This is How I Roll…

Have we met? If so, you know I’m uber-passionate about film. I love love love it. Let’s take a little journey though some shots I got in San Francisco during Lesley and Earl’s awesome engagement session, and talk about the challenges I faced because of my insistence of shooting 100% film.

My fave pic McKenzie has ever taken of me
My fave pic McKenzie has ever taken of me

Earl and I are homies. I know this because we all met up at City Light Books on Columbus in North Beach. Mark, being the gentleman he is, let McKenzie and I out at the corner and parked the car. While we were walking, I decided to use the facilities inside The Condor (one of my fave places on Columbus). It was the West Coast’s first strip club in 1964, and is now a jazz club. There was a band playing some kick-butt jazz, and when I came back out I said, “We gotta shoot in there. That place is so retro and cool.”

After we all met up and did our warm-up shoot by City Lights, I said, “OK, let’s go across the street and shoot by those doors, then let’s shoot inside The Condor.” Lesley said, “Oh! When we were walking by that place, Earl looked inside and said that place is cool and we should do pictures in there!” It was kismet!

When I do an engagement shoot or stylized shoot, I don’t use my flash. I use all available light. That doesn’t always mean sun light. Sometimes it’s light from lamps or a video light. I feel like I have more control over the finished product this way. When I was taking photos of Lesley and Earl inside one of the sexy, romantic booths in the back of The Condor, I needed to get the light right. One disadvantage to shooting film is I can’t bump up ISO like I can with digital. So normally I’d set up the tripod and say, “Ok, don’t move,” and take the shot with a long shutter speed. However, I failed to bring my tripod because I was planning on shooting outdoors the whole time, and I didn’t want to lug the tripod everywhere on this four hour shoot. (Note to self: ALWAYS bring a tripod!)


So here’s how we did it…

Lighting Lesley and Earl small
Mark held the video light from the upper-right of the booth, as close to the wall as possible. I didn’t want harsh shadows that may look like a bad flash job. (At one point, I decided the video light, even on its lowest setting, was too bright, so I wrapped it in my sweater to soften it.) I was worried about camera shake, being on such a low shutter speed (aprox 1/15 of a second), so I got down on my knees and used the cocktail table as a tripod. I set the camera on the table to steady it as much as possible, told Lesley and Earl to hold still, and shot six frames – a few horizontal and a few vertical. Although they all came out well, the one below is my fave.

Yes, I could’ve pulled out the digital, bumped ISO and made this shot easy to capture, but I love a challenge, and I love the images produced by film. There’s nothing like a true black and white image…


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