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Aside from pinhole photography, there is another, lesser-known method of taking photos without a lens, called "pinhead" photography. This is one I have read about, but have never seen in real life. I do understand it though and would be able to do it. In pinhead photography, the camera is held with the film plane perpendicular to the subject and the image is reflected onto the film with a pinhead-sized mirror. Actually, the mirror is bigger than that, but the main part of it is masked off, using a thin, non-reflective, opaque material, exposing only a small, round pinhead-sized portion. This is a diagram of how a pinhead camera could be made:
Pinhead Camera by FallisPhoto
Black represents the cut-away body of the camera. Blue represents the mirror. Red represents the film. Yellow represents the light path.
Yes, it is possible to make photos without a camera. The method of doing this is called making photograms. To do this, you put a sheet of photographic paper on an easel and you project light onto it, interposing any of various objects between the light and the paper and using the light to "draw" images on the paper or capturing their silhouettes. The word "photography" means literally "drawing with light" and this is the purest iteration of that. This is one of my photograms:
Photogram by FallisPhoto

I have also done photograms using strips of torn paper to make mountain landscapes. I even dodged in clouds (a bit of cardboard mounted on a thin wire, moved around to make a "cloud" shape. I'd show you that too, but I had a problem. The problem was that I was using a community darkroom at the time and a lot of my work got stolen while it was drying. You can also use a sheet of cardboard with a small hole in it to even more literally draw on the sheet of paper.
Pinhole cameras do not have lenses. Instead of a lens, they use a piece of very thin opaque material, typically some kind of metal, like brass shim stock or a piece cut out of the side of an aluminum can, in which a pinhole is made using a needle. Because of the extremely narrow light cone passing through the pinhole, the resulting circles of confusion are very small and they form an image on whatever capture medium is used (photographic paper, film, or sensor). Pinhole cameras have been made of cardboard, wood, metal, seashells, A pumpkin, and in at least one case, a human skull. All that is necessary is an opaque box with a pinhole at one end and a device to hold the capture medium at the other end. About the easiest way to make a pinhole camera is to get a body cap for an existing camera, drill a hole in it, and install a pinhole "lens" over the hole. Personally, I like converting old box cameras in unusable formats into pinhole cameras. This is a 4x5 pinhole camera I made From an old Ansco Buster Brown box camera that was in 118 format recently (the process of doing the conversion is described in the comments):
4x5 pinhole camera by FallisPhoto
I have some direct positive paper (produces a positive image without a negative) and chemistry on order and when it gets here I will take some photos with it and post them here.

Every focal length (distance between the "lens" and the capture medium) has an optimal pinhole diameter for the sharpest image. Generally speaking, small pinholes give sharper images, but when they get too small, sharpness falls off because of diffraction. Also generally speaking, the longer the focal length of the camera, the smaller the pinhole should be. The aperture on the camera I made is about .1mm, so I can adjust it if needed (you can make pinholes bigger, if you have to, but you can't make them smaller). The paper I have ordered is about ISO 1 and as pinhole cameras go, the focal length is pretty long, so exposure times are going to be pretty long. Without having tried it yet, I am guessing about 30 minutes on a bright sunny day. I can cut that back to about 10 minutes if I preflash the paper (changing it to ISO 3).

With a pinhole camera, depth of field is going to be nearly infinite. Elements an inch from the "lens" will be as sharp as elements on the horizon, and everything in between will be exactly as sharp.
One of the most important things when making a portfolio is to make it consistent. Arrange the photos in groups, putting all of the photos with portrait and landscape orientation together, so the people looking at it are not having to keep turning it. If one photo has a border, then they all should have borders. A portfolio should have from 12 to 24 photos in it that are representative of your work. You don't get extra points for more photos. Typically, most people who receive portfolios to examine receive several every day, and they are not going to have time to go through a hundred photos. If you have represented this as typical of what you do, then that is what they are going to expect from you on a consistent basis. Make sure the photos in your portfolio fit with that. Do not submit bound portfolios; the people examining your portfolio are going to want to take the photos out, pass them around, and discuss the individual photos. If the portfolio is going to a publisher, do not mat your photos (he may want to buy one and publish it and matted prints are difficult to scan). The content of a portfolio should be tailored to fit the needs of the people you are submitting it to. A publisher of horror fiction, for example, is going to be somewhat less than impressed by a portfolio full of flowers, puppies and laughing children, no matter how well done. If you submit a portfolio in a cover or a folder, use one that is plain, preferably in red or black. Portfolios with Micky Mouse or flowers on them will leave the recipient with a less than good impression of your professionalism. Make sure that the photos in your portfolio are clean and neat. Include a few business cards in your portfolio, along with a cover letter (explains why you sent the portfolio, your contact information, what sort of work you want to do for them, and etcetera).
This was one that was easier to do back in the film days (film images do not have noise), but it can be done with a digital camera by stacking several shorter duration exposures to get one long exposure. Have you ever seen a photo of a waterfall where the water looked white and fluffy? Ever seen a photo of a road where the light of the cars going past are streaked, like a river of light? Those are two examples of long exposures. It is hard to do this with a digital camera because, generally speaking, even with low ISO settings, they start generating artifacts (noise) after about 30 seconds. While this will work fine for waterfalls, for many other types of subjects, 30 seconds is kind of on the short side for long exposures. Because of this, one of the first things you are going to want to get is a neutral density filter. This will reduce the amount of light entering your camera and allow you to take a longer exposure. The next thing you are going to want is a cable release. You are not going to want to stand there with your finger on the shutter button for 10, 15, or 20 minutes, and a cable release will allow you to lock the shutter button down for the requisite amount of time. Of course a tripod is an absolute necessity, because you will not be physically able to  hold a camera steady enough to take long exposures.

