There’s something about the blue-ness of the sky that only can be captured on film

Before leaving California, I ordered an old Minolta AF camera off ebay, with the hopes of immortalizing my international activities on 35mm film. It showed up in perfect condition, with its original packaging and instruction manual, and once fresh batteries were put in, the shutter fired and the flash went off with ease. While I am by no means a photography expert, I do enjoy taking pictures on both digital and film. While we live in a digital world, and taking photos has never been easier, film is still extremely popular for a number of reasons. I personally love film for its artistic qualities, as well as its ability to evoke memories and emotions. Every time I’ve gotten a roll of film back, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by pictures of days or events that I’d completely forgotten about! Something about needing the patience to finish a roll and get the pictures developed is rather rewarding (and sadly, disciplinary) in our modern age of instant gratification.

Backyard concert in Byron Bay captured on 35mm - 1988 or 2018?

My Minolta was a great travel companion around Asia and along the east coast of Australia, and I couldn’t wait to get all my film developed once I was settled. I dropped three rolls off, eagerly anticipating some awesome memories from my travels. I got an email the next day, and expected files upon files of 35mm awesomeness. As we know, things don’t always work out to plan, as the seemingly perfect condition of my camera was deceptive, and apparently it had been broken the whole time. Like I said, I’m no expert, but I know that I loaded, wound / rewound the film properly, and since it was an autofocus, I couldn’t really mess up the shots too bad. However, almost every single photo was overexposed to the point of unrecognizability, and the guy at the photo shop theorized that there must have been some sort of crack that allowed light to leak in and destroy all my film.

Disheartened, I deemed my broken Minolta a display piece, and took a hiatus from the whole film photography thing. Then, on my recent trip up the coast, I inquired about film cameras at every single thrift store I checked out. Usually, my questions were met with answers of, “why would you want a film camera?” and I didn’t have any luck. Once back in Byron, I gave up the hunt, because our thrift stores are essentially garbage. A few weeks ago, I was in a cute little town about 20 minutes away called Mullumbimby, which occasionally has hidden treasures in their op shops. I was in the Vinnies (St. Vincent Depaul), and didn’t see any cameras for sale, so I asked the 80-something lady working if there were any in the back. She went and had a look and shouted out to me, “there’s a big box here, but its too heavy for me to lift, so you’ll have to come to the back!”

The Pass, beautiful on any medium.

I had a rummage through the plastic tub, and found a bunch of those teeny tiny 2 megapixel digital cameras from 2005 (why did we think smaller was better?), a broken polaroid camera, and some binoculars. I nearly told the lady I was all done looking, when I saw a yellow-and-black neck strap peeking through the trash. Carefully, I dug to the bottom, and pulled out a beautiful Kodak VR35, and an entire roll of Portra-400 ready to be used. The camera is basically idiot-proof, with auto-focus, fixed lens, motor wind, and auto-rewind, so even a novice photographer such as myself can confidently capture picture-worthy sights. I checked it out thoroughly, made sure the batteries hadn’t corroded, and took a test shot. It was alive!

I asked the lady how much it cost, and she looked at me like I was crazy for wanting to buy it, and said it would be five bucks. I gladly handed over the $5 bill, and skipped out of the shop like a giddy little school girl. I brought my camera everywhere I went for the next week, and one-by-one filled up the roll of film with little snapshots of my daily going-abouts. Once I hit 36 frames, I carefully removed the film and brought it in to ​Bayou Film​, a local spot which develops a roll for only $11.50 AUD, which is a huge bargain in Australia! After my let down with the Minolta, I knew that the camera could still have issues, so I waited with baited breath for the scans.

My personal favorite from the roll... for obvious reasons.

To my surprise, the pictures all came out great, and the camera is officially my new best friend! I am so excited to experiment with it, and spend all my spare pennies (jokes on you, no pennies in Australia) on film! Although the iPhone camera is remarkably high quality, I will definitely try to always have my point-and-shoot on hand for the special moments.