Category Archives: Photography

I miss summer…


Camera Talk: The SLR

Just think of us as the female version of Click and Clack.

Snap and Shot, your go to advice for photo questions. We may not give you the answer you were looking for, but admit it.  We’d make a GREAT radio show.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about…sigh. Just google it.

Anyway, its been awhile since we’ve been online. I know, I know. But what with website design, interviews, and putting together our book, I just fell back on the blog. My apologies.

It will certainly happen again.

So here is our next installment in our Camera Talks series. This time it’s on a camera you’re all probably familiar with, the SLR. It’s still around, albeit mostly in the Digital SLR format. But its still a good camera and takes some pretty awesome photos.


Thousands of Words

Okay guys,

I know last week I promised you another video installment of “Camera’s We Used On The Road”. I have it. I promise. Ask Val. We’ve recorded 4 videos! But this post isn’t about our cameras or a video.

It’s about the fact that WE are featured on KODAK’s website!!

Yes, thats right. Kodak asked us to write a blog about our journey and how it was, and why we took photographs with film. We happily obliged because we love film, traveling, and Kodak. So Valerie and I have been editing and choosing photos all week, and this morning I got a wonderful email from Colleen (who has been our Kodak liaison) to tell me that our blog went LIVE.
It’s a weird choice of words that makes me think that our blog suddenly grew legs and decided to take a walk.

But anyway, it went online this morning, and Valerie and I couldn’t be happier. We are thankful that Kodak asked us to do this, and hopefully we can reach even more people and then one day, take over the world.

Here’s the link to our blog on Kodak’s page. Please check it out. It’s been proven to alleviate symptoms of “The Mondays” and can lead to a longer, happier life. We can’t speak to it’s ability to grow eyelashes or cure baldness, but it is our miracle drug of choice.

Along with all this excitement we are also hard at work in creating a beautiful new website for We have shiny new gallery pages and a layout that is easier to navigate and to look at. Just as soon as we can squash all the bugs with it, we’ll give it life as well. so LOOK OUT. It’s coming to an RSS feed near YOU.






I was thinking of toga parties when I wrote the title of the blog. Now I must watch Animal House.

We learned so much about film last week! Different types and sizes, speeds and companies! Now that you’re practically an expert on the subject, it’s time to talk about the cameras. You can’t have film without cameras, right?

It’s the like the chicken and the egg. Both are necessary to make a delicious omelet. Both film and camera are necessary to make fabulous photos. Well, both are necessary to make shitty photos too. But lets focus on the fabulous ones.

So Valerie and I made the first of many videos about our cameras. This one is about the Holga. I briefly wrote about it in the last post, and its one of our cameras that uses the famed 120 film. The video is seven minutes long, and could possibly be the best seven minutes of your life. Unlikely, but you never know. There might be dancing elephants, twirling unicorns, or even Johnny Depp.

Or it could just be two awesome girls instructing you on what a Holga is.

The point is you’ll never know who does, or doesn’t, make a cameo unless you watch the whole video.

So without further ado, here is…the Holga



It’s Hip to be Square

We talked about a lot last time, didn’t we? Slide film, black and white film, color film, film speeds, whew! Don’t worry, there will be no exam or pop quiz. You would most definitely drop this blog and I would cry and have to resort to begging you back.


Last time we specifically discussed 35mm film. Well, I discussed. You took notes or fell asleep in the back of the class. Typical.
Anyway, it’s the most common type of film and chances are if you don’t know much about film you definitely recognize that one.

This time, I’ll finish up the tutorial on film (yay!) with 120 film. Don’t worry, it’ll be super short since we covered so much last time.

Whoa, slow down. 120 film? What does that mean?

Lets start with a picture. Those usually help the confused and bewildered (most of the time, thats me)

Eegads! What in the hell is that?? It’s like two rolls of film merged together into one giant mutant film!

Welcome to medium format film, also known as 120 film. Its big, beautiful, and I love it. The 120 film is bigger than 35mm, as you can see. So that means the negative is larger and has more detail. Also, its easier to enlarge to a poster size, for example, because it wont get as out of focus or blurry. The film above in the wrapper is Kodak TMax 400 speed (remember what speeds mean?) and the film standing up is Kodak Ektar 100 speed.

The TMax is black and white film, and the Ektar is color film. Kodak Ektachome, not pictured, is 120 slide film. Unfortunately Kodak has announced it will discontinue its line of all slide film, including Kodak Ektachrome and Kodak Elite Chrome. But I believe Fuji still makes slide 120 film.

