R.I.P. Ian Murdock, wherever you hack.

~~~~~

R.I.P. Ian Murdock – father of Debian GNU Linux and Debian based Linux distributions.

~~~~~

Since 2009, i am using Debian based linux distributions but the most part was on pure Debian and all my linux knowledge comes from Debian.

Debian GNU Linux is one of the first linux distribution and it is one of the most popular. If you take into account the most used linux distributions based on Debian, like Ubuntu and Linux Mint, you can say that Debian is the 3rd most used Operating System in the world!!!

R.I.P. Ian Murdock, wherever you hack.

The Dark Side of Photography

Just look at the detailed specifications on Nikon Rumors of the new Nikon D5:

http://nikonrumors.com/2016/01/05/nikon-d5-detailed-specifications-cf-and-xqd-versions-coinfirmed.aspx/

This in particular:

  • Highest ISO: 102,400
  • Extended sensitivity Hi5: ISO 3,280,000

ISO 3 million something!!! Keep that in mind…

 

Is this for real ?!?!

 

 

– Hey Evolution!!! You’ve got pretty lazy lately!!!

 

~~~~~

 

In 200+ years of photography we didn’t understand light completely and now we have to understand darkness?!?!

 

I just imagine a chat of a newbie photographer with a pro:
Newbie: What can i do to make great photographs?
Pro: You see maaan….you just gotta see the darkness.
Newbie: ?!?!?!

 

So we have image sensors that can see in plain darkness, but on top of that you can see a dark night light in daylight?!?! WTF?!?!
 ~~~~~
What will come next?
1. You will put 2 image sensors on your sunglasses and use the sunglasses to see at night? Once and for all, the sunglasses will benefit from their real name: sunglasses = glasses that bring the sun.
2. We will take photographs of black holes and get the real atoms of dark matter in a RAW file.
3. Adobe will switch Dodge and Burn together.
4. Kylo Ren will join the Light Side of the Force and he will dress like Snow White.
5. The Golden Hour will be at midnight.
6. Bats will be photographer’s best friends.
7. Flash units will substract light.
8. If your indoor pictures are not good enough, turn of the light.
9. Pixels will become darkxels.
10. The maximum aperture will be f/350 and the fastest shutter speed will be 2 weeks.
11. There will be only one White Balance preset: Pitch Black.
12. Lightroom will have a new module: “Black Hole Adjustment”:
~~~~~
May the ISO, light your Dark Side! ^-^
 ~~~~~

 

The fastest custom ROM for Motorola Defy Plus (MB526)

Some screenshots (yeah, you can take screenshots on Android 2.3.7.) to wet your appetite: O.O

This guide will show you my way to root and install WIUI 3.1.27 (Gingerbread) on a Motorola Defy Plus (MB526) with Bootloader 7 (version 9.1). The guide has 3 parts, determining what ROM you already have on your device, rooting the device and installing the custom ROM.

DISCLAIMER: I and all developers of those tools will not be held responsible for any damage you will do to your device and i strongly advise you to read all the internet regarding this, and decide if you will go or not this way. Rooting WILL VOID THE WARRANTY of your device. So DO IT ON YOUR OWN RISK!!!

~~~ The device (Motorola Defy+ MB526) stock stats: System version: 45.0.2310.MB526.AsiaRetail.en.03 Android version: 2.3.6 Kernel version: 2.3.32.9-ge281b6e hudsoncm@il93lnxdroid54#1 Build number: 4.5.1.134_DFP-231

~~~

Since i have bought my Motorola Defy Plus (MB526) device i’ve been testing many custom ROMs and also made some tutorials on rooting and installing new ones.

The thing that make us click (and the technology manufacturers exploit) is that we will never be satisfied with what we have, it’s human nature, we want the newest, fastest and the most feature rich devices (without buying new ones :) ).

So we have a low specs, old device that the manufacturer stop updating the original OS since the conception, the case here the Motorola Defy Plus coming with Android 2.3.7 with no official system updates.

But we want Android 4, 4.1, 4.4 and even 5 on our little matchbox but we can’t do nothing about it. This was true until really great guys made Cyanogenmod (CM) which is a custom Android that can run on old or new devices.

