Want to use and understand Manual mode like a pro? In this article, I’m going to explain everything you need to know about shooting in Manual, including:
- What it actually is
- How to use it for amazing results
- Why Manual mode might (or might not!) be a good idea
I’ll also share with you a few helpful camera settings cheat sheets, courtesy of the London School of Photography.
So if you’re ready to become a Manual mode master, then let’s get started!
What is Manual mode in photography?
Manual mode gives you complete control over your camera settings. Once your camera is set to Manual, you can adjust different settings and even control your flash.
Most importantly, shooting in Manual lets you independently adjust the three key exposure variables:
- Shutter speed
Together, the ISO, aperture, and shutter speed determine the overall brightness of your photos (i.e., the exposure). They also affect your photos in other key ways – by adjusting the sharpness, depth of field, and overall image quality.
That’s what makes Manual mode so powerful. In Manual, you can make your photos appear exactly as dark or light as you want. You can also ensure perfect sharpness, create different depth of field effects, and keep your low-light photos looking high quality.
Now let’s explore these three settings in more detail:
Simply put, ISO controls your camera’s sensitivity to light.
So by adjusting the ISO, you can increase your camera’s light sensitivity which will, in turn, give you a brighter image.
Say you’re shooting at night and your shots keep turning out too dark. If you’re working in Manual mode, you can boost your ISO – and your images will instantly brighten up.
On the flip side, if you’re shooting on a sunny day and you want to reduce your exposure, you can drop the ISO to achieve a darker result.
Unfortunately, ISO does come with a significant drawback. As illustrated by the ISO cheat sheet below, the higher the ISO, the noisier your photos become. Noise rarely looks good, and it’s an easy way to ruin an otherwise great image.
For that reason, I generally recommend you leave your ISO on its lowest value unless you specifically need to raise it (e.g., you’re shooting in low light).
The aperture is an opening in the lens. The wider the aperture, the more light it lets in and the brighter the resulting exposure (see the aperture cheat sheet below):
Note that photographers use f-stops to refer to aperture sizes, where a smaller f-stop refers to a larger aperture and vice versa.
So an aperture of f/1.4 lets in a lot of light, giving you a brighter image. An aperture of f/22 lets in very little light, producing a darker image. Make sense?
Aperture is also responsible for controlling the depth of field – the amount of your image that is in focus. The larger the aperture, the smaller the depth of field.
Here’s an image with a shallow depth of field (shot at f/2.8 or so):
And here’s an image with a deep depth of field (shot around f/11):
See the difference? The wide aperture ensured a very blurry background (though a portion of the flower is still sharp). The narrow aperture, on the other hand, kept the shot sharp from foreground to background.
So if you want a nice, blurry background, you can use Manual mode to dial in a low f-number. And if you want a shot that’s sharp throughout, you can dial in a high f-number instead.
Shutter speed is essentially the exposure time of an image; that is, how long the shutter stays open to allow light to hit the sensor.
The faster the shutter speed, the less light that hits the camera sensor and the darker the final image.
The shutter speed also determines image sharpness. A fast shutter speed freezes the action, while a slow shutter speed will produce motion blur:
In general, it pays to use a higher shutter speed to capture sharp images. But there are times when you might want to create motion blur for artistic effect, in which case a slower shutter speed is the way to go.
White balance is one final Manual mode setting worth learning.
It lets you remove color casts from your scene – and by adjusting the white balance, you can achieve neutral white tones. (It’s especially useful for removing harsh yellow tones or redness on the skin.)
White balance can be used in unconventional ways to get different creative results. For example, you can use the Tungsten white balance preset on an overcast day to produce blue hues and enhance contrast. Or you can use the Shade white balance preset at sunset to enhance the golden light.
Therefore, it’s highly beneficial to experiment with the various white balance modes; you never know what creative looks you might produce!
How to use Manual mode: a three-step process
So, Manual mode lets you adjust your ISO, aperture, and shutter speed to get a well-exposed – or poorly-exposed – final image. (It also lets you adjust your white balance setting to remove color casts and produce creative effects.)
And once you’ve switched your camera to Manual mode, the goal is to carefully set your variables for the results you’re after. But how should you approach this? What’s the best way to go about determining the right Manual mode settings?
