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A Beginner’s Guide to Film Photography in the Hudson Valley

Photo by Matt Moment

Want to add some flair to your feed? Try your hand at film photography! Here’s everything you’ll need to get started.

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There is plenty of speculation as to why film photography has made such a strong resurgence in recent years. Could it be pure nostalgia for a process that is more difficult and less consistent than digital photography? Perhaps. Could it be the irreplicable aesthetic qualities of a film image? Maybe. Could it be that, in an age when productivity is the name of the game, there’s something novel about slowing down and approaching each individual picture with intentionality? Your guess is as good as ours! Whatever the reason may be, one thing is certain: As a newcomer to film photography, starting out can be intimidating.

First, there’s the matter of equipment. There’s nothing more disappointing than finally receiving your new film camera and realizing you didn’t buy film. And when you do buy film, you’ll discover there are many stocks—or varieties of film—from which to choose.


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To demystify film photography, we’ve compiled a list of the equipment you’ll need to take incredible photos in the Hudson Valley. While we can’t promise that your newfound film habit will do wonders for your bank account, we can assure you that the images you take will be unique, vivacious, and well worth the extra effort.

The Right Camera for You

Small-format film photography, colloquially dubbed “35 mm,” is probably what your posh friends are talking about when they say they “took a film photo.” To get going, you’ll need a camera and some film. Simple enough, right?

There are a ton of new and used film camera bodies for sale online, and many novice photographers opt to purchase a used camera on Ebay. This can be a great way to find top-tier equipment for cheap. It can also be a great way to unwittingly purchase a broken product. If this is how you choose to search for a camera, be sure that it has been “film tested,” or vetted by the seller to ensure it’s in working condition. Most reliable sellers will indicate whether a piece of gear has been tested in the product description and answer any questions you may have.

Adobe Stock / Simon

Rather not take your chances? There are also plenty of new cameras for sale thanks to a renewed interested in the medium. Ilford and Kodak both produce cheap point-and-shoot cameras, which are great for those who want to try their hand at film photography before investing in better gear. Conversely, you could shop from a trusted camera reseller if you’re after a sturdier camera with an unfixed focus. But remember, when it comes to taking great pictures: It’s not the gear, it’s the photographer.

Related: Photographer Ryan Rusiecki Makes a Muse of the Hudson Valley

Choosing Your Film Stock

Once you’ve chosen your camera, it’s time to pick out some film. There are hundreds of stocks on the market, but to start out, you’ll want to stick with either Ilford black-and-white film or Kodak color film.

Adobe Stock / Adnanroesdi

Film comes at different ISO levels, which indicates the stock’s sensitivity to light. Film stocks with a low ISO are less sensitive to light, whereas high ISO numbers indicate a greater sensitivity. For example, if you were shooting outside on a sunny summer day, you might select a film with an ISO of 200. If you were shooting indoors where lighting conditions are less optimal, you’d favor film with an ISO of 800. For most intents and purposes as you’re learning how to shoot, it’s best to go for a film with an ISO of 400.

Loading film for the first time can be tricky—luckily, there are many helpful tutorials online for newcomers to analog photography.

35mm Photography Starter Pack

Ilford Sprite 35-II Film Camera
Ilford HP5 Plus Black and White Negative Film (36 Exposures)
S-ZONE Camera Bag

Where to Take Gorgeous Landscape Photos

So, you’ve got your gear. Now what? If you’re stumped as to where to go to capture dreamy scenes, head to one of these sites in the Hudson Valley to shoot your first roll:

Barton Orchards Sunflower Field, Poughquag
Cohoes Falls, Cohoes
Cornish Estate Trail, Cold Spring
Croton Gorge Park, Cortlandt
Kaaterskill Falls, Mount Tremper
Knapp’s View, Chester
Long Dock Park, Beacon
Orange County Arboretum, Montgomery
River-to-Ridge Trail, New Paltz
Untermyer Gardens Conservancy, Yonkers

Finally, you’re ready to head out into the Hudson Valley and take one-of-a-kind photographs! Be sure to share them online and tag us @hudsonvalleymag so we can see your very best captures.

Related: 21 Trendy, Instagrammable Spots in the Hudson Valley