As a regular reader of Petapixel (a website offering Photography and Camera News, Reviews, and Inspiration), I recently came across an article about Analogue Wonderland – an online store specialising in camera film, with the aim of making it easy for film photographers to find their next film: the next creative vehicle for their vision.  

With the announcement of a new subscription service called Analogue WonderBox, they send you a (small) variety of films per month to either experiment with or further your experience in analogue photography, and it seems like an easy way to learn about analogue photography.

As someone who began their photographic journey using 100% manual, analogue cameras (some of which not even having a built-in light meter), I remember a mantra I used to say to those new to photography: ‘If you really wish to learn about photography, start with manual film camera.  That way, you are forced to learn about the relationship between shutter speed, aperture and ISO.’  In other words, when using an analogue camera you need to slow down and consider what you are doing to capture the image you are seeking.  

With film photography, in my opinion atleast, it is important to remember that every shot can count.  When you have at most, 36 exposures per film and (in the words of Henri Cartier-Bresson), potentially one opportunity to capture the Decisive Moment, coupled with the costs involved in the purchase and processing of the film; correctly capturing the image at the time you press the shutter release is a sign of a benchmark the photographer has attained.

This being said, if you are interested in either learning or improving your photography and you are either unable or unwilling to invest in analogue photography then remember these suggestions: 

  1. Dial ‘M’ for Manual.
    • This is when You, the photographer, chooses the aperture and shutter speed.  By doing this you gain the greatest latitude for both learning and creative expression. 
    • If you choose the wrong combination and the images are either too bright (overexposed) or too dark (underexposed), try to understand why – don’t just skip to one of the ‘Auto’ modes
  1. Stick to a specific ISO.
    • By choosing a specific ISO (as you would need do with film), you will better learn the effects of shutter speed and aperture have on the picture.
    • You will also learn about the differences between Low ISO vs High ISO.
  1. Discover your speed (as in “Shutter Speed”).
    • When I started photography, I learnt that when using the camera handheld it was best to use a minimum shutter speed of 1/60th of a second to avoid shutter shake to motion blur.
    • There maybe times you wish to vary these as part of your ‘creative vision’, but by learning these through practice you will discover how to minimise the effects when not intended and reap the benefits when you want them. 
  1. And then there is aperture.
    • You will sometimes hear people saying that the ‘sweet spot’ of a lens if around f8 or f11.  But what about the lenses you actually have, rather than something you read about in a blog?!
    • You will also discover the effects of aperture on both foreground and background blur.

Yes, these are my opinions and you will have your own vision regarding the images you wish to achieve, but what I have said is only a beginning and understanding the steps you took to capture the photograph you have taken is an important early step.