Film Photography : Non Digital Stop On A Photographic Journey

These film photographs are hard won victories from my non digital photography days. A time of despairing struggle. Trying to understand the voodoo of F-stop and aperture. Recorded by piles of over or under exposed disasters. Took me years to realise the cause. Technical incompatibilities between my ancient Nikon’s “semi automatic” settings and its Sigma lens had sabotaged most of my shots.

The victim of this feud was any confidence I had in my photographic abilities. Salvation meant switching to full manual. Then taking more bad photographs from square one. It drilled into me the realisation that if you take enough bad photographs, a fraction will come out not so bad. At least not bad enough to throw away.

The learning was slow. It was a time when you had to wait days to see how a photo came out. 24 hour processing was never a part of my life. Polaroids were fad of my parent’s generation. Photos took a week or more to turn up. As envelopes of postcard size disappointments. Much later I got access to a dark room. And another round of perceptual realisations.

Aside from the coming closer to subconsciously understanding the technical stuff,
I began to notice “themes” that had crept into what I shot:

Attempts at “interesting” compositions
Attempts at “interesting” compositions


Reflections on windows.
Reflections on windows were the closest it gets to looking conceptual.


Some sort of tango about geometric shadows
Some sort of tango about geometric shadows


And “organic” shadows
More of the same nonsense with “organic” shadows


The old Ceylon look and digital sepia tone is the only thing that save this over exposed failure.
The old Ceylon look and digital sepia tone are the only things that give this over exposed failure the delusion of being saved.. The photo as taken with another one used in another post


The usual arty abstractions of high contrast black and white.
The usual arty abstractions of high contrast black and white.


The requisite grungy and therefore hip industrial detail shot
The requisite grungy and therefore hip industrial detail shot


Pretentious snaps of evening light.
Pretentious snaps of evening light.


This is possibly the only  record to show I ever  woke up early enough for a sun rise.
Possibly the only record to show I ever woke up early enough for a sun rise.

None (thankfully) have any claims to conceptual intentions. Other than obeying a wordless command in the head that said “photograph that or you will be miserable”.

Yet it’s been fun. Even almost close to an infrequent adventure. Nearly got arrested for ignorantly snapping away near high security zone. Had a exciting try at aerial photography from a helicopter over Colombo.

Inevitably I gave up my film camera after one last sunset. Became an official photographer for our usual group of friends. Later ditched the digital SLR.

Now I snap photos of the offspring units with a portable computer occasionally used to make phone calls. So relatives abroad can “aney sweeeeeet” their antics. Occasionally I have time to notice a flower. Or the morning light through leaves.

My float down the photography river remains (as it always was) an interesting, fun destination-less journey. It placates a voracious nameless urge to create images from eating too much of my time. When I want to look at real photography I turn to the likes of Aamina Nizar and the offspring of the ante meridiem light.

What place does/did film photography have in your photographic history? The comment box awaits the story.

*The photos in this post were “digitised” with a phone. Not that the photos could get any crappier.


5 thoughts on “Film Photography : Non Digital Stop On A Photographic Journey

  1. The para on ‘off spring units’, got me laughing at office..(which earned a few warning stares also)

    I too have dark room experience..stop baths, fixers, processing. The whole deal! Mostly, I had a time chasing away my pals, from peeping through dark curtains and exposing photographs to light. Good times, they were. Wonder where my scrap books are now..

    You’re post took me back in years bro, it’s hard to concentrate on work anymore. Time flies!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 🙂 Glad you liked the post. Happy to know I got someone to actually LOL!

      Your dark room struggles reminded me how I used to stuff up unloading films for the 1st stage of developing by exposing the film to light.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I noticed whenever you discuss the artistic inclinations of your previous lives there is almost a sneering contempt for those ‘juvenile efforts’.

    It is a shame, as you clearly enjoyed and learned something from it. Why the snarky captions?

    Is it the fear that people might think you take yourself too seriously, or worse, that you have artistic pretensions? Fear no more, for most Sri Lankans if the image does not include a lotus blossom, a close up of tropical animal/insect, or a simpering ‘well rounded’ lass (and in any combination thereof) it is not a photograph.

    There are two good images here, the ‘interesting composition’ is interesting, and so is the sunrise with the strange industrial shapes.

    And, one that is fantastic because I am first looking at the boat and the men around it, and then the boy running away and the direction he is looking at, and then I see the football!

    What a picture! It’s a whole short story. Did you kick it back?


    1. Very thought provoking comment. I started to replay but ended up writing a blog post so I’ll post it that way.

      Interesting you liked the photo with the boat and the beach. I keep getting annoyed at how under exposed it is – by early attempts at understanding F Stop and Aperture. But I still have a secret liking to them. Its from a series of photos I took on Hambanthota beach. There’s another one in my Tsunami post.

      I never realised that the boy in the photo is looking at the football – or even that there was a football till I “digitised” the photo.

      I don’t think I kicked the ball back. Most of the time I was fumbling with the camera.


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