Next, you will want to find a good subject, and a good position to shoot from. If you are living in a city, the top of any tall building at night will do. Put on your neutral density filter, put the camera on the tripod, set the shutter on B and the aperture on f/8 or f/11, aim, focus and shoot. The brilliantly lit buildings will look like islands of light in a river of flowing light. Waves breaking on a shore might be another good one. That would look like masses of cotton candy all along the shore. Stars are always good. Those are all clichéd though. The fun part comes when you can use your imagination and think of other things that might look nice when shot this way, and that no one else has tried. That will give you a sense of accomplishment that you won't believe. 
This one is pretty simple. You should arrange your compositions in triangles whenever that works. Triangles appear to be more dynamic than rectangles or circles and so people see them as more visually exciting and appealing. Point-down triangles appear more top-heavy and so can add some to the appearance of "wrongness" in a surrealistic composition, and point-up triangles appear more stable and so appear more visually appealing in a more conventional composition.

Probably for the same reason, odd numbers appear more visually appealing in a composition, although you can shoot four people in a composition and make it look more appealing if you arrange them in a triangle shape.

Lines and curves:
Serpentine shapes almost always seem more visually appealing than straight lines too, so if you have straight lines, have a good reason for them, like using them as leading lines. The most visually appealing serpentine (curved) shape seems to be the "S" curve, although a simple arc can work sometimes. The most frequently used serpentine shape is found in the contrapposto pose, which is used in the vast majority of modelling compositions. The reason why it is used so much is very simple: it works.

Location, location, location:
Try this sometime: take a photo with your subject in the exact center of the photo, facing you. Now crop it so that the subject is on the right side of the photo, then so that the subject is on the left side of the photo. Which looks better? Which one did you look at the longest? Here in the west, we read from left to right and top to bottom, in the same way that you are reading this article. Well, we look at photos in the same way. By putting your subject on the right, the viewer will be "drawn in" to the photo more. He will spend just a little longer looking at it, will notice a little more detail and it will make more of an impact on him. If the subject is on the left, on the other hand, the viewer will look at the photo, almost immediately come to the subject, and then stop; all the rest of the photo is lost on him. This compositional rule is well known and has other applications; for example, advertising companies almost always put their logo on the bottom right, and this is where most professional artists sign their work; they want you to look at it and they know your eye will be drawn there.
If you have an advanced camera, you may have noticed a screw or two next to the eyepiece of your viewfinder. On some of the more basic cameras, these screws are only there to hold the eyepiece in place. In more advanced cameras they are for adjusting something called the "diopter." What this does is allow nearsighted people to adjust the eyepiece lens so that they can see well enough to take photos without wearing glasses. It adjusts the magnification and the apparent distance between your eye and the camera's focusing screen. It is important, before attempting to adjust this, that you know whether your camera has this feature, so you don't accidentally remove your eyepiece though, so first do a google search for your camera and add the words diopter adjustment to the search. That way you can be sure of what the screws there do. On some cameras, you will notice that there are grooves on either side of the eyepiece. Those do not have adjustable diopters, BUT those grooves are there to hold accessory eyepiece lenses that will provide enough magnification that nearsighted people can shoot without glasses; the accessory lenses act like reading glasses.
I get requests for advice about new gear a lot. It is one of the most frequently asked questions on the Photography Forum. "What camera should I get?" Well, that depends. If you get a new camera, you are going to have to learn, all over again, how to use it. If you have not exhausted the capabilities of your current camera, and if you have not learned as much as you can about how to use it, the answer is that you probably should NOT get a new camera. If you are not very good with your current camera, getting a new one is not going to help and in fact may make things worse. Use a little common sense; you'll be as good or bad as you ever were and you'll have an unfamiliar system to figure out. The time to get a new system is when you have run into a wall with the inherent limitations of the system you are using (all cameras have limitations, including the new one you are thinking about getting), or when your camera breaks down, not until then.

A frequently encountered example: If you have a 15mp camera, and all your friends have 28mp cameras, that is not a good reason to buy a new one, because in spite of their bragging, their cameras have no more resolution than yours. This is because their cameras are capable of capturing more detail than their lenses can deliver -- the LENSES are the limiting factor, not the number of megapixels. They are "fixing" a problem that doesn't exist. In addition, their cameras are going to be noisier, because in order to increase the number of megapixels, they are doing what we used to call in the military "cramming 10 pounds of shit into a 5-pound bag." This creates a mess. They rely on algorithms to "solve" this problem and get rid of the noise. Well, here's the thing: none of those algorithms work very well. The camera simply "guesses" at what a problematic pixel should be like, based on a mathematical model, and they often get it wrong. This is because their mathematical models are not sentient and do not know what it is they are looking at. When they do what it is that they do, it is just a guess. Guesses are often wrong.

Getting a camera with more and better shooting modes is not usually a good idea either. You SHOULD be shooting in manual as much as you possibly can. If you are not doing this, then that is what you should do, instead of going out and getting a camera that will solve all your problems for you (it won't and it can't). None of the shooting modes work very well except the creative modes (manual, aperture priority and shutter priority). The shooting modes work by assuming that certain conditions are going to be present. For example, fireworks mode assumes that it is going to be very dark. Well, if there is any cloud cover, it won't be. This is because the light from the fireworks will reflect off of the clouds, and your photos will be overexposed. Portrait mode only works if you are shooting a classic head and shoulders portrait of one person, because that is what it is set up to do. Any other kind of portrait will be ruined. It is not intuitive. ALL of the shooting modes are set up for specific situations and if your situation does not match those conditions precisely (and it is unlikely that they will unless you have taken the time to learn what they are), it isn't going to work. Shooting modes are for people who do not know much about photography. They at least give them a small chance of getting something worth looking at, but it is only a small chance.

In short, if you are considering getting a new camera, first ask yourself if it is the camera that is creating a problem (unlikely if other people are getting better results than you are with the same gear) or is it you. If it is you, a new camera is not going to solve the problem. What WILL make you a better photographer is developing your skills. It takes time and effort; throwing more money at the problem isn't going to do it.

Portrait lighting:

In commercial portrait photography, there are standard lighting setups that are used all the time. Places like the Sears Portrait studios, Olan Mills, and etcetera, do a volume business, and so they have a few setups that are used for most of their photography. The lights are fixed semi-permanently in position, the cables are taped down (to reduce tripping hazards, and etcetera. This means that they are not going to be able to change the lighting much in individual situations. However, that said, there is a reason why those setups became standards: they usually work. THAT said, if you are doing this as a fine art, as opposed to cookie cutter photography, the standard setups can be refined and should be only looked at as a starting point. 

