MISTAKES ON FILM - 35MM

I enjoy shooting film with a good old-fashioned plastic drugstore camera. A few years ago, Walgreens had an amazing deal. For something like $29 you could buy a "lifetime" camera - a plastic camera that came pre-loaded with Walgreens' own brand of ISO 400 film. Each time you shot a roll and brought it to Walgreens to be developed, they would load a new roll into it. I figured out a few hacks - I bought two cameras so I could get more free film, I figured out how to unload the film still unexposed so I could use it in my other cameras, and I hacked the plastic cameras themselves for light leaks and double-exposures. It came with a wrist strap, so sometimes the camera would fire accidentally. This is what I ended up with over the years - a series of "mistakes" that I've actually grown to love.

Occasionally when film is being processed, the ends get scanned, including stickers.

Occasionally when film is being processed, the ends get scanned, including stickers.

The skirt of my favorite dress, while I was walking to Oslo Sushi (RIP) in Detroit.

The skirt of my favorite dress, while I was walking to Oslo Sushi (RIP) in Detroit.

I was actually trying to take a photo of graffiti on a peeling cement column in an abandoned building and ended up with a photo of my friend Aaron and his dog Bear instead. This is one of my favorite photos EVER.

I was actually trying to take a photo of graffiti on a peeling cement column in an abandoned building and ended up with a photo of my friend Aaron and his dog Bear instead. This is one of my favorite photos EVER.

I don't know what this was supposed to be.

I don't know what this was supposed to be.

A kiddie pool in my parents' backyard.

A kiddie pool in my parents' backyard.

Lindsey's butt, circa the few years when she refused to wear underpants no matter what. The hand is not hers.

Lindsey's butt, circa the few years when she refused to wear underpants no matter what. The hand is not hers.

A sunset during traffic, which was taken with a single exposure. I'm not sure what happened but I really dig the effect.

A sunset during traffic, which was taken with a single exposure. I'm not sure what happened but I really dig the effect.

A rock.

A rock.

I dropped my camera on the cement, inadvertently taking a portrait of my lovely foot while also causing light leaks.

I dropped my camera on the cement, inadvertently taking a portrait of my lovely foot while also causing light leaks.

I think this happened when I dropped my camera at a friend's wedding and also forgot to wind the film a full frame first.

I think this happened when I dropped my camera at a friend's wedding and also forgot to wind the film a full frame first.

This is Matt. Or maybe Satan. No idea where the hellfire effect came from.

This is Matt. Or maybe Satan. No idea where the hellfire effect came from.

The end of a roll, complete with a photo of the entrance of the Walgreens store where I had bought the camera and was getting my film developed.

The end of a roll, complete with a photo of the entrance of the Walgreens store where I had bought the camera and was getting my film developed.

I adore experimenting with film and seeing what the results are. Often they aren't what I expect, especially when I manipulate both the film and the camera a whole bunch, but some of my "mistakes" are actually a few of my favorites. While Walgreens no longer sells this camera, you can buy similar reusable plastic cameras on eBay or you can try experimenting with disposable cameras. If you send a roll of film to be developed, make sure you let the technician know that they shouldn't be expecting a roll of perfect images and that they should scan every frame anyway!

COLLEGE FRIENDS - 120 FILM

I've been saving a lot of photos that I shot, developed, printed, and scanned myself because they're so old, but they're so good! I realized recently that I've never shared any of these... and I've been hoarding them since 2009! I bought a Holga from eBay in 2008. Mine is bright pink and I loved carrying it around everywhere because it was like having a camera and a fun accessory. I haven't used it since I developed this roll of film, but I still have it and it still has a half-shot roll of film in it - maybe I should get on that.

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This is Kara. We were both RAs and were in charge of the freshmen girls' floor together.

This is Kara. We were both RAs and were in charge of the freshmen girls' floor together.

Holga cameras are known for their plastic lenses and their light leaks which result in all kinds of cool imperfections. They have only two shutter speeds - approximately 1/100th of a second or a bulb setting which allows you to leave the shutter open as long as you'd like. The only issue with the bulb setting is that you can't use a cable release, so unless you have a tripod or beanbag it's likely that you'll get blurry images.

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I begged my friend Gretchen, who is beautiful both inside and out, to let me take her picture and she didn't understand why. Now she's a real live model - success that she totally deserves. Visit her  here .

I begged my friend Gretchen, who is beautiful both inside and out, to let me take her picture and she didn't understand why. Now she's a real live model - success that she totally deserves. Visit her here.

It's always fun to bring a film camera when you're out with your friends. Whether it's an instant camera or one that requires film to be developed, I've always had a really great time snapping photos in the moment and waiting to see what was churned out at a later time. Something I find pretty entertaining is to bring my favorite point & shoot (a Yashica T4, now discontinued) to the bar and watch my friends (who have usually been drinking) get confused about why they can't see the photos on a screen. It's not an iPhone, y'all!

A random beagle I fell in love with.

A random beagle I fell in love with.

Still one of my favorite portraits. This is Joni - my best friend and even snarkier counterpart for most of college.

Still one of my favorite portraits. This is Joni - my best friend and even snarkier counterpart for most of college.

I can't resist a self-portrait in a shiny window.

I can't resist a self-portrait in a shiny window.

To be honest I forgot how much fun this camera could be. I recently went on a trip to Iceland and gave my boyfriend my extra Holga to take photos with while we were there. His photos along with reviewing these old snaps have me itching to dig this camera out of the archives and start shooting more.

One of the things I wanted to point out about this set of photos is the square crop, the blurs, and the imperfections. Look familiar? They should - Instagram and similar programs like Hipstamatic based their style on old 120 film photos. These were all taken in 2009, before either of those programs became popular. In fact, Joni (second photo from the last) did her entire senior thesis on digitally manipulating images in Photoshop to look like they were taken with plastic lens cameras and then cross-processed. She never would have gotten away with that in more recent years because it would look like a collection of Instagram photos. It's always funny to see how things like technology can change in just a few years.

You can get a new Holga from many online retailers for around $39, whereas they start at around $17 on eBay. Take your pick - no pun intended! :) Holgas take 120 film or 35mm if you use electrical tape to block the window in the back - there are lots of tutorials online. This is the one I used a few years ago - definitely make sure you bring a copy of the number of clicks required per photo if you'd like to use it because it matters A LOT!

OIL PUDDLE RAINBOWS - 35MM

When it rains and oil leaks turn into thin layers on the tops of rain puddles, visually amazing things happen. After a quick Google search I learned that the "rainbow" you see has everything to do with varying thicknesses of the oil as well as the angle from which you view the oil spill. There is actually a lot of math and science that goes into explaining this phenomenon (if you want to call it that) but I just like them because they're pretty, and I spent a rainy week documenting them using my Yashica T4 Super and some old Walgreens brand 35mm film.

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I must have looked so strange, running around on rainy days trying to capture every oil spill on camera. I know this is such a silly post, but I just think these photos are beautiful and if I don't get to see a real rainbow in the sky after a thunderstorm at least I can look down at parking lots for some half-assed ones!