Lens Flare: What's the Big Deal?

If you’ve started out in photography shooting digital, you may think that avoiding lens flare is a bit overkill. I mean, lens flare with digital is gorgeous and fun to play with, right?? Unfortunately, it’s quite a bit trickier with film. There are definitely amazing lens flare film shots out there, but for those just starting out in film my recommendation is to simply avoid it, and here’s why.

When you allow light to hit your lens directly it acts as a bit of a ping pong ball, and instead of exposing the film to create an image by going on the correct light path through your lens, it bounces around and leaves your image with muddy shadows, low contrast and shifts in color - basically showing symptoms of underexposure, even if you metered and rated correctly.

lens flare.jpg

There are a few ways to avoid this, and they’re pretty simple too!

A) use a lens hood or even your hand to block the light and keep it from hitting your lens

B) take a few steps to the side or tip your camera down

As you get more comfortable with the basics of film, play play play. Sometimes it will work out fantastically, and other times it won’t, but the more you play the more you’ll get the hang of it! Remember, the key here is to avoid light hitting your lens directly. If you want that lens flare, play around with it, just avoid shooting right into the sun.

Give this tip a go, and avoid any muddy looking images in the future!

Now get out there and SHOOT!

Melese MillerComment

Having worked at a pro lab for over three years, I know a thing or two about the small things you can do as a client to make their lives easier so they’ll be singing your praises each time an order rolls through with your name on it!

The first tip I want to share is pretty damn simple, but can help out the developing department SO MUCH.

Fold your film.

Here’s the deal, if you’re shooting medium format 120 film you’re living that lick and seal life (unless you shoot Fuji - bless their freaking hearts for that peel and stick sealer). BUT if you don’t fold your film first, it makes it so much harder for the developers at your lab to take that sealing strip off in the dark box. It’s the difference between one quick movement & on to the next roll, and several attempts at pulling off that sticky paper tab which is both frustrating and hurts the nails after a while. Just trust me, fold your film and they will love you for it.

Once you finish a roll of film, just fold that little tail straight across before sealing it with the paper tab. Check the images below to get a visual of what folding your film looks like!

Happy Shooting!

Melese MillerComment
Traveling with Film

My family and I recently took a very short trip (much too short, when can we go back again?) to New York City, where I tried to shoot as much as was physically possible with about 24 hours, two children and a tight we-must-show-them-everything schedule. Before hand I made a lot of decisions about what to bring based on the fact that I knew this trip would be absolutely nuts- and it paid dividends.

Are you feeling daunted with the thought of traveling with film? I get it, it’s a a lot to think about, but here are a few pointers I feel like I’ve come up with over the past few years that have really helped me zero in on what to bring, and helped me to be pleased with the scans after the fact.

  1. Know the type of trip you’re going on

    Thinking through the type of trip you’re going on is going to help you pack the equipment that is going to get you the best images. Is it going to be fast paced? Slow and easy? Should your grab bag include manual focus or auto focus lenses? What camera ratio is going to be best for what you’re wanting to shoot? Is bringing more than one camera going to be a pain, or will you have a place to stow extra gear so you can carry one at a time? These are all excellent questions to ask yourself before you set foot on the plane, load a roll or take a shot in your new destination.

  2. Think about the type of images you’d like to make

    Along with what type of trip you’re going on, for a planner like myself, I always like thinking about the types of images I want to make. The format of a camera is always an important thing to think about, what ratio are you wanting to shoot? Do you want to have the ability to make double exposures (ummmm, always yes for yours truly), are you hoping for a more gritty grainy style or something soft and clean?

  3. Always bring more film than you think you’ll use

    Nothing is more horrifying than being on a trip and running out of your most precious commodity: film. Always bring more than enough, and allow yourself to shoot to your heart’s content to tell the story of your trip.

  4. Stream line the process

    Pick one film stock to shoot for your entire trip. This keeps you from making silly metering mistakes and allows you to meter and shoot exactly the same the entire trip.

Want more Traveling with Film tips? Subscribe to my email list to download my Traveling with Film PDF and learn some great tips about getting through the airport with a bonus checklist of what I’ve found is most helpful to bring!

Download Traveling with Film PDF

Melese MillerComment

On occasion I like to imagine a film scanner built now, when the tech world has basically exploded with endless possibilities. CAN YOU EVEN IMAGINE HOW EPIC THAT WOULD BE IF THE TECH WORLD WOULD JUST GET ON IT?? *sigh* Maybe some day. But for right now, it’s helpful to remember that even the best scanners money can buy were still built in the nineties. So they’re…quirky.

Never fear though, I’m about to give you a killer tip (with more coming in the future) to help your lab get you the scans you’re looking for so they can become more endearing quirky, and less tear your hair out quirky. Ready?

Let’s talk color.

Have you ever shot something (maybe even taken an iphone shot in the process) and then received your scans and the color looks completely different? This can happen when the scanner gets confused and tries to white balance it incorrectly. Now normally, we as scanning techs will catch these oddities and correct them, BUT if the color doesn’t look terribly off we may just not know it was supposed to be different.

Exhibit A


The frame on the left is how it came up in scanner, and it doesn’t look totally weird, pink is a normal color and you’d imagine that neon could be that yellowish green color - but I know from memory that the frame on the right is what it actually looked like. Incredible right? Such a difference.

Exhibit B


This one really had me stumped. I did NOT remember it being that gray blue color, but again, it doesn’t look terrible. Luckily I happened to take a quick iphone shot while I was there, and I was blown away when I realized it was BRIGHT BLUE. Tricky, tricky.

How does this apply to you and your work?

The scanners can get fooled, this we now know, yes? So here’s what you need to do the next time a certain shade or color is imperative to you in the final product. SEND AN IPHONE SHOT OF THE ACTUAL SCENE.

This applies mostly to dresses, cakes, tuxes, flowers, backdrops, walls etc. Basically, if you’re shooting mega bright overall colors (like the shots above) take a quick shot of it on your phone and email it to your lab. It’s the easiest hack in the world.

The scanning techs will thank you & you’ll thank yourself.

Happy Shooting!