Saving Money with Film Photography

I’ve heard a lot of people say they haven’t tried film because it’s too expensive. Myself included. The main reason I took so long getting started with film–other than sheer laziness–was because I was thoroughly convinced I did not have the financial means. But I’m so glad I finally took the plunge, even if it took a few initial purchases. Because while digital might be what’s best for most, I think I’ve always been a film-tographer at heart.

I’m not going to lie on here and say film can’t get pricey, that labs don’t cost more than they used to, that your 1980s Pentax K1000 won’t need any more trips to the shop than a brand-new digital camera, but I’m also not going to say film photography isn’t possible. Photography as a whole is an expensive hobby. Whether we’re buying SD cards and saving up for our dream lens that’s priced at well over a grand, or buying five rolls of film for the next shoot and saving up for a Hasselblad, we’re spending some serious moo-lah. And it’s not fair to say one is pricier than the other. They both cost.

But they are both equally as worth it.

I’ll come clean. I’m not swimming in millions (or even dollars, at the moment), which means I learned very quickly how to save money and still do what I love. If you’ve just gotten started with film, or are going through a rough financial patch and photography is the only thing that’s keeping you sane, here are a few money-saving tips I’ve learned from both experience, and from my fellow film-tog friends. Continue reading

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What Film Has Taught Me

I grew up with film, with disposable cameras and Polaroids, with waiting for my photos to be developed and grinning at the snapshots I got of my new kitten, of my bike, of the roses in the backyard beside the driveway.

But it wasn’t until around April of this year that film became a serious part of my photography career, when I learned that I didn’t need a darkroom to develop my own film. Since then I’ve been trying out all different kinds of films, cameras, and techniques, and I’ve learned just how different film is than digital. No longer could I just snap a thousand pictures and take them home to look at them right away on the computer. I had to wait. I had to think. I had to reflect on what I’d accomplished, without knowing whether I’d accomplished anything. At first it was really difficult to make such a change, but now I embrace it, and I embrace the way film has changed me as a photographer. Continue reading

What I Learned Shooting the Solar Eclipse

Woke up the morning of the August 21st, unsure whether or not I was going to pull this off. But willing to try. Optimistic. Terrified of letting myself down.

I had done a bit of research for shooting the eclipse, had learned I wouldn’t need a special pair of lenses because I was only going to shoot during totality, had even thought about buying a fancy tripod that would support the heavy camera. My goal sounded simple enough out loud: snap a decent shot of totality with my Rolleiflex. I didn’t want to “test it out” with digital. I didn’t even want to try another camera. My Rolleiflex and I have gotten quite attached, and this was going to be a special day for us both.

Yes, I talk about my camera like it’s a person. Don’t you?

It was going to be impossible, I was sure. Continue reading

Adox Color Implosion

I first learned about this film from an amazing photographer named Chikako, better known as @chichic on Twitter. She creates beautiful work with expired film, as well as some of the more obsolete films, transforming nature into beautiful scenes one might only see in their dreams. One of the films she uses is Adox Color Implosion.

Get inspired with her beautiful work on Instagram.

Being inspired myself, I decided to buy a roll of Color Implosion to use on our trip to Cedar Point a few months ago. I’ve only just now finished that 36exp roll and had it developed.

Not sure what to expect, I opened the folder with an open mind, but I the first thing that overwhelmed me when I saw the first picture was the grain.

Don’t get me wrong, I like a powdery grain, but this was more like the grain you get when you try to rescue an underexposed JPEG.

Aside from the grain however, the film does produce a pretty, vintage color, and makes the sky a perfect blue.

Though Chi seems to be a star at any film she can get her hands on, I’m not sure if Color Implosion is for me. If I do buy another roll, I won’t be using it on a day so bright I still have to squint with sunglasses on. It seems this film might do better in shade and/or the morning or evening. Maybe even an overcast day. I could find some pretty-colored flowers, or have Goo wear a pastel dress.

Know what? I think I’ll buy another roll…

All images © Lina Forrester, 2017

I Am More Than Black & White

Style: A distinctive appearance, typically determined by the principles according to which something is designed…

(As per Google)

To an artist/photographer, the word “style” is often very important. For me, it’s always been something I was striving toward. Not necessarily something I’d already found.

