The term ‘Analogue Photography’ refers to photography using an analogue camera and film. A roll of film is loaded into the camera and the magic begins once you start clicking: light interacts with the chemicals in the film and an image is recorded. The pictures collected in your film roll come to life when the film is processed in a photo lab.
When it comes to choosing a film camera, it’s important to remember that different cameras shoot different kinds of film. Some cameras use 35mm film, some require 110 format film, some shoot 120 (aka ‘medium-format’) film and some use Instant film. The most common among these choices is 35mm film, which can be processed in your local photo lab, drugstore or supermarket. 35mm film comes in canisters and is characterized by its sprocket holes – little perforations which run along the edge of the film strip. 120 film, on the other hand, is larger and delivers square photos; this film doesn’t have sprocket holes. 110 format film is used with pocket cameras and produces small photos. Lastly, Instant photos do not require photo lab processing; they magically develop within a few seconds!
Pop-art icon Andy Warhol was once quoted as saying, “The idea of waiting for something makes it more exciting,” and it perfectly applies to analogue photography. There is no LCD screen to check your photos and you’ll only see what you have captured after the film roll has been processed, scanned and printed. Ask any analogue photography devotee and they’ll tell you that the wait is part of the thrill!
Once you get into analogue photography, you’re sure to find it creatively fulfilling. Modern-day apps and software have tried to emulate the effects that you get with film photos, but nothing beats the original; it’s more rewarding when you create it yourself rather than with a filter. Of course, the results may vary (depending on the lighting conditions, the film and camera used and the mood of your photo lab operator, etc.) but overall the analogue look is unmistakable. Colors are richer, the saturation is more dramatic (or ‘wild’ if you wish), and the film grain adds soul and character to your images, they seem to evoke nostalgic and dream-like memories. Experimentation and the thrill of the unknown drive us in our love for analogue.
Light leaks, blank shots and happy accidents – these are normal with your first few rolls. But don’t give up! It takes some practice but you’ll get the hang of it. Our tip? Make sure that you read the instructions. Sometimes even film photography veterans forget about taking the lens cap off! Experimenting with your photos by trying out techniques can give you bizarre results, so don’t feel too bad if your photos are nothing like how you planned them to be. Want to try some tips? Check out the Lomography Tipster page for some ideas!
Most Lomographers are actually happy to find light leaks – these are white or red streaks on film created by stray light that enters a camera body - and “mistakes” that occur as they shoot – these “flaws” make your photographs even more interesting and unique! It’s also best to keep in mind that different film labs do not use the same chemicals and calibrations, so you’ll get varied results with your photos.
35mm - A 35mm camera such as the Lomo LC-A+ or Lomo LC-Wide uses all kinds of 35mm film which can be conveniently developed in your local photo lab. Both cameras are recommended for beginners, because they’re easy to use; the compact size allows you to shoot easily and get impressive results. These cameras produce photos with radiant colors and vignettes that frame your subject; plus, they’re equipped with creative settings for artistic photographs.
120 - Once you’ve mastered the 35mm format, you may want to explore the more advanced medium-format territory. You can start with the Diana F+, a classic camera that emits soft-focused, dream-like square photos. If you’re aiming for sharp shots, go for a premium 120 camera such as the Belair X 6-12.
Instant - Instant photography allows you to enjoy the tactile experience of analogue photography in a swift instant. It’s a great choice for spontaneous moments; once you click the shutter, the camera ejects the photo which develops in less than a minute. An excellent choice for shooting creative and fun instant photos is the Lomo’Instant. What sets this apart from other instant cameras is the creative flexibility that it offers: 3 shooting modes, advanced lens system, multiple exposure function and long-exposure settings. It gives you the freedom to get experimental and see the results instantly.
110 - 110 Cameras are super easy to use and they’re so small, they fit right into your pocket. There are no settings to fuss with these analogue babies; you just need to point and click the shutter.
There are various kinds of film under these different formats (with the exception of Instant Film): Color Negative, Black & White, Redscale and Slide.
Color Negative film produces natural, true-to-life colors and smooth grain. They go through standard processing using C-41 chemicals.