While there’s no single correct approach to adjusting settings in Manual, here’s my step-by-step advice:
Do you want a shallow depth of field? Or a deep depth of field?
Start by dialing in your desired aperture. If you want a blurry background, pick a wide aperture. If you want a sharp background, pick a narrow aperture.
Step 2: Set your shutter speed for sharpness
How fast is my subject moving? What shutter speed do I need to keep it sharp?
Here, you might think about using the handy Reciprocal Rule, or you might estimate based on previous experiences. When shooting handheld, I rarely stray below 1/125s or so (and if my subject is moving quickly, 1/800s is my bottom limit).
Of course, if you’re after artistic blur or you’re using a tripod to photograph an unmoving subject, you’re free to lower your shutter speed to 1/30s and beyond.
Step 3: Set your ISO (and adjust your shutter speed/aperture) for the best exposure
At this point, you should have picked an aperture based on artistic considerations, and you should have a shutter speed dialed in for perfect sharpness.
So all that’s left is to nail the exposure, and I recommend you do it with your ISO, if possible (though you may also need to tweak your shutter speed and aperture).
Start by setting your ISO to its lowest value. This is generally ISO 100, but might be ISO 160, ISO 200, or ISO 50, depending on your camera.
Then simply point your camera at the scene you want to photograph and carefully observe the exposure bar at the bottom of your viewfinder. If the bar is showing underexposure (skewed to the left), you’ll need to increase your ISO until you get a centered exposure bar.
If the bar is showing overexposure (skewed to the right), you’ll need to either increase your shutter speed or narrow your aperture until you get a balanced exposure bar. Which setting you adjust doesn’t really matter – the key is to preserve any creative effects you want to produce. So if you’re using a wide aperture for a shallow depth of field, then boost your shutter speed instead. Whereas if you’re using a slow shutter speed for artistic motion blur, then narrow your aperture.
Should you always use Manual mode?
Manual mode is superb for many situations. It’ll help you step up your photography game and capture sharp, well-exposed, well-composed photos.
That said, there are plenty of times when you’ll want to choose a different camera mode instead, such as Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, or Program mode.
Manual mode is good if…
- You’re working in unchanging lighting conditions.
- You want complete control over your different exposure variables.
- You want to underexpose or overexpose your photos for creative effects.
- You’re shooting slow, deliberate photos (e.g., landscapes) and you have the time to carefully adjust your settings.
Manual mode is best avoided if…
- The light is changing rapidly or your subject is moving between sun and shade.
- You care about the aperture or the shutter speed, but your other settings are less important.
- You’re photographing action where nailing the autofocus is your primary concern (and your particular exposure settings take a backseat).
- You’re a beginner and don’t yet feel comfortable with the different exposure settings.
Other shooting modes
As you can gather from the lists above, Manual mode is great for situations where you need control over your settings and you have time to fiddle around with your camera dials. But you’ll want to avoid shooting in Manual if you’re dealing with fast-paced conditions and changing light, or you’re just not yet an experienced photographer.
In such cases, you’ll want to use a semi-automatic mode instead:
- Aperture Priority mode lets you control the aperture and ISO while your camera selects the shutter speed. It’s great for situations where you want to set the depth of field, but you don’t want to spend too much time dealing with shutter speed. It’s also a good transitional mode if you’re not quite ready for Manual mode but you want to start experimenting with different settings.
- Shutter Priority mode lets you control the shutter speed and ISO, while your camera selects the aperture (it’s like Aperture Priority, but reversed!). It’s useful in situations where you want to select a particular shutter speed for creative purposes, and you don’t particularly care about the aperture.
- Program mode lets you control the ISO, and you can also adjust the exposure via your camera’s exposure compensation setting. It’s a great transitional mode when getting off Auto.
Manual mode: final words
Now that you’ve finished this article, you should be able to confidently use Manual mode in your own photography.
(Also, don’t forget to download the cheat sheets featured throughout!)
So head out! Practice working with different settings. And have fun!
Photography Cheat Sheet: All You Need to Know
Whether you’re a professional photography shutterbug or an aspiring photography amateur, the art and science of photography can quickly feel confusing. There are so many different photography techniques, terms, and tidbits to keep track of, it’s easy to occasionally forget some of the basics.
