It’s been a while since I started this journey. There have been a couple people inquire on my Youtube video, Instagram, and elsewhere about how things have been going with the large format film and my whole journey into film photography. I figure it’s about time for an update.

My Reasons Why for Film

Over the past couple years since I started acquiring my 4×5 Intrepid camera and all the film gear that goes along with it, I’ve taken it along on a few photography journeys. Overall, my photo trips have slowed considerably due to some other matters, but the film has added a bit of depth to my photography. That may not make a whole lot of sense, but hopefully I can explain.

One of my main purposes with starting into film photography, and more specifically the 4×5 large format film photography (I’ve also been using a simple 35mm film camera as well), was to break out of a creative rut. Film forces you to slow down and focus. It forces you to think and then rethink about what you are doing…and then think about it some more. It is a whole new mindset versus the almost run and gun approach of the fast-paced digital world we all live in now. That is what I was after.

The trips I’ve been on and taken the film gear with me, I’ve been able to slow down and think about my photography more. I’ve been able to put more meaning into the photos I’ve produced. Granted some of those didn’t quite work out, but the process is there and I appreciate that process. Overall it has helped me and I look forward to the future.

The is the creative and philosophical, if you will, reason behind pursuing film. One of the technical reasons is that the 4×5 sheets produce massive files that I can simply print huge. Plain and simple is that I like printing large images and this gives me that option. It’s a huge attraction to large format and I’ll admit it was one of the reasons that brought me in. I’ve yet to print anything from these negatives, but the files are amazing.

Where I’ve Been and What I’ve Been Doing

So what does all this mumbo jumbo really mean I’ve been up to? It means I’ve been using the 4×5 camera along with my usual Sony A7RII digital workflow and learning all that I can about the film photography process. I’ve taken it on five or size (I think) trips over the past couple years and produced around 20 sheets of film from it. A lot of them aren’t great.

Trip One – Utah Badlands

The trips included my first outing to the badlands of South Central Utah in April where I encountered blasting winds and learned just how hard it is to deal with a large box in gale force winds. Granted I didn’t have to worry about plants or trees blowing around in the desert, but the winds almost took my new camera over the edge of a cliff. I exposed two sheets of film on this trip. One black and white and the other color. I had no idea what I was doing and and exposing those two sheets took me probably over a half an hour. Metering was something foreign to me. Focusing the camera and using movements to get that spot on was unknown. It was all just an odd experience. The images were ok.

Utah Badlands Large Format Landscape Film Photography
First successful large format film capture.

Trip Two – Idaho

The second trip was to Idaho and the Henry’s Fork River. This was a mix of a fly fishing and photography trip. I wanted to try my hand again and I probably failed even more miserably this time around. My focus was off horribly on the first shot. The second shot had a composition that would have been great, but something happened and the sheet of film came back black. The third shot again had horrible focus and trying to figure out the camera movements to achieve focus contributed to the horrible outcome. That and the composition just wasn’t there. I can’t remember if I shot a fourth image. Overall, I chock this up as a learning experience.

Trip Three – Fall Colors at Utah’s Pando

My third trip was to The Pando in Utah for Fall colors. There were a few months in between the second and third trip so I studied up. This was a short trip and I only spent one morning among the aspen trees. I think I exposed four sheets of color film. My metering and focus technique was far better. Compositions are ok, but getting used to slowing down is still something that is hard for me to do. I struggled with that on this trip. Overall though, I’m pleased with the results and progress was made.

Photos are yet to be scanned, so stay tuned…

Trip Four – Zion National Park Fall Colors

My fourth trip was a Fall trip to Zion National Park. I had high hopes for this trip. I got delayed a week from when I originally intended to go and missed the better colors in the higher elevations, but that is ok. This trip I slowed down and it was good. I took my time and I saw things and I experienced the park in a way I hadn’t before. Over the course of two days I managed to expose eight sheets of color film in The Narrows and the main canyon. What I mostly learned was that carrying a full 4×5 kit and full digital kit was plain nuts. It wasn’t fun and far too heavy even though I was able to shoot with both. I think being able to focus on one or the other would have been a better experience.

All that being said, the images above are some of the best yet even though they aren’t that great…a few of them less great than others. I tried to not process them heavily and let the film handle most of it. However, I did work a few of them a little more. They have meaning though. I still struggled with a few things, but this is still new to me.

What’s Next in My Film Photography

The past year has been pretty slow really as I’m sure it has been for many out there. I haven’t shot a ton with film, but I’m looking to improve that. I’ve recently acquired a 6×17 pano film back to use with the Intrepid 4×5 and that has me pretty excited. Not only do I love the panoramic format, it allows me to use 120 film. Even not knowing a ton about film, I know that being able to change a roll of film in daylight is a huge plus.

All-in-all, I thoroughly enjoy the film process. It’s definitely a struggle and I have to constantly remind myself to slow down. Hopefully soon I’ll have some images that I’m truly proud of. Stay tuned!

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