I have used CM 10, CM 10.2 and CM 11 (KitKat), yes, KitKat on the Defy Plus and Quarx is working on Android 5 Lolipop for the Defy Plus. O.o

Everything was fine but let’s be honest, you can’t put a Lamborghini engine on a Fiat Panda. That’s the case with newer Android on old devices, everything started to work slow…very slow.

So when you saw people around you just tapping and tapping and i had to wait a few seconds till an app fired up, i started Googling for the lightest and fastest ROM for Motorola Defy Plus. There were several ROMs people recommended but i first tried WIUI, a custom version of MIUI + Cyanogenmod. MIUI is a custom chinese version of Android/Cyanogenmod, used on XIAOMI phones etc. Yeah, you got that right, Android -> Cyanogenmod -> MIUI -> WIUI. Round and round we go. :)

Please don’t get me wrong, all Cyanogenmod versions are amazing and you should try them. I used the versions above for very long time but i just needed more speed and different looks.

Ok, i got you dizzy already, let’s get our hands dirty.

~~~

PROLOGUE:

You can be in one of two situations:

  1. If you are on a custom ROM, probably Cyanogenmod. In this case you should download this stock ROM and flash it with RSD Lite. NOTE: This guide is based on a device with the specs at the beginning of this tutorial and the links are for software that worked for me. If you know other stock ROMs work for your device, please use them. The guide here, the XDA thread for WIUI said to flash CEE or Nordic stock ROMs, so you can try those instead of the link i gave you for the stock ROM. I will not go into details of how to flash a stock ROM, there are tones of tutorials online. After flashing the stock ROM, continue with PART 1 below.
  2. You are on stock ROM. In this case continue with PART 1 below.

PART 1 – ROOTING:

  1. On your brand new flashed stock ROM go to Settings>Applications>Development>Enable USB Debugging;
  2. On your device go to Settings>Applications> Enable Unknown sources;
  3. Download FRAMAROOT to your phone directly and install the apk;
  4. Open FRAMAROOT and just tap Ghimli;
  5. Your Defy+ is rooted!

~~~

PART 2 – Flashing WIUI 3.1.27.:

  1. Download and install on your phone 2nd init – ver.2.3; This version has the Clockworkmod 5.x version (now you understand the NOTE 1 at the beginning of the post);
  2. Open 2ndinit and press Install bootmenu – the red text will become green after successful install;
  3. Go here and read the thread. I downloaded and put on the root of the SD card the Stable GB+ 3.1.27. version. The installation guide say that the developer started with flashing the CEE or Nordic original Defy Plus ROM but it’s not the case. We have already covered steps -1 and 0 with the PROLOGUE and PART 1 of this tutorial. The following steps are from point 3. of the XDA guide. Also there is no need to download and install Google Apps, they are embedded in the WIUI ROM.
  4. Follow the guide on XDA forums starting from point 3.;
  5. Enjoy a fresh look for your Defy Plus with lighting speed. ^-^

New device stats: Android version: 2.3.7. Yes, it’s the same Android version as the original Defy Plus but it looks awesome and it works lighting fast. ^-^

PLEASE DONATE to the makers of Framaroot, Cyanogen mod and WIUI. If you choose to DONATE TO THIS WEBSITE, I will donate myself to Framaroot, Cyanogen and WIUI! ^-^

How to Shoot Film – Getting started with film photography in a digital era

Part 1 – IntroductionPart 2 – The Gear | Part 3 – How to shoot film

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Fig.1 Film camera ready to shoot

Fig.1 – Film camera ready to shoot.

In part 1 of the series we talked about the “soul” aspect of film photography and in part 2 about what gear is available for you.

Don’t worry if you don’t understand some terms in the beginning of the article, please read the article entirely and the recommended reading links and go back here, take your time.

In this part we will talk about how to shoot film, how i do it and what i learned until now. Also, again, i will not go in detail about exposure, the shutter speed/aperture/ISO relationship, there are plenty of info online. Basically learning about what is exposure it’s the same on digital and in film, a full manual film camera is like setting a DLSR on M (manual) mode, sort of.

Any camera you choose, will have some sort of resources online, like manual, user community, fans, YouTube videos etc., and i encourage you to learn the manual of your camera inside out. Take your time, read all the info, it will pay off later. Learn how to load film, how to meter the light (if your camera has a built in light meter it’s easier, if not, no problem, just use the Sunny 16 rule), how to set the exposure on your camera.

