Months back--when I still lived in southern Virginia--my girlfriend, Brandy, and I took a trip to a zoo in North Carolina. It was something that we had been wanting to do for a while, and of course I brought along my Canon AE-1 film camera. I already had an unexposed roll of Kodak UltraMax 400, and we picked up a second roll at a local drugstore. In Virginia, I had no place to buy professional-grade film, and I honestly am not the biggest fan of Fujifilm Superia X-Tra 400, which is also found in many places, such as Walmart; I'll dedicate an entire blog post at a later time as to the several reasons why I have decided that I won't be buying Superia again. So, in terms of convenience, I am always happy to buy Kodak UltraMax/Kodak Gold film. It's really nice for what it is. ;)
I am quite proud of the following images produced from these two rolls of Kodak UltraMax 400, particularly because I hand-developed them both at home in a Paterson tank, using C-41 chemicals from Unicolor. I also scanned the negatives myself on my brand new Epson Perfection V550 scanner that I just bought the other day. It's a great flatbed for the price, and comes highly recommended! Let's get started! :)
Kodak UltraMax 400 at box speed
Had I known then what I know now, I probably would have pushed the film a stop, or even tried to find a faster film speed to shoot with, but I had already loaded the film and made an exposure or two. So, at 400 ASA, it was extremely difficult to capture these photos in such dim lighting of our first stop--and indoor aquarium--and for many of the ones coming up, my in-camera light meter indicated that these would all have been horribly underexposed, but the latitude of color negative film never ceases to amaze me. Also, luckily, I had my Canon nFD 50mm ƒ/1.4 lens with me, and I shot wide open for many of them. ;)
Omg... these cats were so adorable! <3 As for some funny memories, Brandy reminded me that this guy was in the middle of preparing to poop during the taking of these photos. lol xD
I didn't expect to see penguins in there, but as we neared the area, we realized that we had caught a little show with the trainers. The penguins were very friendly, and had no problem waddling right on up to my camera, as you will see in a bit. :)
These Kodak negatives had been sitting in a dusty old box for months here in Colorado, and I eventually cleaned them up a bit and got some high-quality archival sleeves from Print File, which I also highly recommend (for those who are curious, I got the ones that are six across and six down. I like to cut my negatives six across, so that I can store an entire 36-exposure roll of film, when I shoot them, on a single page. I'm very OCD about things like that, although I will warn you that the archival sheets with 7 strips of 5 seem to be more common, and they also fit into a standard binder. I, of course, make everything difficult for myself. For instance, I don't like to crop my photos when I do prints, and so I print 8x12 for my 35mm negatives, instead of making standard 8x10 prints; this is a problem because finding 8x12 frames is rather difficult! Go into any Walmart or Target, even, and you're sure to find a plethora of 8x10 frames.
Not to ramble and get off topic, back to the above photo! This is one of my favorite photos that I took from the entire trip. I just love the colors here, and many of these photos exceeded my expectations, considering the lighting that I had to work with.
I missed focus on this strange turtle, but thought that I would include it anyway. He was surprisingly moving pretty fast in that water! lol
Unfortunately, this was about the best shot I could get of these cute little monkeys, which is upsetting because Brandy and I specifically wanted to see monkeys on this trip. We did, however, get some cool shots of some gibbons, which you'll see a bit later on. :P
The lighting in this tank was so dim that my camera's light meter wouldn't even register it, so I opened up my lens to ƒ/1.4 and took a chance whenever I saw a shark dart by (and they were moving rather quick!). I missed focus on the two shark pictures, sadly, but I thought I'd include them here for you guys to see. I just love the way film looks, and the way the colors were rendered here. I'm quite pleased with everything. :)
Another shark in low light. :)
Some super-cute, curious penguins! ^_^
What's he thinking about? lol :)
I'm weak, you guys... I'm weak to cute things. In person, I was like a school girl while taking photos of these little guys. Photos are very important to me, because I don't have the greatest memory to begin with, but I love to capture things like this, especially occasions with Brandy. My film negatives are some of the most precious things to me in my life (less precious than Brandy, of course), and I have realized how much that I absolutely do not miss shooting digitally. When it comes to making movies, or vlogs, sure. And when I have to do a paying gig that requires that I use a digital camera, sure. But if I can help it, I am completely content shooting film for everything, forever. I have nothing against digital at all, and shot it for years, but I just have a love affair with the tactile nature of film; to be able to hold my negatives in my hand and look at them against the light is so rewarding to me.