Photographers of every skill level benefit from photography cheat sheets, and we’ve created a cheat sheet just for you. A photography cheat sheet is a quick and handy reference guide packed with definitions to common terms, explanations of popular techniques, and more.
Refer back to this photography cheat sheet article whenever you need a quick refresher or are faced with a photography task you’re not familiar with. (Note that our cheat sheet applies to both film and digital photography).
Ready to read the cheat sheet? Let’s get started!
How Do Cameras Work?
For the first item on our photography cheat sheet article, let’s start with the cheat sheet basics. How does a DSLR camera capture an image?
Cameras are either film or digital. Regardless of photography type, all cameras work in the same basic way: They record incoming light to capture an image. The amount of light that reaches the camera’s image sensor is known as exposure.
Most cheat sheets will tell you exposure is determined by three settings:
They make up what’s called the exposure triangle. Let’s take a closer look at each element in the exposure triangle in this cheat sheet:
Shutter Speed: How Long it Takes to Capture an Image
First, let’s take a look at a cheat sheet for shutter speed, the first element of the exposure triangle.
Shutter speed is the length of time that the camera’s shutter stays open. The longer it’s open, the more light is exposed to the sensor. In simpler terms, it’s the length of time used to take a photo.
Shutter speed affects two aspects of your photo:
- 1. Overall brightness
- 2. Dramatic effects such as motion and frozen images
A long shutter speed creates a motion blur effect for any moving subjects. For example, the effect is commonly found on photos of cars. Additionally, slow shutter speed is useful when photographing landscapes, the night sky, and low-light environments.
Fast shutter speed has the opposite effect. It removes motion from photos. If you’ve ever seen a photo of a hummingbird frozen in mid-air, or a drop of water falling to the ground, they were taken using fast shutter speed.
Aperture: Opening the Lens
Next on our cheat sheet is the aperture, the second element of the exposure triangle. The aperture is the opening in the lens that lets light in. It’s measured in f/stops. The most common f/stops are the following:
Lower numbers represent wider apertures, while higher numbers indicate narrow apertures. The wider the aperture, the more light is exposed to the camera’s light sensor (in a digital camera) or film (in a traditional camera).
ISO: Measuring Light Sensitivity
Finally, we’ll cover ISO on our cheat sheet, the third element of the exposure triangle. The last one of the three most important camera settings on our cheat sheet is ISO, a photography term that stands for International Standards Organization. It’s an industry-wide standard for measuring light sensitivity. As the ISO number increases, the photos brighten.
If you have a digital camera, you can set the settings for the exposure triangle either automatically or in manual mode. While automatic camera settings work for general shots, you’ll want to use manual mode for the best results.
Understanding a Histogram
For the next item on our photography cheat sheet, let’s take a closer look at a common tool called a histogram. A histogram is a chart found in a digital camera settings. It displays the exposure of each shot. Typically, the histogram is divided into three sections:
- Far left – Shades of black
- Middle – Mid-gray shades
- Far right – Shades of white
A histogram determines these color values by measuring the brightness of individual pixels in the image. It displays these results in a horizontal row of image bars, so you can quickly spot overexposure and underexposure.
You’ll find histograms on almost all digital cameras. Don’t worry; you don’t have to master their use to take great pictures. However, the histogram is an effective tool for preventing overexposure and underexposed images.
As we’ll detail below, a histogram is useful in certain types of photography, such as landscape photography and nature photography.
Dividing Your Composition into Thirds
Ready to read a cheat sheet on image composition? No matter what you’re shooting, the right image composition makes all the difference. Frame your images according to the rule of thirds.
When framing your image, picture two lines drawn across it vertically and another two drawn across it horizontally. The image will have nine squares.
Place focal points of your subject on any of the intersections of the lines. Subject focal points could be a tall building in a cityscape, a person’s eyes in a portrait, or anything else especially notable about the image in manual mode.
You can use imaginary lines and make an educated guess about where they intersect. However, many digital cameras and photo editing software create an overlay you can use in your photography.
Tips for Shooting in Low Light
Both beginners and professional photographers can run into trouble when shooting in low light. Here’s a cheat sheet for what to remember:
- Use a wide aperture. That’s a low numbered f/stop. You want to let in as much light as possible.
- Use a slow shutter speed. Keeping the shutter open longer allows more light to enter.
