Monday, January 21, 2013

Why I shoot film

Last year, I switched from a digital workflow to a – for now – film capture, and a digital scan workflow. Eventually, I will ban the digital part out of my work all together. And print in a darkroom again. A lot of people claim I am nuts.

The reason why, for me is part aesthetic, and part emotional.

Don't get me wrong. Technically, my images aren't any sharper than when I photographed with digital (I would even claim the opposite) but that is not the point of photography I think. If you get hung up on technical aspects of photography (sharpness, noise, how big is your sensor and how many megapixels do other photographers have available, ... ) then you might be one of those pixel peeper persons. My tip to you is: if you want to grow further as a photographer, you need to understand that you will eventually have to let those ideas go. Why? It is my opinion that if you don't, you will never 'see' beyond what that craft has to offer.  

But let's not make this a digital vs film debate. Because that's not what this post is about.

But why do I like film? Well one of the reasons is it is a teacher of technique and pre-visualization that is UNFORGIVING. If you get it wrong. Your negative is toast. Everything I need to do before I press the cable release are mental exercises. In a way, it fuses my creative brain with my analytical brain. It makes me think about exposure, zone placement, aperture, depth of field, moment of exposure, the development proces, the printing proces, the emotional story I'm trying to tell, ... BEFORE I take the photograph.


Here's a portrait of me by Kris Schofield
while composing a scene with the film camera.  

My camera is a box. A 'dumb box'. With a lens in front, and a film holder in the back. There is no in-camera light metering. No electronic level. No nothing. Bare bones. I can't just take a few snaps and hope for the best, review them on my LCD and go from there. Nope.

Film is an incredible teacher. And it drives me to do everything better for the next frame, time after time. When I use it, it's me. If a negative didn't come out the way I envisioned it, I know it was me. 

I also take a lot fewer photographs with my Mamiya RB67 Pro-SD. I can take 10 on one roll of 120 film. I'm fortunate that film is still easily available. My film of choice is Ilford's Delta 100. It is contrasty just where I like it (in the mid-tones). Pan F plus (50 asa) is the film to go to, for a lot of landscape photographers. Part for the contrast as for the fine grain. And although it is considered a high contrast film, I don't like it. The contrast is in the wrong place. 

So as a conclusion I would say, film is making me a better photographer.

And I hear you say. 'But what you just said, can't you just easily adapt and follow that in digital photography too?'. Sure you can. I'm just telling you my story. With film I make 1-2 maybe 3 frames per scene. I used to do at least 10 with the digital. As a result, I am walking around scouting the surrounding a lot more now, usually before I pull out the camera.

I feel film is far more rewarding than digital. For example, when you develop your film at home, I love the moment when I open up my film tank after the final rinsing process and hang the film up to dry. You feel like a million bucks when everything looks like you had intended it to look like. 

You should give it a try someday. It's a lot more fun.

22 comments:

  1. Hi,

    I can't agree more. As you rightly say, you probably have sharper, more detailed images with modern digital equipment. But this is not the point.

    Film slows you down and makes you think.

    And yes, opening up the tank is such a great moment.

    Regards

    Jean-Louis

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. O AND the smell of fixer is very addictive. ;)

      Delete
  2. This makes complete sense to me especially considering the type of photographs you make, and the aim you have for them (artistic vs. documentary). Someone shooting a lot of stock photos may find this less convenient that digital. I do wish I could slow down more often with my digital shooting like I used to have to with film.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yeah obviously Michael. If I was a commercial photographer it wouldn't be THAT convenient BUT I'm sure, there's a niche for everything.

      Delete
  3. Been there: done that. And I for one am glad to be rid of the pain, drudgery and frustrations of film. That said if shooting film is your thing then power to you. I enjoy the photos you make and the art lover in me doesn't really care how you made them. The photo-geek in me does care but that's a whole other issue that only therapy can fix. Keep up the excellent work.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Photography should never be a frustrating thing Brian.
    I like art that shows me the artist's personality. That – for me – is one of the defining factors of what makes exceptional art, exceptional and good art, well just that, good.

