Well, here are most of the photos from my first roll of film! As you may know or remember, I recently purchased a refurbished LC-A from Lomography. For months, I had debated between purchasing an LC-A or a Holga, but, in the end, I went for the subtle vignetting and finer grain. (The softer look of the Holga was a bit too blurred for my taste.)

However, I was unaware that Lomography sold various forms of the refurbished camera. The camera I received is an older Soviet model, one manufactured in 1987. Thus, it does not use ISO settings ... it uses GOST.

In film photography, ISO indicates how sensitive a film is to light. Lower numbers are less sensitive to light. In other words, a film with an ISO of 100 will need more time to be properly exposed, as compared to film with an ISO of 400. So when you hear someone talk about how "fast" a speed is, they are referring to ISO. Typical ISO settings are 100, 200, 400, 800, and so on. A refurbished LC-A has a range of 25-400. These settings allow you to purchase a film with a corresponding ISO. So, for example, you can pick up a roll of Kodak 200, set your camera to 200, and have your film be perfectly exposed.

My camera, however, uses the following GOST settings: 16-32-65-130-250.

See the problem? Most films are manufactured using ISO standards, not GOST standards. Thus, the film I purchased and wished to try does not exactly match the settings on my camera.

The general rule when it comes to using ISO film in a GOST camera is "use the highest ISO setting you can without going over the number of the film." So, for a 100 film, you'd use 65. For a 200 film, you'd use 130. A 400 film would use 250. Unfortunately, that typically overexposes the images.

I decided, with my test roll, to go outside and experiment. Instead of shooting 30-some photos, I chose to shoot 18--I would take a picture of a house with a setting of 130, then flip my camera to 250 and take a photo of the same house. I wanted to see, exactly, how over- and under-exposed the images would be. Below are my results; the images on the left side are ones shot at an ISO of 130. The ones on the right were taken at 250.

The yellow door, which I took specifically for Rhianne. Her beautiful and emotive photographs of England highly inspired me to pursue film photography. I'm not sure which of these I like better; I like the feel of the film on the right, but the bricks are more textured in the left.

The next few offer some dramatic differences.

The above photo is the back door to what used to be the Talbott Theater. It was striking, and it is now completely painted over, a muted, ugly ecru.

The photo below is of a building just across the street from me. The trees are tall, old, and are often host to a Hitchcockian amount of birds.

Here, I prefer the "underexposed" photo better. I think the shadows have more clarity, and that is what drew to these planters in the first place.

Can you tell the subtle differences in the photos below? I could not decide which ISO setting I preferred when it came to these things. Both the brick arch and the black-and-white-striped overhang were things I had been wanting to photograph. There truly are so many small architectural details in this neighborhood; I love them all--the ancient bricks, the moss, the ivy, the cracks in the sidewalk, the forgotten monuments, the dilapidated gates, the narrow alleyways, the gingerbread, the painted shingles.

The rest of these images were, to me, the winners of the lower-higher ISO test. Three were taken with the setting 250. (The red brick building was not.) Overall, even after staring at each image again and again, I found I could not find which I preferred--over or under. Low or high ISO. I'm practically split right down the middle for what I like, and I think it's going to be awhile before I "finalize" my preferences.

Lots of trial and error, as always.

Which do you prefer? The darker (higher ISO) ones? Or the brighter (lower ISO) ones? Do you have a film camera?


  1. Wonderful shots, Dawn. As always. Sounds like you're going to need a conversion chart of sorts for your camera bag! lol
    So here are my two cents: I prefer the 130 pictures. I adore the richer color in the pics on the left. To my editing mind, the pictures on the right look like they need to be taken into photoshop and have the levels tweaked to get rid of the grey washout. (of course, this is coming from a girl that has a hard time applying an app filter because it makes pics look like they need to undergo restoration lol)
    On the other hand, the 250 pics have that hazy, dreamy feel that could produce some stunning results too.

  2. I'm still so thrilled that you took a photo for me :) and its beautiful too!

    I prefer the 130 as well, the contrasts look more balanced and the light looks lovely, whilst the right 250 ones just look that little bit too grey and flat. There's not much in it though I agree but the left hand ones just shout out LC-A to me.

    I love your shots too, the compositions are great, I especially love the stage door and the wall photo above it as well.

  3. These photos are so lovely. I'm finding it really hard to decide which I like better... at first, I would say the 130 images, because they really do have such a beautiful amount of contrast and light, but the 250 images have a totally different (but also very lovely) feel. Depends what kind of mood you're trying to portray I guess?

    PS. thank you for your very sweet comment on my blog! You're far too kind :) x

  4. I like both versions, but perhaps the 250 images a bit more. I really like the muted tones in them, but I understand that it's not everyone's cup of tea.

    I'm looking forward to see more of your adventures with the LC-A :)

  5. This is amazing! I love seeing the two versions. I think I prefer the ones on the left because I like the contrast better I think, but both are fantastic!

  6. I prefer the darker ones.

    My husband shoots film cameras too. The oldest he uses is a Graflex. I sometimes do with my Holga, and my daughter shoots with her old Barbie camera. :)

  7. I prefer the darker ones. Amazing photos!!

  8. i just found your blog and i always love to find someone in love with film as i am! i'm not sure which ones i liked the most, maybe some looked better more exposed and other less exposed! i have the holga 120CFN and a old Yashica i got from ebay. i work as a photographer and i'm in the process of using more and more film asides the digital! it creates something different!

  9. i think i like the lower ISO (brighter ones); while I love the muted wash on the higher ones (they always have that film-y nostalgic feel if you know what I mean), I feel like the other ones are more 'true' to life and contrasty; and you can always edit them to look like ones on the right if you wanted to (though that may be defeating the purpose).

    btw, i love your new layout; it's very chic and slick!

    annie / WEMAKEPLANS

  10. I love the photos on the right more but only slightly. I also am quickly becoming addicted to the loveliness of your blog!


  11. This is a very impressive first roll. Did you fall in love a little bit when you first saw the images? There is nothing like getting your first roll back from the developers! And pretty much every roll after that too. I too prefer the photos on the right with the lower setting.
    Happy shooting.

  12. I love that mysterious archway!
    All of these pictures are golden. Once again, good job.


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