Finding my groove with shooting Film

Finding my groove with shooting Film

It is nice to be back in Tokyo after a short trip to Boston.  I didn’t actually realize it until I was leaving but this is probably my last trip to Boton for a while.  My parents are going to be moving out of the area and my brothers already live in other parts of the US.   I am also no longer working for a Boston based company so not sure when I will need to be back in the area.

North Attleboro, Ma

I was able to catch up with my friend and former employee Naho and her son Leo while I was in Boston…  Leo and I had a fierce pillow fight.   They don’t have pillow fights in Japan so I needed to make sure Leo knows what they are now that he lives in America.   I would say he does now…

Naho and Leo

Enter the time warp back to Tokyo…

Chicago O'Hare

Ah United, if I didn’t have so many miles…

I always find flying United such an interesting experience.    During my flight to Boston I was woken up so many times from the cabin staff either hitting me with the beverage cart or carrying on loud conversations with each other over the cart as they were going down the isle.   The passengers just appeared to be a mild annoyance/inconvenience to them.   I can sleep really well on planes but I think I was lucky if I got 2 hours of sleep.  I was exhausted the first few days I was in Boston.

I think United executives would benefit from flying Chicago to Tokyo to Chicago unannounced in coach to truly understand the experience of flying their airline.  I think it would be an eye opening experience.  Especially since every flight now starts with a video of their CEO talking about how many improvements are being made.   Before they fly their coach flight they should make the same trip on All Nippon Airlines or Singapore Airlines (to Singapore) to see what the experience is like on other airlines and then experience theirs.   Perhaps fly ANA to Japan and then United back.   The reason I mention unannounced is I actually sat next to one of their customer service mangers on a flight once who was ‘checking things out’.   She was in uniform and the cabin crew were tripping over each other to wait on her.   Since I was next to her it was the best service I ever had on a United flight and nothing like the experience I have had in the 1,500,000 miles I have flown with them.   I imagine they pass their assessments with flying colors but it might be giving some false indicators to management.

As I was waiting to board in Chicago for Tokyo I thought I would check my seats to make sure it was isle seat exit row, like I always sit in.   United must have changed planes as my seat was change from economy plus emergency row exit seat to regular isle seat in economy.   The Red Carpet Club was unable to change anything there as there is a limitation with the new system after the merger with Continental Airlines according to the agent.   I needed to pack up all of my stuff and head to the gate to see if they can change the seat.   Luckily I found a very nice gate agent who quickly gave me a economy plus window seat when she saw I was a 1K 1 Million Miler.   I took the last decent seat in Economy Plus and was speaking to another 1 Million Miler who ended up with a middle seat.  Way to look after your best customers…

Now in fairness, I have the nicest possible crew on the flight back to Tokyo… night and day from the crew on the way to the States.   Hopefully this is the new training crew and they are going to train the rest of the United staff.

United Airlines

I spent a lot of time tonight scanning film… Here are a few shots from my trip to Hong Kong shot with TMAX-100.

Hong Kong Airport

Gary Tyson from F8 Photography

Gary Tyson

I did a photowalk with Gary while I was in Hong Kong… I love that we started it with brunch.   What a great idea…

Brunch in Hong Kong

I also caught up with my friend Chris Handley

Chris Handley

Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan…

Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan

Riding the Train

Now when scanning film you need good music as you need to settle in and take your time…

I have a very diverse iTunes library.   Tonight was ‘Public Enemy’…


I have been struggling a bit to find my grove with film… mostly because I keep going out with both my M9-P Digital Camera and my M3 Film Camera.  I think it is driven by need for instant gratification.   Today I decided I would just shoot with my M3 while I was out and about.  I also found myself really hesitating when shooting film so I decided to shoot just like a shoot with my M9.   I am pretty happy with the results of this afternoon…shot with Portra400

Nakameguro, Tokyo, Japan

Nakameguro, Tokyo, Japan

The unhappy commute…

Riding the Train

Riding the Train

The sleepy commute….

Sleepy Train

I stopped off in Ginza to pick up a print I had done by Master Printer Mitsuhiro Matsudaira.   I am always amazed when I see my photography printed by Mitsu.   His work is exceptional.   I don’t proactively try to sell prints but if someone contacts and wants a print of my work I will use Mitsu to create it.

ShootTokyo Prints

A wildly popular cat in Ginza…

Popular Cat

Me in the mirror…film style.

Me in the mirror

Stop here…

Stand Here

Ginza, Tokyo, Japan

Ginza, Tokyo, Japan

Ginza, Tokyo, Japan

I am glad I seem to get my groove with film today.  I am still figuring out a workflow that works for me with film.

Currently here is my workflow:

1. Scan negatives as a TIF using VueScan

2. Import into Lightroom, add my metadata preset of my contact and copyright information, tag with key words

3. Edit in Photoshop and apply a Smart Sharpen filter

4. Clean up dust

5. Post on ShootTokyo

If you have any tips or tricks with scanning and post processing, especially with dealing with dust,  I would to hear it.  If you are a film shooter you will certainly have more experience than me.

Riding the Train

Thanks for stopping by today…


  • Luis Murillo

    I’ve been shooting film for a while now, wouldn’t necessarily consider myself and expert but I’m working towards the doing all of the work on my end. Started having the lab develop and scan the film but now only use them to develop it as I was unhappy with their results. I scan my own film now using an Epson V500.

    Haven’t had much issue with the dust though so not really much help there, apparently there’s little amount of dust in my house. I, however, try to open the scanner the least possible to reduce the amount of dust that might get in, so I open it enough to slide the film holder in and place it correctly and only open it when placing or removing the holder. I do use a small brush to clean the glass before starting the whole scanning process.

