Shoot Film and Get Inventive!


Now we are up to the third part of my series and by now you have got yourself a spanking film camera, and you’ve spent some time practicing how to use it. This time I’m going to help you experiment with different types of film, and along the way get creative with it, use your imagination and have a some fun!

The most obvious  and popular film choice is regular, colour negative film. But black and white photography has a unique charm and many advantages. For instance, the  pictures often have a clearer and more immediate message once you take colour out of the equation, allowing the subject to shine. Light and shadow are enhanced, and with no blotchy red skin tones it is a very flattering choice for portraits. There also is the fact it is the original photographic medium and has a timeless, nostalgic appeal.  You can learn to develop your negatives yourself at home, giving you so much more creative control. If you want to learn how, I have a tutorial here.

Maryna Kochetyga

But if you want to play with colour, how about trying slide (also called positive or reversal) film? It produces transparencies or positives rather than negatives. Although it was developed in order to view the image projected onto a screen, the film can still be scanned for prints. It has higher contrast and resolution than negative film, but is a lot less forgiving exposure-wise.

A really creative thing you can do with slide film is have it cross processed. Here’s the science bit. Slide film is processed my the E6 process, negative film by C-41 process. Any decent lab will swap these processes around for you if you ask, and slide film processed as negative film yields some amazing, over saturated and intense colours. The other way round can give you slightly muddy and muted colours, but ultimately the results will be pretty random, with an large element of chance.

cross processed slide film by  annelie

Again, if you want to stick with colour film, you could try redscale film. This involves removing the film from it’s canister and reversing it before re-spooling it. You can find instructions how to do it yourself here or else or you can buy ready made redscale film here.

redscale by Aaron Shieha

There are so many other things you can try, all of these with both colour and black and white films.

1. You could take double exposures. I have instructions how to do this here on my blog. You obviously don’t have to team up with someone else, you can do this on your own.

double exposure collaboration fortyfivenorth-sixtyonewest

2. You could try ‘hacking’ 35mm film through an old instamatic or a toy 120 film camera such as a Holga. The image will be developed onto the whole area of the negative, sprocket holes and numbers included!

Hacked film with sprockets by Rachel Rebibo

3. You could try making a pinhole camera. There are many ways of doing this, here’s a great tutorial for one design or you can buy them readymade here.

4. Simplest of all for crazy and unpredictable colour casts, use expired film in your camera. The more out of date the better.

expired film Phillipe Lelièvre

5. Finally, there is the Revolog range of creative films, available here.

Photo by Demetri Parides using Revolog’s volvox film

So there are some ideas to fuel your creativity. You never know where it may all end, the only limitation is your imagination. You could even end up like Susan Burnstine and start making your own cameras!

Taken with a homemade camera Susan Burnstine

– Suzie Chaney runs Shooting the Breeze film photography e-workshops, blogs at Black-eyed Angel and sells her film photographs on etsy. Her column, Shoot Film, runs bimonthly on Mondays.