The annoying thing about film is that it can take quite a lot of time before you get the results. The fun thing about film is that weeks after you spend a holiday you get to re-live it when you receive the developed film at home!

As you might have read in earlier posts (here), my man and I visited Curaçao in February. Last week I received the developed results from the last film I shot there, so I now have the complete set of analogue photos ready to share. It was my first trip with a film camera (two actually), and the first time that I really went for shooting film. At home I was shooting one or two shots every now and then, but in Curaçao I tried to have a more relaxed approach towards film. The result is 5 rolls of Portra 400 and 1 roll of Tri-X! I shot 3.5 roll of Portra 400 and 1 roll of Tri-X with the Leica M2, and 1.5 roll of Portra with the Minolta Riva Panorama.

I also wrote a post about the color photos in Curaçao for 35mmc, which you can read here if you are interested:

http://www.35mmc.com/15/04/2016/first-experience-portra-400-guest-post-aukje/

One of things I discussed in this post is the presence of white spots in all photos, although  most visible in the photos with a dark sky (see below). A couple of people helped me figuring out what caused it. My conclusion is that it must be dust on the negatives that were present during scanning. Other suggestions were:

  • Storage issues (suggested by the AG photo lab who developed and scanned the film). I rule this out as I had one roll developed by another lab, in those photos the white spots are not present, but the rolls experienced the same storage and traveling.
  • X-ray initiated spots (during security checks at the airport): I rule this out for the same reason as above. And if x-ray causes a problem it is more likely to be a haze rather than spots.
  • Holes in the shutter curtain of the M2. This cannot be the case as the photos from the Minolta Riva Panorama also display spots. And probably holes in the curtain will produce more vague light areas rather than spots with sharp edges.
  • Emulsion issues. This is not likely as I see spots in both the Portra 400 photos as in the black and white Tri-X photos.

This leaves the logical conclusion that it must have been dust. I didn’t experience this before with this lab, but I guess no process is perfect, and the guy at the lab can have a bad day too?

Apart from the white spots I am quite happy with the result. I like the colors Portra 400 produces. With the M2 I always metered for iso 100, so most photos were overexposed by 2 stops. The panoramic photos from the Minolta were automatically exposed at box speed. I don’t see a lot of difference in the scanned results, although the negatives from the M2 look more dense. Anyway, here are my favourite Portra photos, you can click on them for a full version:

I accidentally loaded a roll of Tri-X in the M2 (loaded a new roll on the beach, the heat must have gotten to my head, making it impossible for me to distinguish between the both yellow labeled rolls of Tri-X and Portra). But I do like the result. As Tri-X is also an iso 400 film, exposure was fine.

So far I am enjoying my film adventure, so expect more of this to come. Of course with Dutch colors rather than Caribbean ones, but they might be alright too 😉

Thanks for reading!

5 thoughts on “Curaçao on Film

  1. Those are some really nice images. I really love the lighting and compositions. Portra 400 is my go-to color film. At any given time, one of my 3 film cameras has a roll of Portra 400 loaded. On my last vacation, I shot more digital. I wanted to make sure that I did not miss anything. Fast forward to today, I take my film cameras everywhere and shoot them before I shoot my DSLR. Shooting film almost exclusively has taught me so much and has change my approach to shooting such that almost every shot I take is a keeper. I am not a great photographer by no means. It’s just that my eye is more trained on what I think would make a good picture. Are all my pictures great? Absolutely not, but my keeper rate is much higher with film versus digital. I credited this to shooting film. Film forces me to be more engaged. At the end of the day, I love the look of film. Thus, I know just how good it can be if I just bring out the film camera instead of my digital camera.

    I believe losing track of what film is in what camera is a rite of passage for the film photographer. This also includes opening the back of the camera and realizing you still had a roll of film inside. I did the latter a few months ago. Since then, I add a strip of masking tape to the bottom of the camera with the film type and load date on the tape. I also have an app that I use to keep track of my film and the exif data for each shot. Even though you meant to shoot color, the 400TX shots were still nice. Speaking of color, you should give Ektar 100 a try if you haven’t already. I plan to do more landscape shots with Ektar in the future. I just love the punch you get with Ektar. Be careful shooting portraits. Ektar can bring out the red in fair skinned people.

    Your first point about waiting for your film to be processed is one of the little joys I have come to love. It’s like Christmas day every time I get the email saying my scans are ready for download. As I scroll through my images for the first time, I get to relive the moment. Another benefit that comes with the wait is the fact that you become detached from the captured image. The longer the wait the more detached you become. I believe this is beneficial in being more objective of the quality of your own work. I’m apologize for being long-winded. I can talk about this stuff forever, LoL! Keep up the good work. I look forward to seeing more.

    1. Hi Travis, thanks for your feedback and suggestions. I am figuring this out just now, so I really appreciate your thoughts. I really like shooting film, but I also want to be faithful to my wonderful digital M. So I am looking for a way to incorporate both in my photography flow, if that makes sense. I appreciate different things in both, I have the same Christmas day feeling when my film is developed, but I also enjoy processing files in the afternoon that I shot in the morning. Although I recognise the benefit of some distance to my images more and more. I guess I am a learning and finding my own path. And in that process it helps getting other peoples perspective, so thanks again!

      1. You’re Welcome! It makes perfect sense! First of all, that Leica is an awesome camera. I don’t think I could keep that setting around for very long. Secondly, whatever gets you out taking photos and enjoying what you do, keep doing it. I hope to upgrade my DSLR in the future. I find that nowadays I incorporate my digital camera more for long exposures, night scenes and action shots. For me, digital just works better in those scenarios.

  2. Another vote from me on the joy of the wait on film. I tell my students it’s like Christmas!

    You have some fine shots here (really like the one with the guy sat down, lovely framing and monochromatic whites). Great example of how film bestkws that ‘special ‘ quality.

    1. Hi Richard, thanks! I like that one too, one of the few times I was able to overcome my nerves to take some stranger’s picture (although he was at quite some distance).

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