    For the workflow, a bit different than what you do, I use the Epson software to scan but dislike the little control it allows over the color correction so I do a straight scan at 1200 dpi with the 48-bit color profile for color film and the 16-bit grayscale for the B&W film, always try to get the highest quality scan, and save to TIFF format. I then open the TIFF file in Photoshop to add the layers to do the color correction that’s necessary usually using the levels layer and one or two curves layers, I don’t apply any sharpening there and don’t usually go crazy with other effects and in rare cases I add a B&W layer to convert the color image to B&W. Finally, and once I’m finished scanning all of my film, I open Lightroom where I have it auto import all of the scanned TIFF images so the metadata is added and then export to JPEGs with the sizes and watermark necessary for e-mail or posting on the web.

    I find that using that workflow I get much better results as photoshop has a lot more options/control over the color correction than the Epson software does.

    I prefer the TIFF format as the image doesn’t loose quality after each save and it can save the layers in case I need to go back to edit the image using a new workflow or something. This however means that you end up with files twice or 3x the scanned size.

  • Luis Murillo

    Oh, for color film I enable the Digital ICE, but might disable it if it messes up the image as I’ve found in some cases. For B&W film you can’t enable it as it’ll mess up every scan.

  • Sam

    I scan using the Epson software from V600. I found it adequate and lot simpler than Vuescan. I’ve tried too many times with Vuescan and hope it could take my money for it. But I ended up going back to the Epson scan software for its simplicity.

    I scan at 2400 dpi, import to Lightroom, and do all my processing there. Having read the previous post, perhaps I should do the processing in Photoshop, save the changes in layer, and import to Lightroom afterward to perserve all the processing.

  • Shawn

    First time visitor, but those Portra photos are fantastic.

    I use the Epson V500, but do not use any special software. I scan at base level in Home mode using Epson software and then fix anything I need to in Photoshop Elements.

    I found that special scanning software took too much away from my original scan, so I stopped using it. Sometimes I do have to color correct in Photoshop if there is a weird tint.

  • Thomas

    Great article, wonderful pictures!
    I really like what you do Sir.

  • Dave

    Luis – Wow. Thanks for the detailed explanation. If you are doing the majority of your work in Photoshop, where do you maintain your images and PSD files?

  • Dave

    Sam – Interesting… I can’t even get my Epson software to load. I am having lots of luck with the Vuescan software…

  • Dave

    Thanks Shawn.. I love your website by the way…

  • Luis Murillo

    Dave, same place I keep my raw files, in an external hard drive. Despite being really paranoid with security, I’m not really paranoid with backups so I only keep that one file in a single external hard drive. I have the negatives so it’s easy to just go back and scan it again if needed.

    During the scanning the TIFF files are kept on the main hard drive and when Lightroom imports the files then they’re moved over to the external drive.

  • Anjolie

    Wow, the colors. The sharpness. It’s really amazing! I use Lightroom and Nik Silver EFX and now I’m wondering if I should invest in Photoshop as well. BTW, since you’re using the M3, how do you like it? What are you metering with? And, how do you plan on storing your physical negatives?

  • Dave

    Thanks Anjolie… The only processing I am doing in photoshop is sharpening the colors are from the film. I haven’t quite figured out how I am going to store my negatives yet. Something I need to figure out. I would love to hear advice if anyone has any…

  • Luis Murillo

    Some people, for example, store the negatives in shoe boxes and other people, such as Jonathan Canlas, store them in cabinets. Personally I keep the negatives in PrintFile sleeves inside a binder and in a cabinet. I write on the sleeves whats on each negative so it’s easier to look for something, just a quick one line note of the event name or person’s name or even a date, nothing fancy really.

  • Luis Murillo

    The negatives should be kept in a dry and dark place, it’s quite easy for mold or other stuff to start growing on the film and the images can start to fade as well, this doesn’t happen fast though and if the film was correctly developed then it’ll last years before the image becomes unusable.

  • cidereye

    I store my negs in Clearfile archive storage pages and put them in Kenro albums with slip folders. Keeps them safe & sound and away from that evil dust. :-)

  • Jessica

    Op Ivy? Social D? Dave! I’m impressed!!!

  • Dave

    I have even seen both of them live! Social D twice… Operation Ivy when they opened for Green Day at a Club in Oakland in 1992.

  • Nikos

    Thank you a lot for your gift , stranger !

  • Dave

    Welcome Nikos…

  • Marcus

    I had the exact same experience when flying United. And I love this video they show before take off. It’s very funny to see this guy talking to you about improvements trough a possibly 10 year old television set above the aisle. Very surreal :)

  • Scott Cusiter

    The guys face in unhappy commute picture is tremendous. I’m starting it at trying to figure out what was going through his mind at that moment.

  • Dave

    Thanks. I love that picture as well.

  • IamJacksBrain

    What scanner are you using?

    I think carrying a digital and a film camera at the same time is redundant unless you’re carrying them for specific purposes. If you don’t have a concrete reason to shoot film, and not shoot digital, then I image you would always shoot digital given the choice (since immediate feedback and convenience are rather strong advantages).

  • Dave

    I am using an EPSON scanner. I think the model is the 750 in the US. I don’t carry both at the same time most of the time and just shoot one or the other when I am out.

  • Micus

    Someone gave me their old film camera the other day. A Nikon N65. Its a big jump up from my old Minolta srt-101. I use a nikon d7000 usually but after getting that other camera I’ve been getting the film itch also. It’s going to take a few rolls of film to break some lazy habits though. Developing a roll of 35mm is about $10 here so I better learn quick.

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