I vowed that someday someone would look at my work and exclaim: “oh! That’s Lina Forrester!” It was going to be my greatest accomplishment or something. Not the photos themselves, but the fact that they were recognizable. Continue reading

Freelensing & Caffenol

For a few months I thought about selling my Pentax K1000. The mirror was sticky, it needed new seals, plus we really, really needed the money.

But then I realized…my Pentax is the only one of my film cameras I can freelens with.

I have only one other film SLR: the Canon EOS Rebel T2, but it refuses to take pictures without a lens attached. Even in manual mode, the mode where I’m supposed to be in charge.

So I sold my speedlight instead, then sent out my Pentax to have the seals replaced and the shutter looked at, and I came home from Cedar Point to a box on my counter. I quickly tore off the tape, loaded the camera with some HP5 and immediately began to marvel at the dreamy world beyond my viewfinder. Moving the 50mm up and down and this way and that way, I felt a calm I haven’t felt since I first plunged into film.

I was me. Continue reading

What is Freelensing, and How Can You Get Started?

I’ve been freelensing since 2015, so I often forget that it’s still not a well-known craft. I find myself talking about it casually with friends and fellow photographers, only to stop short when I notice their blank stares.

But freelensing has changed my photography so much since I first learned about it from another photographer, so I feel a strong desire to spread the word. Freelensing rocks, and EVERYONE should give it a try at least once.

Assuming you’re in for the risk… Continue reading

Made A Batch of Caffenol CM-RS

I recently got my Canonet QL17 GIII fixed (YAY!) and also bought some batteries for my Canon EOS Rebel T2, which means I’ve been living in film-land for the past week or so. Still, despite my excitement, I didn’t finish my first roll–a roll of FP4 that had been sitting in my Rebel since the battery died eons ago–until over the weekend when we went to Graham Cave.

With my LegacyPro Eco-Pro still on its way, I figured I’d just sit and twiddle my thumbs over a growing pile of used film until it arrived. But last night I couldn’t take it anymore. I had the tools to make caffenol, and after a quick trip to GNC to get some real vitamin C powder, I pulled on some rubber gloves and located the CM-RS recipe in the Caffenol Cookbook. Continue reading

My Very First Caffenol Experience

I’ve been contemplating developing my own film for some time (years). It’s cheaper than sending it in, and would give me a more hands-on experience with photography. Merely uploading and editing has started to lose its pizzazz.

So, last Saturday I decided to just go for it. I bought a two-reel tank and the ingredients for caffenol. For those who don’t know, a recipe usually calls for washing soda, iodized salt, vitamin C crystals, and the best ingredient of all, coffee. Continue reading

I Went Monochrome for the Entire Month of April. Here Is What I Learned

Monochrome for a Month was a challenge I gave myself so that I would be forced to overlook color when shooting. I love black and white photography and it used to be my go-to edit, but during 2016 I went through a color phase. B&W became something mundane and drab. I shrugged at photos that used to invoke inspiration, and I ignored most of the Lightroom presets I’d made the previous year and instead created a whole list of new ones with cool-toned hues and mattes.

Then, at the end of March, I went to the zoo and decided to shoot in monochrome when I reached the zebras. Seeing their stripes and tweaking the settings to make them the most invasive pattern on the LCD display, I began to experiment with the other animals and their unique textures and patterns. I spent the entire day shooting in monochrome and my love for black and white was rekindled.

So, I decided to forgo color for the entire month of April to re-acquaint (hopefully) myself with what drew me to B&W photography in the first place. Continue reading

Where My Freelensing Journey Began

Freelensing was first introduced to me over two years ago on a photography forum I belong to. Someone shared her experience of experimenting with detaching her lens to take pictures, and I marveled at what she came up with. The works were dreamy, flawed, blurry, photographic prose. I immediately grabbed my Nikon to try it out.

But…it didn’t work. I couldn’t see through the viewfinder, and only saw a black screen when I pressed the shutter button. What was going on? Continue reading

Monochrome for a Month: Lost in the Wilderness During Week 3

Snickering and making married-couple jokes, Chris and I should have expected an adventure, but I wasn’t aware just how elaborate some of the trails were at the nearby hiking ground. It had been raining all week, and I was looking forward to the fresh air, to getting some good cave shots for my cave series, some woodsy stuff, maybe even a group of tiny white flowers to add to my “flowers in the dark” series. We already knew one cave was closed–the bats are nesting–but the other was only a short walk away from where its trail began. I was planning on climbing out of the car and heading right up.

