film: Kodak Portra 400 color
Our first roll, including shots from Collioure, Barcelona views swing, Casa Vicens and home.
On September the hubs surprised me for my birthday with a new old film camera, the Pentax k-1000, and a getaway to Collioure, a town in the south of France. If you haven’t read about our trip to this charming coastal town you can jump to this blog post, but today the story is quite a different one. We start a series that will include our adventures using this camera and film, it will be like watching the side B of our stories but also I see it as a personal project to challenge myself to learn how to better use the camera.
Let’s talk about cameras, photos and the (complicated – to me) analogue world!
The Pentax k-1000 is a 35mmm reflex camera from Japan that dates from the 80s-early 90s. It has interchangeable lens, but mine already comes with my favorite focal, a 50mm 1:7, so I’m not planning on buying another any time soon. The lens has a manual focus which for a digital trained gal like me is already a big challenge to conquer. To focus there’s this microprism system, which means that you have to turn the focusing ring until you see your subject sharp inside the focus ring, otherwise it appears like multiple mini dots. Depending on the conditions it’s not easy to 100% assure that it is sharp instead of dotted, not… at… all. In fact, we thought that most of our roll would be out of focus, and although some of them are, I am quite proud of how we were able to work it out!
The rest of settings are quite straightforward: speed and aperture. Nothing new because we always go fully manual on digital too. Still there’s another setting to carefully consider, the ISO (ASA for film cameras). In the film world the ASA is set by the roll you are using, although you can also play with the ISO/ASA parameter in your camera to trick it.
I’m not a total newbie to analogue because I used to shot film using my LC-A+ camera, although I feel like it. The LC-A+ was much easier to use, since you were only able to set the ASA and the distance to the subject limited to 4 options (less than 80cm, 1m, 3m, more than 3m) while the camera computed the rest (mostly everything, ha!). I already played with the ASA but never with the rest of settings.
Daniel bought the camera through ebay and we weren’t sure it was working properly, I’m glad to report that it seems to be in an OK form. However, he have detected that most of our photos were highly underexposed (pitch black, ha!).
We developed the film at Carmencita Lab, a place in Valencia (Spain) that receives worldwide praise by analogue wizards bloggers. Since it is quite near to our home we (shyly) tried it, even though our first roll did not match their usual clientele high quality standards, ha! The service was super good because after developing & scanning they sent a list of comments and recommendations for our next roll. They made us notice that the photos were very underexposed, thus we had lost a lot of quality & contrast because during the scan process they had to increase the exposure & brightness.
I need to overexpose the shots so I will:
- – Let the camera believe the ASA is 100 when using another Kodak Portra 400
- – (alternatively) Set the ASA correct and overexpose all shots
Which of the two methods will work better? Would you go those 2 steps (from 400 to 100 as recommended by our lab) or would you make several attempts, like maybe doing the same shot setting a 400 ISO and overexpose, then 200 ISO and expose normally, then a 100 ISO and expose normally?
Me encantan las fotos! Me gusta la del mar qué se ven dos barcos con las velas, parece que se haya detenido el tiempo, es preciosa! Y la que estamos juntas en la chimenea de la primera casa qué hizo Gaudí!
Jo quan tirava amb carret feia servir 100 o 200. 400 la veritat és que em sembla massa, encara que tècnicament sé que és una pel·lícula que es recomana, jo només la feia servir a Anglaterra en èpoques de molt de núvol. Si compreu una bona pel·lícula de 100 o 200 crec que podeu tenir resultats molt bons.
Per cert jo els carrers els revelo al costat de casa vostra, al VN foto, i sempre ho han fet impecable (i n’he revelat unes quantes dotzenes!). Com és que us vau decidir per aquest de València? I com està de preu?
A la LC-A+ (quasi) sempre tirava amb 100 però ja em va bé provar coses noves, i com en Dani va pillar un parell de carrets del Portra 400, doncs seguiré amb aquest per no desperdiciar-los :) Sí! Tinc present lo del VN, és on anava a portar-ho, però havia llegit coses molt positives del de València (permet moltes personalitzacions, el tipus d’scanner utilitzat, els tons de les imatges, el nivell de contrast, et creen un perfil de client per saber quines són les teves preferències, etc…) i ara que tenia un carret per revelar, vaig voler provar a veure que tal era. En el preu, depen de la mida, jo vaig fer XL (que no sé exactament a quan equival a VN), i també hi ha l’extra de l’enviament, que si tens molts carrets es reparteix. Petons!
Wow it was so thoughtful of them to offer tips! Even though you said you had quite a few underexposed shots, the shots that you shared here turned out SO well. I’m in LOVE with the colours! -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s
Thank you Audrey, it means a lot! <3 I guess the ratio of the good ones is not that bad for a first roll. Big hug!
Oh your photos are lovely!!!! So excited for you guys to be using film :) :) For every single film camera/roll combo I always overexpose each photo by 2 stops and then it’s a little trial and error for each camera. Some cameras (+ just because I like the washed out look) I deliberately stop down and trick the camera into thinking the ASA is much lower but I’ve only ever say, gone from 400-200! I would totally trust that lab though, I too have only heard lovely praise about them (so lucky you’re so close!). Oh and I’m just thinking about the in-camera metering system, the photo of you sitting down it looks like the background light is very similar to the light on you. I wonder, for the ones underexposed if it was exposing for the background (like the juno shot?). To overcome this, just meter very close to the subject, aka juno and then when you step back to take the photo, keep the same settings. Indoor shooting is a little challenging with film though because you can’t just go and wildly change the ISO with a flick of a dial!
Aw, thanks Fee!! Your tips are so appreciated! <3 Since I’m used to the spot metering of the dslr I didn’t even thought that I could do that manually by measuring up close (feeling silly, ha!) to overcome the exposing for the background, such a good tip <3 thank you! Now I’m eager to try it.
Just a thought! I’m still learning with film too, it can be unpredictable especially when I”m so use to my dslr which I know I can duplicate results easily :)
oh I love these! I was waiting to see your film roll so much. my semi – professional advice – better set ASA incorrectly. Overexposing photos may come out a little blurry if your hand shakes in a difficult light conditions. But please experiment as you please – you’re the only one who’s the creator <3
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