A Quick Photography Note

This is a quick note about the photography I’ll be using to illustrate my posts.

When I started this blog, I used a point-and-shoot digicam and about a year later I bought a DSLR as I grew more interested in photography. Last spring I began shooting with vintage film cameras and posting film photos here often. In October, I sold my DSLR to buy an awesome old camera and nearly all of the photos I’ve posted here since have been film photos. I’m now taking an intermediate film photography course, where I shoot, develop and print black and white film.

This is relevant to LGRAB because you will be seeing a lot more black and white photos from me. Also, you will see more photos that I may not have taken the same day. For example, I may use a picture from a week ago to illustrate a story about my commute today because it’s not realistic to shoot and develop a roll of film every day. I develop at least 2 or 3 times a week, though, so the photos will stay fresh.

I wanted to point this out so you aren’t wondering what the heck is going on. I hope my little photo adventures add to and don’t detract from my writing here.

One more thing: this week I launched a collaborative photo blog with two other film photographers. The concept is three people in three different cities (Chicago, New York and Vancouver) shooting with the same camera, lens and film. If you’re interested, check it out at Triple Exposure. And yes, that brings my grand blog total to three, including Dream Camera.

Now back to regularly scheduled bikey programming.


42 thoughts on “A Quick Photography Note

  1. Steve A says:

    Isn’t it “cheating” to use homework assignments on your blog?

    Seriously, film should be cherished, B&W particularly, and you have so many good photos that few of us will notice. Which makes me think that a little more B&W would force others to focus more on the composition of the shot.

    I’m glad to see that some photography classes still use darkrooms…

    • Dottie says:

      There are only two students, including me, in the film class, but that’s okay. More individual attention. The photography center keeps itself afloat by teaching digital classes.

  2. Aaron Fournier says:

    I’m really enjoying all three of your blogs. I love photography as well. I took a Photography class in high school that used film and I had a blast :)

  3. Maureen says:

    Black and white photos are stunning, and usually last longer than color photos. Enjoy your class, I certainly enjoy your posts and photos! And Congrats on the new blog!

    • Dottie says:

      I love shooting color, but black and white really gives me a fresh perspective on my surroundings and makes me focus more on shapes, lines and facial expressions.

  4. Carolyn I. says:

    I think it’s cool that you are experimenting with film as not as many people use it these days. It doesn’t matter what day you took the photos, as they all look good!

    I’ve never developed my own photographs, but it must be neat having full control of it.

    • Dottie says:

      Yes, having full control is cool. Much more time consuming than having a lab do it for me, but it’s like any craft or art – the process itself is important.

  5. Alan@EcoVelo says:

    I’ve been enjoying your photos over at Dream Camera. I’m looking forward to seeing more of your film work here on LGRAB.


  6. Dave says:

    I knew your secret already! :) thanks for turning me on to Kodak Portra before the 400NC went away – I got my photo shop’s last roll the other day. What do you think I should use it for? :)

  7. philippe says:

    I’ve extensively shot, developped and printed B&W with an FM2 in my younger days.
    Now, you’re telling me it’s a vintage camera ?!
    Crap. Vintage is anything built between WWI and WWII. The FM2 is barely obsolete.

    You make me feel so old.

    • Dottie says:

      Ha. Vintage is generally 20 years or older, although I’ve seen early 90’s stuff described as vintage, too. Or at least “vintage 90’s.” WWI is almost antique now (100+ years).

      The FM2 is a great camera, partly for the fact that it will work forever with the right maintenance.

  8. *amanda* says:

    Excited for your photos. ♥ ♥

  9. I think it is a neat idea to use only scanned film photos for a blog, and it is admirable that you are so dedicated to film as to sell your DSLR. I will be definitely watching to see how this unfolds.

    We use film only for our art photography, and DSLR for commercial photography. Personally, I do not see digital as photography at all, but as “image capture” – which is not the same thing. If I were not trying to earn an income via commercial photography, I would not own a DSLR at all and would use exclusively film. Unfortunately, there is just very little demand for all-film product photography.

    But as far as film goes, we have a large format camera, several medium format, and a handful of 35mms. I prefer Kodak Tmax for BW film and Ektar for colour.

    • Dave says:

      I haven’t shot anything with our digital SLR in quite a while either, but we’re keeping it with the intention of getting a macro lens to take product photos for Patrina’s ETSY shop, as that’s just simpler and more predictable with digital. I’ve been really liking Kodak Ektar and Portra, but haven’t shot any B&W yet. Probably going to pick up some T-max at the photo shop today.

      I just like the whole process of shooting film so much better…

    • Dottie says:

      Great to hear your perspective as a professional!

      Although I’m relatively new to the whole thing, I feel the same about film vs. digital. I much prefer the process and the final product of film.