Well, in order for you to get to those starting points, you need to know what they are and what they do. These are some of the most frequently used lighting setups:

  1. Glamour lighting (also known as butterfly lighting): In glamour lighting, the main light is placed behind and directly above the camera. This casts a small shadow below the nose that someone once fancifully thought resembled a butterfly, and thus the name butterfly lighting. Glamour lighting tends to be even, flat and two-dimensional. If your model has perfect skin and perfect features, if she is very thin and if your makeup artist is highly skilled, this might be one to consider; otherwise it is probably best to avoid it. One situation where it might be the best option is when your subject has a lot of wrinkles, because it will smooth them out, while light hitting your subject from any other angle will emphasize them by casting shadows into the crevices between wrinkles. It will also minimize the appearance of acne and facial scars.

  2. Closed loop lighting:  This is a form of lighting where the main light is placed far enough to the side that the shadow from the nose merges with the shadow on the side of the face opposite the light. It creates a moodier portrait with a lot of contour. It is best used with faces that are broad, in order to emphasize their contour. With a narrow or angular face, it will emphasize that until it verges on harsh, and that is not good.

  3. Open loop lighting: The main light, in this one, is also moved to the side, but not as much as in closed loop lighting. The shadow of the nose does not quite touch the shadows on the side of the face opposite the main light. It is less moody and does not emphasize the contours of the face as much, so it can soften an angular face and/or wrinkles, while still showing the character that they provide.

  4. Rembrandt lighting: This is an extreme form of closed loop lighting with the same properties of closed loop lighting, but more pronounced -- because it is usually used with one light or only minimal fill lighting. Dark shadows are the rule. In this form of lighting, the only part of the shadowed side of the face that is lit, is a triangle of cheekbone. Rembrandt lighting is most often used with a black, or at least very dark, background.

  5. Profile lighting: In this form of portrait lighting, the main light is set up straight out from the side of the model, lighting only half of her face. It is not used much anymore, but it used to be used to accentuate classic features.

  6. Monster lighting: Remember when you used to be a child, telling ghost stories with a flashlight held under your chin? That was monster lighting. I have personally never used it, but I am told that on rare occasions, it can be effective. I have my doubts.

  7. Broad and short lighting: Obviously, if the main light is set to one side or the other of the model, one side of her face is going to have more light and the other side will have more shadow. If the lighted side of her face is on the side where the camera is, it is called broad lighting. If the shadowed side of her face is toward the camera, it is called short lighting. Broad lighting makes narrow faces look broader and short lighting makes broad faces look narrower. Usually, this is how you should use short/broad lighting, and not the other way around.

Note that all of the forms of lighting mentioned have been discussed in terms of one light - the main light. Well, you can do it that way and only use one light, but most portrait artists use at least two lights (a main light and a fill light). In fact the majority of professionals will use from three to five lights. The fill light is used to soften the shadows, by lighting the shadowed side of the face with about 1/4 to 1/3 the amount of light of the main light. The shadows are sill there, but they are lighter. You might also have a hair light (illuminates the hair, making dark hair stand out from a dark background) and a background light (creates a bright spot on the background like a halo surrounding the subject).

This is an old film printing technique, used with an enlarger and photosensitive paper. You need two negatives to do this, and unless you want to work for months at it, one needs to have a black background. Then the other one should be of something you are going to print on top of the first image. This can be an object or a texture. Take a look at this photo:

Mature Content

Torso with lichens and fern by FallisPhoto

This is a double printed photo, using two negatives. The first one was a low key nude, with a black background. The second negative was of a bed of ferns and some lichen.

When you print the photo of the nude, the part of the negative that corresponds to the black background is clear and lets the light from the enlarger through; it burns the photosensitive paper black (well, the paper is still white at this stage, because you haven't developed it yet, but when you do get around to developing it, that area is going to turn a deep rich black). The paper is not going to get any darker than black, so it stays that way and nothing else is going to print on it. The paper in the black areas is fully exposed. However, the part of the negative that corresponds to the torso is nearly black and it blocks light. The paper never gets much light in these areas and so it is NOT exposed or is not exposed much. If you developed it at this point, it would be nearly white. That means you can stick another negative into the enlarger and print something on top of that area, because the paper is photosensitive and that part hasn't been exposed to light yet. In the above example, I put the negative with the ferns and lichen into the enlarger and turned the enlarger back on, giving it about half the exposure that I gave to the first negative. When I developed the paper, the background stayed black, but the ferns and lichen showed up where the torso was. Because the torso had areas of deep shadow, it gave those shadows to the ferns and lichens, thus giving the torso's contours to the lichens and ferns.

Just one more thing: Double prints generally turn out far better if you plan everything out beforehand and shoot your photos with the idea that you are going to do this with them. It isn't really something you can do with haphazardly chosen negatives unless you get extremely lucky. You need to match the secondary negative to the primary one, so they suit one another, and the primary photo has to be shot with deeper than normal shadows.
"Empty magnification," sometimes referred to as "empty enlargement" in photography, is a point you reach in enlarging a photo when enlarging it any more just makes it bigger and does not add any more detail or information. The temptation, especially in micro photography and macro photography, is to keep making a print bigger in order to see more, but past a certain point, this doesn't help. In fact, you eventually reach a point where it hurts you. For small format photography, regardless of the medium (digital or film), this is going to happen sometime around 8x10 inches (roughly A10 size, in Europe). Empty enlargement actually starts, for a full frame camera, at around 3x4 inches (about the size of an index card), but won't really hurt you until you reach 8x10, if you have a good lens. You might be able to get to 11x14 if you have exceptionally good gear and your camera has a high number of megapixels, or a ultra-high resolution film with a high acutance developer and if you have a very high resolution lens. You see, the problem is that nothing is perfect and enlarging a print past this point, doesn't just enlarge the subject that you shot, it enlarges EVERYTHING. It enlarges the grain, the pixels, the rings around the areas of contrast if you used a sharpening tool, the waves from the microscopic ripples in the lens glass, the noise, dead pixels, the traces of fringing, and every other imperfection. Those all start to become noticeable and you won't need a loupe to see them anymore. It also makes the photo blurrier.

