Forgetting Focus

About half way thru my second roll I thought…is my focus off or is it just my terrible eye sight. I looked up focus in the manual online and tried to make sense of it. From what I gathered…OOPS…I wasn’t focusing correctly. Or maybe I was? I guess we’ll see when the images come back.


** GULP **


May I introduce….

My first professional film camera:

(name still pending…)

She arrived this morning (8/13/20) at 6:49am. I ran down at 6:55am to get her.

Did I mention I’m not a morning person but she excites me 😉

I carefully open her up and she’s so peeeerty! Immediately I grabbed the two rolls of film I bought JUST for this moment.


Well, that’s a great question…I know I want to shoot light and airy on film. At least at first. You know, like every other film photographer starting out LOL. So after doing some online research & talking to some people, I decided to shoot with Fuji 400. But…there’s always a but….I couldn’t figure out if there was a different between Fuji 400 and Fuji 400h. So if there is a Fuji 400, it’s not as high quality as 400h. So I went scouring the internet for Fuji 400h and nothing could get me the film until end of August. So to make a long story longer…I went to a local camera store and purchased 1 roll of Fuji 400h and 1 roll of Kodak Porta 400 to see which I liked better.


So I grabbed my Fuji 400h and my Kodak Porta 400. Took the film and immediately forgot everything I have been trying to learn online. Foop….right out of my head. So I re-googled “how to load film into Canon AE-1 Program”. Thanks to some young kid on youtube, I loaded my film. So THAT took longer and was harder than I expected (“that’s what she said”), but I finally did it. Rewound the video a couple times, had lever on L, then S, then A…but I got it.

So off I went to the deck to check the sun and weather. And I PROMPTLY stepped onto a soaking wet deck. Socks, pajama bottoms, filled with that gooey, ooey wetness we all love. So from there I didn’t move. But I wanted to take a photo. So I photographed something – I honestly can’t remember what bc I was so excited and quite frankly I don’t even know if it was an advancement shot. Guess we’ll see it gets developed.

I quickly changed and ran out to the backyard to photograph a bucket of fake flowers and bottles. I shot the 36 exposures in an hour. I noted the ISO, shutter speed, aperture, type of sunlight and where the sun was in relation to me. It’s cloudy. Very little direct sunlight. Shot mostly at ISO 250 on a 400 roll. Played with shutter speed and aperture.  Shot with the cloudy sun behind object (flowers) and then object looking directly at the sun (so sun was behind me / bottles).

In what felt like no time, I finished the roll.

In a couple minutes I’m off to photograph my DD in about as open a field as you can get around here. Dear lord just let me have loaded the film correctly.


I’m quietly slipping in the back door, gracefully taking a seat in the back row, soaking up the education I receive and then equally as inconspicuously taking photos.


“Um what are you talking about Alison?” – says my one BLOG follower 😉

Well, it pretty much sums up why I’m returning to my roots of film photography.*

See, I’m doing this simply to learn. #NOpressure

I’m not putting pressure on myself to perfect film, to start a business with film, for a grade or for any praise — I’m starting to learn film (again) solely FOR ME.

One thing I’ve learned thru COVID is that I want to sloooooow down. Film does just that. You slow down, focus on your breathing, be still and trust yourself. When you only have 36 exposures (not the hundreds I used to come home with after a session), you are limited in the most focused way possible. You may not see the results of your efforts for a couple weeks. So it’s not the final product that this is all about for me … it’s the process of getting to the final product.  (Hence why I’m blogging about my journey and not my photos.)

Will I share my results…probably.

Will I post my results on social media….I don’t know.

Because for me, I’m in this for the knowledge…NOT the grade.


*While in grad school I took a photography course. Back then, there was no digital photography. It was 36 exposures with a pre-purchased IOS film. It was the basics : aperture, shutter speed, IOS, exposure and manual focus. From that class I created a portfolio apparently good enough to take to NY and get an apprenticeship with a photographer. I decided to save the world thru television instead. So that worked out just as I imagined 😉

Entry #3 : My film hero

Vivian Maier, a brilliant yet unknown film photographer, shot frame after frame, roll after roll in utter silence starting in 1949. She walked around the streets of France and later Chicago with a Rolleiflex camera draped over her neck, taking the most remarkable photos of everyday people doing everyday things.

