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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Shooting a Wedding with Film

I am aware some people still shoot weddings on film. Usually they are the high end photographers who are charging that much they can shoot without regard to cost and prefer the look and quality of film. 

So  if you came into photography after the film era and someone asks you to shoot film or you would like to try it anyway?

Well here are some tips.

1.     You need a good slr film system with at least one wide angle prime lens (28mm) also a mid range zoom say 28-105mm and maybe a longer zoom up to about 200mm.You also should have two bodies.One can be a back up to the other or dedicated to black and white film.
       My favourite 35mm camera is the Pentax MZs, a professionally specced camera.
2.     Cameras that meet the bill are any by Nikon,Minolta,Canon,Pentax,Olympus preferably with auto focus.If  you wanted to be a purist you could use a roll film camera like a Hasseblad, Rollei, Bronica ETRs or a Pentax 645. This is a more expensive exercise but the results from such cameras will blow you away but you have to change films more often.Using 220mm film instead of 120mm helps speed up the process as you get twice as many shots on 220.On a pentax 645 you get 15 shots at 120 and 30 at 220mm.
       On a 6x6 format camera you will get 12 and 24 respectively.
       35mm cameras film comes in 36 frame lengths or 24.
3.     A  flash system of either one dedicated to the camera with full tilt and swivel and also ttl metering, or alternatively the Metz 45 range of hammerhead type flashes are great.Preferably your flash sync on your camera should be at least 1/125th of a second.(for daylight fill flash)
4.     A tripod would be useful.

5.     For film I used to use colour negative film of 160iso,400iso,800iso  and Ilford xp2, iso 400 for black and white shots. My preference was for Fuji film rather than Kodak.
Fuji Reala film was rated at 100iso and gave great skin colours and as good as medium format sharpness. It was very fine grained.I used it on some weddings.

6.     Towards the  end of my film weddings days I would shoot about  11-12 rolls of  35mm colour and  3 rolls of 35mm black and white.I would get them processed and printed as 6x4’ or 5x7” proofs and also get them scanned at he same time. Not highest resolution but good enough for an 8x10”enlargement.

7.     If you have an assistant you could get them to back you up with a digital slr. During the transition to shooting full digital that is what I did.

8.     Remember when shooting with colour negative film it is better to over expose rather than underexpose as film has a great tolerance for error. I would often deliberately set my meter to overexpose by one stop.

9.     You need to pay closer attention to how much film you use as you go, maybe allowing for say 2 rolls of film at each shooting segment of your wedding shoot time table. (see my earlier blog on the Wedding Timetable)

10. When you are about to film the ceremony I would always make sure I had a fresh roll of film loaded as it is not good to run out of film just as the bride and groom kiss.

11       Make sure you have lots of spare batteries if your camera relies on them or  your flash

The Pentax Super A(super program in America) was a great camera and I shot many weddings on these cameras.It was really a 35mm version of the Pentax 645. The controls and programs were identical.The camera was manual focus and I usually set manual exposure readings.I used 2 of these during weddings for colour and made sure the meters were set to the same calibration.I had a separate camera loaded with black and white.The idea of using multiple cameras was that you could not tell that your camera had a fault until you got your proofs back.If you had used more than one camera you were assured of getting something back.
12   Using film will make you think more about what you are doing and of course you will not know how you went until you get your proofs.A bit of anxiety such as this will make you a better photographer but practice with film first on something less important than a wedding.All the other posts on wedding photography on this blog are just as relevant to shooting with film as using digital.

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