Bridal session photography is quite possible my favourite type of photography. A mix of model photography, wedding photography and fashion photography with the best bits from each. By that I mean a nice model in a beautiful wedding dress and where we have all the time we need to create hopefully beautifully crafted images without the pressures and time constraints of an actual wedding day. To then shoot it all on a film camera is then icing on the cake for me. I prefer the look of film and hope to shoot a higher percentage of film at every wedding I cover going forward.
Leica Wedding Photography / Film Wedding Photography
If every couple allocated at least one hour of their wedding day for me capture stylised wedding photos like this I would be a very happy man and I think the resulting images would result in a happy bride (bride and groom too depending who was in the photos). Posing two people is often easier than one and a real bride and groom are on their wedding day high so that normally results in nice smiley natural looking wedding photos. Posing does not need to be a dirty word. It merely lets me place my bride and groom in the best possible light.
For this bridal shoot in Ukraine I shot with available light only to be able to work quickly. I was using both the digital Leica M 240 and the Leica M3. For the second roll of film in the M3 most of the photos were taken within a space of five minutes. It was my fastest roll of 35mm film shot to date as I wanted to make the most of the situation. Beautiful and willing models, the flowers, the dress, the location all in a remote woodland clearing one afternoon in Ukraine after a mini road trip. The bride(s) spoke little / no english but we still managed to get some nice photos with me directing with my hands and using body language. The first of two bridal shoots was with model Evgenia and I used AGFA Vista 200 Plus colour film (below). I then did the shoot again with model Olga in the same dress using Kodak Tri-X 400 black and white film (not all scanned yet). Here is an example photo with model Olga in black and white.
Hasselblad Wedding Photography
The Ukraine trip was pre-Hasselblad era so I had my Leica M3 35mm film camera, Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5 lens and was shooting 35mm AGFA Vista 200 plus budget film. I really like AGFA Vista film at the moment and prefer the more saturated look to that of Kodak Portra that can look a little flat. I wish there was a 120 AGFA Vista film for me to use in my Hasselblad as there seems a real gap in the colour film available for 400 speed saturated film. I need a Kodak Ektar 400 film ideally as I love the saturation from Kodak Ektar 100. Going forward my new Hasselblad 501C medium format film camera will be with me at all my weddings. It is not as fast to use as the Leica M3 rangefinder for film photography but the results are just amazing.
Without further ado here are the AGFA Vista colour film photos from the first bridal photography session shot with my recalibrated Leica M3 and model Evgenia.
Ilford Pan F 50 film is super fine grain, slow speed, black and white film produced by Ilford. I bought a roll of 35mm Pan F 50 to take on my trip to Zurich for a model photography workshop. It was my first time using this film and I was interested to see the results. I often use ISO 100 speed black and white film such as Kodak T-Max 100 or Fuji Acros 100. I had not shot with slow speed film before but I was in luck as we had bright sunny weather for the shoot.
I shot the Pan F 50 film in my 35mm Voigtlander Bessa R3A rangefinder camera on the first day of the workshop. (My Leica M3 was loaded with Kodak Portra 160 and my Leica M2 was loaded with 35mm CienStill 50D film). The first model we worked with was Joy, kindly supplied by Option Model Agency. The second model was a local dancer, Julia.
Here are some sample images shooting Ilford Pan F 50 at box speed in my Bessa R3A camera and developed in a soup of 1:3 diluted Xtol solution + 1:400 Rodinal. I realise other developers may give sharper and finer grain results but I wanted to use the developers I know best at this stage. Most photos were taken with a Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.4 lens.
Model – Joy
Model – Julia
I was really impressed with the amount of detail captured with the 35mm Pan F 50 film. The resolution was something closer to what is achieved with 120 medium format films. My next test will be to shoot 120 Ilford Pan F 50 film in my Fuji GF670 stopped down for my sharpest possible negatives.
Would I buy this film again?
Ilford Pan F 50 film is certainly not an everyday film as it requires 3x more light than say the popular Kodak Tri-X 400 film. I believe Pan F 50 is more suited to my 35mm film photography than my medium format cameras as 35mm lens are often much faster with the likes of the Leica M mount Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0, Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH and Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4. I am also interested to try this film with my latest purchase, a 35mm Nikon F4 SLR with perhaps the Nikkor 50mm f1.2 Ai-s lens. Most of my medium format camera lenses start at f2.8 (x2 slower than f1.4) or smaller with the exception of my Mamiya Sekor 80mm f1.9 C for the Mamiya 645 Super camera.
I plan to shoot Pan F 50 when I can during the brighter summer months of the UK and for some strobist work. Price wise Ilford Pan F 50 can be found for under £5.00 a roll in the UK making it cheaper than Fuji Acros 100 and a similar price to say Kodak T-Max. I invested in a 10 pack of 35mm Ilford Pan F 50 film to get a slightly cheaper price and to keep me going over the summer months.
Here is a series of 35mm Kodak Portra 160 film negative scans from my recent Zurich Model Photography Workshop. All Kodak Portra photos on the trip were shot with my 1950s Leica M3 rangefinder film camera with a 1950s Leica Summicron 50mm f2 DR lens attached. Big thanks to Option Model Agency who kindly supplied three of the models.