Increase the exposure on the camera. Digital cameras allow you to adjust the exposure compensation from negative three to positive three. Set it as a positive number. You want to slightly overexposure the photo.
If you need a flash, our cheat sheet advises using an off-camera one. That’s a flash that doesn’t directly hit the subject. Instead, you want to deflect the light to soften it. Indirect, soft light creates a far more natural appearance than the direct type.
A Photography Cheat Sheet for Specific Types of Photography
Now that our photography cheat sheet has covered the basics regarding camera operation let’s take a closer look at tips and techniques for photographing specific types of scenes. Refer back to this section of our photography cheat sheet article whenever you’re not sure how to properly shoot something.
The first scenario on our cheat sheet features tips for photographing fireworks.
Photographing fireworks isn’t as easy as many people think. The contrast between the bright lights against the dark background, plus the fast action, make capturing great shots often difficult for amateurs. Here’s a quick breakdown on how to take great pics of a fireworks show.
Frame your shot in advance. You can’t track moving fireworks. Instead, anticipate where they’ll appear.
Shoot from as close to a 45-degree angle as possible. Setting up on a high spot located in an open area often produces the best results.
Use a tripod and a remote. That’s the easiest way to avoid moving the camera accidentally.
Include familiar landmarks such as buildings and skylines in your fireworks photography. Recognizable landmarks help add context to the size of the fireworks.
Avoid other light sources such as streetlights. They’ll likely overexpose the shot.
Landscape Photography Tips
Are you looking for photography tips for shooting landscapes? Our photography cheat sheet has you covered.
Landscapes have a few different elements that can complicate picture taking. Here are the top cheat tips for photographing forests, mountains, beaches, city skylines, and other vistas.
First, ignore the sky. Instead, concentrate on the brightness of the landscape. Does it look too bright or too dark?
If it’s too dark, decrease the shutter speed in increments up to a full stop. If it’s too bright, increase the shutter speed, also in increments up to a full stop.
Next, turn your attention to the sky. If it’s the same tones as the landscape, you’re in good shape. You can expose the entire image.
However, most likely, the sky is brighter than the landscape. You have a few cheat options. If your camera has graduated neutral density filters, try using them to adjust the balance.
Use the horizon line as your guide. Another option is to take two exposures and combine them in photo editing software.
Shooting Memorable Wedding Images
Wedding photography is the financial bread-and-butter for many photographers. Even if you’re not primarily a wedding photographer, the opportunity will likely present itself from time to time. Here’s a closer look at cheat sheet tips for shooting weddings with style.
First in our cheat sheet, you want a relatively equal mix of two different styles:
Traditional images involve formal poses, such as the bride and groom, different sides of the family, and so on. Sometimes wrangling all the family members together is a challenge, so you’ll need to stay organized, use this cheat sheet, and have excellent people skills.
Photojournalistic images capture unscripted moments. They’re photos of candid, behind-the-scenes emotions and events. As a photographer, staying unobtrusive is the cheat code, or secret, to capturing these authentic moments.
Keep in mind ownership over wedding photos can get tricky. If you want to use the images in a portfolio or for display, make sure you have all rights reserved. If you don’t have your rights reserved on the photo, they can end up the property of the client instead of you.
Mastering Food Photography
Next on our cheat sheet is a look at food photography.
Photographing food is a bit different than photographing any other subject. On the plus side, the food typically stays still without a problem. However, lighting takes on increased importance. Bad lighting can make a delicious dish look downright appealing!
Avoid indoor kitchen lighting as much as possible in your white balance. Generally, the indoor lighting in your kitchen casts a yellow glow, which adds an unappetizing sheen to food. To combat the effects of indoor lighting, set the white balance on your camera to Tungsten. The added blue helps of this white balance counteract the yellow.
Next in our cheat sheet, you need to shoot the food from the correct angle. These three angles often work well for food photography:
- 45 degree Angle – Emphasizes the food’s texture.
- Top Down – Show’s the entire dish
- Straight On – Emphasizes the food’s height. Ideal for cakes, sandwiches, etc.
Photography Cheat Sheet Final Thoughts
Using a photography cheat sheet for photography tips doesn’t mean you’re a bad photographer – not at all! Even the best photographers in the world use photography cheat sheets because they don’t remember how everything works and how to shoot all types of scenes, especially in manual mode. Photography is complicated, so a trusted cheat sheet acts as a valuable resource.