If you shoot digital, maybe you know that for a good exposure you have to expose for the highlights and to the right of the histogram, with film you should expose for the shadows (meaning setting up the camera to get the detail in the shadows). Having a dynamic range superior to digital, it is said that film (especially color negative) is more forgiving, meaning that you are safer with film on blowing highlights.

Let’s take the classic example of bright sky and green forest:

Digital: You expose for the forest (shadows) and the sky will be blown away with no possibility to recover the sky in post production. You expose for the sky, you get the details in the sky but the forest gets really dark, but, you can pull out the details in the forest in post production (shooting RAW will give you a great latitude in post). So you should expose for the sky, the highlights.

Film: You have to expose for the forest (get the details in the shadows – the forest area) and the sky will not be blown away that much. Also try to understand the Zone System by Ansel Adams, it will help a lot.

~~~~~~~~

My recommended work-flow:

I can’t stress this enough: TAKE YOUR TIME AND STUDY ABOUT EVERYTHING YOU DO! It’s not a race, we want to learn something new and more importantly to have fun in the process.

  1. Film camera – checked!
  2. Film – get the right type for your camera. If you try for a few days to fit an 120 mm film roll in a 35 mm camera, stop it….just stop it! :) I started with what i think it’s the cheapest and easiest film type for my 35 mm camera, it was a color negative Kodak Color Plus 200, in fact it’s the only film available to buy in my town.
  3. Load the film in the camera – check online for instructions: your camera manual, YouTube videos etc.
  4. Set the exposure.
  5. Focus the lens.
  6. Shoot!

Point number 4 incorporates a very important part in photography in general, as the name implies is setting the exposure. That is to fiddle with the settings of the camera so that based on your camera, lens, film type lighting conditions, the film inside to catch the view in front of you with the greatest accuracy. You may say “What’s the point?! With my digital camera i just press the shutter and the pictures look good.”, yeas! you are right, but even with a digital camera, you will encounter many situations when a tricky lighting situation will fool your camera and your shot will not be that great.

Point 4 in detail: Setting the exposure

Fig.2 - In the middle is the dial to set shutter speed and on the lens you set the aperture.

Fig.2 – In the middle is the dial to set shutter speed and on the lens you set the aperture.

Old and affordable film cameras, regarding exposure settings, can be of 3 types:

  1. Full manual – requesting you to set all the buttons right for a good exposure.
  2. With some kind of automation – they might have some kind of built-in light metering system, that can measure the light and set automatically for you the aperture or the shutter speed based on the shutter speed or aperture you choose previously.
  3. Full automatic – you just load your film and shoot. The camera sets all the stuff for you, talking here about compact cameras, mostly viewfinder cameras. This is very convenient but you have no creativity, meaning what if you want that cool sharp subject with blurred background…huh?! :) TIP: use a bigger aperture, a small f number like f2.8 or f/4.

The cameras that can help you with the exposure and are pretty old, usually have the cells that measure light in no working condition, or they require batteries that are no longer available (or are very hard to find). In this situation, sooner or later you may be faced with the case of having to set everything yourself, and here comes the oldest but greatest rule of setting exposure:

THE SUNNY 16 RULE!

The best detailed explanation i have found online about exposure and how to set exposure is Fred Parker’s Ultimate Exposure Computer article. Please take your time and read it!!!

Ok, so we’re back,

Lots of people don’t grasp the terms like, light stops (going down 2 stops), lower the aperture (you are on f/11 and you go to f/16…say what?! you say lower, why i am getting higher?!

TIP on understanding f numbers: these are fractions and f being like the maximum opening of the lens and when you divide it by 2m you get f/2, meaning your lens is opened half way. If you divide f by 16 you get a little piece opened so…..bare with me….The higher the f number (f/16) the smallest lens opening (aperture) and vice versa, the lower the f number (f/4) the biggest the lens opening).

