Film, I Just Don’t Get It

Tagged: ,

Viewing 12 posts - 1 through 12 (of 23 total)
  • Author
    Topic: Film, I Just Don’t Get It Read 1768 Times
  • Greg Scott
    Greg Scott
    Participant
    Posts: 25
    New Article Announcements & Discussions
    on: September 14, 2023 at 6:35 pm

    It is telling that I mark the start of my photo journey at the point I left film and pick up my first digital camera.  That happened about 2002.  In 1996 I got serious about photography when I bought a Nikon D-70 but struggled with a lack of real control over the final print.

    My interest in photography is rooted in wanting to become an artist.  I tell people that 40% of the final image is based on what I capture in camera.  The real magic happens in post.  For me, this option never existed when I was shooting film.  Early training for me stressed that my images should tell a story.  So my composition looks for elements to achieve that end.

    Last night I was working on an image shot in the Pantanal of Brazil where we were looking for jaguar.  I had a good shot of a female with a large cub in tall grass masking their faces.  Because we were shooting from a boat that was rolling a bit, the best shot of the cats didn’t have any space above their heads.  Our guide suggested that Photoshop’s generative fill might be a good solution for that problem.  One of mom’s eyes was closed and the bright green background was a distraction.  All of these issues were easily resolved resulting in what might just be the best jaguar image of my trip.

    If I had been shooting film, I probably would not have spent any time considering this image.  However with a clear idea of what I wanted out of this image and the right tools to get the job done, I believe I now have a great image of a jaguar and a cub.

    On the road less traveled....

    Stephane Bosman
    Stephane Bosman
    Participant
    Posts: 32
    Re: Film, I Just Don’t Get It
    Reply #1 on: September 15, 2023 at 2:50 am

    Well, Kevin, all your arguments in favour of digital are true but, sorry to say it like that, irrelevant. Using many film cameras is a whole different experience which might be enough of a reason for some.

    Then the rendering is different and that is a very valid reason, even if technically inferior.

    A piano is a better instrument than a harpsichord, but the harpsichord has its own harmonies that remain a valid reason to use one, and Bach pieces for harpsichord are still better played on one.

    Vinyl is resurgent too, while by all measures it is technically inferior to CD. And lossless digital streaming is the equal of CD. So, why is vinyl still relevant? For a number of reasons that some will find valid and others not. But the fact is digital did not kill vinyl, and in my opinion never will.

    To bring a more pictorial analogy: is oil paint better than water colours? Or vice versa? Is photography better than painting? Is video better than cinema?

    Maybe digital is more realistic and film more impressionist?

    Rainer Heim
    Rainer Heim
    Participant
    Posts: 5
    Re: Film, I Just Don’t Get It
    Reply #2 on: September 15, 2023 at 9:51 am

    Hello, Kevin.

    Hello Kevin.

    Look, I’m a bit like you. I look back at my analog days and frankly there were a lot of things to enjoy but, if I’m honest, digital is better. This doesn’t mean however, that getting back to analog does not have an attraction. You’re basically going back to a situation where the limits are more clearly defined, and you have to make do with less. One of your main arguments is the cost, and yes, boy oh boy, are those films expensive these days. If ever you ventured into dark room work you would find the prices for paper and chemicals are also awful and the choice unfortunately as well.

    you would find the prices for paper and chemicals are also awful and the choice unfortunately as well.

    There is, however, one question that I do not find an answer to: if, as you say, this is the golden age of photography, why do all the photo shops and a lot of professional photographers struggle to make money? Somehow we seem to have endless technological capabilities, and maybe, this is not for me to decide, we do get better pictures overall, but from what I can see photography has become more of a niche than 30 years ago. By photography, I mean, taking time to take photos. Probably vastly oversimplified, but mindless, snapping in my view is not photography.

    , but from what I can see photography has become more of a niche than 30 years ago. By photography, I mean, taking time to take photos. Probably vastly oversimplified, but mindless, snapping in my view is not photography.

