Flirting with Film

Shooting with film can be expensive. Best to have guidelines so you won’t be wasting time and money shooting and developing rolls only to find out your photos suck.

These photos were taken from my trip to Barcelona last 2009 so yeah I look different. I’m glad I still have these hanging around. If you think the photos are old, what more the camera.

My late father left me an heirloom of a slr (single lens reflex) camera–the Cosina CT-1. Mas matanda pa sa akin to eh. I had a habit of bringing it abroad on trips cause it looked cool and it would be such a waste if nobody else would use it.

A third world tourist always makes use of what’s available.

cosina ct1

Here are some shots I took that prove that the brand OR AGE of a camera doesn’t really matter. What’s important is you have fun with the process. The product will follow.

Landmarks and Architectural Detail

La Sagrada Familia can be one La Sagrada pain in the ass to shoot. Especially if you only have a 50mm lens. So you have to know how to angle and crop your photos well or you’re doomed.

la sagrada 3
Use the foliage to frame your subject.
la sagrada3
When in doubt, look up. The contrast of the steel cranes behind the organic looking structure somehow gives it a playful thought.
la sagrada2
Making certain elements appear to be touching can work as well. In this case, the peak of the La Sagrada Familia seems to be reaching for the branches.
la sagrada1
Use silhouettes to play around with the spacing and framing of elements.


When taking portraits…

If you feel you don’t have a compelling background, focus on the subject. Widen your aperture and increase your shutter speed. Your subject doesn’t always have to be centered, too.
Catch your subjects unguarded, even in the most awkward and uncomfortable moments.
ali lady pau
Candid laughter is always a great shot waiting to be taken. Be watchful for those.
Frame wisely. Create a story. What if the guy at the back has the biggest crush on this girl?!
Let their inner rockstar shine. Sometimes just by pointing the camera turns on a reflex pose and that’s it. Your job is done.
lady and pau
Probably the best advice I can give: Keep beautiful girls within shooting distance.

Go loco for locals

This painter inside Casa Batllo working on Gaudi’s detailed wall pattern uses a water color paintbrush. I had to kneel down to take this angle.
I prefer motion and action over still subjects. They have more impact and drama.
Forget what I said earlier, sometimes their silence and small mannerisms are as interesting as well. This artist drawing by the street uses a CD to draw circles.
Dance with your subjects. Give the viewer the feeling of the moment by tilting or swaying your camera. Consider the amount of light though, too little will blur everything.
This sad clown eating a happy meal which I cannot understand.
I wish I got closer. The negative space around him isn’t serving any real purpose.
Some locals are worth capturing on film more than others. Learn to spot which one.

For the love of landscapes

When lighting is not as good, make it even worse. Stare directly into the sun and move towards the subject to create silhouettes. Can be more interesting when framed properly.
white house
Add a little danger into the process. Stay in the middle of the street. Hang from a pole. Hold your camera up in an uncomfortable position. If you don’t get a great picture, at least you have an interesting story.
Play with thee shapes and spaces you can create.


Experiment with lighting. Just because it’s a bit dark doesn’t mean it’s hopeless. Master your camera’s settings to be able to get details in the dark.
Good luck Art directing an entire tour group. It’s just not going to happen.
Symmetry coupled with depth are a sure hit. Plus you only have to stay in the middle and voila. Don’t forget to tighten the aperture and lengthen exposure for more detail.

I actually have other undeveloped rolls that might have interesting photos in them. Will look into that soon. I’m going to Apo Reef, Bohol, and Bali this June and I can’t wait to try out this slr again.

Here are other tips when shooting in film that I find useful. This one gives you a backgrounder on street photography  But if you’re still just beginning, maybe better to start with this off. 

In the meantime, do you have other tricks up your sleeve you can share with me? I would want to try them out as I leave for my next trips these coming weeks.

Lemme know in the comment box or email me at

Thanks in advance!


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