SNAPSHOTS: How Film SLRs Can Teach You Photography

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Film SLR 1One of my college professors once said that the analog film SLR is the ultimate photography teacher. Although I didn’t argue out loud at that time, I maintained that photography is best learned on a digital camera and that film photography is for those who have already mastered the art. After several weeks of being required to shoot plates with a Canon AE-1, I gradually realized what he meant.

A FILM SLR TEACHES YOU TO THINK BEFORE YOU CLICK

There is this heightened sense of caution when you hit the shutter button because you know that you’re not going to see the results immediately and correct and mistakes you’ve made. This is where the thinking comes in. The photographer asks himself,”What should I do to make this shot perfect? What settings do I need? From what angle should I shoot?”These questions have to be answered in the mind of the photographer before firing the shot. The right aperture, the right shutter speed, and accurate focus are needed to take the perfect picture, and you, the photographer, must ensure the synergy of these elements beforehand because you will only be able to see the picture after the roll of film has been developed. Sure, digital cameras let you adjust key settings as well, but with a larger space for you to record your pictures on, some users tend to just click away, hoping that by chance at least one ofthose shots would be able to hit the mark.

“The photographer asks himself, What should I do to make this shot perfect? What settings do I need? From what angle should I shoot?” These questions have to be answered in the mind of the photographer before firing the shot.”

IF YOU DON’T HAVE A FILM SLR, GO FULL MANUAL ON YOUR DIGITAL CAMERA.

Definitely, film photography nowadays caters to more serious hobbyists and enthusiasts rather than the general market of camera users, especially with the increasing availability of today’s digital cameras and the heap of things they allow the user to do. Without a film SLR, though, one can still employ the sort of discipline involved in film photography.

Digital SLRs (DSLRs) and a number of pointand- shoot and micro four-thirds cameras are programmed with a Manual exposure mode, which lets you manually adjust settings like shutter speed and aperture as you would in a film camera. You can refrain from using the Program mode or Full Auto mode and practice tweaking exposure settings manually. You can use the focus ring on the lenses or the manual focusing option instead of relying on the camera’s autofocus. You can also practice taking one shot and one shot only for a particular scene, and check it out only when you’re done shooting, say, 20 to 30 frames.

Employing the film camera discipline when using a digital camera is a great way to practice photography and train yourself to think before you click instead of being a trigger-happy shutterbug.

 

First published in Gadgets Magazine, June 2013

Words by Racine Anne Castro | Illustrations by Cla Gregorio