Sunday, June 24, 2018

Settings for Film Swap for DUMMIES (35mm)


After a few film swaps I have done with other enthusiasts and advice from them, I decided to publish  tips and techniques on it, so that you can achieve those mindblowing cross-country double exposures. This blog will demonstrate you how to make settings to swap a 35mm film. Are you ready? Shall we start?

What you need:
Only a few permanent markers  apart from your camera and the film.

Children's sketches do not work. They will easily get erased on the film surface.

Manual cameras preferred, in the sense, they should not load or rewind film using the power from the battery.

Step 1:
The first step of making the settings is to know your film. Knowing your film means knowing its Film Speed. Film Speed is normally measured in ISO or ASA, which is printed on film cartridge.
I chose 35mm BW film by Lomography. The Film Speed 100 is mentioned on the cartridge
Step 2:
We all love to load film on to our wild analaog cameras. But hold on there! Before you load it, one small, but important step, would really help you. This is important because, you would later find it hard to do it.

This step involves marking the edges on the camera, so that after you load film, it will be easy to mark the film for alignment.

Mark the edges of the camera where the frame starts and ends. This should be done for all the four corners. The sketch used here could not make opaque markings. However the transparent markings are clearly appearing for the top-right and bottom-left corner.
Step 3
Now comes our favorite step of loading film on to camera. Yes, you are allowed now! Go ahead and load it as usual, but wait, do not close the back! Before closing the back, there is yet another important step.

Connect the dots (making vertical lines) which you have marked on the camera in the previous step. That allows you to let your partner (the film swapping enthusiast who is waiting patiently in the other corner of the world for you to send exposed film) to know from which point you have started the exposures.

Connect the dots forming vertical lines on film. You can write something in the frame like, "Have Fun", "Align Here". You can also draw some fancy arrows indicating that you did not use that part of film. This camera for demonstrating used the film only on right side of the frame. Others may use  it on the left also. Draw arrows on the other side as well, if  your camera does.
Step 4
The next step is to manage the Film Speed setting on the camera.
  • Is this really required?
  • Yes.
  • Why?
  • Because you are exposing the same film twice (or may be thrice, or may be more. However to keep it simple, I will be considering it as double exposure in this blog to demonstrate.) Hence, there is every chance that the film is over-exposed.
  • Dont you think that the images will look washed away with light touching your poor film so many times?
  • Yes.
  • So what should we do avoid this?
  • We have to under-expose it.
  • How?
  • Set the Film Speed of your camera to double the actual speed of the Film. In our case, the speed of the film is ISO 100. To prevent over-exposure, we should set the Film Speed of our camera to ISO 200 (or more). (We are considering a low speed film as a high speed film and making the setting on the camera. For a setting of Film Speed 200 on camera, a film of speed 100 is low, which means, it is going to be an under-exposure.)
However, you can set the normal speed 100, if you are shooting a night scene or a poorly lit subject. But do not forget it to reset to 200 for the next shot. If all this is confusing, simple, forget it. Shoot the entire roll at the same speed, 200. You will know when to come back to the normal speed on practice.

Speed of film is ISO 100. Setting camera speed to 100 will expose it correctly, to 50 will over-expose it. But we have to under-expose it, so we chose Film Speed 200.
Step 5
This step is optional. But this would help you look your double exposures better. You may log the shots and send them to the fellow swapper. That way, they know what is already there in the frame and in which orientation.

Logging of the Shots will help both the swappers be in agreement with the orientation.

Step 6
While rewinding film, do not rewind it completely. Leave the leader out so that your swapper finds it easy to reload it on to his/her camera. If he/she has the equipment to pull the leader out, you may rewind it completely.

You are done! All the best!!

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