I Shot a Roll of Kodak Portra 400 On Canon AE-1 by Patrick Dreuning

Jan 24, 2020
3 min read

I am Patrick Dreuning, I live in the Netherlands and I am based in Maastricht the most southern city of the country, close to Germany and Belgium. But I grew up in a town nearby Rotterdam.

I consider myself as a true street photographer. As soon as I leave my house, I have a camera with me to be prepared for each situation.

Usually my go to film would be Ektar 100 for colour and Hp5 for black and white, I prefer them because of the contrasts both films give. As I am still trying out different films, Portra 400 never crossed my mind to choose as a street photography film because of the lesser contrast in the images. And I love contrasts too much for not having any, so when this post came by I thought this is my chance to try it out, so I did! 

Speed is key in street photography that is why I use a Canon AE-1 with the 50mm 1.8 FD lens. Although, I always have an extra 28mm F2.8 with me for the times a wider angle is needed. It is a shutter speed priority camera which means the camera finds the right aperture by my chosen shutter speed, so I can make sure my images are frozen at the right time. The camera comes with a build in lightmeter. Most of the time I use Fujifilm Superia 400 and push the film often to 800 or even 1600, therefore I need the speed to freeze the moments I want to capture.

While wandering the streets I’m always looking for light and shadow play, but most of all I am looking for good compositions created by lines or the so called “dirty frames”. Here you will have the forground unsharp which makes the subject stand out even more.

Most of the time I capture people in my work to give a feeling of perspective of what the scene looks like. I really enjoy the emptiness of just one person in the image showing that even big cities host lonely people.

So, for this series I started out in Maastricht. It’s a nice old city with lots of French influence throughout. When I’m out shooting I don’t plan things on forehand so I can always encounter new things which works best for me.

Later on I wanted to continue the series in another city and though long about where to go. I grew up nearby Rotterdam, so this became the second part of my series. It’s a hard contrast between Maastricht and Rotterdam, both with their own different vibes and opportunities.

What I liked most about the film is that is has such nice grain, it also has pretty good details in the shadows and in some pictures I even like the lack of contrast. The only downside I can find is that sometimes the pictures turn out pretty yellow-ish, a bit too much for my taste.
But I am going to explore this film a bit more by pushing it a few times! 

As a final tip for street photography, Shoot first think later.

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