How I began to teach myself film photography

When I embarked on the idea of learning film photography I didn’t realise it would be so difficult to find materials. I thought you could simply google it and it would all be there. But, as I am finding more and more, there is so much crap on google that some times it’s difficult to cut the wheat from the chaff.

I bought two books but I found them of little use: one, Colins Complete Photography Manual and, two,  the 35mm Photographers Handbook.

The first thing I found useful was the I Still Shoot Photography beginners guide. With these guides I began to understand the relationship between ISO, aperture and shutter speed and, importantly, just what the hell these terms meant. Other terms I began to grasp was f/stop and depth of field.

I also learnt why I’d want a smaller f/stop for  a shallow depth of field. I simply remember it as the smaller the actual opening in your lens the sharper everything in the photo is (f/stop of 16 for example). And the bigger the opening in the lens the more blurred things are which you’re not focusing on (f/stop of 2.8 for example). You can use a smaller f/stop number (2 or 2.8) for portraits so that all the focus is on the person but a larger f/stop (16 or 11) for landscapes to get everything in the image sharp.

Confusingly the smaller numbers mean a larger opening. The larger numbers mean a smaller opening.

Following these tutorials I still felt like I needed it explained to me in person. I found these fantastic and entertaining tutorials on youtube:

I watched them up to around the 20th lesson and they helped so much. They really built on what I’d read on the I Still Shoot Photography beginners guide. I highly recommend the videos!

Lastly, I played around a lot with the CameraSim. This nifty tool lets you practise changing the ISO, aperture, shutter speed and even focal length and weather conditions.

The most important thing is to keep taking photos and practising what you’ve learnt. It took me a while, but, the first time things actually started to click was in a Beijing market. I found I knew what all the terms meant and what I was supposed to do but actually putting that into practice on the moment I found difficult.

Practise, Practise, Practise.

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