Well thats great, you say. But where can I use it? I’ve never seen a camera that I can use that film in. Have no fear! I would never show you film you couldn’t use! (Polaroid, Kodachrome, I can’t go on. It’s too painful…)

There are actually many cameras, but my and Valerie’s favorite is the HOLGA!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It’s really written as Holga, but I just get excited about it. The camera looks like this:

Meet the Holga. It’s big, black, and beautiful. And take amazing photos.

I know, I know. You  want to know more. And you will. But I’m saving that for the next entry, which will be on cameras. For now, just know that the Holga is a plastic camera that is pretty simple, uses 120 film and has always produced amazing results for me.

Some other cameras that use 120 film are Mamiya, Hasselblad, Diana, and Bronica.

Laundromat on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. Take with Kodak TMax 120 film using a Holga camera

This is a photograph taken using 120 film. It produces a square negative, unlike 35mm film.

I like the squareness of it. It’s always hip to be square, in my opinion. It’s a nice contrast to the usual rectangular format that we are all too familiar with. 120 film and Holgas together are a nice combination because they can produced unexpected results, like this:

Church in Abiquiu, New Mexico. Photo taken by Valerie Justice using Kodak Ektar 120 film with a Holga.

The red at the top of the photo are “light leaks” from the Holga. Thats more from the camera than from the film. But it looks cooler on 120 film than 35mm.

Okay. I think that will do it for today on film. See? I told you it would be short. And you were worried.

So there is not much different between 35mm and 120 film, it’s really just a matter of personal preference. I enjoy both but it is nice to have options. Sometimes you get tired of using the same film all the time. On the other side of that, sometimes there are too many options and I’ll just end up shooting 120 film for 6 months.

Now, when you see a square image on this blog or on our Flickr account, you no longer have to wonder “What the hell is that?” You’ll know.  PLUS you can impress all your friends with your film knowledge. Brought to you by the professionals 🙂


Back where I started

Sometimes you can travel thousands of miles just to get back to where you started. It doesn’t matter how many life-changing moments you have, when you return to your home and your lifestyle, it’s easy to put all those experiences away just as you unpack your suitcase. Once you’re unpacked you find yourself picturing what new furniture you’ll arrange on your patio, or obsessing over the order of your closet.

Looking Back

This is from my very first roll! It’s Fuji Acros 100, and this is the only image that exposed properly and doesn’t have light leaks that warrant pampers for Holgas. I’m looking back at the road we’d just traveled, still in North Carolina. This image is particularly meaningful to me right now because of a very important lesson we learned on the road. You see, we started bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, eager and beaverish.

Mary, at the start

We were of the mindset that we would capture everything we encountered, and if we could not capture it the first time around, we’d go ahead and turn the car around because “that might just be the Pulitzer prize-winning image and I’m pretty sure I just double-exposed it with an image of a piece of gum on the ground, and I really wanted to shoot it with my other camera anyway.” This lasted a few days before we made an agreement that, more than capturing every instance that may lend itself to a great picture, this was a trip about looking forward. We would refuse to look back. We had to keep moving and keep looking ahead to find what’s just up ahead. You might call this a “pillar of salt” syndrome. You might also call it a Pocahontas “just around the river-bend” complex. At any rate, we would either get the picture, or we would not. It was terrifying and thrilling, and I’m appalled to see how backwards-facing I was to take the image of the road already traveled.

But here I am, forced to look back.

I guess I would have turned into a pillar of salt from looking at all my negatives and scanning them in one-by-one, but I’m going on a brand new journey this time. It has the same cast of characters and the same sets, but it’s an all new adventure. Many moments have been lost forever (like the image of a waterfall below that was ruined by having film wound too loosely) but I’m finding that my camera has often found what my eye did not. This requires a new lesson, post-roadtrip. Don’t look back, but take what you have seen and done and learned, and experience it all again with fresh eyes. I’m trying to integrate the places where I have been, into the life that I’m now living. So, I’m back where I started: preparing to take a road trip.

Waterfall, ruined film


PS. My dog just farted audibly. I don’t think the universe takes my life seriously.

Lets Talk About Film Baby


Alright, as I promised Thursday, I’m beginning a series of photography tutorials about film and cameras. Photography 101 if you will. No tuition, early morning classes, or tests required. Man, if only college had been more like this!

