Film Friday |How To Choose A Film Stock

[Contax 645 + Portra 800 rated @640 around 10am. the Big Island, Hawai'i]

Yesterday I had the great privilege of joining a google hangout presented by Ryan Muirhead (killer photographer) and during his mini workshop on metering for black and white film he briefly mentioned something I have been harping on all along that made me say “Yessss! I HAVE been giving good advice!” (ha!). He noted it’s best to pick no more than two film stocks and stick with them. When you’re learning to shoot film there are at least 6 different factors that contribute to the end product of your image and without limiting some of these factors things can get confusing as hell.

The 6 variables that contribute to a film image:

1. Camera choice: different model have different characteristics.

2. ISO of the film: ISO’s have varying grains and tonality. The higher the ISO the larger the grain.

3. Exposure: One film can have multiple looks based on the way it was exposed. Properly exposed Fuji 400h vs. overexposed gives you opposing looks.

4. Film stock: Fuji or Portra? Each renders colors differently.

5. Developing Lab: the communication you have with them to scan images the way you like is key, they can’t read minds people!

6. Lighting: one of the BIGGEST factors–lighting can really make or break and image + help carve out your style. It’s also important to recognize that the main colors in or around a scene have a big impact on the overall feel to your photo, too, like this photo of Serena below. But I won’t get into that too much, just know it.

[Contax 645 + Portra 160 in Red Rocks, Las Vegas. F/2.8 1/60. Portra already tends to have a lot of  magenta in the film, so with all the reddish rocks in the scene it had an impact on the color of her white dress and made her skin tone appear warmer, all of which I love!]

With alllllll of those variables it makes finding a combination of camera+iso+film+exposure+light+lab that’s inherently you seem dauntingWhen I first began shooting film I felt like I was completely on my own learning (hence why I started this blog series + the film collective group). I began studying the work of others I admired, trying to figure out what camera and film combo they used, noted the types of lighting they shot in and picked apart what I adored about their signature look. Through this I figured out the people who’s work inspire me shoot the same camera, film, and lighting consistently with consistent results. This made COMPLETE sense to me considering up until this point I had been using tons of different film stocks (Portra 160, Portra 400, Fuji 400h) in different lighting scenarios and getting it developed at different labs–with NO clue what I liked, didn’t like, and how I was screwing up. Ahhh, the age old question “is it me, or the lab?”. I was doing trying WAY too much with no real way to figure out which side was up. Since there are 6 variables that effect the end result of a product I began to think of it of it as a science equation and in hopes of honing in on my artistic desires began setting controls and variables. AHAHAH. TRUE STORY. Through research I knew the Contax645 was the camera for me, I decided to commit and marry ONE lab and work on my relationship with them instead of dating others on the side. This helped set my ‘controls’ (the camera and the lab I was going to work with) so my variables were less prominent–which made learning and comparing the things that do change much easier. Now I just needed to chose the film stocks I was going to master! But…how? There are so many! Here’s how I narrowed down what film stocks I was going to learn:

 Choosing Film Stocks

1. Research: Head to manufacturer’s website to get the scoop on different films, their colorings, what types of scenes they’re good for, etc. I.e. Ektar is contrasty and vibrant–super great for landscapes and oceans. Fuji film has faithful color reproduction (read here). Right now don’t think about the ISO so much as the film stock. Once you think you’ve found a match, hit the internet for examples to confirm the color, contrast, etc. is right for you.

2. Prevision: See the end photo in your head. The colors, lighting, contrast, the amount of grain or lack there of. This will also help you narrow down the manufacturer of your film.

3. ISO: Evaluate the scene you are going to shoot. Will it be brightly lit or low light? Just like digital, this helps you choose an ISO. However, unlike digital the ISO of films don’t ONLY correlate to film’s sensitivity to light. Different ISOs also have different amounts of grain and different tones to them, making my point of choosing no more than 2 films to learn super important. It’s also key to note that higher ISO films aren’t just meant for lower light settings, like Portra 800.  I personally love it for mid-day landscape shots, like the images below. But that’s a topic for another day.

4. Color, contrast, and your “look”. Want saturated, vibrant images? You’d probably want to stick to Kodak Portra films. Want the choice to have soft, more ‘airy’ images? Fuji may be for you.