Redscale film yields warm hues, ranging from radiant reds to honey hues. You can either do the redscale technique yourself (using a Color Negative film) or get one that is ready-to-shoot from the Lomography Online Film Shop.
135 - Also called 35mm; the most common film format.
120 - A type of paper-backed film used in various medium format cameras.
Aperture - The hole in which light passes through to expose the film – the lens opening. Aperture is measured in F numbers, the lower the number the bigger the aperture. A high aperture number means a smaller zone of sharpness within the shot.
ASA - This little acronym refers to how much light you’ll need to expose your film correctly. It stands for American Standards Association, whose photographic exposure system became the basis for the more common International Standards Organization (ISO) film speed system in 1987.
Auto Exposure - Found in a number of modern cameras, this is an exposure system that exposes the film correctly every time, without the adjustment of manual settings.
B Setting -This “bulb” mode on certain cameras allows you to keep the shutter open for as long as you want resulting in long exposures and light streak photos.
Bokeh - Refers to the aesthetic quality of the out-of-focus part of an image caused by shallow depth of field.
Bulb - Is the shutter setting that keeps the shutter open for as long as you hold down the shutter button.
Cross Process - There are two types of color film chemistry: C-41 (for color negatives) and E-6 (for color slides). Cross processing is, essentially, dunking unprocessed film in the “wrong” chemistry for its film type. When color slide film is cross-processed in C-41 chemistry, the resulting images have deeply saturated colors and high contrast.
Darkroom - Literally, a dark room in which you can chemically process film or print from negatives without exposing the photo-sensitive film and paper to light.
Double Exposure - A technique in which a piece of film is exposed twice. Double exposures can result in a dreamy, layered effect, or an upside-down, mish-mash world of your choosing!
Expired film - Undeveloped film that has gone past its “sell-by-date” – resulting in crazy color shifts and unexpected effects.
Electronic Flash - A camera accessory which can add a burst of light to a dark subject for proper film exposure.
Emulsion - The matte side of a film or paper which is light sensitive. When film or photographic paper is exposed and processed, the emulsion reveals an image.
Exposure - The amount of light which reaches your film when taking a photograph.
F-stop - The numbers on the aperture ring that represent the size of the aperture in your lens (f/5.6, f/8, f/11, and so on). A higher f-stop suggests a smaller aperture, which means that less light is coming through. All you need to remember is: the bigger the number, the smaller the hole.
Fisheye Lens - An extremely wide-angle lens which yields hemispherical images on film, the Fisheye lens is named for the field of vision which fish are believed to have.
Half Frame - A type of 35mm camera in which the film plane is half its normal width. This allows you to expose twice as many frames as usual on one roll of 35mm film by taking two portrait-rectangular shots where there would normally only be one landscape-rectangular image.
Hot shoe - The electronic contact point on a camera at which you can attach an electronic flash.
ISO speed - Controls film sensitivity; the higher the ISO speed, the more sensitive the film is to light. For example: ISO 400 is more light-sensitive than ISO 50.
Light leaks - White or red streaks on film created by stray light that enters a camera body. While originally accidental, creating light leaks on images is now a well-known technique loved by many photographers.
Long exposure - This is an effect achieved by setting a long-duration shutter speed so that stationary objects in the field of view appear sharp while moving elements will be blurred. For best results, practice in low-light conditions or with a very slow film speed. Try shooting a street corner with moving traffic and you will not be disappointed.
Pinhole - a camera without a lens, basically a lightproof box with a small hole.
Redscale - A technique of shooting red-orange photos by turning the film the wrong way around and loading the film backwards. The color shift can range from red to a range of warm honey tones.
Shutter speed - How long your camera’s shutter stays open; usually measured in fractions of a second. You can adjust your camera’s shutter speed via a dial on the camera body in order to achieve light-streaked photos, correctly expose a scene, or sharply capture a fast-moving object. For example: a fast shutter speed like 1/1000 delivers sharp photos if you’re shooting action photos; a slow shutter speed like 1/30 is ideal for shooting photos in low-light conditions.
Slide film - A film that yields a positive image when processed normally with E6 chemicals.
Vignetting - The shadowy, dark corners present on photographic prints which emphasize the photo’s subject and create depth in a photograph.