Have you ever seen those ads for Canon EOS cameras on TV (Home Shopping Network runs them sometimes)? You know, the ones where they are showing 4x5 foot photos taken with their EOS cameras? Those are absolutely blatant scams; the worst kind of fraud. If you ever watch one of those, take note that they never actually say that the photos are sharp. What they do is imply the hell out of it: "Just look how sharp that photo is, Mike." Note that "Mike" doesn't say "Yeah, Fred, that's really sharp;" instead he'll say something like "Wow!" The only way they can get away with it is that you are not actually looking closely at a 4x5 image, you are looking at it at a distance, so even with a wide screen HD TV, you are seeing it at about half that size or less and your TV screen does not have very good resolution, so you can't see how awful it actually looks. It is kind of the effect that people who make billboards take advantage of -- they only look good at a distance. In a competition, people would laugh at it. I've seen them do it. In automobile restoration they call cars like that 20-footers, because you don't want anyone to be closer than that who is looking at them. Well, it's the same with big prints from small format cameras.
The more complex a composition is, the more things there are that can go wrong and, of course, the more likely it becomes that one or more of those things will go wrong. Also, more often than not, simple compositions are easier to arrange/control and so can be made quite often to be more attractive. Bearing this in mind, until you gain quite a bit of experience, it will help a great deal if you follow the K.I.S.S. rule. Instead of automatically reaching for the wide angle lens when you are shooting a landscape, for example, consider the benefits of using a telephoto lens and shooting a narrower (and therefore simpler to compose) swathe of landscape. Telephoto lenses have compression distortion and will make the widely separated trees in a woods appear more densely packed, by making the foreground and background (and everything between them) appear closer together. It is something to think about. Minimalistic landscapes (like snow drifts, sand dunes, or a dock going out into the water) can be very effective and so is blurring the background in a portrait by using a wide aperture and thus simplifying it. Alternatively, you could use a plain black or white backdrop and get rid of the foreground and background altogether. You might also try shooting in black and white. All of these are proven ways of using the K.I.S.S. rule to your advantage.
If you look at the top of your camera, assuming you have a DSLR, you will see a little dial with some icons and some letters. Most of the letters stand for what are called "creative" modes (manual, shutter priority, aperture priority, and I am not sure if full automatic counts as a creative mode, but it shouldn't). The icons that you might see could include a little head (portrait setting), a mountain (landscape) and etcetera. In some compact cameras, you will find these and more modes in a menu. Here's the thing: not a single one of them is reliable, because the camera is going to make certain assumptions when you use these that may not be correct (and in fact they usually will not be, unless you very thoroughly understand exactly how they work).

Let's look at one of these a little more closely. I'm going to choose the portrait mode, because that is one that is used quite often. Let's say you mentioned your brand new DSLR at work and your company, just on the basis of this, has chosen you to be the company photographer at a business function, and they want a photo of their team for the company newsletter. There are 20 people on the team and you have them all form a double line of ten people and smile for the camera. You select portrait mode because this is a portrait, right? Sorry, but that is wrong. In portrait mode, the camera is going to assume that you are shooting a single person. It is going to choose a wide aperture and give you a shallow depth of field. This works fine, if you are, in fact, shooting a single person, but in this example it means that everyone in the back row and everyone out toward the ends of each row, who are more distant from the camera than the guy in the middle of the front row (the guy you focused the camera on) will be out of focus. It is also going to be a very poor choice if you are trying to do an environmental portrait (person in context with his or her surroundings), because the background (that environment you wanted to capture) will be out of focus.

Well, that is not the only problematic mode. All of the icon modes make certain assumptions: that there are going to be certain conditions present that might not exist. In fact, unless you understand how those modes work, you are more likely to mess up by using them than you are likely to get a good photo. The creative modes are FAR more reliable, with the single proviso that you understand how they work. In the above example, it would have been much better to choose either manual mode or aperture priority mode, so you could have chosen a narrower aperture with more depth of field, so that everyone would be in focus.

Night photography mode and firework mode assume that a certain level of darkness is going to exist and that there will be no cloud cover to reflect any ambient light. Other modes can have other problems.

Even autofocus isn't reliable. For example, pretty much every wildlife photographer alive learns VERY quickly not to trust it -- and they often learn the hard way. This happens the first few times they shoot what should have been a perfect once-in-a-lifetime shot of some incredibly rare forest critter or other, only to find that their camera chose to focus on an intervening twig, a tuft of grass, or a moth in the foreground. Of course, by the time you figure out what happened and try to correct for it, the nearly extinct animal you were trying to shoot will be long gone. That's just the way the universe works. Those modes are for amateurs who do not understand how their cameras work and for the desperate and that is all; it gives them at least some small chance of capturing something.
If you are shooting digitally, you are stuck with one amorphous recording medium (your camera's sensor) and you edit the image you get from that in order to get the results you want. With film, you have dozens of film choices to make, and then dozens of ways of developing that film, and then there are almost an unlimited number of darkroom techniques that you can use in print-making. All Photoshop techniques and filters come from darkroom techniques, but they are not all there and the two processes and forms of photography are not equal. In general, it takes much longer to learn to use film, because you are literally working blind (you can't see what you've done until you make a print), but once you thoroughly understand everything, you can go a little bit farther with it and, once you go beyond the inherent limitations of small format, you can make larger and higher quality prints. Some types of photography, such as infrared photography, are far easier to do with film than with digital cameras, and others are far easier to do with digital processes.

Now about those dozens of choices of film I mentioned earlier: The first thing to realize is that they are all different. Some of them are wildly different and some are subtly different. For example, let's look at a few color films. Kodak Ektar emphasizes color and seems to emphasize red in some unfortunate situations. This means it is not a particularly good film for portraits unless you are fond of pink skin. It is great for landscapes, architecture and flora though. Kodak ProImage similarly makes skin look orange but seems to make other colors pastel. Kodak Portra NC (natural/neutral color) offers very good rendition of skin tones, so it is a good portrait film. Kodak Portra VC (vivid color) is a film with a lot of saturation, so it is good for shooting colorful subjects or subjects where you want to strongly emphasize their colors. Kodak consumer grade color films, like Kodak Gold, seem to particularly emphasize blue, while Fuji consumer grade color films seem to lean more toward green.

