Portra is for Portraits – My first few rolls of Color Film

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Prior to loading this roll of Kodak Portra 160 into my Hasselblad, I’d only shot one roll of Kodak TMAX 400. I remember it was a brisk February afternoon in 2014 and I was so excited to get out and make some portraits. The only problem was that I had no one to photograph at the moment so I drove over to my climbing gym and was grabbing anyone who was willing.

The good thing about using an old school film camera is that people feel less intimidated by your equipment and actually show more of an interest in it.

I had tons of fun with this roll, but I quickly learned that focusing and framing on the waist level finder was extremely difficult – especially when shooting wide open. I missed the focus on the eyes for a number of these frames, but I’m just so in love with the beautiful colours produced with this film. I also discovered that both of my film backs had light leaks in them 😐

Feb 2014

Kodak Portra 160

Hasselblad 500CM

Zeiss 80mm f2.8 Planar T*

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My next few rolls of Portra 160 were a VAST improvement. I ordered some new seals and fixed the light leak in both film backs and got a little more comfortable with focusing and composing with the waist level finder.

I brought the Hasselblad around with me everywhere and made portraits whenever possible. I even tried my hand at double exposures! Here are the results:

These were taken on a short trip to Seattle to visit an old friend of mine.

Feb 2014

Kodak Portra 160

Hasselblad 500CM

Zeiss 80mm f2.8 Planar T*

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I had a few frames left over in the roll so I brought the Hasselblad out with me on one of my engagement shoots at Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver.

March 2014

Kodak Portra 160

Hasselblad 500CM

Zeiss 80mm f2.8 Planar T*

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The next few rolls were shot throughout the Spring/Summer. Again, making as many portraits as possible, but learning not to limit myself to shooting wide open. After shooting a few rolls, I learned that it’s not always about getting the shallowest depth of field possible. For these rolls, I was more focused on the quality of light and using that in my compositions.

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2 Comments

  1. May 4, 2015 - Reply

    David your work is amazing! I want to try film as well, and hope to one day make some images like these. I love the first shoot of the girl against the yellow background. Any advice to someone starting out and wanting to explore film?

    ~michele

    • david
      June 2, 2015

      Thanks so much Michele! My advice is to just throw yourself at it! Start off with black and white film as it can be a bit more forgiving. Film is just like digital – the only difference is that you have to trust in yourself and your abilities when pressing that shutter button! Start off by taking photos of objects and observing how light works around you and how it can shape these objects. Feel free to email me if you have any questions!!

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