TIP on depth of field (DOF): based on the info above, with f/16 (small aperture) you will get more of the scene in focus in front and in the back of your subject (a big Depth of Field). And with a f/4 (large aperture) you will get a small DOF, like you are shooting a portrait and the subject is in focus nd the background is blurred.

The Sunny 16 rule is an age tested set of rules to achieve always a good exposure of the film or sensor, based on different lighting situations. It was used by the first photographers in the world until now and it will work as long as this system of exposing film/sensors with the triangle ISO-shutter speed-aperture will be linked to photography.

The basic trick about the Sunny 16 rule is this:

“On a full sunny day, for a front lit subject, set the aperture to f/16 and the shutter speed to 1/ISO”.

In detail:

  1. Check the ISO/AS/DIN of your film. Let’s say it’s ISO 100.
  2. You are on a full sunny day like at the beach with no clouds and distinct shadows and you want to photograph something front lit (it works with side lit subjects).
  3. For a perfect exposure set the aperture to f/16 and the shutter speed to 1/100.
  4. Shoot!…..Instant masterpiece.

Now, if your camera doesn’t have 1/100, you set it to the closest shutter speed available, like 1/125.

If the light intensity gets lower, lower your f number. Continuing on our beach example, if there are a few clouds in the sky, keep your shutter speed 1/100 and set the aperture to f/11, and so on.

This rule take in consideration the type of shadows of the environment. Here is a simplified table you can check:

Sunny 16 ISO 100 1/100 shutter speed (or 1/125)
Aperture f/22 f/16 f/11 f/8 f/5.6 f/4
Lighting conditions Snow / sand Sunny Slight overcast Overcast Heavy Overcast Open shade / sunset
Shadow detail Dark with sharp edges Distinct Soft edges Barely visible No shadows No shadows
  • If the subject is lit from behind (back lighting), add 1 stop of light: If your scene is a 1/100 and f/11 one but the subject is backlit, go for f/8 instead of f/11.
  • There are equivalent combinations for the same exposure: 1/100 and f/8 is the same as 1/500 and f/4 and the same as 1/60 and f/16. The difference is in the Depth of Field (the zone in focus vs the out of focus zone of the shot, but this is another story).

The best way to master exposure is to keep shooting and review your shots when you get them on the computer, or printed.

To measure the light with a device, you can use:

  1. A light meter. I don’t have one but you can find old used ones pretty cheap or buy a shiny new digital.
  2. A light metering app on your android/iOS/Windows phone device. There are pretty good ones out there. Maybe those apps are not very accurate but they can give you a starting point and you can use them to help you with the Sunny 16 rule. I recommend LightMeter Free for starting and get the paid app if you like the software.
  3. A digital camera that can measure light that will give you the settings. Transfer those settings on your film camera. Remember to set the ISO on the digital camera to match the ISO of your film.The fastest but now way hipster.

I recommend to experiment the Sunny 16 rule, guess the settings and to keep track of your exposures you can do one of the following:

  1. Keep a little notebook and write down for each film: the type of film (ISO), the frame number, the shutter speed, the aperture and a little description of the scene (where you were and lighting conditions). Not very fast but hipster. You can take the digital approach and write the info in your smartphone, like in Evernote or you can even do voice recordings. Faster but not that hipster.
  2. Use an Android/iOS/Windows phone app to keep track of your film rolls and each exposure in your rolls of film. I recommend Exif4film – you can upload your rolls to Dropbox.

Also, always improve your knowledge about film exposure and you will see that rules are meant to be broken and you will see that:

  • film has a pretty large exposure latitude – if you go 1 stop up or down, you will still get a pretty good exposure also. So have no fear that you will ruin your film if the planets are not aligned.
  • color negative is “safer” in exposure than color slide film.
  • you can develop black and white film with coffee and vitamin C.
  • with rangefinder and/or viewfinder cameras you will see the scene in the viewfinder even with the lens cap on. :))