That was just color, and was by no means a comprehensive list. There are quite a few black and white films too. Kodak T-Max 100 is a very finicky black and white film and may be the most difficult film in existence to learn how to use. It is very sensitive to almost anything that you can do to it in the development stage. If you do everything perfectly (use the correct developing agent, the correct temperature, the correct degree of agitation, and hold your mouth just right while wearing the right color shirt and clutching a horseshoe), you can get nearly grainless prints. If you are off on any one of those things, even a little, you get grain, and it can range from just a little to grain from hell. Actually, this is a GOOD thing, because once you have learned its quirks, it allows you to manipulate the grain in the photo. It is part of that learning curve I was speaking of earlier. T-Max is not, of course, the only black and white film out there, and it is not the easiest to learn. Kodak Tri-X is one of the most forgiving and foolproof films ever made. You can develop it in nearly anything and get great results. There is no need to restrict yourself to Kodak film: Fuji, Rollei, Adox, Ilford and several other companies make black and white films. All have different qualities to take advantage of. Ilford Delta Pro, for example, can reticulate (crack up the emulsion like a dried up mud flat) if you give it any kind of thermal shock during development. Most people try to avoid this, but if you WANT it to reticulate, now you know how.

Then there are the ultra-high resolution black and white films -- the kind you use if you are entering contests and you want to compete against very high resolution digital cameras. There are still a couple of those being made, and one is Rollei 25. It is capable of recording about the digital equivalent of 51mp on a 35mm frame. Unfortunately, that is way past the ability of any lens ever made to deliver. If you can't beat the digital photographers with this film, it isn't the fault of the film. Another is Blue Fire Police Film; it was created as an evidentiary film that could capture fine details at crime scenes. That kind of works out well for general photography though.

Another thing to consider when selecting a black and white film is that there are three types. One is C41 process film and there are two standard process types that you develop yourself. C41 is the kind you drop off at the one-hour-photo place and they process it for you in their color machine. Another type is a tabular grain film, like T-Max 100. The particles of silver in the film emulsion are flat, are shaped like the capital letter "T" and overlap like fish scales. It is supposed to give you a smoother transition from light to dark in the mid tones, and it does -- if your development process is incredibly anal retentive and painstaking. That said, if it isn't, then some of the grains stand up, and you get grain from hell. There are also cubic grained films, and in those the particles of silver are ground into tiny particles like extra-fine talcum powder. Most of the ultra-high resolution films are cubic grained. Cubic grained films are much easier to develop without problems. Tri-X is a cubic grained film, and it is (as previously mentioned) one of the most forgiving of all films.

Black and white negative films that are not C41 process can be "pushed" or "pulled" during development too. "Pushing" a film results in added contrast. You deliberately underexpose your film and then overdevelop it to compensate for the underexposure. "Pulling" film results in less contrast. You deliberately overexpose your film and then underdevelop it to compensate for the overexposure. Some color films can be pushed or pulled also, but not at the one-hour-photo place. This is because the people using the machines there typically get about 15 minutes to one hour of training, and they simply don't know how. Pro labs can do it, although not all color films can be pushed or pulled.

Finally, there is the choice of developing agent. Some films require special developing agents. For T-Max films, for example, Kodak recommends that the film be developed in T-Max developer. You don't have to use T-Max developer with T-Max film, but if you don't you are going to get varying degrees of grain. Blue Fire also has a proprietary developing agent. There are other developers though, like Rodinol, D76, Microdol, Atol, and dozens of others. Each developer will have a different effect on your film. Some will give you more contrast than others, some will have more of an effect on mid tones, and some will have an effect on grain. Not one of them will have the same effect on different films either. To take advantage of all these choices, you have to experiment with them and take notes, so you will know what to expect from them when used with several different kinds of film.
Snapshots are what happens when you are walking along, see something that you think might make a good photo, raise your camera and shoot it. Previsualization is what happens when you are walking along, see something that you think might make a good photo, but you left your camera at home, so you stand there and study it, in preparation for taking a photo of it sometime tomorrow, or next week, or next time a cold front is moving in (so you get clouds), or next time the leaves turn, or next time things are in bloom. You take notes. You decide on what lens filters would be most useful, what focal length lenses you'll want, with what camera body. You get out your smart phone and find out what time sunrise is and which way is east, so you can tell which side will have sun and where the shadows will be. You decide whether the light will make it better to shoot in the morning or in the afternoon. You walk around and find out where the best place to shoot from is likely to be. You think about every option beforehand. In short, the photo is planned and you see it in your head before you ever get near a camera. The photo in your head doesn't much look like what is in front of you and you are planning how to shoot the photo in your head, not the one you see. If you are shooting a fine art photo you plan whether to sepia tone it. Would it look better with a vignette or a reverse vignette? If you'll be shooting film, you plan on which film to use based on its characteristics, not just on what you happen to be carrying that day. You decide on how you are going to develop black and white film and how much grain you want. If you're shooting color, you choose whether the film leans more toward blue (Kodak Gold) or red (Kodak Ektar), or green (most of the Fuji consumer grade films), whether you want enhanced colors (Velvia or Kodak Portra VC), a more accurate color rendition (Kodak Portra NC or Fuji Pro) and so on. Decide on how you are going to frame it. Ansel Adams was a huge proponent of previsualization and all of the preceding is what he meant when he said "good photos are not taken, they are made."

Contrary to the popular expression, the camera ALWAYS lies. Plan your photos, so it does so in your favor and does a good job of it.

Developing standard process black and white film


Black and white film comes in several forms. There are tabular grain films and cubic grain films, there are standard process films and C41 process films. The C41 process films are the ones where your local drug store can run them through their color film machine and develop them for you; this tutorial does not concern those, but the standard process films that are developed in tanks, and that you can very easily do at home.