This photography cheat sheet acts as a handy reference guide you can always rely on when you’re in manual mode. Bookmark this photography cheat sheet and check back on this cheat sheet article whenever you need help taking your photography to the next level.
The Ultimate Guide to Film Photography (94 Awesome Tips!)
Photographing on film is an old-school way of capturing moments. Its popularity is constantly increasing in the last decade. As it is the foundation and the only real physical form of photography, film photography is an irreplaceable technique.
If you’re looking to capture images on film, look no further. We look at the camera, processes, and techniques to make it all possible.
What is Film Photography?
Film photography is where it all began. Before the birth of digital photography, we all took photographs on strips of plastic with layers of emulsion. Further back from that, we used glass and metal sheets which played both the role of light carrier and print.
These strips come with a coating of a silver halide solution, protected by a layer of gelatin. The photographs we took burned an imprint into the silver.
To get a negative out of this, chemicals and washes stripped the plastic of all its coating. This reveals a reversed image.
Dark areas of the scene would show up as transparent on the negative.
The grain or ‘noise’ we see from higher ISOs come from the size of the silver pieces.
The bigger the pieces, the better they were at capturing light but that also meant they were big enough to see.
Film photography is all about having a physical element with the possibility of experimentation. It relies on the process of conscious image-making because you have a limited number of frames. It is also time-consuming due to the developing and scanning process.
These days, film photography is making a huge comeback. There are plenty of reasons why you should shoot film. There are a lot of online communities, collectives and groups on social media. You can even find hashtags like #filmisnotdead where people are aiming to bring film photography back to life.
Why Should You Try Film Photography
Film Photography Vs Digital
You don’t really need me to tell you the difference between analogue and digital.
We see it all the time with music and film. Film came first, then the digital revolution followed. Digital cameras were built on the exact mechanic of SLR’s.
The biggest advantage of film photography is that it offers you a way to learn. Most analogue film cameras are fully manual. This means you have to change all the settings yourself.
There are many disadvantages, but these only make sense when comparing to the DSLRs of today.
The quality of your negatives can surpass your DSLR if you have the right camera and scanner.
What analogue photography offers you are a plethora of great cameras to choose from. These cameras are specific to their time and their location. There are also great lenses which you can even mount on DSLRs with adapters.
A Japanese camera like the Mamiya is very different from the Russian Zenit. Different feel, different sound, different outputs.
Digital cameras don’t have a look about them, nor do they have a feel of a culture or a time. And they do not last nearly as long as film cameras. Read our article for the other seven reasons to go analogue.
Film Photography Benefits: Why I Still Shoot on Film (and You Should Too!)
The benefits of film photography are what got people shooting in the first place. Back in the day, scientists and documenters used the camera as a tool.
Then, the cameras found their way into the hands of studio photographers, documenters and artists. Without film photography, digital photography would not have been born.
Likewise, Adobe Photoshop was born from struggles that Thomas Knoll found when dodging and burning in the darkroom.
Film photography still offers a lot of choices. Many different types of film give you different looks in the real world. And you don’t ev.en have to use presets in Lightroom to mimic the unique looks
This is the opposite of splashing them all over Instagram.
Using Film for Street Photography
Many photographers use digital to capture their street photography images. There are still a few who prefer to use film for all street activity.
There are a few reasons for this. Not only does film offer a hands-on product. It is also very forgiving in the way it captures highlights.
There are some great cameras that only work with film. For example, the Mamiya C330 TLR. This style of medium format works well for candid captures.
Whatever the reason, there are many benefits to using film for street photography.
General Tips for Film Photography
Black and White Film Photography Tips
Film photography is different from its digital counterpart in many ways. One of the biggest differences comes in how we expose a scene.
With film photography, it is better to overexpose. It is easier to bring the exposure down later. You are able to push or pull a film if you would like to change the exposure while developing.
In digital photography, the opposite works better. Underexposing a scene allows you to pull details out of the shadows.
This is just one tip we can offer you, the rest are in our article here.
25 Best Film Photographers Working Today
Are you a photographer who likes using film? Perhaps you aren’t exactly sure why. The hands-on approach is very alluring.