    That is something – I believe – I can do with my B&W work. B&W feels like an extension of who I am. I have no explanation why this is. It just feels right. Now what medium I desire to use is completely secondary. I've been called an elitist before, for using film.
    But I believe that the medium an artist desires to use should never influence the viewer's opinion about the artist's art. It's not because I use film that my work becomes better. Or even letting the viewer believe that the artist is better than him, because he/she uses film.

    Those are crazy assumptions made by people that have no clue what photography is about.

    BTW trying to study 150+ years of 'film-wisdom' (vs about 8 of 'digi-wisdom') can be a daunting task indeed. :)

    Thank you for your nice words about my work. I appreciate those a lot. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Good post, well said....I really like using film myself.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hello Oliver,

    I have been shooting film since I was 15 years of age, I'm closing in on 40 years of film usage and I still feel that film has value in today's digital world. Some back ground:
    I have been working at newspapers as a photographer since I was 18 years of age, I started out shooting black and white film in my Nikon F2 camera. Today its all digital and I must say that I love shooting digital for my newspaper work, in November of 2001 my newspaper, The Kelowna Daily Couruier bought the newest of new, Nikon D1H digital cameras, I can still clearly remember walking along Bernard avenue in downtown Kelowna the day our 'kits' arrived and shot anything and everything that moved, I would look at each picture on the camera's tiny little rear screen and say wow!

    I would never want to go back to film for my day to day work assignments at the paper . Digital is a must in photojournalism, I wouldn't want to be with out it.

    Shooting film on my time off is a whole different kettle of fish, for one I have no deadlines to contend with, so it doesn't matter to me that I can see the shot right away, I feel as an artist ( which I humbly realize may not be true ) I want to slow things down.

    Twenty-five years ago I picked up a 4 x 5 view camera, people in the news biz might not have quite understood what I was doing, some thought I was completely nuts, I still could be.

    I totally love making images with my view cameras, mostly 4 x 5 but when I can afford the film my 8 x 10 that too. Over the years I have own medium format cameras, but I have stuck with view cameras, almost all the work you see on my website, my blog and FB page is done with view cameras. I am frequently asked, why film and why a view camera? , some think its bulky, time consuming not easy to use. One of the things that I have found that with shooting film is not so much that it makes me a better photographer but that it clearly makes me look at and photograph my subject(s) in a far different way than using digital, its hard to explain, I am much more selective in terms of how I will photograph my subject when shooting with film.

    Also I love shooting with the view camera and I have not found a digital equivalent, to me there is nothing more beautiful than looking at my composed image even though it is upside down and backwards that I am abut to record with film on a ground glass screen 20 to 80 square inches in size, its really beautiful to look at, its the direct image coming through the lens, a truly 'raw' image.

    These days I work with a hybrid system or a digital scan-workflow, I shoot sheet film and scan the negatives with flatbed scanner. I also hope to do some more connect sheet printing in the wet darkroom from my 8 x 10 negatives one of these days too, I have always been inspired by the work of Edward Weston, including the simplicity of his craft in making his wonderful images, his darkroom consisted of a few trays, printing frame and darkroom lights, he was able to set up almost anywhere. I would say that shooting film may be a little crazy in this digital age, and may seem like the hard way to an end product when the easier route is the one to take, but then so is running a marathon, there are a lot easier ways to cover the 26.2 miles by pounding the ground with your feet. Also I feel that there is a sense of accomplishment in that some film cameras are not easy to use, neither is playing a violin, it takes years to get good at playing such an instrument, but the effort is well worth it, in terms of one's personal satisfaction and knowing that you have worked hard for something.

    Gary

    PS I have also posted this response on my own blog....