[The beautiful, saturated blues + greens of Hawai'i are captured perfectly in these shots using Portra 800. The top photo of the couple was shot in open shade around 10am at f/2.8 (can't remember my shutter speed, but I rated my Portra 800 at 640 ISO). The shot of the ocean was around noon, f/4 at 1/4000 (guesstimate). Also rated at 640, so overexposed only by about 1/3 stop. See the difference between THIS Portra 800 and the Portra 160 one above? ISO makes a difference in color, too]

Once you’ve narrowed down the two films + ISOs you think are up your alley, it’s now time to practice. practice, practice! Again, set MORE controls so you have less variables in your equation, which makes learning and figuring this out easier. Orchestrate calm shoots around your house in which you can get comfortable with these two films and ISOs in different settings. Use the same light and bracket your shots to see what kinds of exposures you like. Go outside and shoot in super bright sun. Take your shutter speed to the limit and see how slow you can go with your shutter speed at dusk. Take notes, take notes, take notes!! TAKKEEEE NOTESSSSSSS. And most of all, don’t forget to communicate and tell your lab these are practice shots! Otherwise they may edit your images and you won’t see the true end result you intended.

[These images shot on Fuji have a much softer look than the Portra 800. Photographed on an overcast day at f/2.8 rated Fuji400h rated at 200 ISO, so overexposed by 1 stop.]






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At the beginning of September I will be packing up +  flying over the pacific to visit Chiang Mai, Thailand for my second visit. It won’t be just any ole trip shopping + taking photos of elephants, although that will indefinitely happen, but I’m going alongside members of Inspire Church as a mission trip - one that last year completely and utterly changed me. And excitedly enough this year my sister Sarah is traveling even further all the wayfrom Virginia and joining the group. Hip hip!

In  honor of being one of the team’s photographers (Sarah will be the other!) and in efforts to raise the appropriate funds needed to make such a trek I thought a wayyyyy fun raffle was in place. I used to always say “I never win anything!” and then once won a TV at a local football game. I’ll never forget the feeling I got when my name came over the loudspeakers! I was a kid, so technically my parents won a TV but I had nothing but sheer confidence in my #winning skills after that.  If you know me like my husband knows me then you know I will go to great lengths purchasing, testing and creating with intention of getting my hands on THE perfect camera bag. I’ve bought them, d.i.y’ed them and even pieced a few together but frankly none have been as incredible as these gems by *emera. I’ve had mine for ages and nothing can come close, I’m obsessed. You can imagine my heartbreak when I went to replace my chic quilted tote that I had for years to find *emera no longer made them. In fact, they were no longer making several of the fabric designs. Cue my girlish meltdown. But naturally I don’t take “no” for an answer and emailed BEGGING for something, a sample, a returned one, ANYTHING! I NEED THESE BAGS FOR FOREVERRRRRR! Lucky for me they had just a few left in stock and were willing to let me buy up the last 3. While I’ve put my new bag to use and keep the other “in waiting” (it will be a few years, these babies last), I decided what better way to celebrate the upcoming mission than raffling off one of these sold-out gems? (And raise some funds, too!). So here she is, one of the very last *emera classic canvas totes up for grabs! (for more photos via Amazon, click here). Super easy to tote, comfortable, chic, and super versatile, these bags are my go-to for both wedding days, shoots and travel. With the side pockets (perfect for phones!) and the padded inner sleeve they make THE best carry-on handbags. It fits my iPad or laptop, a contax kit, extra lens + meter (assembled!) or a digital camera body with a lens or two AND if you place the extra padding on the top can fit extra travel accessories. And with the sturdy inner zipper pocket your valuables won’t go missing–the top of the tote zips up, too! Everything is easy to access and fits snuggly thanks to the velcro dividers. I tell you, I can’t live without these bags. Too bad these are the LAST ONES!  Wait…why am I raffling this off again…?


1. Donate a minimum $5 here.

Each $5 increment is one entry per person. Example: If you donate $25 that counts as 5 entries! Just like buying an old school raffle ticket and throwing it in the hat.