If you think you’re alone, you couldn’t be more wrong. There are many photographers out there who still use film. There are many communities out there to join and follow.
For inspiration on what to photograph, you’ve come to the right place. These 25 photographers will have you up and on your feet in no time.
How to Choose Film Photography Equipment
It is at the intersection that one can find a great image. It comes down to a photographer’s skills and their camera’s ability.
Neither one can operate without the other. Luckily for you, there are many cameras that you can buy cheaply. There are even cheaper second-hand options. Even though the camera body is important, you should get a good lens first.
As the digital market came, photographers ran to the DSLRs. They up and left their analogue counterparts to sit on shelves. This gives you the opportunity to purchase various film equipment for a relatively low price. But be aware of because the popularity of film cameras are increasing!
Here is our list to help you choose the right camera for you and your style.
10 Classic Film Cameras for Under $100
Yeah yeah, we all would love a Leica M3 or M6. Any of them would do, but life is unfair. They are expensive as they are world-renowned.
Not owning one shouldn’t stop us from buying and using other great cameras. The ones on our list had their time, and they need you for their revival.
What about the Canon AE-1? The first affordable film camera with TTL (Through The Lens metering), It also came with autoexposure modes.
Have a look at the others and see which ones grab your fancy.
How to Use a Light Meter for Better Photography
One of the challenges you might come across when shooting film is not having a light meter reading.
Some cameras have them inbuilt, others have no way of telling you if the scene is over- or underexposed. This is where a handheld light meter comes in very handy.
They work in two different ways. They operate as a reflected light meter or an incident light meter. Reflected looks at how much light becomes reflected from the subject.
An Incident light meter looks at how much light hits the subject. It tests the light between the camera and the subject. This also works with flash lighting.
Read here on all the information you need on light meters, and which type is better for you.
How to Choose Photography Film
Guide to Choosing the Best Black and White Film
Kodak, Ilford, Rollei. There are so many black and white 35mm films to choose from. It can be daunting. It would be impossible to give you the details and comparisons of them all.
A great image doesn’t just come from the film choice. It also comes from what you capture. or if you prefer to under- or overexpose the film.
The developer also plays a huge part in how the final negative turns out. Then on top of that, you still have to print or scan the image in and post-process the images.
Here, you will find the comparisons of the top five most popular black and white 35mm films.
Where to Buy Film for Old Cameras
The great thing about film photography is that there are still so many different types of film to use.
The downside of film photography is also the overwhelming amount of choice. And the choice can be daunting.
The questions you first need to ask is 35mm or 120 (medium format film)? Colour or black and white? Low or high ISO?
Different sites offer different alternatives. For all the online locations for purchasing film products, read our article.
Which Camera Settings Should You Use
Film Photography Cheat Sheet
This cheat sheet is to help you get started with film photography. If you know the basics of film photography, you know the basics of digital too.
Film photography is much more difficult and challenging than digital photography.
You need to know your camera inside out, the scenes’ abundance of light and what your film can do.
This cheat sheet runs through three main things. Film speed (ISO), aperture (f/stops) and shutter speed. All three of these things work co-dependently.
Have a look at this article for all the help you need to get started.
Basic Camera Settings
Your camera settings for film photography are going to be familiar. They are similar to what you would use for digital.
There is no difference in the tool you use to capture a scene. Both cameras come down to utilizing the three fundamental basics of photography.
Aperture, ISO and shutter speed make up the exposure triangle. They allow you to capture a scene.
Knowing how to use these three elements manually will help your film photography.
Read our article here on the best camera settings to use.
Master the Sunny-16 Rule and Other Exposure Settings
We looked at handheld light meters in a previous topic. But if one isn’t available then there is another way.
The other option you can use is adopting the Sunny-16 rule. This rule works at noon when the sun is at its highest.
The first setting in you should choose in sunlight is f/16. The shutter speed should be set as close to your ISO as possible. For example, f/16, ISO 200, gives you a shutter speed of 1/250.
The benefit of this system is that you don’t have to keep those settings. They are just a good base to work from.
If you wanted to move your aperture down 5 stops to f/2.8, then your shutter speed needs to go up 5 stops.
