Film isn’t dead, it’s just resting its eyes

Getting rambly and nostalgic in my middle (going-on-old) age…

Remember film? I do. I remember hand-processing black and white film in the Bath Chronicle dark room. I remember chemicals that stained my clothes and made them disintegrate. I remember the beautiful, shiny strips of cellulose hanging in the drying cabinet, fluttering ribbons of potential Pulitzer prize-winning images awaiting the lightbox, the loupe and the enlarger.

And now I’m getting all nostalgic again because for some strange reason I went from preparing to sell my last film camera (a Canon EOS 1N) on Ebay to buying black and white film and shooting some photos with it the other week.

This change of heart/mind came about partly because having seen some of the feeble prices the 1N commands on Ebay I knew I’d get more than 90 quids’ worth of fun from using it again.

I hadn’t used the camera since the year 2000 when I went digital, but it still works perfectly, and going back to film has re-informed how I shoot digital.

As an example, because I was shooting film that I didn’t want to waste I decided to be extra careful with the metering, so I used a hand-held light meter instead of relying on the built-in one. Seeing the consistency in exposure across the negatives, and thinking of all the times I’ve had to override the metering on my digital cameras, I think I’ll use a hand-held meter a lot more often when shooting digitally.

Now as tempting as it is to go back to processing my own films, and I do still have the tank, bag and reels for doing that, I don’t think I’m going to go that far. At least not yet.

For my first outing with film in 12 years I opted for Kodak BW400CN, which is black and white film you can process in a colour lab, which means that having shot my film I was able to drop it into Boots and have it processed and printed in an hour.

The next stage was to choose a couple of negatives and have them scanned by the lovely folk at click2scan who by amazing coincidence have just expanded into a premises in Frome. The photo here is my favourite from the roll of 36, which was mainly test shots for metering, contrast and the like.

Catering staff on cigarette break in Frome, Somersey

Smokers, Apple Alley, Frome

I’ve put another roll of the 400CN in the camera and might shoot colour after that. If I do, I’m sure I’ll keep you updated here.

In the meantime, why not dig out your old film camera and try some shots (instead of taking snaps on your iPhone and trying to make them look like old timey Polaroids, Kodachromes or sepia prints) But be prepared for something that took me by surprise; at first, every time I shot a frame, I’d find myself looking at the back of the camera where the digital preview would be. A slightly embarrassing tic I need to deal with.