Yet one of the most remarkable aspects of Ms. Maier’s work was that she never developed any of her film and knew no fame during her lifetime.

Think about that…Vivian Maier rarely, if ever, saw her own work.

In 2007, John Maloof bid on a storage locker – contents unknown.  Inside the locker were approximately 2,000 rolls of undeveloped black and white film. What developed were some of the most incredible, gripping and subtlest commentary on life and people I’ve ever had the privilege of seeing.

Those she worked for had no idea she took photos. She worked in silence. Quietly observing the masses, recording them for posterity with a calm confidence (or perhaps timid insecurity), never revealing even to herself the talent she possessed. She shot frame after frame because she felt the urge and need to create.

Since seeing the documentary Finding Vivian Maeir (, I have thought of her and her work almost daily. She is a constant inspiration for me yet I know myself well enough to know that I would never have the nerve to photograph people without their permission. Yet I admire her quite boldness and take from her the challenge and need to shoot with film, regardless of the results.






As is my nature, I’ve completely & ungracefully lost myself in the world of google. Searching topics like:

  • “How to use an AE-1 program Canon camera” (Still not sure)
  • “What does AE stand for in AE-1 program” (Auto Exposure)
  • “How do I photography light & airy photos on a film camera” (Overexpose?)
  • “AE-1 program manual” (Wow, it’s so 1970s and my eyes are too bad to read that little print so let’s just CMMD+ and at 200% there we go. AAAAANNNND I’m still confused)
  • “How to use a film camera without a light meter”
  • “How to use iPhone APP light meter”


  • “What’s the difference between FUJI film 400 and Fuji 400h”

I mean ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! I’m learning how to load film again. WHY? WHY AM I DOING THIS TO MYSELF?!

Well people, or more accurately for my sole reader, my mother-in-law, I promise to be honest thru this entire (at this point nightmarish) process so here’s the bottom line:

I am WAAAAAYYYY over my head.

Like standing next to my 5’10” son over my head.

But some psado-masakistic (damn, here comes another google search “How to spell psado-masakistic) side of me is telling me to keep moving forward. Oh, and at this point, just to add even more stress, I thought “hey, I’ll blog about this entire experience.” So now my google searches include “blogging? wordpress? how do i link wordpress blog to my site? is drinking at 3pm still acceptable?”

I give it 1, may 2, more entries and I’ll be over this blogging thing. So read about my mental breakdown while you can cuz I may not be here much longer.

PS – the correct spelling is sadomasochistic (SO close).

What the FILM was I thinking?

Yup…I said it…what the FILM was I thinking?

As in, Fuck I’m Losing MyMind! What was I thinking starting this venture into film cameras.

I’ve been shooting digital for about 12 years. I started on automatic and thought “hey these are good.” Dear Lord I knew nothing! Thanks to the amazingly talented Audrey Woulard workshop and a workshop of her’s I attended in 2011 (, I learned to shoot Manual and off I went. But, like anything, I got bored. I lost my excitement and desire to create. Well, let’s face it, a good portion of this was because I turned my creative outlet of photography into a business. So, now that I’ve put the business “on hold”, I took a couple months (ok almost a year) to find ME again.

What did I want?

Did I want to leave photography altogether?

Did I want to shoot digital when and if I felt a need to?

Did I just want to eat cheetos and Little Debbies’ on my couch? (Well, the answer to that is ALWAYS yes but I digress.)

I made this decision to put down my camera long before COVID, but certainly COVID helped me in my search for what I wanted. It made me slow down, focus, reset as to what is important to me and breathe. It slowed my world down and I realized…I want to return to a slower pace with photography to. I wanted to return to earlier days, when life was simpler and slower. I wanted to return to my roots – FILM.

I was first inspired by a talk given by Ty Pentecost ( I then had an amazingly generous and incredible fellow photographer send me a beautifully restored Canon AE-1 PROGRAM for an INCREDIBLE price [NOTE: if you are in Tennessee please check out my friend Delena Carroll Photography – her heart and her photography are equally incredible! Thanks to her hubby Dave too.]

So with that I said I took the leap….and landed flat on my face.