This is light compensation as the smaller aperture adds light, and the increase of the shutter speed takes it out again. Keep it sunny.
Tips for Darkroom And Developing
Film Developing Tank
It’s not only easy to process your own negatives at home, but it’s also a lot of fun. The anticipation builds as you follow a few easy steps.
First off, you need to find a way to get the film out of its canister. Next, put it into a developing tank. This happens in pitch black as the film is still sensitive to light.
Once the film is in the developing tank, you need a developing chemical called ‘developer’. Then, water and another chemical called ‘fixer’.
The developing tank holds your film and allows the chemicals to work on it. By agitating the chemicals one by one, you turn the film into a negative.
Building a Low-Budget Darkroom
A darkroom is where you process your negatives into prints. A negative is a reverse image of the scene you had captured.
The blacks are whites and vice versa. The negative acts as a template that allows light through it and onto light-sensitive paper.
These negatives are repeatedly used any number of times. Thank god, as you never get the exposure right the first time.
A dark room needs to consist of two areas. One for dry processes and the other for wet ones.
The dry areas are where an enlarger exposes your negative on to the paper. The wet area is where you process and wash your paper with chemicals.
This article gives you all the information you need to know how to build and operate a darkroom.
How To Develop Black and White Film Photography at Home
Printing your first black and white image is an experience you can’t explain. All the hard work and training has lead right to this point.
The basic idea is that you take your negatives into the darkroom and place them into the enlarger.
This expands the projected image that falls through the negative. The light-sensitive paper picks up the different intensities of light and produces a positive print.
You can see this after you process the print in the developer chemical.
All the information you need is right here, in our article.
How to Experiment With Film Photography
An Introduction to Pull and Push Film Processing
Pushing and pulling film refers to up- and down-rating your film to higher or lower exposure.
This can happen during the photography stage or the printing stage.
When you are pushing the film, you let your film stay longer in the developing bath.
On the other hand, pulling is to stay less in the bath. There are certain measures for that depending on the film and the chemicals. But every information you need is written on the film/developing liquid.
Read all the information you need in our article.
Expired Film Photography
Using expired film has become a very trendy and popular way to photograph for a few years now. This is because the expired film presents colour shifts.
The effects of heat and background radiation cause gradual, inexorable damage. But extending their lives is as simple as sticking them in a fridge.
Or, even better, a freezer. Freezing a film extends its life by decades.
These colour shifts add those interesting filter-esque tints and colour tones. These are the ones that are more present on Instagram processed images.
The best thing about them is that there is no way of telling how much the colour has changed and shifted.
Also, each different film type presents you with a different shift in colour. Sometimes you buy one and you end up with terrible pictures. It’s all about trial and error, which makes the whole process very interesting.
Photographic film starts as a negative. This is the reverse of the captured scene. It becomes reversed again when printed from an enlarger.
A negative creates a positive print. Positive paper exists. This allows you to capture a scene as it is, where you skip the enlarging of the image.
This is something that you can use with large format cameras and pinhole cameras.
Read here on how you can get hold of this paper, and how you can use it.
Double exposure is a process of layering two images on top of each other. This can happen either in the photographing, developing or even the printing stage.
Some cameras, such as the Mamiya C330 TLR (twin lens reflex) have an inbuilt option to create many exposures. Or with certain ones, you can manually expose the film as many times as you want by not sending the roll towards.
Not every camera rolls automatically the film onto the next negative. For most 35 mm film cameras, there is an easy way to create double exposures.
The things you need to think of when creating a double exposure are all here, in our article.
DIY Film Photography
DIY Light Box (How to Make Your Own Photography Light Box)
If you are one of those awesome photographers that still shoots on film, a lightbox is a necessary tool.
A lightbox will help you look at your negatives closely. This is great for the pre-selection process before printing or scanning. It will save you time.
IKEA is the place to go for this one, for reconditioning an inexpensive table. Maybe you already have one that needs a new purpose.
In our article, we will show you how to build one.
If the experimental side of things interests you, this post is for you. You will see a few photographers have taken it upon themselves to create their own cameras.
They created their own devices to fit their style. From it, there are a few unique capturing devices out there.
This is a great way to add interest to your work as no one has the same tools capturing the same things.
Read here on a few possibilities and hopefully, it gets your creative chemicals running.
