My First Photo Shoot With The Canon AE-1

I’ve never used a 35mm SLR camera before.

The past few months I’ve only shot with Polaroid and point and shoot cameras. I’veĀ  avoided using an SLR camera with all of the different settings. How do I learn to use the proper aperture, setting the ISO/ASA, lighting, etc? Even just loading the film is intimidating.

I decided to stop avoiding the inevitable and learn how to shoot the Canon AE-1 camera below. I found the manual online, watched a few YouTube videos, loaded a roll of Kodak T-Max 100 film and just started shooting.

My first few photos were not shot according to the manual and yet somehow turned out to be my favorites. The user manual suggests setting the aperture ring to the “A” mark for automatic exposure. I incorrectly set the aperture to another setting which provided the great shots below with the bokeh (blurry) backgrounds.






I adjusted the aperture back to auto and the following photos are acceptable, but they may have been a little more interesting if I wasn’t using the automatic exposure mode.

That’s not all I screwed up. When rewinding the film for the first time, I stopped with the film counter at “S” and should have kept rewinding, as the “S” does not always mean it’s the end of the film roll. I opened the back of the camera and immediately closed it when I saw the film had not been fully rewound.

Therefore, when scrolling through the photos, you will see some have a bright line or two going through the middle. I believe this occurred by not rewinding the film the entire way. Oh well, lesson learned.

I also need to practice focusing and steadying my shot. A few photos turned out focused, but others are a little blurry and that could be either from not focusing properly or from a shaky trigger finger causing the camera to move when taking the photo. Taking a photo with this camera is a lot different than using a point and shoot and obviously different than an iPhone so it’s easy to accidentally move the camera when shooting.












Please note, the two photos below are the same shots, just focused differently. The first photo I intentionally focused on the leaves, hoping the background would be blurry. The next photo is the same shot but focused on the path instead of the leaves.





It is encouraging to see how these shots turned out using the Canon AE-1. I already shot another roll of black and white film and am excited to see how those photos also turn out.

One thing I will do differently going forward is turn the aperture ring off the “A” mark setting and experiment more with the aperture settings and depth of field.

I look forward to shooting with this camera again this weekend.