As the days get shorter and the sun starts to hide itself more, us film photographers are forced to adapt to these conditions. Our choices for film stocks starts to become more and more... limited. How do you know which is right for you in these later months of the year?
I'm here to help you pick the perfect film stocks for your Halloween parties or photo walks through a winter wonderland.
First things first: Picking the right film speed (ISO)
Since the sun is less common this time of year, you need to think first and foremost about how much help you'll need from the film you're shooting. While in the summertime you can get away with an ISO 50 and 100 speed film, if you're in a darker place like me, you're going to need more sensitive film in order to hit your shots. Personally, I never shoot less than ISO 400 this time of year. I live in Seattle, where it's grey and dark for 80% of the year. Because of this, I need as much help as I can get from my film to let me walk around all day and not need a tripod.
When it comes to 400 ISO film stocks, you have a few great options. You can go with old reliable (Portra 400), but I feel like that's always the obvious answer. Some other great (and less expensive options) are Ultramax 400, Lomography 400, and Fuji Superia 400. Each of these offer different, distinct looks for your photos. Kodak stocks tend to lean towards warm brown/orange tones, while Fuji leans more into green. Lomography tends to be more saturated than both.
Now, you're not limited to just 400 though! You also have other great high speed options like Cinestill 800T (if you like more "cinematic" photos), Kodak Tmax P3200 (If you like GRAIN), and Kodak Portra 800 (if you want to feel better than everyone).
Next: Picking your look
A huge part of picking a film to shoot is based on how you want it to look. As mentioned before, each of these stocks have their own pros and cons aesthetically.
For wandering through the woods: Fuji Superia 400. The greens of Fuji films are amazing for bringing out the beautiful green tones in nature. If you live in a green climate, this could be perfect.
For shooting fall leaves: Anything Kodak. Whether it's Portra or Ultramax, either will help with shooting the bright orange, browns, and reds.
For everyday carry: Kodak Portra 800. Great for indoor and outdoor, and offering nice nostalgic amounts of grain and color. It's the most expensive, but for good reason.
For the B&W lovers: Ilford Delta 3200 or Kodak Tmax P3200. Either of these will offer the feeling of night vision because of how fast these films are. Some recommend developing at 800 ISO instead of 3200, but regardless, they offer you plenty of versatility.