Roll No. 3: Sweet 16, Band Concert, and More!

Roll #: 3
Film: Fujifilm Xtra Superia 400
Developer: Costco
Mode: Programmed AE
Yay, 400 ISO film for the first time! The conditions in which I took the pictures were quite unnatural, i.e. mostly interiors, but thanks to the 400 things went pretty well. I definitely know the situation with low-light indoor pictures now. So without further ado, let’s get into it.
So, first picture–the snow in front of my house. I’ve been reading about the exposure problems that happen when you shoot snow, so I had to go and take one myself just to see what it would turn out to be. This is what it turned out to be. Not necessarily over or under or anything-exposed, but rather just colorless, dull, and…white. But maybe that’s just what snow is like. I guess I have to resign myself to the fact that no good snow photography will be happening unless I find something snowy to focus on. (Is it possible to focus on snowflakes? Probably is, but it would require a better lens. Still figuring out what constitutes a better lens, by the way. F-stops are weird to understand.)
Oh, and if you noticed a little red dot in the center of that picture, that’s a cardinal.  There’s quite a bit of wildlife around my house, which really makes me wish I had a zoom lens sometimes!
I was originally not even going to take this picture of the knife and the bread, but at the time I took it, my mom was about to leave to Costco, and I had only a few more pictures left on my roll before it hit the max. So, I was just randomly running around snapping photos of household stuff. I figured that the pictures would come out uninteresting and bad, but whaddaya know, they were some of the best ones in the roll. Especially after I upped the saturation. By the way, in my opinion, editing photos is not really “cheating”–it’s just using technology better to your advantage. Especially with film cameras.
Here’s my favorite one out of Roll No.3. A jar of Nutella! Good subject, and also good execution. If I had to take it over again, I’d probably change the angle of either the camera or the knife somehow so that the tip of the knife doesn’t look all weird and blurry and white–because there was actually Nutella on that, but it’s unseeable. But other than that, I’m really quite satisfied with this picture! The colors are just the right sort of soft that film is so uniquely known for, and the crisp focus on the label really gives the eye something to pay attention to.
Next location–my high school’s quarterly band and orchestra concert. Man, I love verticals. As I was standing in the warm-up room with my friends, I noticed a girl playing the piano while standing up (no bench in sight). Just as I got out my camera, she dropped her hand and started walking away. I called her back, gesticulating while waving my camera around, and asked her to come back and play for a few more moments while I took her picture. Luckily enough, she wasn’t completely creeped out by me and agreed. Is this how people photographers feel? It’s kind of weird, but also fun!
I really, really like the color scheme of this picture and how it all fits together–khaki green, black, warm yellow. Nice subject too. If only it could have been more in-focus. Of course, at the time that I took the picture, it had appeared to be in-focus…so why is it that sometimes certain pictures turn out to be blurry? Perhaps I had been shaking slightly from the awkward angle of holding the camera upright (I think I may have been clutching my clarinet in the crook of my arm, or just trying to back up as much as possible to get all of her in the shot), or maybe it was just because she was moving too fast. I think I need to go back to what I did in Roll No.1, which is actually experiment with Shutter Priority AE.
Nothing much to say about this photo–other than the fact that the lighting seems to be quite yellowy. There was probably nothing I could have done about it though, considering we were in an indoor hallway that was predominately lit with yellowy florescent lights. I did learn that strings instruments are gorgeous objects to take pictures of though. Somehow, they manage to convey so much elegance and sentimentality just by their appearance!
When I initially took this picture, I remembered thinking, “Oh, great. I have now allowed Orrin (I named my camera, yes) to stoop to the level of teenage girl Facebookers and digital handhelds: taking pictures of posing people.” I guess it looked a bit staged from the viewfinder. But, as you can see, the picture turned out pretty classy! All the other pictures that I took in the same room had a yellow tint to it, but this one looks rather clean and white. Weird! Maybe because of the openness of the surroundings? The mirrors in the back?
I’m quite impressed that AE managed to capture the movement of this pianist’s fingers moving across the keys. But like I said with that other picture, next time I’d probably try some Shutter Priority. Perhaps then the fingers could be even more in-focus and sharp.
I really like the composition of this picture! This is what being a photographer is about–capturing unique and interesting moments with people and things, that somehow convey more than just what was happening at that moment the shutter clicked. This picture was not staged at all, but the subjects managed to hold still long enough for me to snap a picture. That, and they also weren’t so camera-shy that they didn’t let me take a picture. Yay!
Scene change–we went out for dinner one night at Kruse and Muer, and I decided to test out night photography in preparation for my trip (this Sunday!) to Las Vegas. And hey, it didn’t turn out that bad! I still feel a bit insecure about taking pictures at night, since this was only one picture, and my film experience thus far consisting of three rolls seems to still be in the “testing the waters” stage, but if all goes well, I will be able to return home with some decent pictures of Sin City nightlife. I’m crossing my fingers…
Then I took a picture inside the restaurant. See, this shot is another example of the Focus Problem. I’m pretty sure it was in focus from the viewpoint of the viewfinder at the time (I remember that I actually took this picture in hopes to capture the steam that was rising out of this cup), but it turned out not to be. I have a sneaking suspicion it might have something to do with shutter speed, which I will explain next in about two pictures down.
Look! My franz! This is at a different restaurant by the way–it was the Sweet 16th of my friend Shangari. This turned out pretty well, especially the focus, considering that we were in a super low-light situation (the meter was reading 2-4)–but awkwardly enough, Emily’s (the girl closest to the camera) eyebrows were very overexposed. But how does that even go about happening?! I can’t even begin to explain the witchcraft of light in this one.
But anyway, here’s the thing with most of the pictures that I took at this Sweet 16th: too blurry. Too dark. Aaaaah! Even with 400 ISO, it was obvious that the lack of light in the situation made it very difficult to produce good photos. Maybe I need 800. Or maybe–and this is kind of a epiphany for me–the pictures were too blurry because the shutter speed is too slow. 
Back in the old crappy digital point-and-shoot days, when I took pictures with the “Night” mode, I would have to wait 15 seconds and hold absolutely still while the camera blinked a red light and did something with the shutter, and then even after that, the photos would almost always turn out really blurry. I’m too brain-dead to think of a reason why this and why that, but the fact of the matter is, I have learned from Roll No. 3 that:

low-light situation = faster film, faster shutter speed.

This is when Shutter Speed Priority AE would come in handy, supposedly. An important thing to remember for when I go to Vegas. At nighttime on The Strip and whatnot, there are probably going to be people and tourists and entertainers moving all around, blurring everything up unless I use 1/500 or 1/1000. But would that end up overexposing the shot, or…? Well, it’d probably be pretty hard to overexpose a picture taken at nighttime, when there’s limited light anyway. I guess I’ll just wing it and use either completely automatic settings, or the Shutter Priority.
So, yeah. The vast majority of all the rest of the pictures from No. 3 were just blurry photos of people grinning at the camera. A shame, because the soft yellow-orange lighting and the black backgrounds made a nice color palette. It’s just that everything was way too out-of-focus.
I’m really excited for this Spring Break, though! I have 5 rolls of film to use (two 200, three 400), which I just realized about a day ago might not actually be enough, because I’ll be gone for 7 days. But whatever, too late to order film now (it takes usually about 1.5-2 weeks to arrive, usually). I’m thinking the max allotment for my trip, then, would be one roll per day, unless I have a really good time in the Grand Canyon, in which that case I’ll take maybe 1.5 rolls there. That’s mostly because I’m figuring there won’t be much to take pictures of in Las Vegas. That city’s atmosphere really doesn’t cater at all to my nature-and-trees, hipster-town, Northwest-coast type of ideal vacation. But at any rate, going anywhere will be a wonderful change from these last 10 months in Michigan.
I am very much looking forward to posting about my first legitimate “travel” section of this blog when I get back and develop my pictures. I’ll start writing a rough draft even before I get back, just so I won’t forget all the details, and my memory will still be fresh when I get to inserting pictures into the posts. See you guys then!

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