~~~~~~~~

Point 5 in detail: Focus

I only shoot rangefinders and compact viewfinder cameras and i can only speak about those cameras, but as a rule of thumb, you just have to set the distance to the subject. I never shoot a film SLR but i am pretty sure they focus just like rangefinders.

Viewfinder cameras: they are the equivalent of point and shoot cameras of today. You just have to set the distance to the subject and the lens will “automatically” get the focus. There is nothing magic, the lens have a very large latitude on Depth of Field (DOF).

Rangefinder cameras: just like viewfinders, you will set the distance to the subject and based on the chosen aperture you will get perfect sharpness at that distance and bigger and smaller DOF based on the aperture. When you focus the lens, in the middle of the viewfinder you get a little patch with two overlapping images and when you twist the lens, you superimpose those images or make them further apart. When the two images are perfectly on top of the other, your lens is focused and you can shoot. Twisting the lens (adjusting the focus) is basically setting the distance to the subject. If after you focused the lens you look at the distance markings of the lens, you will see that the lens is set to the actual distance to the subject.

Fig. 3 - Lens set to focus at 2 meters at f/5.6 aperture with everything in focus from 1.7 m to 2.5 m.

Fig. 3 – Lens set to focus at 2 meters at f/5.6 aperture with everything in focus from 1.7 m to 2.5 m.

If you can judge distances by your eye you can pre-set (set the focus in advance) your lens and when you think the subject is at that distance you just shoot. This is the really cool thing about lenses on rangefinders (and SLR, i think) the zone focusing or pre-focusing is the fastest focusing machanism in the world…booooy, how street photographers love this.

Zone focusing / pre-focusing:

In Fig.3 you can see the zone focusing explained. Lens set to focus at 2 meters at f/5.6 aperture with everything in focus from 1.7 m to 2.5 m. So now if you shoot something between 1.7 m and 2.5 m, the subject should be in focus and that if you don’t shake the camera and you have a fast shutter speed for a moving subject.

Ok….pretty much info. Take a deep breath now, have a drink and relax.

We’re done and i hope you learned something new and exciting and you are right now with the camera in your hand ready to go out the door to take some pictures. What are you waiting for, go go go!!! I will wait you here reviewing and writing and rewriting the best i can to make your passion easier and funnier. :))

Have fun, go shoot and … buy film, not mega-pixels! ^-^

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Part 1 – IntroductionPart 2 – The Gear | Part 3 – How to shoot film

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The Gear – Getting started with film photography in a digital era

Part 1 – Introduction | Part 2 – The Gear | Part 3 – How to shoot film

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The introduction of this Getting Started with film photography gave you a feeling about what it means to take pictures on film and if you are determined to continue, now, we will talk about the gear, like camera, lenses and film. I will not go in deep technical details about stuff, you can study in depth if you want from external sources, i will try to keep things as simple as possible.

I am interested in street photography so i got myself a rangefinder (FED 5B) tailored for this type of shooting. I also used a viewfinder film camera (Belomo Vilia). I didn’t use a film SLR (single lens reflex) but i will try to give you as much info as i can.

First thing first.

A. Film:

What is it? – Film is a peace of transparent plastic, coated with a gelatin emulsion of a silver based substance.

Types of film – I can put them in 3 categories:

1) by size (35 mm (24 x 36 mm), 120 mm or medium format (6 x 6 cm or 6 x 9 cm) and large format (4 x 5 inch)) – I recommend starting with 35 mm although 120 mm scans better with budget scanners.

2) by type (color negative, color slide transparency, black and white negative) – I recommend starting with color negative because it’s widely available and more “forgiving” when you overexpose.

3) by ISO (the sensitivity of the film to the light – you can easily find from ISO 50 to 800). Use lower ISO for bright light with no grain and noise and high ISO film for low light but high grain and noise. My last films used were 35 mm color negative ISO 200 Kodak Color Plus, good for a wide range of daylight situations…cheap but very reliable.

How it works? – the black and white negative case: As you click the shutter of your camera, a curtain/mirror expose the film to the light rays reflected from your subject. Lighter rays will “agitate” more the emulsion on the film and that zone will get darker as the silver cells will bang their heads violently. Darker rays are gentle with the emulsion, leaving it lighter. Picture this, you take a picture with a bright sky and above the forest with darker tones. The film will get dark tones in the sky and lighter tones on the forest, that’s the negative. To get the correct tones after scanning, you have to “Invert” the tones. Extrapolate that to other types of film (the color film has additional layers on the emulsion).

Makers: I only used Kodak but check Fujifilm, Ilford etc.