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great post... I couldn't have said it better myself!! Cheers Steve

    ReplyDelete
  8. Ich bin froh, auf Ihre aufstrebenden Art des Schreibens die Post zu finden. Jetzt machen Sie es einfach für mich zu verstehen und umzusetzen, das Konzept. Vielen Dank für die Post.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Very informative post ! There is a lot of information here that can help any business get started with a successful social networking campaign ! Khatrimaza movies

    ReplyDelete
  10. This is a fabulous post I seen because of offer it. It is really what I expected to see trust in future you will continue in sharing such a mind boggling post कसौटȣ िजंदगी कȧ अपडेट

    ReplyDelete
  11. Sandboxie License Key is also compatible with different types of malware protection programs as well. Further, a user is easily able to add all the anti-virus apps in the list of its consistent programs. You can also add different firewalls to run the program efficiently. The basic functionalities of the software are easily understandable as it contains no rocket science. Besides, you can also understand the basic method of protecting your personal computer. The interface of this software contains the ability to secure a PC from all kinds of malware attacks as well. Furthermore, you can also get full security for your PC.
    https://cracksmod.com/sandboxie-crack/

    ReplyDelete
  12. Smadav 2020 Crack comes up with three features to secure our data. Firstly, it scans our scan our USB drives to make them fully protected and secured. It not only scans the shown or prominent viruses from the USB drives.
    https://shehrozpc.com/smadav-crack/

    ReplyDelete
  13. Xfer Serum Torrent has made creating and altering sounds fun. Unlike other plugins, it creates an engaging environment for work with GUI. Its oscillators sound clear and brighter. It helps the synthesizer to the next stage for the production of the music. It comprises two free wave oscillators. Also, it builds the A and B oscillators around the advanced wave table engine. It displays it with a 2D waveform view. Although, you can reveal a 3D wave table display by clicking on it. It will show the ‘frame’ or the current wave cycle helpful for new users.
    https://letcracks.com/xfer-serum-crack/

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hotspot Shield Elite Full Version is also useful to increase the internet speed. It also has access to the use of block websites. We can quickly call this software a trustworthy internet security system program because it performs its task as PC Guard and saves the PC from programmers and hackers. This software is the best software and the most reliable internet security software package. We can easily use the web as an anonymous client having full safety. By the use of this software, we can keep our networks secure at home or anywhere we do our work.
    https://cracksmad.com/hotspot-shield-crack/

    ReplyDelete
  15. Final Cut Pro X Crack can easily merge different video clips according to your taste. Moreover, it performs many other useful operations for the creation of brilliant movies. It is ideal as well as the best software for all types of users if they want to start any film project. Without any difficulty, you can directly import videos from any other project software as well. A user is easily able to create many videos that are compatible with many other devices. The user-interface of the software is quite simple but efficient. The software is compatible with different types of monitors as well.
    https://chserialkey.com/final-cut-pro-x-cracked-2020/

    ReplyDelete
  16. Mixcraft Torrent With Keygen results in limits. It also provides an overwhelming assistance feature to its users. A user is easily able to switch gadgets with each bit of the audio signal. This software also contains a live presentation of piece recording. It also includes a Melody pitch corrector into its dashboard.
    https://chproductkey.com/mixcraft-crack/

    ReplyDelete
  17. Adobe Photoshop CC Crack makes us easier than before about editing. It gives us a lot of fun about writing our picture. Also, we can print our project very easily in Adobe Photoshop CC . Also, you can edit multiple photos very easily in this software. You can write more than one picture at a time and compare them very easily. Also, you can print all of these images very easily. We can crop our images very easily using this software. We can crop our image very easily as we want. Adobe Photoshop CC Key helps us to make our picture more clear and clean. It has a lot of skin tone, which is helping us a lot in editing.
    https://zscrack.com/adobe-photoshop-cc-crack/

    ReplyDelete
  18. Smart Driver Updater separates references. It also keeps a balance between inkjet printers and electronic devices. These electronic devices include audio cards, modems, and movie credit cards, as well. Its operating system is very secure. It also contains the capabilities of backups. It also recovers drivers in case of damage. Also, it leads to any matchup issues of the user’s PC.
    https://zsactivationkey.com/smart-driver-updater-crack/

    ReplyDelete
  19. AOMEI Backupper Pro Crack has various options on how to make a backup of the data. First, one that is mostly used gives the freedom to the user to say when to make a backup. Whenever the user feels that there is something important needs to be in a secure situation, he can simply click the backup option, and the file will start backing up. The other most useful tool is to schedule a backup. Then the user can set the program to perform the backup either daily, weekly or bi-weekly. In this way, the backup process does not interfere with the user’s work.
    https://ziapc.org/aomei-backupper-pro-crack/

    ReplyDelete