buckets and the silhouette of the golden (yellow?) chicken. It gives the tree trunk depth and gradient too!

073421-R1-19-5A

This is one of the several pictures in the roll that showed me if you want to take a good shot, it should actually have a subject in it. I’m always seeing straight-on pictures of trees and leaves and flora on Tumblr, so I thought I’d try it out. Evidently, it didn’t work out that well. This was actually really washed-out beforehand; I really vamped up the saturation to get it to look like the final product you see here. The right side is okay, but the left just lacks a lot of content and focus. It looks really pixel-y and lifeless.

Of course, this being the First Ever Roll, I don’t know whether what I observe here will actually always be the case, or is more of just a one-time thing. But that’s why the collect more than one trial of data in science labs, I guess!

073421-R1-20-4A

Here is my lovely little sister, Emily! She was hard at work cleaning out all the poop and gunk from the chicken coop when I asked her to pose for one of my “FIRST EVER PICTURES!!!”

When she saw it she was like, “Ehhh,” but, you see, that’s just the thing with film–because I think this looks great! I can already tell (from my other shot of my dad, which I won’t put on here because I don’t like looking at his face much) that one of the major strengths of my Canon AE-1 Program will be taking pictures of people. Film just does something amazing with the human profile, makes it that much colorful and alive and nice to look at. I think it really improves the condition of the skin, especially, and gives it a blush-like appearance of vigor and spirited vitality. They should sell film cameras instead of youth serums, I swear. But yeah. I will definitely take more pictures of people from now on–hopefully myself if I can get somebody to learn a bit about operating this thing–and get my friends to participate in my shots, because I have really attractive friends imho that would make good subjects.

073421-R1-21-3A

Despite the sequence of these photos, this one was actually the First Ever Picture That I Took. Look how clear all the individual blades of grass are! I don’t necessarily like the color tones that much, but screw it, at least the picture’s in focus. And didn’t I kind of use the Rule of Thirds for that chicken there?

By the way, if you noticed, yeah, that’s chicken poop right there. I didn’t see it until my sister pointed it out last night to me. No wonder the poultry was standing so still for my camera.

073421-R1-01-23A

Indoor picture! I quickly learned a couple of things about artificial vs. sun light, even before I got this roll back.

  1. It’s way easier to get the meter to read a properly exposed number in sunlight than artificial light. The camera was made to read real sun rays, not fluorescent bulbs. I found that, indoors, the only way I could get it properly exposed was when I pointed the lens directly into the bulb of a ceiling light or chandelier. Conversely, one bright Sunday morning, I woke up to rare sunshine filtering through the blinds, and got my camera out to take a photo. Whoa there! The meter was going around 6-8, which is the highest I’ve seen so far in my short picture-taking experience. So, in conclusion: sunlight = good, indoor = get some 400 ISO film.
  2. Some other pictures I took with other sources of artificial lighting turned out extremely underexposed/dark, or orange-y, but this one was the only decent one. It must be the type of light–whiteish, not yellow, and really dynamic with the shadows of the room. The rest of the room was utterly dark, as you can tell from the background. Also, this picture actually read as underexposed when I took it. It turned out perfectly okay, though, apart from a little blur that can be all attributed to me, because I don’t think I used a high shutter speed at all; I just told my sister to keep talking and moving around so I could get a “candid” shot. Well, now I know that posing is actually preferred when it comes to film, because posing seems to have no risk at all of turning out “fake” like it so very often does with digital. If anything, having someone smile directly into the camera is actually a charming and positive advantage.
  3. Light sources directly from the top cast nice, softly-falling shadows and contours in the human face. Very good for emotive, studious-type portraits. May utilize in the future…

073421-R1-02-22A

Great sharpness + focus in the picture, cool reflections on desk. But as you can tell, and as aforementioned in the picture above, this picture had an overwhelmingly orange/yellow tone to it. It’s from the tungsten, for sure. Also, if I were to change the composition of this picture, I would move the light source further into the frame. It seems too small and cut-off as it is now, just a partial oval shining into the objects on the table.

073421-R1-03-21A

Same thing for this too. The exposure meter was correct, but when I got this picture back, almost all of it was in complete blackness save for the yellowness of the bulbs. I adjusted the exposure way back for the final product. So, note to learn from: Don’t take pictures of artificial lights, especially if they already have a warm yellow aura!

I feel like this post is getting a bit long, so I’ll stop here. I’ll maybe/probably be posting the rest of the photos later!

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