      Another factor is that digital cameras are so expensive and have short lives. Digital is much easier for a blog and keeping my DSLR would have been helpful, but it was too expensive to keep sitting around for how little I was using it. Plus I needed the money to buy my Rolleiflex. It’s amazing that I can buy one of the best medium format film cameras for the same price as an entry-level Nikon DSLR.

      • > It’s amazing that I can buy one of the best medium format
        > film cameras for the same price as an entry-level
        > Nikon DSLR.

        Yup. I think my Hasselblad and Rolleiflex together cost less than my Nikon D90 : ((

      • Dave says:

        The most I’ve paid for a film camera so far is $25 :) I’ve been given 3 for free :) I haven’t found many people giving away Digital SLRs…

      • Brent says:

        I would be curious if there’s a break-even point cost-wise at some N number of digital images. Film cameras are relatively inexpensive, but my recollection from my darkroom days is spending north of twenty dollars per roll printed. This is not to say that film isn’t a blast, but I’m not sure it’s cheaper.

    • Dave says:

      I feel like, for a lot of people, digital photography turns into developing Photoshop and post-production skills, which is not what I want at all. I want to spend less time with computers, not more. Of course, this is coming from the guy who shaves with a safety razor, brush and shaving soap and rides a 60 year old bike :)

      It was interesting, the first post on Portlandize where I posted film photos, a commenter asked if I had gotten a new camera :)

      • Daniel Evans says:

        Geez Dave! Your are brave enough to still shoot with film but to use a safety razor? What’s next? Straight razor and platinum process?

        Kidding…I shoot a lot of film b&w and love it. Electric shave though:-)

      • Brent says:

        I’ve been thoroughly convinced by digital, but I spent many happy hours in darkrooms in years past, which is kind of a “post-production” process. In fact, I think I spent most of my photography time in darkrooms in those days, for developing and printing takes hours upon hours.

        One trend I’ve noticed among some people who prefer film is negative scanning: they make their images on film, scan them using a high-end drum device, edit using Photoshop, and then output to large format negative transparency. The process is quite involved.

  10. bongobike says:

    Well, if you’re enjoying it, more power to ya. But I gladly gave up film a long time ago. I like the images, and don’t much care about the process. So easier is better for me.

    I took a B&W class too, back in the 80s when I was in college. One warning (which your teacher may have given you already): don’t use your fingers to pull pictures out of the chemical baths! The chemicals will stain your fingers brown and the stains will stay with you for a long time after you quit doing it. Use tongs.

  11. SM says:

    I love your photography Dottie and periodically check Dream Camera to see what your shooting. I’m more of a point and shoot kind of girl, but I admire your dedication and your love of the artform and it certainly comes through in your work. So wonderful now to have another blog site to see more of your work.

  12. Yashwina says:

    Oh, I’m so glad that you are doing more film photography! Film has so much personality. Since I know you love vintage cameras and cool stuff like that, you should really check out http://www.lomography.com. They make fantastic lo-fi film cameras (i adore my dianas), and it’s a great resource for us analogue folks :)

    • Dottie says:

      Oh yes, I have and love a Holga and I also have a Diana Mini, although I currently hate it because it was pricey and destroyed a couple of rolls of film and then totally broke.

  13. Daniel Evans says:

    Hi Dottie!

    I am so glad you are using film. I shoot both digital and film but have found that out of say 300 digital shots I will have maybe 2 or 3 “winners” A roll on film, however, will often yield 4 or 5 winners. It makes one be much more deliberative. I know you have checked out my blog at Cog-itate, but I have also left my Oregon Shadow and Light url if you would like to check it out. Along with bicycle advocacy and riding, photography is my great passion.

    Btw…did you ever get the neoprene booties? Did they work?

    As always, love your blog! It rocks!

  14. Trisha says:

    I am in awe of your superhuman blogging abilities. And of course you know what I think of your photog skillz! Our site wouldn’t be the same without it and I can’t wait to see more of the stuff you’re developing yourself.

  15. Milo says:

    Dottie, I’m curious – what lenses do you use on your Nikon FM2n? Also do you use your Rolleiflex for landscapes only? (I used to own a Plauble Makina medium-format rangefinder camera, with a Nikon 80mm f-2.8 fixed lense; took very sharp photos).

    Also, about Coco, I’m impressed that your basket is mounted well clear of the handlebars, so brake and gear cables won’t get crimped between basket and bars. How was this done? Could you post a photo of Coco’s basket mount?

    Your black and white photos just might drive me back to film photography!


  16. Jim says:

    Love the look of film, hate the chemical disposal issue.

    There have to be Photoshop plugins for specific films.

    Regardless, the romance of developing film, as with lug fetishure, is in the details.

  17. E A says:

    Check out my friend’s photo blog – featuring side by side photos taken by her and her friend in separate cities:

    Love the juxtaposition of two photos from two viewpoints.

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