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Digital VS Darkroom Photography Part II

Welcome back! In this second entry it's time to talk about Film Photography.

Last time, I gave a commentary of what my experience with digital photography has been like. Today I will go over how my Darkroom class has taught me how to use film to create art. For now I've only used 35mm film, which is a small format film. There are medium and large format as well, but I have only had the chance to shoot on the 35mm.

35mm Film Cameras

35mm film cameras are very interesting. They contain a mirror which reflects light onto the emulsion side of the 35mm film strip loaded into the camera (the emulsion is the light-sensitive side of the film that captures the negative image from the lens reflected onto it). So, to take pictures with this camera you must do the following:

  1. Load your roll of 35mm film into the camera.

  2. Depending on what ISO (that's how we measure light-sensitivity) your film roll says it is, change your camera's ISO setting so the camera knows how sensitive your roll is.

  3. Cycle through the first one or two exposures (there should be 36 on the roll) that have probably been exposed to light when you were loading the reel.

  4. Take your camera out and have some fun!

Shooting with film is a whole process. You also can't see what's going on inside your camera, unlike digital photos. It requires a lot more time, patience and precision to get good film photographs.

Here's what my camera and some film canisters look like:

Processing and Developing Film

After taking pictures, you of course have to get them out of the camera and see them! So, when the roll is up and all 36 exposures have been shot, you roll the film back into its cute little canister so it stays light-safe, then you take it to the lab, run it through a million chemicals to make the images appear and make the film 100% light-proof. Boom, you now have negatives to develop on darkroom enlargers (big fancy cameras that help us make darkroom prints).

After you have your negatives, you're ready to enlarge them and make prints out of them (with very special paper that is also light-sensitive and has an emulsion side!) The enlargers have a little tray to put film in and let light shine through it to the paper, which captures it in a positive exposure (as opposed to your film negatives). Then you once again run the paper through a million chemicals (and agitate them for a period of time) and you have your images! Of course, the process is still long and a little complex, you have to measure times, good exposures, light, etc. All the things that we are taught in Photo classes. Here's some negatives, this is what they look like before being developed with the enlargers:

Why I've Enjoyed My Darkroom Class

My darkroom class has taught me how to slow down with my work. The process takes patience and precision, which isn't always required in digital photography. I have learned to consider my work a lot more and be intentional with my images as well. Here are some of the good results I got from actually taking my time in the darkroom, making mistakes and aiming for success.

I hope you've enjoyed my two-part photo blog,

I'll see ya next time!

-Gabe <3

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