How to Digitalize Film
How to Find the Best Film Scanner for Photography
Even though you love the analogue aspect of film photography, you might still want to digitalize your negatives. This ensures that you have a copy of your negative.
It also allows you to post-process the negatives further. Working with programs such as Lightroom allows experimentation with layers and local adjustments.
A digital version of your image allows you to share your shot on social media. It also lets you decide whether you wanna do a physical print developed from it. When it comes to film photography, a scanner is your best way of getting your images onto your computer.
Read here on how we recommend you digitalize your film photography.
VueScan Review: Is it Really the Best Film Scanning Software?
VueScan is a program that allows you to scan and digitalize your film photography. This software is available for both PC and Apple systems.
It is important to find joy in the processes behind film photography. You will have to do mundane tasks repeatedly. Scanning in your negatives is one of these tasks, so you have to make it enjoyable.
If, like me, you don’t like the operating program that comes with your scanner, give this software a try.
How to Digitalize Film Photos
Digitalizing your processed negatives have many benefits. for one, it means you don’t need to mess around with a darkroom.
This is something that some companies and labs can do for you. If you already have a scanner, you can do it yourself as it is cheaper this way.
Read our article here for the step-by-step guide. This will ensure no problems arise, and you can digitalize your images as fast as possible.
How To Create a Film Photography Look in Lightroom
If it’s the film look you are after, you don’t have to shoot on film. There are many processes you can use to replicate it.
Our article here shows you how to obtain that atmosphere of an image shot on film by using Lightroom. It’s all about the local adjustments.
Why should you do it in Lightroom? Well, it saves the hassle of shooting on film in the first place. You can also use presets to achieve a film look.
To learn more about how to use Lightroom, check out our Effortless Editing course!
Film photography involves loads of physical processes that need research and practice. It is also an amazing way of getting in touch with the origins of photography.
We hope that we could help you with these processes and that our tips motivate you to utilise the full potential of film photography.
Looking for more film photography information? Check out our new post on how to develop film next!
Bridging Tech and Creative Photography
If you’ve decided to go the more challenging route of shooting manual when using film, you’ll definitely need today’s photography cheat sheet.
As if manual photography isn’t already challenging as is with digital cameras, believe it or not, some prefer doing it on film. If that sounds like a challenge you want to try, we have something to help make that a bit easier for you. Today’s manual photography cheat sheet, by The Studio at Zippi, is especially put together with tips to help film photographers get great results.
Whether you want to step away from all those film photography filters presets and shoot with the real thing, or simply want to try something new, going the film route will require a different workflow. As the cheat sheet below notes, it will involve some planning in terms of what, where, and how you’ll shoot. If you haven’t tried shooting manually with film before, or never shot with film at all, the tips below will definitely help.
For starters, choose your film format. It could be something based on what camera you have or can get your hands on. If you just got your hands on a camera and are not sure what film it uses, look up the format. Some of the most common types of film today are 35mm, 120 (medium format), and instant film.
Next, decide what ISO to get for your film. As the cheat sheet indicated, you can choose from ISO 50 to ISO 3200 based on how bright your shooting conditions will be. If you’re shooting on a sunny day, use ISO 100 film. If you’re shooting on an overcast day or bright indoors, use ISO 400 film. If it’s complete overcast, dusk, or indoors, go for at least ISO 800. To be safe, bring one roll for each kind of shooting condition, especially if you plan to shoot all day. One thing to take note of is that the higher the ISO, the more grainy your photos will look.
Next, learn how the Exposure Triangle and Sunny 16 Rule work so you can take charge of setting your aperture and shutter speed based on the ISO you’re using. It will greatly help if your camera has a built-in light meter. If it doesn’t, you can make your own paper light meter or Sunny 16 guide wheel.
Finally, apply some composition techniques to your photos. You have a limited number of snaps per roll, so better make them count! Rule of Thirds, leading lines, cropping for portraits, clever use of negative space, and repetition will help you compose your shots and get great photos.
Need more photography tips and tricks like these? We have lots more photography cheat sheets that will apply to both digital and film photography. Step right up and check them out!
Photography cheat sheet film night
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Children, becoming a valuable source of protein for their mom. And during pregnancy, I have to process all my mass into children, which I have collected so carefully throughout my life. A new day.
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