Like everyone else I had much fun in the 90s with a typically 35mm SLR point and shoot camera. I photographed everything and nothing, dropped exposed film at the photo shop on the corner and picked up the prints some hours later. I remember the excitement of opening the envelope to quickly flip through the pictures - threw away "the failures" and laughed of the happenings photographed.
Now, 20 years later I got my hands on the Hasselblad 500c and with it I have returned the world of film photography. My goal with this blog post is to share where I have found information to get started and my experiences so far.
Load a film into the camera might sound easier said than done... I searched the Internet to find a pdf of the original manual and also started to look at some YouTube videos. There is a lot of great content out there and I found a video that also explain how to unload a film. Unfortunately it´s in German but when you look at it, it is pretty self explanatory.
Trough my fellow connections on Twitter I learned that the result of film photography is dependent on two things: technique of exposure and development of the film itself. Many medium-format cameras, like my Hasselblad, do not automatically determine shutter speed and there is of course no electronic viewfinder to help you out. Therefore, I read what I could find on the topic metering and exposure - avid film experts Johnny Patience and Ray Larose has written excellent blog posts.
These blog posts have given me insight into how exposure work with film and in many cases the desired result can be achieved by overexpose 1-4 stops. Using this technique with film when taking the photograph is not the same as making the adjustment in post-processing. So far I have been using the LightMeter app on my Android phone to identify exposure value.
Film development & scanning
For film development & scanning you have many options but my choice is taken on the basis of reputation. I spent time talking to other film enthusiasts on Twitter to get insight into what lab´s they used and then I investigated the lab´s websites. Again I got valuable information from Johnny Patience through his blog post "The Secrets of Richard Photo Lab". I was convinced and sent off my first exposed films to Richard Photo Lab in Hollywood, CA. Below you see the result.
Photos taken with Hasselblad 500c + Carl Zeiss 2.8/80 lens (Kodak Portra 400, overexposed by 1-3 stops). No other post-processing than cropping in Adobe Lightroom.
Some final words
In this blog post you see my first photographs taken with a medium-format camera, an early production year Hasselblad 500c. Photographing with film again gave me much of the same feeling I had in the 90s when I was waiting for the photo shop on the corner. But to be honest, shooting film now it´s much more exciting than it was before. Investigate new (old...) techniques and learning from others is for me great joy. I hope this blog post can be useful for those of you who are new to film photography or curious about getting started.