Film Swaps a Rough Guide

The great international film swap project continues to grow with very little intervention. People make contact, I give them my address and they send a roll of film that they have already shot.

A few times lately I have been asked for more specific instructions. With that in mind I made this video showing the first shooter how to load and mark the film to give the best chance at getting the frames to line up. I hope it makes some sense. The trick is to mark the first frame – don’t worry too much about exposing a little too much film. The results tend to outweigh the small loss at the start of the roll.

If you don’t or can’t mark the film – don’t panic – just shoot.

It is important to remember that they film will be exposed twice – to try and get a good exposure I always recommend that the first shooter underexposes by a stop – This is easy to achieve if you can manually set your cameras ISO settings.100 ISO film set the camera to 200 ISO
200 ISO film set the camera to 400 ISO
400 ISO film set the camera to 800 ISO
and so on…
If you cannot set your cameras ISO – don’t panic – just shoot.

I have no set rules when I am out shooting as the second shooter, I tend to try and avoid overly bright situations as overexposing my shot will mean that anything already on the frame will be “burned” and will not be seen. I like textures and signs. These always work well. I love shooting portraits and have, in the past, forgotten that I am shooting a film swap and have ended up with some very interesting results.
The trick is to have fun – don’t panic – just shoot.

My fundamental advice for these film swaps remains the same as it ever did. Don’t think too hard about it, shoot a roll of film, put it in the post and prepare to be delighted by the results.

Art is a LieMy Camera was a Nikon F100, Inge used a Ricoh KR-10x Film: Agfa Precisa CT Dev: Lab C-41
You will see more of Inge’s wonderful work at

A River Runs Through ItMy Camera was a Nikon F100. Moni used a Pentax P30T. Film: Fuji Superia Xtra 400…
You will see more of Moni’s wonderful work at or her excellent blog at

  In the Bushes

My Camera was a Nikon F100, Amanda used a Canon Rebel 2000  Film: Kodak Portra 800
Canon/Nikon together at last and the world still turns….
You will see more of Amanda’s wonderful work at

Rough Uneven Surface

My Camera was a Nikon F100, George used a Nikon FM2, Film: Tmax400, Dev: Stand 60 mins in 1+100 Rodinal
You will see more of Georges work at and great information and technical details on his blog


      1. Wow really? For the whole month? Impressive!

        Seriously, you did a good job on the video. Nice clear instructions on how to to that.

  1. Very interesting concept that I had not previously heard of – what a great use for film and something that cannot be done in camera digitally. I’ll look at more of the combo’s but wanted to thank you for introducing me to the method.

    1. Hi, I live in Dublin Ireland but have done swaps with people from all around the world. If you want to give it a try shoot a roll of 35mm film and let me know when your ready and I will email you my address.
      Thanks for your interest.

      1. I have done a couple in black and white and they worked well enough, the results tend to look a little muddled but still very rewarding. If you want to shoot two rolls, one b&w and one colour I am happy to re-shoot both, it would be an interesting comparison with the results.
        My default motto here is, “don’t over think it – just shoot”

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