My recommendation will be to stick to 1 type of film, usually a 35 mm or 120 mm (depending on the camera you have) color negative. Shoot a while with 1 film to understand how to set exposure and how the film behaves. Learn that 1 film inside out.

~~~~~~~~

B. Camera:

Film cameras come based on the size of film you can load, so we have 35 mm, 120 mm or medium format and large format. I will talk about 35 mm and 120 mm cameras because the large format 1 tone cameras are another story.

Types:

  1. SLR (single lens reflex) – have you heard of a DSLR, the digital single lens reflex? A SLR works with a mirror/prism that let the photographer see through the lens what he is shooting. When you click the shutter, this mirror is raised and the film is exposed to light. They came in 35 mm and 120 mm sizes, have interchangeable lenses and the quality is great. They come from full manual to battery operated full automatic cameras with light metering and all the cool stuff. There are some awesome used SLRs out there like: Canon AE-1, Canon F1, Nikon F3, Nikon FM, Minolta X-570, Minolta X700, Olympus OM series, Pentax K100, Pentax LX, Praktika MTL3, Contax S2b etc. For starters try Canon AE-1 or Pentax K100, they’re cheaper. Also very cheap but very good are the Former Soviet Union (FSU) SLR cameras like Zenit.
  2. Rangefinder – A rangefinder focusing mechanism works by allowing the user to measure the distance to the subject an keeping in focus parts of the depth of the image based on that distance and aperture of the camera. The older rangefinders have decoupled viewfinder and rangefinder (you had to look through a hole to focus and after that you had to look in another hole for framing), the new ones have those two coupled. It is the camera used by street photographers because they have the fastest focusing mechanism – zone focusing/pre-focusing. In human terms: If you set the distance (D), at a given aperture, everything from (D-something) to (D+something) will be in focus. They are very quite because the film is exposed to light by opening a cloth curtain in general than raising the mirror of a SLR. They also have interchangeable lenses. There are some awesome used rangefinders out there like: All Leica rangefinders (insanely expensive, even the really old ones), Canonet G-III QL17, Olympus 35RC, Zeiss Ikon, Voigtlander Bessa. Also very cheap but very good are the Former Soviet Union rangefinder cameras like Zorki, FED.
  3. Viewfinders – Look at them as the compact/point and shoot cameras these days. They don’t have interchangeable lenses. There are some awesome used viewfinder cameras out there like: Rollei 35 or the FSU Vilia and Smena.

~~~~~~~~

C. Lens:

Apart from the viewfinder cameras that don’t have interchangeable lenses, with SLRs and rangefinders you can get a great variety of lenses out there. My FED 5b, being a Leica copy can mount an expensive Leica or Voigtlander M39 threaded lens. Pretty slick huh?!
Also, if you find in the basement your grandpa’s Leica but the lens is missing, you can get a great 200$ russian Industar 1.4 lens or the cheaper ones (starting 20$) with f/2.0 and up.

Start small and grow if you find film photography your passion. It doesn’t make sens to buy a Leica to find out you don’t like shooting film. Whatever you choose, stick to 1 camera and 1 lens and shoot with that for a while until the setup of the camera will become natural to you. Also a fixed lens like 50 mm  or 35 mm will help you more learning to judge the distances and framing and their good for fitness because you will have to zoom with your legs. :)

~~~~~~~~

My gear:

  • Camera: FED 5b (18$ camera + lens below + case + flash).
  • Lens: fixed 53 mm Industar 61 L/D f/2.8
  • Film: Kodak Color Plus 200 (35 mm color negative) – 3.5$ with free developing.

You can check the first part of the series to get a feeling of what shooting film means or continue with the next part on how to shoot film.

Stay hungry, buy film! ^-^

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Part 1 – Introduction | Part 2 – The Gear | Part 3 – How to shoot film

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Introduction – Getting started with film photography in a digital era

Part 1 – Introduction | Part 2 – The Gear | Part 3 – How to shoot film

~~~~~~~~

Film camera - A fully manual FED 5B former Soviet Union rangefinder camera

Fig. 1 – Film camera – A fully manual FED 5B former Soviet Union rangefinder camera

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Everybody is taking pictures, i mean EVERYBODY!

With the mobile phone capability of taking pictures, instant awesomizing with filters and edits, instant sharing, instant “Like”-ing and instant feedback from “friends” and “followers”, not only photographers take/make pictures, everybody is doing it. Digital is fast, from pushing the button to getting your snap to an immense audition, everything happens in seconds.

In this digital era, we want things to happen with lightning speed and “the new way of taking pictures” is kind of intervening with the old ways of doing photography.

I don’t want to get in a debate or start flame wars about what is photography, how it should be done, why Instagram is/is not ruining photography, which is better film or digital, i just want to show you that there is something else than digital snap and share and waiting in vain for likes and faves :). There is something else, something classic, physical, very personal, old school, not very convenient but full of rewards you would be amazed if you try it…..this thing is film photography.

