It’s almost funny to write this on March 927, 2020, I mean January 4, 2023, that my return to film has now lasted a few years. At first, the return to film was just kinda a way to pass the time during the pandemic where there was absolutely nothing to do.
Now for me, it’s turned into this new way to be creative. Digital is all about the post production. I call my digital camera “the mother ship.” It’s the central part of my camera ecosystem. It’s the one where the good image is guaranteed. No questions about what is coming out of it. I know what will happen when I press the button. And the digital camera is excellent for a lot of things. The night image is perfect, the moving image is beyond. There is no greater way to deliver a moving image than using a digital SLR. It is superior.
But the film cameras also fit into this ecosystem too. As is true with a lot of things in my life, I like the high and the low. You have your super powerful digital camera. Then, you have a camera that costs all of $35. That’s where the film cameras come in. A lot of them specifically have certain effects. Some just make fisheye images. Other ones split the images. Others produce cool looking squares. There are more expensive versions of these cameras, but this is really not the point. The challenge is to take the pure world around you and to distort it in one way or another. It’s not about dragging this camera to the ends of the earth. It’s all about interpreting your regular world in a new or interesting way.
A couple of months ago, I got my hands on this little camera called an Ektar 35mm half frame. Half frame cameras are interesting, as they split a 35mm frame in half, hence half frame. Yeah, that’s a dumb sentence I just wrote. But splitting a 35mm frame in half does a couple of things. First, it gives you 72 pictures on a 36 picture roll. I put a 36 roll into the half frame at the beginning of last summer and finally finished at the end of the summer. It was a really fun record of my entire summer, start to finish. It was a really cool record of my summer. Film photography is also really intentional. You have to decide to take the photo because it will cost you to develop it and it will cost you to buy your next roll. You forget you took certain images and then you get to see them later.
The most interesting, most remarkable thing though about the half frame is that it creates this old fashioned fuzzy kind of an image. It creates these stretched out, old fashioned looking image. It gives you this faded look that is really interesting. I like to read a lot about memory, how we actually memorize things and how we remember things. The thing is that those pictures do fade in our mind right after we experience things. Faded pictures of things gone by. The half frame really makes this come through clearly.
Here’s some fun from off the Ektar 35mm: