This Changes Everything: Analog in the Age of Digital

“A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed”

– Ansel Adams

Second Chances

I began film in 2019 except I had no clue what I was doing. Jump forward a few years and I decided to get back at it. This summer, I was determined to learn more within my creative hobbies. Through my editing, I try to create a nostalgic atmosphere and film was on my horizon. Between Kodak Portra, Gold and Ilford B&W…I saw nothing but beauty in these film stocks. If you’d like to get into analog, I’d start learning manual on digital beforehand. This is what I did and I’m certain it’d help with aspiring film photographers. I wanted to write about my experience so far and I’m by no means an expert at film. If I’m being generous to myself, I’d say I’m novice at this new approach to photography.

Where to Learn

Of course, I could just tell you to look it up on Google but there’s more to it than that. One of the best places to learn from is a given, YouTube. Especially when it came to how to send off film or load it into my camera. Another area I learned from was Twitter. Any questions I had on specific cameras, there was always an answer. Other than that, I’d test out as many film stocks as you’d like.

Keep on Rolling

I’ll provide the first two film stocks I shot with and how it went. The former stock was Portra 400, which I loaded into my Canon Ae-1. Watching my film wind through as I hit each frame, I knew this was going to be something incredible. Ever since that first roll, I’ve wanted to get my hands on more film. The nostalgic look to these photos is beautiful and knew that not many people shoot film. At least when it came to my hometown. The latter film stock that I used was Ilford HP5 400. I loaded this into a $30 plastic disposable which is actually agitating to shoot photos with. Although, the film stock allowed me to create some beautiful photos on the Cape.

Cape Cod on Kodak Portra 400
Cape Cod Lighthouse on Kodak Portra 400
Aquinnah Cliffs on Kodak Portra 400
Adirondacks on Kodak Gold 200
Hotel Saranac on Kodak Gold 200

Should You Invest in Analog?

The answer I give is something that you’ll expect…of course you should. It’s a deeper process when it comes to photography and for a storage system, you just hold the negatives somewhere. I don’t usually edit film photos unless they’re really underexposed. Other than hitting frames, it’s not likely that you’ll have to edit any of your work. To conclude on this point, just get into film!

Boat in Isolation on Ilford HP5 400
Ocean View on Ilford HP5 400

When to Shoot

I’ve shot multiple rolls of Kodak Gold and it’s one of my favorite film stocks. It’s affordable compared to other stocks such as Portra or Ektar. This is a given, but shooting Gold 200 at golden hour is a MUST. During daylight, there’s many color film stocks to use and the two I’ve shot is Gold and Portra 400. For B&W, I’ve used Ilford HP5 400 and T-Max 400 during the day. One project I worked on was in an abandoned hospital and I’ll share a few of them below. For any creator, you’ll always want to be somewhere to make things once you begin. It’s an incredible way to live life and find beauty when everything around you is submerged in shadows.

Exterior of Abandoned Hospital on Kodak T-Max 400
Theater in Abandoned Hospital on Kodak T-Max 400

Is it Affordable?

This question is something completely dependent on the individual. If you’re irrational towards an aspiring dream, take every risk you can. One of my favorite sayings that I’ve heard is that money doesn’t care how its spent. Although, you should spend it as a form of investment. In your future, business, or creativity. I hope that this nostalgia inspires you to take a chance with 35 MM. The anticipation for each roll is something you’ll never take for granted.

Thank You!

If you took time out of your day to read this or check out the photos, I truly appreciate it. I was always interested in film photography and seeing my first roll, I’ll never forget. It’s as if time pauses and the world becomes your own for a few moments. Turning photography into something more tangible makes each shot count and it means everything to me. I strongly recommend it, even if you want nostalgic vibes during the summer with friends. Until next time, pick up that camera or hiking boots…and go create a memory!

-Alex

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