Disclaimer: this post is based on my experiences and my personal opinions and should be taken with a grain of salt. I am no expert but i hope my tips and tricks will get you started with film. Also the costs in these series may be different in other parts of the world.

Why would you try film photography?

  1. You have found your dad/grandpa old film camera in the basement. Or, you found one at a garage sale or someone just give one away.
  2. You’ve seen people online or offline using film cameras and thought it will be cool to try.
  3. You just want to be cool and different or want to experiment.
  4. You’ve done some digital photography, being with a camera or smartphone and want to try other mediums other than digital.
  5. The sky in your digital pictures is so blown away and you heard that film is more forgiving and finally you will get that blue sky and green hills right…in the same snap. :)
  6. You want to try the old process of doing photography, the get your hands dirty process.

What you should now before starting?

  1. Using film is more expensive than digital, for a casual user. (Using film for professional use, tends to be cheaper than digital in the long run but that’s another story). You need to buy film, pay for developing, pay for scanning to get your files on the computer. Here developing is free by the lab you buy the film, scanning costs roughly the same as the prints, but in the States, developing and scanning is cheaper. You will get cheaper if you develop but more important if you scan your film at home, so investing in a good film scanner will save you big bucks in the long run. Every click will cost you money.
  2. The process is slower from clicking the shutter to getting your photos online. The audition is online these days so don’t expect to show your photos in art galleries in 6 months from now, just because you’re doing it the hard way.
  3. You will slow down and this is good, so you will stop that “spray and pray” type photography and start to thing before snapping. You will judge if that picture is really worth it. With digital, in a photo shoot, you can take about 300 pics and get 3 good keepers, with film you only got 36 frames so think and look carefully before snapping the shutter.
  4. Film cameras are very cheap. I bought an old Former Soviet Union camera, a fully manual and mechanical rangefinder called FED 5b + flash, for around 18$. I didn’t have to adjust anything, i just put a film in it and i started shooting. My camera also doesn’t need any batteries.

Maybe before arriving here, you’ve done some research on film photography and i am pretty sure you’ve seen debates on “why is film better than digital” or vice-versa and i will tell you what i find special in film and why i think using a film camera will improve your photography:

  1. The dynamic range of film is awesome and i find it way better than digital.
  2. The film grain is so pleasant. I was so against grain or noise and i craved super sharpness in photos but after using film for a little while, i started to love the grain and noise. This is not the case of “i got noise in my pictures and i have nothing to do but like it”, it’s the shifting to being more interested in composition than sharpness.
  3. I love the time you spend waiting for the film to be developed and scanned. It’s like waiting for Christmas or like a box of candy….you never know what you will get or if you’ll get anything.
  4. It makes me see things better.
  5. I started training my eye by slowing down, it made me more thoughtful on composition and lighting and interestingness of the scene. You will want to nail all of those right in-camera and not in post-production. You will really look at the scene, look at the lighting, make the composition, frame the shot and if is wort it, click. 1$ gone. :)
  6. I spend less time editing on the computer. I do very little adjustments. It’s better to be outside and shoot than staying in front of the computer screen.
  7. I invested in 1 camera and 1 lens and i try to stick with 1 type of film for a while. This way i will learn the inside and outside of my gear and make it a part of me and get very natural taking pictures.
  8. It shifted my views on photography and the whole learning process. I don’t care anymore about gear, heavy computer editing or any technical info. I got very interested in composition and lighting, i look at paintings of the great masters, i have seen tones of YouTube videos about the great photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, Josef Koudelka and many many others.

But film photography is no Holy Grail and i want to be fair and tell you what you may find annoying doing film photography – It’s not convenient. I do the developing, the scanning and the printing at the local lab and i find the costs pretty high for an experimenting amateur. Also, sometimes, i think there is too much time spent going back and forth to the lab. Another thing with labs is that after developing you may get missing frames, frames scanned badly or simply bad developing. If i will invest in a film scanner the costs will reduce drastically and some of the above problems will be gone.

I hope this introduction will get you the feel for film photography and in the next posts i will try to guide you in choosing the gear, guidelines for shooting, differences between shooting film vs digital and tips and tricks i learn along the way.

Have fun and keep on shooting! ^-^

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Part 1 – Introduction | Part 2 – The Gear | Part 3 – How to shoot film

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