First, you are going to need a few things. You are going to need a room that you can make completely dark, and the emphasis is on the word completely. It does not take a lot of light to expose film. If a thousandth of a second at f/11 will make an exposure, that is how much light can totally ruin your whole roll of film. If necessary, stuff a towel under the door and tape up the cracks around it. The whole process takes place in pitch blackness, because safe lights only work for making prints, not for film. You are also going to need a bottle cap remover and a pair of scissors. Of course you are also going to need a developing tank and a couple of film reels. Tank and reels sounds intimidating, doesn’t it? Relax, these are tanks and reels: They are smaller than coffee cans. As you can see, they come in two types: steel and plastic. The plastic tanks and reels (also known as Patterson tanks) are much easier for beginners to use, so I am going to concentrate on how to use those.


Okay, you have all the stuff you need to get started, so let’s get to it. You go into your pitch black room. And, if you are using 35mm film, you pry off the end of the cartridge that does NOT have the knob sticking out of it. You take the film out, unroll it and cut it loose from the spool with your scissors. Then you cut off the tapered leader, cutting it as nearly square as you can manage without seeing it. Then you pick up your plastic reel. If you looked at the reel before going into the darkroom, you would have noticed that both ends are made of coils of plastic. The ends of the coils terminate in small boxes that contain tiny ball bearings. These act as ratchets, and will feed your film into the coils; the film goes between the coils of plastic. Feel for those little boxes and when you have found them, feed one end of the film into the coils under them; it doesn’t matter which end. Now take hold of the top and bottom of the reel and start twisting it back and forth. As you do this, you will feel the film sliding into the coils. When it is done, you just put your film reels into the tank, threaded onto a rod that came with the tank, put on the top and you can turn the lights on. There is a light baffle built into the tank, so light won’t hurt anything at this point. If you are developing medium format film, a two reel tank will only hold one reel, once it has been adjusted for that format. Take hold of both the top and bottom of the reel and twist it hard, overcoming some resistance, and you will be able to slide the top and bottom coils apart. If you are paying attention, you will notice that there are three positions the reels can be adjusted to. The first position is for films the size of 35mm film. This includes 35mm, of course, but also 828 and 126 films. The second position is for 127 film, and the position where the coils are farthest apart is for 120 and 220 film formats. Once you have found those detents, twist the top and bottom hard in the reverse direction that it took to unlock it, and it will lock it into its new setting. If you have a two reel tank, you can develop two cartridges of 35mm or one spool of 120 film in it.

Okay, now you can leave your darkroom, unless you are just really comfortable sitting in a dark closet. The next step is to take the cap off of the tank, where you will see a funnel. Do not remove the funnel, just the cap. You will then pour the developing agent of your choice in with your film. If you look inside the box your black and white film came in, you will see that development times are printed inside for several recommended developing agents. If you have lost the box, here is where you find that information online: You look up your film and the developer and it will tell you what temperatures work best and how much time to give it. Let’s say, just at random, that the chart says to develop it for 7 minutes. Okay, you let it sit there and soak for 7 minutes, picking it up every 30 seconds and GENTLY swirling the chemicals around for 5 seconds until the time has expired. Well, okay, that’s what you do if you want it to come out with not much grain. If you do fine art though, there are times when you WANT there to be a coarse grain, and then you’d beat the tank against things and shake the hell out of it. You’d probably also use T-Max 100 film, because it is sensitive to agitation and you can use that quirk to control the amount of grain.


Speaking of grain, remember that I said earlier that there are tabular grain films and cubic grain films? Tabular grain films are ones where the silver crystals in the emulsion resemble fish scales. They are flat and they overlap. Cubic grained films are films with grains of silver that resemble really tiny grains of table salt. Tabular grained films were designed to give you a very smooth nearly grainless photo, and a smooth transition from dark to light IF your lab technique is flawless. They are very quirky and they are not at all forgiving. A shift of two degrees during development, or bump the tank just a little too hard on the table when you set it down, and your smooth grain goes out the window. The joke was, if you got coarse grain using T-Max 100, that you must not have been holding your mouth right. In my college course, we were required to use T-Max 100 and D76 developer, and I assume it was because if we could master that, nothing else would give us much trouble. Another one that is tricky to develop is Ilford Delta Pro. Delta Pro is sensitive to temperature changes, and if you develop it in cold chemistry and your stop bath, fixer or wash is too warm, the film base can expand faster than the emulsion and the film can reticulate, meaning the emulsion cracks up like a dried out mud flat.


Okay, your developer has done its trick and it is time to stop the development process. You pour out the developer and pour in your stop bath. Stop bath is made from ascetic acid; yep, it’s vinegar. In fact you can save a few bucks by using distilled white table vinegar. It’s cleaner and works better. You mix 2 ounces of vinegar with 3o ounces of water to make a quart of stop bath. You stop your film for about a minute, agitating it once after 30 seconds. Then you pour it out.


Next comes the fixer. You pour that in, and generally you give it 7 minutes, agitating it every 30 seconds for 5 seconds. Different brands of fixer have different times, but most take 7 minutes. It will say on the bottle or package how long it takes. Now you take the entire top off of your tank, pour the fixer out and put your film tank in the sink.  Turn on the water, just a trickle, and position the tank so that the water runs into the hollow cores of the reels. This will stir up the residual chemicals and flush them over the sides of the tank. Leave it there for at least two hours, so all the chemistry gets leached out of the emulsion and is gotten rid of. If you want to shorten this time, there is a chemical called Hypo Clearing Agent that acts as a kind of soap for film, and it neutralizes any chemicals remaining in it. If you used Hypo, you only need to wash your film for 30 minutes.


Now you have a choice to make. Tap water, which is what we have been using up until now, is not particularly clean and it can have dissolved calcium and lime, so when it dries out, you get spots on your film. To eliminate the possibility of that, you can use a sheeting agent, like Kodak Photo Flo. That evenly distributes the filth all over the film, so that is not the choice I would make. It is cheap though. A one gallon jug of it lasts practically forever. The other option is to rinse the film twice with distilled water. Distilled water will not spot, so when the film dries, it will be very clean.


