I had my first digital camera for Christmas in 2005, an Olympus FE-120, it survived many an adventure exploring castles and tearing up the dance floor. I loved that camera and the freedom it gave me to just carry on shooting and the ability to get rid of anything I didn't like without having to spend a fortune on getting a film developed and being unhappy with the results. In 2009 I got a new compact and started my first Project 365, it was about this time I really fancied getting a bit more technical and learning to compose better photographs. After looking at courses in my local area (there wasn't much) I came across one in black and white photography and learning to use the darkroom to make your own prints. As a then digital lover I was a bit hesitant in some respects and decided it wasn't for me at that time. Looking back now I can't remember how I discovered it but this time two years ago I came across Lomography. I was intrigued by the beautiful images and how you would create them, at first I thought it was all done digitally but when I realised it was all film in little plastic cameras I knew I had to give this a try. I took the plunge and bought a Diana mini, I liked the fact it used 35mm film and as I was tight on money at the time it seemed to be a good option.
Diana was fun if a little fiddly to start with and I did get the dreamy and vivid images I had expected when I got my first roll back.
I was a little frustrated they weren't as sharp as I would have liked and I now realise that comes with Lomography but I liked the idea of doing more with film so decided to go for the black and white course in the summer of 2010. Of course I needed a suitable camera and had absolutely no idea where to start searching. Reading online I found how popular the Pentax K1000 was with students learning about the basics as it is a fully manual camera, one thing lead to another and before I knew it I had bought one off eBay. I had no idea if it worked or would be able to work. Before I started the course I ran a cheeky colour film through it just to test and hooray, it worked! Here is my favourite one from my first roll -
When I finally started the course the guy running it thought I was a bit mad when he saw my camera for the first time. It didn't take long to show him it still worked and captured beautiful pictures just as well as any other camera. Learning to develop film was interesting, I would need a re-fresher course if I wanted to do it again now! Making prints in the darkroom was great fun, trying different exposure lengths to get shading right and to see a true black and a true white with everything in between is a challenge. I loved being able to pick the ones I wanted to make prints with rather than just ending up with lots I didn't want. The course lasted eight weeks, it was only meant to be two hours for each session but they usually went on much longer and we could go earlier if we wanted to. In the end I only ended up taking a few rolls of film during the course but I still made some prints I liked.
Apologies for the scans, my scanner isn't the greatest sometimes! I had intended to return to the course in the autumn and booked my place when it became available. Unfortunately they had to change the day from a Wednesday to a Monday and due to work I wasn't able to go, this has been the case ever since and I haven't wanted to spend nearly £80 and not be able to go. Hopefully I will go back at some point as I did really enjoy it and since have taken lots and lots of rolls of both black and white and colour films on my Pentax. I had the misfortune that summer to go to a leaving BBQ for a friend and took my Pentax to get some nice shots in black and white, when I took them to be developed they accidentally processed it as colour and wiped the film. I was quite upset at the time but it was a mistake that hasn't been repeated...yet at least. Below are just a few of my favourite Pentax shots I've taken so far.
I would definitely recommend to anyone to go to a course like it and to have a play with old film cameras, the results can be so beautiful and I feel it takes you back to getting to really exploring photography. I now have digital SLR and am currently getting to grips with it but the love I have for my Pentax keeps me returning to it for the type of images you can see above that I think are just as good as any digital ones created on a computer. I've also been given numerous film SLRs by good friends and family, some have been used, some not but my first film love will always remain my Pentax K1000.