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“Knowing how to use film makes you a better photographer.”

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Long Road students have been making use of traditional film photography, including black and white. Mary Weinberger, Photography A level course team leader explains:

“There has been an upsurge of interest in using film cameras, both amongst professionals and the general public. It is fun and fashionable, but it is not easy. We are very proud of our darkroom facilities at Long Road.  We teach all of our Year 1 students how to use take and produce traditional photographs in the first year. Four of our students talk about how they have been using the technique.”:

Julia Begum

“I’m working on the topic of Manufactured Structures and have been using Ilford black and white film to take photos of urban landscapes and buildings. I’ve spent hours in the college darkroom. It’s very different from digital photography – when you develop the film yourself, you can create your own effects. It’s challenging – using low light creates interesting contours but you have to be careful not to introduce graininess. I’m hoping to take an apprenticeship in a creative or media field – using traditional photography has given me additional skills.”

Charlotte Sleeman

“I’ve been using film for portrait photography – I prefer the end look over digital photography. I also spend hours in the darkroom working with the negatives. You can achieve different effects using a range of chemicals. You need to develop, fix and rinse your photographs. I’m going to study Photography at Nottingham Trent after a gap year. This is an excellent way of extending my skills.”

Faith Matthews

“I’ve been taking black and white portraits of people in the environment – often with their bicycles. Using film requires self-discipline – there are only 36 shots on a film whereas you could have several hundred attempts using a digital camera. This means you have to think very carefully about what you’re doing and compose photos with care. I’m going to take the Level 4 Art Foundation at Long Road, and my work with photography has given me extra insights.”

Sam Rooke

“I’ve been using film to create collages from photographs of landscapes and architecture, connecting these via similar tones and gradients. Using the darkroom to create these images has made the process more rewarding – though the chemicals don’t always smell that great! I’m going to study Civil Engineering at Nottingham Trent – photographic skills will be extremely useful for this.”

Mary continues:

“We are very pleased that students are going the extra mile in using traditional film, film cameras and the darkroom in producing their coursework in Year 2. Learning how to use a film camera and to process and produce photographs in the darkroom is a requirement of the exam board. However, there are additional benefits:

1. Learning new and transferrable skills which are essential to producing outstanding photographs, such as using manual controls, lighting the photograph and obtaining the correct exposure;
2. Traditional processes encourage students to experiment with materials: this is a vital element for success on the course;
3. When applying to study photography at university, students with experience of traditional film and processes have an edge on students who have no training;
4. There are more creative possibilities when combining traditional photography with digital skills;
5. Students with expertise in film photography have an increased understanding of the practical techniques, processes and theory of the visual language of Photography.”

Photo: Sam, Charlotte, Julia and Faith