So I was thinking that we’d start with film. I mean, I can’t explain how to load film in a camera if you don’t know what film is! I’m going to take a guess that 95% of the people reading this know what film is, and probably even had or still have a film camera. But again, its good to start with basics.

There are a variety of shapes and sizes for film.The most common type of film, and the one I’m going to write about today, is 35mm. It looks like this:

Many cameras use 35mm, including disposables and SLRs (which are the Canon, Nikon, Minolta, etc). The film comes in either a 24 or 36 exposure roll, meaning you can either take 24 or 36 photos. Its called 35mm because those are the dimensions of the film when you measure it, including the sprocket holes.

**Anytime anyone says “sprockets” this always goes through my head


Slide Film 

Okay, so thats what 35mm looks like. And it either comes in black and white or color. There is also slide film, which only comes in color. (It used to come in black and white as well, but that has since been discontinued)
Because slide film is a positive and not a negative, after it is processed you can see the image and all the colors correctly. With regular negatives the colors are reversed after being processed. You have to print it in darkroom, or scan the negative into the computer.
Confused? Don’t worry, I have pictures. The image on the left is a slide, the one on the right is a regular color negative

Positive and Negative. And the world is balanced again

See? Pictures make everything better.
Pretty cool huh? I bet you are just itching to pull out your old camera. But hold on, I still have some more good stuff.

Color or B&W

It’s pretty straightforward. You can have black and white or color film. (Or colour for our friends across the pond) But other than that, there isn’t anything in between. This is the type of 35mm film I used on the trip.
Pretty sweet huh? And no, there are not normally Chinese symbols on film boxes, but I bought that shit on Ebay. Kodak Gold is color film, and the T-Max is black and white. The color is a 24 exposure, and the T-Max is 36. They are both pretty standard for film, and you’ll get great results.

This is a photo taken using the Kodak Gold

This is a photo of an abandoned motel on the original Route 66 in Tucumcari, NM. If you’ve never been to Tucumcari, go. Now. Just pack up and go.

And this is one taken using the T-Max

This photo was taken just outside of Conway, Texas. On a hot, hot, hot day.

I realize I’m only talking about Kodak, but there are a lot of other great options for film. Well, there  used to be a lot of great options. Now the numbers are dwindling down 😦

But other than T-Max, I LOVE film made by the company Ilford. They only make black and white film, but it’s awesome film with great tones and versatility. You can’t go wrong.
I’ve never used Foma but many of my friends have and rave about it. Foma provides sharpness and works well if you’ve over/under exposed your subject.
Fuji is good for color film as well, and you can purchase it almost anywhere.
I prefer Kodak for color, but honestly as long as you’re shooting with film you’ll get my stamp of approval.


If you looked closely on the image of film I put up above, you’ll see that there are numbers under the name. It says Kodak Gold 100 and Kodak T-Max 400. Those aren’t the prices (yet). Those are the speeds of film.

What? Film has speeds? What the hell is that? Do I need to take faster film with faster subjects? Does it develop faster? The higher the number the better the photo??
Calm down. I’m about to explain it.

Film speed is the measure of a photographic film’s sensitivity to light. The higher the number, the more sensitive. That’s called fast film. The slower the number, the less sensitive. That’s called slow film. Creative huh?

The film speed is measured using ISO (International Organization for Standardization – I know, the S and O are backward. Thats they way it is, I promise)
A film that has 100 ISO is slow and because of that its not as sensitive to light. So its great for sunny days outside. If you’re with the kids at the soccer game, or at the zoo watching monkeys give you the finger, then use that film. But it will not work well indoors, or on cloudy days.

On the flip side, the 400 speed is good for sunny days, but also works better on cloudy days and in low lighting. 400 speed is kind of the standard speed. If you’re not sure what to use  or where you’ll be, 400 is what I recommend.  Film speed can go up to 10,000 ISO. But the highest I’ve used is 1600 ISO, which I’ll use at night or if I’m indoors and there is really low light.


Thus concludes the end of Photography 101. Thanks for sticking with me through this long, rambling post. If you abandoned me after the second paragraph, shame on you. You missed all the pretty pictures and a chance to broaden your horizons.
There are a million things I didn’t cover, and even more I didn’t elaborate on. This was just to get you started, so that when I’m discussing using 1600 speed film vs 3200, you have a vague idea of what I’m talking about.   

Tune in next time where we’ll discuss medium format film and cameras. 

Class dismissed!



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