I was asked to explain push and pull processing too, so here goes: If you are shooting a scene and it all looks kind of bland and washed out, you may need more contrast. If you are shooting something bright against a midnight black background, you may want less. This is where push and pull processing comes in. If you deliberately underexpose your film and then overdevelop it to compensate, you get more contrast. This is called push processing. If you deliberately overexpose your film and then underdevelop it to compensate, you get less contrast and that is called pull processing. When push processing film, you usually add half again the developing time for each stop of underexposure. When pull processing, you usually subtract a third of the development time. It is probably not a good idea to pull the film more than one stop, but most negative films can be pushed two stops.

Okay, we've all done this: You go to someplace like New York City, Los Angeles or Chicago and you walk along until you find something interesting, raise your camera and snap a photo. Yeah, it looks nice, but it isn't something a hundred million tourists have not done before you and that millions more won't do after you. If you want something different, that will stand out at least a little from all those other photos and make people say "wow," try changing your point of view. That's the easiest way to be a little different. There are other things you can do, but that's the easiest. Look up nearby buildings with public access (that is information available on the internet) and see if you can shoot it from above. Is there anywhere else you can shoot from that relatively few people have tried? Can you shoot from a bridge, a dock or a ferry? Can you shoot from the top of a ferris wheel? If you live in an area where there is the occasional fog, think what that would look like from above, with the buildings sticking up through it. How about doing a photo of skyscrapers while lying on your back and shooting straight up while using a fisheye lens? Try just shooting whatever you're shooting at different times of day and night or in different weather. Maybe that certain undefinable something that is missing from that photo you took while looking up at a skyscraper is a full moon overhead, a more dramatic sky with a few red or grey clouds, or the early morning light shining on just the tops of the towers. Another benefit to doing early morning photography is that street sweepers generally will be done by then and there will be less trash to ruin your photos. Maybe all those lights will look better reflected off of New York Harbor.  Right after a heavy rain, you can get reflections off of the streets too. If you have a tripod and a neutral density filter, you can take an extra long exposure where there is traffic and get a "river of light" effect going past your viewpoint (caused by the headlights and tail lights of passing vehicles). Look for contrasts; they can be very effective. If you want to shoot an old church, for example, try doing it with a glass and steel office building behind it. Maybe shoot its reflection in a rain puddle. During the day, a longer exposure can catch the movement of people going by and give the viewer a sense of the bustle of city life. Have you ever thought about what fireworks in the distance would look like from atop a tall building? Try to get outside the box, at least a little; think about how you can be different and take some pains with your photography. It can make a huge difference.
Okay, this is a sensitive subject that I have been dreading writing about, and if you look it up on the internet, you will find thousands of old-school photographers and digital enthusiasts engaged in battle over which is better. The truth is that neither is better, they're just different and which is the better choice is going to depend a whole lot on what you are trying to do with it. If you look at this strictly from the viewpoint of photo quality, and especially resolution, most 35mm films can't stand up to modern digital cameras -- except that there are still one or two left that can. These tend to be very slow ISO 25 (or lower) black and white films and ultra-high resolution films; yes, there are still a very few of those around, like Rollei 25, Adox CMS II 20 and Bluefire police film. They can stand up to digital cameras because the limiting factor, in BOTH cases (digital and film), is going to be the lens, not the recording medium. BOTH very high resolution film and the very highest megapixel digital cameras are capable of capturing more than any lens can deliver. 

That said, film has a greater latitude (also known as  dynamic range). In simple terms, this means that you will see more detail in the very dark and very light areas of the photos. This means that if you are standing inside a shadowy barn and you're shooting a brilliantly lit subject, wearing a white dress, who is standing in full sunlight outside, you are going to have much more trouble capturing detail both inside the barn and in the subject if you are using a digital camera than you would if you were using one of the aforementioned films. Film also comes in medium format and in large format, where digital cameras, of the same format and with comparable lenses, still can't really compete. A Hasselblad, with the best lenses money can buy, can make enlargements of up to 3x4 feet before running into something called empty enlargement (the point where enlarging a photo any more only results in lowering its quality). That same camera, with a roll film back and a very good ISO 25 film in it, can go to 4x5 feet before running into the same problem. There is no perceptible advantage in resolution, of course, unless you happen to be participating in an art show where you'll be showing BIG prints or unless you are shooting for billboards or murals, but it is there if you DO want to shoot those things. All else being equal, pretty much the only immediately perceptible difference in smaller prints is going to be in the dynamic range.

All that said, digital cameras do have several distinct advantages over film. They have almost entirely supplanted film cameras in photojournalism, because if you can upload your images to a laptop and e-mail them to your editor in a few minutes from Istanbul, then your film-using competitor has no hope of beating you to the punch. Even if he has a film scanner, he has to take time to develop and scan his negatives and by converting them to a digital format, he has lost all that dynamic range that was his sole advantage over your digital photos. In order to produce prints that have the advantage of the added dynamic range, he has to make them with an enlarger, in a darkroom and send them by snail mail, where his editor (who may or may not ever receive them up to two weeks later) isn't going to be able to produce all that detail in his magazine of newspaper. This is one reason why the last bastion of old-school film photography is mostly in making museum quality or show quality fine art prints. You are never going to see this difference in any images you find on the internet, by the way, because everything on the internet is digital (you have to scan it to put it there).

Another big reason why film photography is still around, especially on the fine art scene, is because of the papers that you can use to make prints. With digital photography, one paper is very much like another. With film photography, different papers have enormous differences, and some papers show more detail than others, as well as there being many differences in finish, archival qualities and tone (no one really knows how digital prints will stand up to film prints archivally, because there are no 150-year-old digital photos). There are even differences in the porosity of the paper, and the permeability of the emulsion, which make a visible difference. Some papers react to toning differently than others as well as reacting more or less strongly too.

In short, different strokes for different folks.
This is going to be among the toughest and most demanding and stressful jobs you will ever do. Don't think you are going there as a guest or that it is going to be easy. Bring your own food, because you will not be participating in the reception and you won't get to eat there; you won't be socializing either, you'll be working (like a dog). Plan for it and get plenty of sleep the night before and show up early. There may be opportunities to shoot people as they arrive.

