Learning as I go

On my previous film post I mentioned that I thought the EOS 3 sucked, and that mine crapped out on me...  Well, I still think it's not the greatest piece of equipment out there (you can read why here), and side note, after assuming mine crapped out, I simply needed to change the battery, yeah.  But after putting a roll of black and white film through it this past summer, I was a little less ready to jump on the suck train and was actually pleasantly surprised.  Nothing revolutionary or amazing here, but pleasantly surprised.  I'm pretty sure, however, it's time to up the game and go medium format to really get the results I'm after.  I think 35mm, however, is a great option for black and whites and plan to keep a roll or two on hand.  

Film Photography, the struggle is real!

I have a love hate relationship with film.  I absolutely love everything about it, but I hate that it costs like $40 a roll (professional grade) to purchase, ship (two ways) and have scanned.  Yeah, that's a little over a dollar per image for a 35mm roll, ouch!  And when you're just learning, those can be some very costly mistakes.  So for anyone that cares, I'm guessing mostly other photogs who are picking up their first film cameras, I thought I'd write up a little something from time to time that maybe you could learn from, or find useful from my experiences when I shoot film.  Disclaimer, I am in no way an expert on film, just learning by doing.  So, what did I learn from this roll?  Well, first let me break it down for those who are interested.  These images were shot on a Canon EOS 3 (more on that in a minute) with a roll of 35mm Kodak Portra 400 rated at 200 and overexposed 1 stop.  I do not use the meter in my film camera.  I have a hand held meter because I don't trust the in camera meter to be correct, especially when my subject is back lit.  A side note about the roll of film, it was not cold stored, yeah, oops!  Ideally I should have had the film in the refrigerator from the get go. So, the main lesson with this roll of film that stands out to me is that I shouldn't have back lit as much as I did.  It resulted in a number of underexposed images.  In hind site, I should have either stayed out of that light that allowed sun flare in the camera, or had my lab push the film when they processed it.  Sun flare when shooting digital and film are apparently two different beasts.  Secondly, my camera the EOS 3, in my opinion, sucks.  It has this eye control feature that once calibrated to your eye, you can look at the focus screen and the camera should automatically pick up exactly what you're looking at and focus on that point.  Well, it does do that, but it's SLOWWWW, and usually takes a few tries before hitting the focal point you want.  In theory it sounds great, in real life, it's not ideal and there's no way I could use it when shooting active kids.  35mm film is not going to be as sharp as digital, but the eye control feature misses focus waaaay too many times and results in soft images.   And by the way, after this roll was shot, my EOS 3 crapped out on me anyway, so there.   So to highlight,  what did I learn?  I will remember that back lighting (especially with sun flare) can trick your camera into thinking there's more light coming in than there actually is resulting in underexpose images.  However, I actually love some of the underexposed images I got off this roll, especially the one below.  See that mysterious heart reflecting on her shirt?  I totally dig that, like love it!  So, it wasn't a complete loss, and everyone is going to have different tastes when it comes to exposure. I'm just highlighting the basics of what I learn with each roll.  Underexposure and 35mm are not good together, the grain can get waaaay out of hand.  I personally think it's usually better in most situations to overexpose.  One other thing, somewhat unrelated, did you know that when it comes to shooting 35mm film, it kinda doesn't even matter if you're shooting with a $300 camera or a $3000 camera?  It's all about the lens!  Good to know right?  So for all you photogs out there who have invested in L Series lenses for your Canon digital camera, you can still use them on a Canon SLR film camera.  That's money in your pocket!

Next week I'll be going over what I learned from shooting a roll of black and white film AND staying away from back lit images.

About my subject, it's my Madi.  She'll be a junior this year, never too early to get a started on Senior Photos!  That little kitty she's holding was dumped off in a Hy-Vee parking lot because people are awesome like that.  I'm a complete sucker when it comes to animals and will take in all the strays.  Sorry about your college funds kids!

Do you own a Small Business in the Cedar Valley?