Another curious penguin. xD
In an even darker tank, where the needle of my light meter would not even budge, were some beautiful jellyfish! Wow! I know these photos are underexposed, full of nasty grain, and aren't exactly tack sharp... but I am still in love with many qualities of this photograph. +hugs this photo+ lol =p
Considering the lighting conditions, I am really surprised as to how well the above photo turned out! I love it. I remember very clearly standing in front of this tank for about 15 minutes straight, trying to capture this picture. The fish was moving extremely fast, the light was nearly non-existent, and I was trying to manually focus. This was the only photo that I took, and one of the workers came up to me, and said, "you sure are fascinated with that fish," in a rather snarky tone. But the truth is, everyone around me was snapping photos on their cell phones wildly, and I was trying to make just one good picture on film. Film isn't cheap, and there were only 24 exposures per each Kodak UltraMax roll. I didn't let that lady get to me, and waited until I got this picture at ƒ/1.4 on my Canon nFD 50mm lens. :)
I'm still shocked as to how well the one above turned out! I wasn't expecting anything like this! Wow! I love you, film; you're the greatest. <3
Okay, you guys... so the above shot of the penguin diving into the water is my absolute favorite shot of the entire trip! And what's funny is... as soon as I showed Brandy, she was like, "you better share this one!" lol. I did not expect to see this photo turn out this well, and I had thought for sure that the penguin would be out of focus. What a lighting in a bottle moment. SO happy with this one, and I want to get it printed and framed! <3
Kitty!!! <3 <3 lol. They were soooo cute!
Okay! So, by this time, we had exited the aquarium, and now for some better shots outdoors, where the light was plenty! Yay! As soon as I exited the building, I saw this (statue?) of a dilophosaurus. Like... how could I not take a photo of a dilophosaurus?? Of course I did! lol :P
The last shot of the first roll of film was taken here by the turtle cage. They're actually much faster than you'd imagine, considering their size.
So, I loaded up the second roll of Kodak UltraMax 400, and handed the Canon AE-1 off to Brandy. She took the above shot of this little guy. <3
This (and the next) photo of this cute gibbon were taken by Brandy, also. He was so cute, and just hung there by the fence for us to take pictures. What a handsome guy! lol
Again, the above photo was taken by Brandy. <3
I think this is the only one that I took of the gibbons. I like how it turned out, and he changed his pose up a little bit. lol. I remember that there were two other gibbons behind him playfully fighting while this guy was just hanging about for the cameras. lol
From the gibbon cage, I saw a beautiful peacock sitting all by himself on a fence just across the way. I had NO idea that he would allow me to get this close to him, but I inched my way so very cautiously toward the fence. He eyed me the entire time, and I crouched a bit beneath him, to show his obvious superiority. I mean, look at this guy! He's gorgeous. lol. In doing so, he allowed me to get fairly close. I had my Canon FD 35mm ƒ/2 S.S.C. lens attached at the time, and very gently switched it out for my 50mm, while holding my breath. I snapped this picture, and then I wondered if he would possibly allow me to get closer...
Oh, myyy... he did! And, actually, it almost appeared as if he started to pose for me. It was so bizarre, and I remember telling Brandy that--given my luck--these photos would not turn out. lol. But they did, and I am so proud of them! ^_~
As I was backing away, I took a third shot, and then let him be. What's funny is that after Brandy and I were walking away, a group of people came up to photograph the peacock, and he jumped from the fence and ran off! LOL
The above photo of the maned wolf was taken in a small enclosure by Brandy. Unfortunately, we were high up on a deck above him, and didn't have a way of getting any closer, and 50mm was the longest lens that I brought with me. I'll need to remedy that for the future. :P
We got a late start in the day, and the zoo was closing soon after I took the above shot of Brandy. I took this photo of her in front of the gibbon environment, and I really love it so much. I love Brandy so much! Even the beautiful peacock can't begin to compete with this! Yay. I had so much fun on this trip with you, Brandy. Let's do it again sometime! <3
The entire experience and workflow of shooting 35mm film, developing it myself, and then scanning the negatives myself is pure joy for me. And for what it's worth, I am quite fond of Kodak UltraMax 400. I'll definitely shoot it again, when I'm in a bind and can't grab a roll of Kodak Portra 400, or whatever else. If you've ever thought about shooting film, and haven't yet... please do! It's so worth it! Thanks for reading. :)