2. Repost the photo on Instagram with the hashtag #AshleyGoodwinThailand (so I can count your entry!).


// DETAILS: Check out my instagram for the photo to repost. Raffle open to anyone + everyone! One winner will be chosen at random on Tuesday, August 5, 2014 after 12:00pm HST and notified via instagram (so make sure your account isn’t private, please). Winner will receive one (1) *emera camera bag (shown) with shipping paid for. All raffle proceeds go toward the Chiang Mai, Thailand mission trip 2014 with Inspire Church. Thanks for entering, sending LOTS of hugs your way!  xo


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July 29, 2014 - 8:27 am

Sonya - Anything for inspire! Anything for a chance to win a camer bag!

Lauren + Aaron

She took a long, deep breath and as her sister released the train of her shimmery white gown, Lauren turned the corner to meet her soon-to-be groom. As she crossed the wavering dock, Aaron, dapper in his Marine uniform, turned on his heels to meet his beloved bride. With a quick glimpse the two were put at ease, which seems to be the theme with them. Most comfortable in each other’s arms. Lauren pulled her hand over her electric smile, elated to be headed directly into Aaron’s welcoming embrace. Her father beamed with pride as he escorted her across the white sand beach, Lauren carrying a soft bouquet clasped with her late grandfather’s name tag and in a beautiful mix of shared vows, Hawaiian prayers and a traditional Navajo blessing they were eagerly pronounced husband and wife. Their union sealed with a multitude of laughs in a waving “terrible towel” surprise, of course! ;) Every corner that day was filled with love: hints of marine blue and reflective hues of  aqua mirrored their love for the sea.  Aaron + Lauren’s ceremony at Kualoa Ranch Secret Island and ceremony at Moli’i Garden’s Pavilion was a genuine reflection of them: badass. On that date in June the two began a completely new chapter of their lives together oddly enough at the place where it all started: on a beach in Hawai’i. ;)

Lauren + Aaron–from engagement to wedding, you guys have been the bomb. Watching your love propel far past the beach clean-ups, military orders and far across the turquoise waters of Kailua, witnessing your passion for Hawai’i and endless adoration for one another as you share common interests (and beachfront RVs) makes me smile. Thanks for the hair recommendations and somehow via instagram making me jealous you live in Hawai’i…even though I do, too. ;) You’re both simply awesome.

To see more from their event CLICK HERE

Celebratory 30% OFF ALL THEIR PRINTS with code “TAKE3″. Expires August 2, 2014

Ceremony: Kualoa Ranch Secret Island  |  Reception: Moli’i Gardens + Pavilion  |  Event Coordination:  Shereen Shariq Ever After Events  |  Officiant:  Kahu Bruce  |  Cinema:  Andy Fitts Fitts Studios |  Catering: Kualoa Ranch  | Rentals: Pacific Party Rentals | Florals: Wantanabe Floral | Decor: Bride  |   Reception Music: Kamuela Kahoano


1 comment

July 28, 2014 - 4:43 pm

Amanda - That last shot. is. everything. <3 <3 <3

Stop Should-ing Yourself.

Often times I find myself “should-ing” all over the place. Yeah….you heard right. “I should be blogging” or “I should really give Napoleon a bath”. It’s all of these obligations we give ourselves that take up space in our mind, keep us occupied in the past or present, never in the actual moment, and often times take all our hard earned money. “I really SHOULD buy this new bag…”. No Ashley you should GET OFF AMAZON! Driving from a hot and sweaty yoga session this morning I passed through the mountainous range that divides part of O’ahu and through the heavy hanging rain clouds got a view of the waterfalls that sometimes make their way into the crevices between the peaks. I let all of the self devised obligations fall to the wayside as I took in the awe of this island and the beauty that surrounds me. No matter where I am I really should stop sometimes to enjoy it., shouldn’t I? ;)

A few snippets of Hawaii (Kaua’i + Oahu), that make me realize we really ARE #luckytolivehawaii. And that GECKO! He posed for me. ;)


July 21, 2014 - 11:41 am

Jessica Horton - Those carrots SHOULD totally hang in my kitchen!!

July 23, 2014 - 2:54 am

Kate O’Brien - Love seeing your images from around Hawaii! Makes me a little jelly jelly but it is so beautiful!