Some people are color shooters, others are black and white shooters. Then you have that part of the Venn diagram that has both color and black and white shooters. Most people favor one or the other. I am personally a color shooter. The only way I can describe it is that I “see” in color. And I don’t mean that I am not color blind. Rather that I am attracted to color and that is what I usually shoot. Others can “see” in black and white. They are attracted to light or the lack of light in certain scenes. It is hard for me to see in this way but I know that there should be a balance in my shooting.
To really get the full experience out of film photography and be able to truly learn the lessons it can teach you, I believe a person needs to challenge themselves with the medium in as many ways as possible. This means, for me at the moment, that I need to switch up my film stock every now and then. In particular, shoot black and white. So I have made it a mission to alternate between color and black and white film stocks in my main and side cameras (I usually carry two cameras on me at all times, one SLR and one compact).
To start this cycle off, I went with my trusty Olympus XA for the first roll of black and white film. I did this so that if I was going to go somewhere and didn’t want to bring my entire bag, I could just throw the XA in my pocket. Now onto the film stock. I had dabbled in HP5 and Acros before I made a point of doing this mission but really wanted to use a stock that I had never used before. Also as the seasons have changed and California gets sunnier, I wanted a lower ISO film stock. For those reasons, I went with Ilford Pan F 50. I had seen one video online of this film stock prior to shooting it.
Gateway to Knowledge
Footsteps of a Titan
Strive for the Top
Palm Tree Reflection
First Impressions of Pan F
This film stock renders so smooth. I am not a huge fan of grain in my photos, black and white or otherwise. So when I saw how smooth the photos turned out I was blown away. The contrast was also something that I did not expect. I had a limited understanding of black and white films before this. And with that limited understanding, I thought that contrast of that sort was reserved for film pushed to 1600 as I typically saw on Youtube and Instagram. I really liked the level of contrast on these photos and how the shadows turned out because of that contrast. Almost like the shadows took on a life of their own.
My experience with this film taught me a lot but I think the most important thing it taught me or rather reaffirmed in me, was that I need to try more film. I say that because my understanding of black and white film was so off. I did not know that photos like this were achievable outside of the ways I had seen other people do it before me. But it is only through going out and doing it myself that I was able to find out what this film was truly capable of. It is one thing to see other people’s photos on the internet. It is another thing to have created the shot and have it come out in a way that was totally unexpected.
I am now off to try all the black and white film stocks that I can now along with the color film stocks that I always have around. What is your favorite film to use? What is the next film stock that I should try? Let me know in the comments! I am so fired up after this to try out more and more different film types.
The Drive-By Film Shooter