Do you own a Small Business in the Cedar Valley or know of someone who does?  I want to hear about you.  I want to help you get started, or start over, or give your brand a boost, whatever stage you might be at.  This is something that's been on my mind for well over a year.  As a small business owner I know what it feels like to have this dream of ditching the 9-5 (or supplement your income), to be proud of a product or service I create, to be so excited you can't sleep, to feel like the possibilities could be endless.  And then, wake up call!  How will I get people to walk through my door, or click on my link, or sell enough to make enough to make ends meet?  The reality is, it doesn't happen over night.  But that shouldn't discourage you and honestly, for most small business owners, it's not about getting rich quick.  If it were, there wouldn't be many of us around I guarantee you.  So let's think about this for a minute.  Think about when we're online searching for a product or service, one of the first things we do is go to Google and do an Image Search, it's the easiest way to visually get our hands on what it is we're searching for.  An image.  A photo.  But we don't pick just any photo, we pick the photo that is most appealing, it speaks to us, it draws us in.  That's the link.  That's what gets people through the front door and here's where I want to help.  But first, you must ask yourself if you're really ready to invest in your dream?  Are you ready to polish your small business up and make her shine?  If so, then keep reading.  I'm offering my services at a discounted rate to small business owners of the Cedar Valley to help get you started.  It could be as simple as a quick photo shoot of your products or service (Makers Mini) that would include 10 images formatted for both print and web ($200).  Or a photo shoot and branding session (Makers Bundle) that would include the same 10 images plus a logo ($300).  To kick things off, I am giving away one Makers Bundle to one lucky Cedar Valley Small Business Owner next month.  To enter, simply email me at hello@darcydempster.com with the name of your business in the subject line and then tell me a little about yourself, what you do and why you would like to win a Makers Bundle.  The winner will be chosen Friday, March 13th.  I know that there a ton of hidden gems in this area, most working out of their homes and I'm here to tell you there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.  You are the people I'm looking for.  It's time to shake things up Cedar Valley, step in today's reality of small business ownership, be proud of what you do and start making your dream a reality.  To follow along with Cedar Valley Makers, you can find this and future posts under the Personal link within the Photography tab in the top navigation menu.

Hello and a Give Away

Hello and Welcome to my new little space on the world wide web.  For those of you following along the past 10 years or so, my previous online home was www.atplayphoto.com.  As I've mentioned before, I'm moving on from At Play, ready to expand and explore.  As of right now, I'm not really sure how much, if any, of my previous work I will carry over to the new site.  So for right now, I've decided to leave www.atplayphoto.com online for the next few months to allow time for everyone to become aware of the transition and so those of you who still want to view a ton of my past work online still can.  I'd love if you'd help me spread the word, and as a little motivation I'm tossing out a free session to one lucky viewer.   I will be making that announcement next week, don't miss it!

A shot from our Chicago trip last summer.


Farmhouse Views

When we first moved out here, I remember waking up early to let the dog out.  It was a rare December morning, it almost felt like Spring even as the sun started to rise.  As I stood there, I took the shot in the lower left corner, it was one of the first images I took of "our" farm.  I remember having this overwhelming feeling of gratitude.  I was so happy to be standing in that very spot that very morning.  Since that day, I frequently find myself coming back to this exact same spot, sometimes with my phone, sometimes film, now that I think about, I have yet to shoot it otherwise.  I've decided to shoot a series of these and add them as prints to my soon to be store, baby steps.  So for now, here are four of my favs thus far.  Can you tell which ones are iPhone and which ones are shot on film?  If you follow me on Instagram, you probably already know :)

New Year, New Beginnings

I started this post clear back at the end of December, hoping to be able to put into words what this past year has felt like both personally and professionally.  I think I'll just leave it at that, it's time to let it go.  It's a New Year, and I am ready to start fresh.  I mentioned earlier that I've felt as though I've moved on from the At Play Photo name for quite some time now.  I want to open myself up to new things, new ways of seeing things, new ways of shooting and expressing my work.  I'm still very much offering Baby, Child and Family photo sessions, that won't change.  But I think you'll begin to see a new approach, still very much my favorite Lifestyle approach, but even more so.  So with that comes a name change...it will be simply, Darcy Dempster Photography.  www.darcydempster.com.  I've got big plans, bigger dreams and even bigger hopes for this new phase.   Should be a pretty fun ride!  The following are all Instagram snaps taken on my iPhone.  I'm getting back to my roots, which might not always be what's popular, but I'm okay with that.