Roll #1: The First Exposure


The First Roll!

by Nicolas Visbal

Developing my first roll of film was terrifying (especially if you’re entirely and despicably inexperienced like me). I stressed and goofed over each delicate exposure (definition #4), and I was excited to see what I captured! My goal with my first roll was to try and use Millie (my Nikon N6006) at her base potential; how well could I perform without caring about big-boy words like “aperture” or “shutter speed,” or “photosynthesis?” Millie is a relatively advanced film camera with a built-in light sensor and autofocus so that she can hold a lot of my slack. So what do we have here? What did I learn on my first try? Well– it’s a bit of a mixed bag.

On the one hand, we have some beautiful shots of mostly stationary subjects, like exposures 6, 13, 17, and 21. I believe these photos are the stars of the first roll. I mean they’re really pretty, and I like them too much. But, on the other hand, we’ve got some real stinkers. I refer to exposures 19, 27, 29, and 31, all of which cost me money to develop. All of the other photos in between are decent at worst and aren’t technically awful, but I can tell that they don’t have much direction, and they lack some sort of “wow” factor. Let’s figure out what I did right and what went wrong.

Exposures 5-12 were all taken in the same place and day. I took some photos of my aunt’s garden while my (vaccinated) relatives had a BBQ. Taking pictures was a calming experience, and the scenery was beautiful. However, looking through a camera lens, I forgot that the subjects in front of me were tangible things; for instance, on exposures 5, 11, and 12, I completely forgot that honey bees could and will sting you if provoked. Luckily, I took pictures unscathed, but this is a strange effect that may be an issue if I ever decide to take photos of bears.

Exposures 5-12 taught me something interesting about photography; flowers are insultingly easy to shoot. They sit there all pretty and colorful, and unless there’s a tornado whipping the wind, there’s no need to worry about the subject coming out blurry. I consider exposures 5-12 to be kiddy, baby, training wheels photography, and I know now if I want to spend a couple of exposures on a roll of film without worry, flowers are the safe choice.

Exposure’s 14-23 were taken on the same day while walking through downtown Atlanta. Exposures 17 and 21 stand out from this section, and I want to discuss the possible explanations. I think that how light interacts with the subject is an essential factor. Exposure 21 has an advantage with the sunlight peeking through the windows. It’s like there’s a fistfight between light and dark. Exposure 17 is a picture of the top of the 25 Park Place building. The lighting of the photo alone is attractive, and the contrast (noun, definition #1b) between the illuminated and shadowed sides of the building against the dark blue, cloudless sky is pleasing to the eye. The only thing that spoils the whole shot, like I spoil movie endings online, is the obnoxious street light on the righthand side of the image. The shape of the film camera encourages horizontal/landscape (adj) photos because it is comfortable to hold, much like vertical/portrait (adj) photos are encouraged on smartphones; I should think about which orientation is appropriate before I decide to waste my pennies on an exposure.

Exposure 19 is a lesson for all aspiring film photographers like me, and that is, “DON’T BE CLUMSY, AND TRIP ON THE CURB AND ACCIDENTALLY PRESS THE SHUTTER RELEASE BUTTON (the button that takes the pictures and makes the clicky clicky sounds) CAUSING YOU TO WASTE A PRECIOUS EXPOSURE.”

Exposures 24-33 is the last section of the first roll. I shot them all on the same day, and they are the weaker photos of the roll. There are some exceptions like numbers 25 and 32, but overall they look bland, rushed, and just overall dull. There’s an easy explanation for this; I was rushing to finish the roll of film and get them developed. Rushing to finish a roll is a bad idea because…

  1. I was careless, and I didn’t invest much time in those exposures, and it shows.
  2. If my local photo lab charges per exposure, then I’m wasting money. It would be cheaper if I just stopped early and sent in what I have, especially if I’m itching to put in a fresh roll of film.
  3. Now I look bad, and I have to post all of my photos on this site so that we can all learn from them

Just don’t rush it, take your time on each shot, and learn from your mistakes. Overall finally seeing my photos for the first time was an experience I’d never really felt before because my phone and any digital camera today will present to you an image instantly after shooting. I hope that this was at least a little bit helpful! Roll #2 is on the way soon and I can’t wait to show you the beautiful country of Colombia on 35 mm film!

2 thoughts on “Roll #1: The First Exposure

  1. I really like the setup of this blog. It is super organized and well captioned so that I understand everything you are referencing to. Also, the addition of definitions to the terms used was very helpful. I’ve never even met you but I was able to read most of this in your voice. It was very personable and attention grabbing!


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