The guys at my local camera shop seem to always have some new film to recommend! The most recent thing that was new in stock was Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400. I wasn’t familiar with it at all, but after being shown a few sample images, I decided to take a roll and test it out.
I got in touch with my friend Olivia and arranged to meet up on a Saturday and shoot some portraits. I kept it simple with just my trusty Canon AE-1 and the basic 50mm f/1.8. And, with a name like “Streetpan” we decided the street was the best location. We found an open shady spot in a back alley with an interesting industrial vibe. I’ve had some people wonder about the gas pipes and such, but it was an intentional choice beyond just the aesthetic. Although Liv always passes for a “real” model, she actually works on a pipeline survey crew at her day job: hard hat, coveralls, the works. No, seriously…
I developed the images the next day in ILFORD DD-X following standard agitation. I was glad I shot the roll at 200 rather than 400. I had read some complaints about thin negatives, and even with the extra stop of exposure, they certainly weren’t too thick! However, they scanned well and the contrast was really impressive! Even without a lot of adjusting. I was also really blown away by the rendition of fine detail, especially the knit of her sweater dress, which is evident in the closer shots. Overall it probably rendered her skin tone a bit lighter than in reality and her dress a bit darker (it was actually dark plum purple, not black).
From a technical point of view, I’d say this one was a success! And I made sure to buy another roll the next time I was in the shop.
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But, from a deeper and maybe more philosophical point of view, I’d say it was a success as well. I don’t know that I’m trying to really “prove” anything with my photography. But what I hope I’m doing is making meaningful connections with people. I got to know Liv when her mom wanted me to shoot her high school senior photos. We’ve done a number of projects since then which have not only been fun but also built both trust and confidence.
If nothing else, take pictures of your friends, even if they’re not “real” models. Having a real connection with someone will bring something unique to your images that will always shine through.
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