Firstly a few sample images I shared on Flickr:
Model: Joy (Option Model Agency)
Model: Taisha (with Ben in some photos)
Model: Joy (Option Model Agency)
Model: Julia (See below in black dress)
Model: Nadja (Option Model Agency)(Not included here. Post to follow)
More Kodak Portra 160 film images from my Zurich trip:
(Includes two black and white conversions)
During the shoot with model Nadja I tested 35mm Kodak Portra 160 film vs 35mm CineStill 50D film. Nadja’s photos to follow in the next post.
A quick recap of why I treated myself to a few rolls of 35mm CineStill 800 Tungsten film..
CineStill Xpro C-41 ISO 800 Tungsten 135/36
Firstly CineStill 800 T film is balanced for 3200K tungsten light so gives useable photos under this type of lighting. Secondly the box speed of CineStill 800T is ISo 800 but it can be used at any speed between ISO 200 and ISO 1250 without losing highlight or shadow detail.
I took a few rolls of 35mm CineStill film with me on a recent trip to Poland to shoot on location with some of the Malva Model agency models based in Sopot. I shot one roll with my Leica M3 film camera + Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 lens and another in the Leica M2 camera + Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f1.4 lens. For daylight shooting I metered at ISO 400-500 and used a 85B filter for colour correction. For the late evening I metered at ISo 800 and for all the night photos I also metered at ISO 800. I was interested to test the CineStill 800T under various light conditions, midday daylight, dusk, indoor tungsten room light, flurescent lighting, street lights and mixed lighting.
I shot with various models including Agnieszka, Teresa, Vicky, Karolina and Max that I shot on 35mm CineStill film. Here are a few of the photos. All images lab developed and scanned with an Epson v800 scanner. Not all photos were scanned at the same time and some photos scanned discoloured so I had to try to correct the colour in post. A few images were converted to black and white as I thought the colours didn’t add to the image.
CineStill 800 T + 85B Filter in Daylight (5500k) @ ISo 400/500
CineStill 800 T + 85B Filter in last of Daylight (5500k) @ ISo 800
CineStill 800 T + in Tungsten light (3200k) @ ISo 800
CineStill 800 T + at Night with street lights (3200k) @ ISo 800
I had high hopes for the CineStill 800T film but the resulting images exceeded all my expectations. I love the colours and tones and the fact that you can shoot a single roll at ISO 200-1250 in varying light conditions and it still gives great results. I will definitely add it to my wedding film photography bag!
CineStill Xpro C-41 ISO 50 Daylight 135/36
I am looking forward to trying 35mm CineStill 50 Daylight film next with my Leica film cameras. I think with my Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 v2 lens wide open on the Leica M3 camera. I also really hope the Brothers Wright get sufficient funding to start producing 120 CineStill 800 Tungsten film so I can use it in my medium format film cameras like my Mamiya RZ 67 and Mamiya 645 Super (plus also in my 120 roll film back for the 4×5 large format film Speed Graphic and Sinar F2!).
35mm Ilford FP4+ 125 film was the first film I ever tried, in my late Grandfathers 35mm Yashica MG-1 back in 2012. FP4+ film has a classic grain structure and negatives often have a vintage low contrast grainy appearance. I find the grainy appearance of FP4+ and Kodak Tri-X400 can sometimes be too much for my female portraits shot on 35mm film so I wanted to try to minimize grain when developing.
I bought 3 rolls of 35mm FP4+ last year to try it again (vs the Kodak T-Max 100 film I used mostly in 2013-2014) and last weekend I decided to load a roll in my 1950s Leica M3, with Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 v2 lens at f1. I developed the FP4+ film at box speed in 1:100 Rodinal, semi stand developed for 45 minute at 21 degrees. Negatives were scanned with my new Epson v800 scanner at 2400dpi using an Epson v600 35mm film insert (placed on the v800 glass). Please see the results below. I think this film has a lot of character and it is up there with my favourites.
Here is some of my early film days photography with Ilford FP4+ 125, both 120 and 135 formats – Part 1
Here is a link to Leica’s latest camera, the Leica M-A (Typ 127) film camera on the PetaPixel.com webpage. I think it is great that Leica continues to support and believes in film photography. I 100% agree with the purest Leica mentality. Film cameras without batteries shot using available light is to me the purest form of photography. Unlike digital photography, when shooting film I think twice or maybe three times before I press the shutter. That gives me time to recompose, assess the situation better and decide is the photo actually a keeper. If not I take my finger off the shutter and move on.
Am I tempted by the Leica M-A?
Not really. It looks almost the same as my 1950’s Leica M2 35mm film camera that is slimmer than my Leica M9. Yes there are some differences but the only option to me that would improve a Leica film camera is increase the flash sync speed to something more useful such as 1/180. For this reason the Voigtlander Bessa R3A is better than my M2 for strobist 35mm film photography.
I promise I will have some new Leica M2 film photos coming soon! I now have more Rodinal (R09) for black and white film developing so just need to finish my wedding editing and then I can ‘play’! 🙂
I shot a few rolls of Fuji C200 cheap 35mm colour film on my Voigtlander Bessa R3A rangefinder over the summer. Here is the first sample taking with my Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 lens (the lens that comes with the Bessa R3A as standard)(Great lens!).
I saw the afternoon sun spilling into our french cottage through the open front door so I had to get a photo.
I will add more samples to this post as I scan the negatives.
Taking using some cheap 35mm Fuji 200 film I acquired.