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52 Photo Tips #18: Use a handheld light meter

(Pic: Yutaka Tsutano/Flickr)

(Pic: Yutaka Tsutano/Flickr)

This is the 18th post in a series in collaboration with Film’s Not Dead.

One of the big stumbling blocks that prevents people trying film – especially with older cameras – is metering.

We’re used to taking perfectly exposed pics time after time these days, either on our phones, digital compacts or DSLRs. To give that up and try and get well-exposed photos on a 50 or 60-year-old camera seems like a pretty steep learning curve.

Many film cameras built towards the end of the 20th Century came armed with excellent meters. Enthusiast SLRs like the Nikon F100 or the Canon EOS 5 boasted metering that would still be impressive on a DSLR today – they made shooting perfectly exposed pics a cinch. But what if you’re shooting on an old Leica rangefinder? Or a Lubitel? Or the old folding camera that your grandparents had? You can use your phone (there are plenty of accurate light meter apps around these days) or another camera that has an accurate meter. But by far the easiest way is to invest in a handheld light meter.

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Photo sharing for film photographers

(Pic: Pexels)

(Pic: Pexels)

With digital photography has come a culture of sharing pictures almost unheard of to those who grew up in the analogue, family album days.

Photos might not be printed much these days (a situation that has come with its own dire warnings) but they have the ability to be seen now in almost real time, by friends and strangers near and far. A picture taken in London can be enjoyed almost simultaneously in Singapore, Santiago, Samarkand and Seattle.

This digital world might not be as immediate for those photographers shooting film, but it still gives analogue snappers a wealth of ways to share their photographs, should they chose to. Many digital photographers too young to have shot film in its heyday are really curious about it – they see digital apps like Instagram and Hipstamatic apeing the look of those old emulsions and want to know more.

Some people will want to take photos and keep them private – and there’s nothing wrong with that. But there is a simple pleasure in sharing photographs with other people, showing them your take on the world, and perhaps inspiring them to create their own. And that’s especially true with film – every photographer you persuade to try film is another photographer who will help sustain it for further generations.

So what are the social mediums worth checking out? Below are some of the most popular – household names, a few of them – which could take your film photography in interesting new directions.

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Cosina CX-1 review


How the Lomography craze all began…

Sometimes it doesn’t pay to be first. The Cosina CX-1 is a Japanese zone-focus camera which was released in 1980. It was small enough to out in your pocket, had an automatic mode for fuss-free shooting, and a sharp, contrasty wide-angle lens.

The CX-1 is a capable little compact camera, but that’s not why it deserves a footnote in photographic history. It’s the fact that it’s the CX-1 that’s responsible for the Soviet Lomo LC-A, the camera that kick-started the Lomography movement, toy camera photography and – perhaps – sparked the rise of Instagram.

The CX-1, you could argue, doesn’t get the credit it deserves.

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52 Photo Tips #17: Use leading lines


This is the 17th post in a series in collaboration with Film’s Not Dead.

Photography draws much from the rules of painting. One of the most important is the use of leading lines.

When our eyes see a line, they instinctively move along it, seeking to follow it to the end. Painters and artists have used it to great effect – creating what’s known as the ‘vanishing point’. And for photographers, those leading lines are everywhere – both in the man-made world and the natural.

Using leading lines – a road, a fence, the sweep of a shoreline – is one of the easiest ways to make an image more powerful.

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Heavy Trash in concert

Heavy Trash's drummer/bass player Sam Baker

Heavy Trash’s drummer/bass player Sam Baker

Rock ‘n’ roll is dead – at least as far as record sales go. Album sales dwindle with every passing year. It’s in the live arena that it’s at its healthiest. Bands tour now like they did in the 60s. You get paid to show up and play, and anything else on top of that is a bonus.

For 20-odd years I was a music journalist, first in New Zealand, then in London. I went to hundreds upon hundreds of gigs, in venues big and small. A decade go, I started shooting bands for my project capturing bands during soundchecks. Before then, I’d only shot a handful of live gigs. I went to those shows as a reviewer, not a photographer.

Times change. Now, the prospect of capturing a band on film is too good to miss up, especially when that band includes an old friend and means I won’t have to head for the exit after only three songs.

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