Comedy Works Denver - "Thick Skin" One-Year Anniversary Shot on 35mm Film

Introduction

So, my girlfriend, Brandy Bryant, was invited to tattoo guests live on-stage at the downtown Comedy Works in Denver, CO for the one-year anniversary of Thick Skin, hosted by Mike Stanley, on January 23, 2019.

I try my best to support Brandy, and I usually accompany her to many of her shows and open-mics with one of my many cameras. I wanted to photograph the show on 35mm film, and was given the go-ahead. Being a last-minute sort of thing, I grabbed what film that I could. And I wanted to experiment with a few oddball choices, and so I did just that.

In my arsenal was an all-mechanical Canon F-1n with an FD 35mm ƒ/2 S.S.C. concave lens for my black and white rolls, as well as the Canon New F-1 with an nFD 50mm ƒ/1.4 lens attached for my color rolls. In my bag, I came prepared with a hand-held light meter that I didn’t use much this time, as well as an FD 85mm ƒ/1.2 L lens that I also didn’t use this time, sadly.

The film that I used included Kodak Portra 400, Kodak Portra 800, Ilford HP5 Plus 400, and Ilford Delta 400. I shot them all at ISO 1600, and pushed them during at-home development. Yes, you heard that correctly. The results certainly surprised me. Some were better than others, though next time I may just bring some TMax P3200, or whatnot. As a word of advice… if you’re doing this sort of project, I wouldn’t recommend shooting this many film types; it took a really long time to develop them, as they all required different recipes, and scanning is always a nuisance, of course. I’d recommend sticking to just a couple of film types for any event. ;)

Thick Skin - One-Year Anniversary

Shooting film in either low-light or just plain tricky lighting situations certainly isn’t easy. Not to mention, I’m manually-focusing everything (I’m not a fan of autofocus, personally). There are a few tips that I could give anyone interested. For starters, my cameras of choice have the ability to swap out focusing screens. I have gone out of my way to find the brightest screens possible, and I use focusing aids that help in low light. On my Canon New F-1, I also have the ability to change the metering pattern, and I’d recommend either partial or spot metering for situations where the subject is lit with a dark background. Remember, when shooting film, you either get a properly-exposed image or you don’t; there is no LCD screen on the back to do test photos.

In a perfect world, I’d like to keep the shutter speed at 1/125 sec or faster to prevent motion blur, but in low-light situations, I sometimes have to shoot at 1/60 sec, or gulp, even 1/30 sec. Sacrifices are sometimes made for a better exposure. Just keep in mind, unlike digital, once you start shooting at a particular ISO, you’re locked into that setting for the duration of the roll (36 exposures).

The ever-handsome Mike Stanley. - Portra 400 +2

Kodak Portra 400 (+2)

Kodak Portra 800 (+1)

Ilford Delta 400 (+2)

Brandy Bryant at work - Ilford HP5 Plus 400 (+2)

Conclusion

Thanks for taking the time to check out this photo blog. My aim is only to inspire current and future film photographers, and I hope you could take something away from this. I wanted to keep the photos to a minimum, because I do tend to shoot a lot of film, and I think I included what counts here. I would normally never shoot a 400 speed color film in such lighting conditions, but I took a chance, and I’m pretty happy with the results. Of course, photography is all about capturing light, and the more, the merrier! But either way, I just love the look and textures of film. Is it as clean as digital? Absolutely not. At all. Well, that is… until you get into larger formats, but that’s both impractical for this sort of situation, as well as another topic, altogether! But I prefer it for its character. I hope you enjoyed this photo blog. Cheers. :)