First time we went here as a family, we had no trouble at all finding the right parking lot and heading up (then again, we had no end in mind that day). This time, however, we had to pull a few u-turns before finding the right parking lot–still snickering and poking fun and marveling at the speckles of rain on the windshield.

“A little rain never hurt anyone,” I said. Goo excitedly announced from the back seat that she was going to splash in puddles. Howl licked at his closed window. Chris parked (finally) in the right lot. Continue reading

Monochrome for a Month: Week Deux

For those of you who don’t follow the blog, I decided to go entirely monochrome for the month of April. Week one was a bit of a struggle, but this week I was determined to make better progress. I went out and bought a polarizing filter for bright sunny days and planned a family trip to a hiking ground that has a few caves on its maps. Chris urged me to try to d choose only ONE camera, so I chose my Nikon D5300, but wound up bringing four lenses: the deconstructed 50mm, the 40mm, the 35mm, and my 55-200mm. Continue reading

Monochrome for a Month: Week One

All images © 2017 Lina Forrester

A week ago, I decided I would go monochrome for the entire month of April. I changed my camera’s settings and loaded my Instax and Pentax with B&W film. After the dull and snowless winter I’m ecstatic that the trees are greening and the flowers are blooming, and so I knew this would be a big challenge for me, but I suppose that was the point. Challenges, no matter how frustrating, are often great learning experiences.

I learned just how difficult this challenge might prove to be on day one, when we headed to a nearby cave for some exploration. Continue reading

Monochrome for a Month

Going monochrome always changes my perspective with photography, even if it’s only for a day. I begin to *see* the world in lights, shadows, tones, shapes, and patterns, and it really improves my skills.

This year, I’ve decided to challenge myself to go monochrome for an entire month. And I’ve chosen the month of April because it’s no doubt one of the hardest months (for me, at least) to go monochrome. Everything is blooming and the sky is finally blue and the grass is finally green.

But I am eager to witness these spring changes without the distraction of color. In black and white, nature tells an entirely different story… Continue reading

Lessons Learned at the Zoo

Winter here was a bust. Two snowfalls, neither amounting to much of anything. Goo got to use her brand-new sled only twice, and the only snowman she was able to build was no taller than her shin. Though she and Chris had a blast, the dry, brown winter has left me in desperate need of a vacation.

Still, our trip to Cedar Point isn’t for another few months, and money is tight. So we went to the zoo instead. Perhaps surrounding ourselves in exotic animals–despite the sixty degree temps–would jolt us back to life. Continue reading

DIY Pinhole Photography

A recent article written by Steven Dempsey showed up on my Twitter feed Saturday. I was drawn to the eerie quality of his work as I read about his passion for pinhole photography, which he achieves with a DIY lens he made with a body cap.

Not one to pass up an opportunity to destroy a camera accessory for the sake of art, I immediately sent my engineer husband the wikihow directions. He’d already taken apart my 50mm and removed the rings so I can use it better during freelensing, and he needed a new project. Continue reading

My Childhood Is the Color Blue

When I think about my childhood, I’m often consumed with images of blue skies and crisp mornings. While our parents worked, my brother and I spent our summer days at our great-grandma’s house. It was an adorable little thing with blue siding and white shutters. The backyard was wooded with oaks and mulberry trees, of which we’d pick clean, and the limbs above always seemed to be alive with birds, the cheerup cheerup of robins and cardinals in the morning and the scream of jays in the afternoon. Hummingbirds buzzed by to take sips of the nectar Grandma hung for them on the porch. And the grass below was always filled with treasures: the powdery blue shells of robins’ eggs, bird feathers, pine cones still sticky with sap, and more mulberries. My brother and I would stain our hands purple and red as we popped the ripest ones into our mouths.

And when I look back on it all, I see the color blue. Blue eggs and blue skies and blue flowers and blue birds and the blue siding of her quaint little house. Continue reading