Shooting Film

Hawkins, Ben, Shooting Film: Everything You Need to Know About Analogue Photography, 2022. 


This sounded like a fun diversion for me - a new book about film photography written, apparently, for younger people who have discovered film as a new . . . .diversion?  Maybe it would remind me of some finer points that I have overlooked, but more likely just confirm what I already know.  I was not expecting so many curious choices, partial or inadequate descriptions, and outright errors - nothing earth shattering that would ruin someone’s photography, but enough to suggest that the book needed a more attentive editor.  To wit . . .

  • Am I the only one who is annoyed by “analogue”?  How about “film”.
  • The cover photo is out-of-focus and off-color.  This is apparently a nod to Lomography, the embrace of, well, out-of-focus and off-color.  Must be a generational thing.
  • On page 19 the author implies that Leica only makes digital cameras (but later on page 44 he makes it clear that they also still make film cameras).
  • Page 20:  A Canon AE-1 Program is labeled as a Canon AE-1.
  • Page 25:  No, on most large format cameras the dark slide does not take the place of a shutter.
  • Page 35:  No, the Minolta X-700 was not the last Minolta manual focus camera (maybe he meant the last major manual focus camera).  The X-700 was introduced in 1981, the X-370s was introduced in 1995.
  • Page 38:  Maybe this is an Englishism - what he calls back-to-front we would call left-to-right (talking about the TLR viewfinder).
  • Page 45:  No, the Minolta CLE was not made in collaboration with Leica.  The earlier CL was, but by the time of the CLE the two companies had ended their partnership.
  • Page 56:  This is a really bad look - holding a negative with a thumb planted on the surface.  The author should read his own book - on page 158 he cautions to only handle negatives by the edges.
  • Page 70:  Titanium scissors?  I’ve cut negatives for over half a century with any available pair of scissors - never a problem.
  • Page 102 -  No, for Sunny 16 it’s the reciprocal of the film speed, not the film speed.
  • Page 118 - Advice to permanently leave a UV filter on your lens omits the possible downsides, image degradation and increased flare.
  • Page 118 - This is very much my opinion, but I would say that if you have one black & white filter it should be orange.  Yellow doesn’t make enough difference to make a difference.
  • Page 132 - Creative light “flaws”.  No thanks.
  • Page 142 - “Deving” for “developing”.  Is that how the kids talk these days?
  • Page 143 - The author failed to mention that the reel that comes with the Paterson Super System 4 is inferior to third-party reels with a larger lip.
  • Page 143 - No, film drying clips are expensive photo-specific pieces of equipment that can be replaced by much cheaper bulldog clips from an office-supply store.
  • Page 146 - The author fails to mention that an enlarger is incomplete without a lens, which is usually a separate purchase and may have more influence on print quality than the enlarger.
  • Page 148 - It is not necessary to leave a small border around the print.  There are borderless easels that work just fine, a drying rack is more efficient than hanging prints, and prints can be handled by the edges or with cotton gloves to avoid fingerprints.
  • Page 149 - The author fails to mention the dry-down effect.  That first print may turn out to be a disappointment.
  • Page 189 - The author fails to distinguish between match-needle metering and truly manual control.
  • Page 189 -  The author recommends a 50mm lens for portraits.  80mm would be better (we’re talking 35mm cameras).
  • And finally, the input from several photographers, particularly Liza Kanaeva-Hunsicker was not helpful.  Most of their photographs were unappealing.

A list of what the author got right would obviously be much longer than this error list.  I would give the book two f/stops (out of five), mostly for the effort.


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