Kauai Film Reveal

There’s a pretty huge difference between shooting film and taking digital images. But the one that strikes me the most, is how different the workflow is. In digital I’d shoot up the scene and process each day’s images at night. Then post away to social media and lean back waiting for my 15 minutes of fame to come rolling in. :). But film is the opposite in almost every way.

First off, forget about shooting up the scene. Film cost too much and takes to long to shoot. And these are good things. The act of shooting film is a mindful one that puts value into each exposure. And no chance for fame and fortune by catching some great current event and rushing it out to social media for accolades on your greatness. My “minimum” turnaround on film is about 10 days from dropping it in the mail to getting a finished scan. And that’s if everything goes as planned.

Film is about as far from modern digital social media photography as you can get, well until you get into traditional printing or alternative photography methods.  So it’s a long period of “dry spells” followed by “drinking out of a fire hose”.

But enough of all this philosophical mumbo jumbo, onto the film reveal. But first one housekeeping note. My titles, X??? -,  just mean the camera, in this case Hasselblad Xpan, and the roll number, in this case my 35mm roll count. Away we go.

X003 – Velvia 50 – Shipwreck Beach

Unfortunately I started out my Kauai trip with a bit of a cold, so I stayed local and shot the coastline in and around Shipwreck Beach, not much of a hardship I know. And my first subject was this sweet little tree that I’ve stalked many times before. But on this morning the light was pretty darn sweet so it received a few inches of film.

X004 – Ektar 100 – Shipwreck Beach

Nothing great on this roll. Mostly just midday scouting pics for a location that I revisited latter in the week during sunrise. I just needed to get my sick self out of the hotel room and capture some images. This was a switch to Ektar color negative film since the midday contrast can be bit high for Velvia slide film.

X005 – Ektar 100 – Shipwreck Beach

I’m currently juggling three types of film: Fujifilm Velvia color possitive (or slides), Kodak Ektar color negative, and a black and white negative film that I’ve not quite decided on. I’d say Velvia is my go to color  landscape film but Ektar can be incredibly nice as well. Especially in high contrast scenes where Velvia can be problamatic. Like sunrises and sunsets. I’m still trying to get a good scanning workflow, but I’m starting to feel a bit better about the results.

X006 – Velvia 50 – Shipwreck Beach

I thought I’d include an example of a “mistake”. And if mistake sounds too harsh, let’s just call it a poor film choices or a lesson learned. This was a pretty sweet location, but no way could I capture the contrast of this scene with Velvia slide film. This would have been a great time to choose Ektar color negative film.

X007 – Velvia 50 – Waimea Canyon, Waipo’o Falls & Waimea Pier

My trip to Waimea Canyon was a bit of an adventure. First off, I was still fighting through a rare cold. And second, it was a very windy, stormy day. And to add insult to injury, I wasn’t at all prepared for the ensuing hike to Waip’o Falls.

And even though these images of the canyon only look a little stormy and maybe even kind of nice, I’m not kidding about the wind. This was my first time ever where I hiked to a spot to set up for a shot and didn’t feel at all comfortable taking off the lens caps. The wind and sand was doing a very nice job of sandblasting everything in sight. So I had to keep looking for locations that weren’t quite so exposed. Luckily there’s no shortage of stunning vantage points for this natural wonder.

Most of the reviews of the hike to Waip’o Falls that I read said “wear proper shoes” and to be fair I wasn’t planning on taking the hike to the falls. I was just scouting, or so I thought. But I’m not always so good at listening to reason so I took off in my Keens and gave it a shot.

By the time I made it to the falls, the windy stormy day added rain to the mix. I quickly snapped a couple of pics of the falls and started back before the, already, muddy trail became a real mess.

Finished off this roll this roll of film the next day at Waimea Pier, one of my favorite locations on Kauai.

X008 – Velvia 50 – Waimea Pier & Shipwreck Beach

Armed with a fresh roll of Velvia slide film in my Hasselblad Xpan, I waited for the harsh tropical light to fade into golden hour then sunset. And I never really mind the wait at the Waimea Pier. I’ve spent hours watching and photographing the waves braking and receding on this amazing flat, black sand beach.

But you don’t have to wait long in the tropics as the light changes fast during sunrise and sunsets. I’m spoiled in the Pacific Northwest where golden hour is at least an hour, but often much, much longer.

For this trip to Kauai my camera kit consisted of my Xpan panorama film camera and my Sony A7Rii mirrorless camera body with an adapter to use with my Xpan lenses. And in the beginning of the trip I used both, but by the end I was only shooting film. And on my last morning I had one roll of film left in my camera with only 7 exposures remaining. I noticed two things, first I never even thought of taking my digital camera out of my bag. And second, I struggled to finish the roll.

And at first the weather seemed like it wasn’t going to cooperate at all and I was spending most of my time trying to keep the rain off my camera gear. But then as can often happen, the sky parted and provided the drama you only get during a clearing storm.

And I rarely chase rainbows but if they’re gonna hang out and wait for me to catch up, I’ll give it a go.

Well that’s pretty much it, 6 rolls of 35mm film, about 120 shots. I’ve been a little generous with my “keepers” posting 14 images and realistically I’d be happy with 1 “keeper” per roll.  And I’m still firmly on the steep part of the re-learning curve for spot metering the exposure and am a rank novice at the intricacies of scanning the various film stocks I’m using. But all in all I thought it was a very successful effort.

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