My first film experience

I'm not sure I can call it a great success, but it was better than I thought. The sad part is that it took me ± 3 years to finish 2 rolls, and get it processed and scanned.

I started the first roll of Kodak B&W 400CN (C41)  around 2011, which was a bit before I really committed to doing film. Some of the shots were not only taken by myself, but also my wife and one or two friends along the way. 

The cost was something to get used to. The film itself was about R60 ( ± $6) each in 2011, and the processing to negatives and scanned by ORMS in Cape Town was R120 ( ± $12). Not a very substantial amount, but if you are used to digital being free to see the images, it is something new.


Here are a few that either failed or got light in somehow. I know when I took the first roll out of the camera late last year, I did not roll it back correctly and opened the back too soon. Lack of experience, which made me feel like a real amateur. Oh well, we live and learn.

Now, the usable shots surprised me a little, mostly on the focus part. I shot it all with a Pentax K1000 and 50mm f/1.8. All manual focus. There are a lot of images with a much narrower focal plane than I expected.


I was convinced I focused on her face.

I am loving the grain, and the softness does not bother me. I'm not crazy about the time it takes to get the film developed, etc. and one has to consider the cost involved as well. That said, I have just bought some new film and hopefully my skills will grow a bit more.

It's amazing how one has to slow things down a lot. There is no aperture priority, nor is there anything remotely like auto ISO. 

Johnny Patience's work has greatly inspired me to look at film. It has really opened my eyes to a new and wonderful way of photography, and made me realise that film is definitely not dead. It is a big misconception that digital is better. They both have their pros and cons. In the end I think and hope film will help me grow my own photography in many ways. It is also about trying something new and different for myself.

I think the idea that film is bad came from the lack of quality in magazines or books I saw when I was growing up. Yes, they are very old books, and the printing technology was probably not where it is today. 

Aweful-looking photos

Very old magazine

In the end I have grown fond of the film look. I have even been trying to apply the look to my digital images. There is a certain art, a finesse and a feeling that one does not get in digital.  Plus, I think one gets a bit of a fuzzy feeling inside that you're doing something a little bit out of the ordinary from the rest of the millions of modern photographers. 

Again, the images are not great, they're not even close to my digital level, but all these images are unedited and I am actually happy with them. I hope to grow and learn from it and most important, keep it fun and try my best to not make it about gear. 



While my wife's family has nieces (and 1 nephew) in abundance, to have them as test subjects for my shoots, some are just more willing to get snapped than others. But there will always be the shots that just work and fit the day and show the emotion behind the moments and events.


Having the small camera with me helps to interact with these gorgeous kids, and they won't find this big DSLR in front of my face to intimidate them when they look up. 


Chasing bicycles with the X100S was a small challenge with the slower AF, but the "little-camera-that-could" absolutely nailed it.


I tried to tell a little story of each kid, which is not always easy, as some are taken at different times of the weekend, and the context is different. This is either from missing the moment, or that they just didn't feel like having his or her photo taken.

The diptych layouts were inspired by Johnny Patience. Thanks to Xavier Schotte for the pre-sets I used as a base, and then modified to my liking.