Weddings are generally held in dimly lit churches, where the light is awful and sometimes you will not be allowed to shoot with a flash, so bring your fastest lenses and either a digital camera that can be adjusted to at LEAST ISO 800 without a lot of noise, or a film camera with a *GOOD* professional grade ISO 800 film or faster. Do not use slide film, because, as previously mentioned, the light is probably going to be awful and slide film is not forgiving at all. Remember that brides wear veils, so make sure that you can focus your lens past the veil and get her face in focus. You will be using a fast lens and the depth of field can be very shallow. Using autofocus, the camera will pick the veil to focus upon every time.

Bring two of everything: camera bodies, lenses, batteries, memory cards, and everything else you will need. Remember Murphy's law? "If something can go wrong, it will, at the worst possible moment." Well, this is the very moment it has been waiting for and it nearly always strikes during weddings. Make sure that you don't have those memory cards filled with cat photos and that the batteries are charged up. Here is another thing to consider: during the wedding is not the time to realize that you need a piece of gear that you didn't bring. Scout the location beforehand and shoot a few photos, so you'll have at least some idea of what you are going to need. Plan for the weather, have a good idea what you will be doing and dress for it. No plan survives contact with the enemy, but preparation pays anyway. Bring a change of clothes, if you think there is even a slight chance you will need them (after you have taken a shot lying down in the mud or after you have been shooting for 6 hours in 110 degree weather while standing in the sun and you're wringing wet is not the time to realize that you should have brought a change of clothing).

If you are allowed to bring and use a flash, you do NOT want it to be in line with the lens, so don't mount it in the camera's hot shoe. Get a flash bracket that mounts to the bottom of the camera and holds the flash off to the side. A flash mounted directly over the lens or too close to it will give you photos that look like two-dimensional cardboard cut-outs, you will get lots of red-eye, and it will make your subjects look like deer frozen in the headlights.

Bring cameras that you have experience with. There are no do-overs in a wedding and you don't want to be fumbling with the controls and trying to figure out what controls do what while your subjects are exchanging rings. The couple is not going to say "I do" twice either and they can't "unslice" the cake. Double check ALL the settings. After the wedding is not the time to find out that you shot the whole thing with your camera set to ISO 50.

Speaking of Murphy's Law, take that into account and NEVER shoot one photo when you can possibly get two or three. You are shooting people; people blink, cough, swallow, yawn, sneeze, move around, scratch itches and so on. You have to allow for that. If you get the chance, you should even try to bracket your exposures when you can. Don't think you are going to shoot a wedding and take a dozen photos; if you are doing your job right, it is going to be closer to a thousand than a dozen.

Make sure that you are shooting the right people at the right times. Find out beforehand who the important people are and get plenty of photos of them. It is more important to shoot the bride's and groom's families than it is to shoot a guy who wandered in off of the street in hopes of getting a free meal, or one of the groom's fifth cousin's friends. Pay attention! if something worth shooting is happening, be ready to shoot it. In fact, be ready to shoot at every second during the reception and wedding.

Now comes the fun part: as bad as it has been up until now, you're just getting started. Time to start editing. You begin by sorting through what you shot and discarding the unusable stuff, while praying that you have at least one good shot of each of the most important moments. If you were not bracketing and shooting multiple shots of each occasion, you won't. When you have made your final selections, you go through them one at a time, adjusting the colors, contrast, brightness, saturation, and doing what you can to get rid of anything that shouldn't be there. You remove warts, cellulite, the shine on bald heads and on noses, and so on. Save the unaltered raw files, because people are weird and you can't tell what they like; the bride may be proud of the mole on the end of her nose and think it makes her look like Cindy Crawford. You are going to be doing this for several days. Lots of people say that you should use actions in Photoshop or Lightroom to make this easier; don't listen to them. You can either do easy work or good work and they are almost never the same thing. Edit every photo individually and do it as nearly perfectly as you can. That's why people hire wedding photographers instead of having their teenage amateur cousins shoot their weddings. All of the above is also why wedding photographers are so expensive.

Before the wedding, get releases from the bride, the groom, and their families. If you single out a person for a solo photo, get a release from him. If you don't, you can get in trouble if ANYONE publishes that photo. If you can't get releases, turn down the job. A release is a form of contract, and it should clearly state what each person involved is expected to do. Of course their responsibility is that the bride and/or groom is going to pay you, but make sure that the release -- specifically -- says what it is they are going to get in return (prints, CD, files on a zip drive, or whatever you agree on before the shoot). Personally, as a professional photographer, I sell prints and I think people are fools who turn over high resolution files that can be copied to make high quality prints, but that's up to you. Get a receipt for them in any case. Make sure the release says who owns the copyrights too.
Hard directional light casts hard-edged shadows. When one of these is created on a curved surface, it usually doesn't look right and we call it "harsh." Sharply oblique lighting also tends to reveal and exaggerate the appearance of every bump and pore in the skin, which is not very flattering. What do you do about this? Well, you could use a softer light source -- except when you can't (like when you have to shoot by early morning sunlight). You could get more lights, to fill in those dark shadows, if you happen to have access to electrical power and have an extra light with you. What if you don't have that though? When you can't modify or change the light source itself, or use a secondary light source for fill lighting, you can use a reflector, and bounce some of the light source back onto the subject's shaded side, softening the edges of those shadows, and making rounded surfaces appear more rounded. Reflectors can be almost anything (paper, foam core, metallized fabric and etcetera), but the ones made specifically for photography are most commonly white, gold, or silver. As a general rule, gold and white are more often used for shooting people and silver is more often used for shooting other things. Gold reflectors give you a warmer light, which has the effect of making Caucasian and Asian skin look more tanned. Using a reflector has the effect of turning down the contrast between light and shadow. Well, what if you need to turn it up? There are also black  "reflectors" called gobos; these are used to block fill lighting, by absorbing some of the excess fill light that is bouncing onto the subject from surrounding reflective surfaces. Some people call it "reflecting" some black into areas where it is needed, but this is not correct (darkness doesn't bounce).