DFC – Party like it’s 1999

Ever heard of slow photography?

No, me neither.

Slow photography helps you be a better photographer by taking a relaxed approach to seeing the world and the subjects you want to photograph. The idea is to be more personal in executing your vision. To shed expectations of what you should shoot and how you should shoot it. To fall in love with a subject and make it your own; from research to video, incorporate anything that enriches your photographic journey. To enhance the powerful story-telling aspect of photography. To focus on the experience of making images; from the field to the computer and online.

Well it looks like I had heard of it. I was doing it. Parts of it, anyway. But lately, I felt like I was shooting too quickly and sacrificing care and attention for taking many shots, one of which would probably do. Not quite “spray and pray”, but not as deliberate as I used to be.

Sound familiar?

I’m not saying digital photography made me lazy, but it did make me a little careless.

In an effort to put more contemplation into my photography I considered shooting film again. I still might, but in the mean time I put together a method to come as close to a film experience as possible with a modern digital camera. If you miss film, this exercise might make you nostalgic. If you’ve never shot film, the challenge will be eye-opening. And hopefully a lot of fun and a way to slow down and enjoy your craft.

In a nutshell the idea is to go into the field as if you are using film instead of a digital camera. This means working under the constraints that 35mm film had and the accompanying camera technology.

Camera & Lens set up

Up there without a net

  • Manual mode
  • Manual focus
  • No Image stabilization
  • Fixed ISO
  • Fixed white balance
  • 12, 24 or 36 shots
  • No editing
  • No chimping
  • JPG only
  • 3:2 aspect ratio
  • No screens

It might sound like you’re ditching all the cool features your paid for in your camera, but it’s all in an effort to be more mindful.

And believe it or not – it’s fun! It’s a little exciting being out there without a net.

Image capture variables

ISO, White balance, exposure limits, camera style, creative filters

There are a lot more tweaks involved to capture the verisimilitude of working with film. We don’t leave all the bells and whistles behind though! Depending on your camera, you have a lot of options and we dive into them in the Challenge Headquarters –

I’ve already jumped into the deep end and shot my first “24 exposure roll”. It was a hoot. Check it out on the Digital Film Gallery (click there, it’s a link) and stay tuned for more. I plan to make this a regular thing.

Please add your comments below and include a link to any photos you took for the Digital Film Challenge. I’d love to hear your thoughts about how it went, what was easy, what was hard. If you learned anything and whether you’ll keep doing it or it was too much like torture.

Intrigued by a more relaxed approach to photography? For a deeper dive head over to the Slow Photography Movement website.

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