In Development: Adventures in Film, Volume Fourteen

Now that my 30 Days with the Fuji X100F series is over and my full arsenal of cameras and lenses is at my disposal, I’ve been taking advantage of the “newness” that comes from shooting old gear that you’ve been neglecting for too long. One of the interesting takeaways from this last 30 Days With… challenge was that, when it was over, I had an overwhelming desire to shoot film on my Leicas and my Mamiya…but I really didn’t have any desire to pick up my Fuji X-T2.

If I try to compare the film and digital mediums logically, I find it really difficult to justify shooting film. The small margin for error, the uncertainty of not knowing if you got your shot, the limitations of not being able to change “films” from shot to shot, the cost of professional development and scanning, the lack of control over your artistic vision during the scanning process, and so on. Even things that have historically been logical advantages for film, such as dynamic range and resolution, are no longer significant advantages. Digital cameras these days are just too good.

But I didn’t get into photography for the logic of it. I got into photography because I wanted a creative/artistic outlet to balance out my logical left brain. I feel best about life when I’m working on some kind of creative project, and while that creativity can come from my day-to-day work with numbers and programming, it’s not consistent. Making art with a camera is like 90% creative for me, so if I can go on a photo walk each day I’ll get that fix of creativity I need to be feeling great.

So, if I feel like shooting film for whatever reason…even if that reason isn’t logical…I’m going to do it. 🙂

As for this roll of film that I’m posting today, I couldn’t be happier with the results. I mentioned in my last post that I really enjoyed the images and felt like I had far more hits than misses on that roll. With this roll, the hit rate was even higher. I honestly love every image on this roll, with the exception of the first shot that I made simply to test how well Portra 800 does in low light (spoiler…it doesn’t do well). And even though that image isn’t great, I still like it because of the moment that it transports me back to.

To this day, this is one of my favorite rolls of film that I’ve gotten back from the lab. This was the first time that I shot Kodak Portra 800, and I’m surprised I haven’t shot more of it since. I just finished up a roll the other day, but that’s the only other time I’ve used it. I shot this roll at box speed and generally exposed normally (i.e., no overexposure…shadows were generally in zone 2–3 and highlights were generally in zone 6–7). I added a decent amount of contrast and adjusted the black and white points in Lightroom for some of the images, but I didn’t make many color adjustments. It seemed to naturally provide richer colors and a touch more punch than Portra 400 (and arguably more than Ektar, which I find odd) while still being true to the scene. There’s also very little grain on this medium format roll. Having only gotten one roll of this stuff developed, it’s still too early to say for sure…but this may just be my favorite type of film! 🙂

All photos were taken with my Mamiya 7 II and the 80mm f/4 lens on Kodak Portra 800 shot at ISO 800. They were developed and scanned by Richard Photo Labs. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!


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