    All the best with your daily chats.
    Regards

    Regards

    Rainer

    Rainer Heim
    Rainer Heim
    Participant
    Posts: 5
    Re: Film, I Just Don’t Get It
    Reply #3 on: September 15, 2023 at 9:54 am

    Hello, Kevin.

    Hello Kevin.

    Look, I’m a bit like you. I look back at my analog days and frankly there were a lot of things to enjoy but, if I’m honest, digital is better. This doesn’t mean however, that getting back to analog does not have an attraction. You’re basically going back to a situation where the limits are more clearly defined, and you have to make do with less. One of your main arguments is the cost, and yes, boy oh boy, are those films expensive these days. If ever you ventured into dark room work you would find the prices for paper and chemicals are also awful and the choice unfortunately as well.

    There is, however, one question that I do not find an answer to: if, as you say, this is the golden age of photography, why do all the photo shops and a lot of professional photographers struggle to make money? Somehow we seem to have endless technological capabilities, and maybe, this is not for me to decide, we do get better pictures overall, but from what I can see photography has become more of a niche than 30 years ago. By photography, I mean, taking time to take photos. Probably vastly oversimplified, but mindless snapping in my view is not photography.

    All the best with your daily chats.
    Regards

    Regards

    Rainer

    Stephane Bosman
    Stephane Bosman
    Participant
    Posts: 32
    Re: Film, I Just Don’t Get It
    Reply #4 on: September 15, 2023 at 9:58 am

    why do all the photo shops and a lot of professional photographers struggle to make money?

    I find that digital tends to make money for far fewer, much larger companies than analog did.

     

    Kevin Raber
    Kevin Raber
    Silver Member
    Posts: 1289
    Re: Film, I Just Don’t Get It
    Reply #5 on: September 15, 2023 at 10:02 am

    Well, Kevin, all your arguments in favour of digital are true but, sorry to say it like that, irrelevant. Using many film cameras is a whole different experience which might be enough of a reason for some.

    Then the rendering is different and that is a very valid reason, even if technically inferior.

    A piano is a better instrument than a harpsichord, but the harpsichord has its own harmonies that remain a valid reason to use one, and Bach pieces for harpsichord are still better played on one.

    Vinyl is resurgent too, while by all measures it is technically inferior to CD. And lossless digital streaming is the equal of CD. So, why is vinyl still relevant? For a number of reasons that some will find valid and others not. But the fact is digital did not kill vinyl, and in my opinion never will.

    To bring a more pictorial analogy: is oil paint better than water colours? Or vice versa? Is photography better than painting? Is video better than cinema?

    Maybe digital is more realistic and film more impressionist?

    As I mentioned, if you are a film photographer, then that is great as long as you are happy.  No matter what, in the end, that is what counts.  In my studio at the Indy Art Center, there is a large teaching and a fully functional wet darkroom.  In my opinion, if you carry your whole workflow through in analog, then I think that is great.  I don’t get the shooting on film and then switching over to a digital workflow after the negative is scanned.  In art and photography, no one can be a judge of what work is and how it is done.  As long as the artist is happy.  However, in our field of enjoyment there are a lot of critics.  Go for it if you are having fun.

    Kevin Raber
    Owner and Publisher of photoPXL

    Rainer Heim
    Rainer Heim
    Participant
    Posts: 5
    Re: Film, I Just Don’t Get It
    Reply #6 on: September 15, 2023 at 10:04 am

    Hi Stephane

    Absolutely right. With increased complexity comes increased concentration of capital. One other element seems to be that still photography on a screen is free and all the old ways of treasuring a moment are replaced by free online versions.

    Kevin Raber
    Kevin Raber
    Silver Member
    Posts: 1289
    Re: Film, I Just Don’t Get It
    Reply #7 on: September 15, 2023 at 10:11 am

    Hello, Kevin.

    Hello Kevin.

    Look, I’m a bit like you. I look back at my analog days and frankly there were a lot of things to enjoy but, if I’m honest, digital is better. This doesn’t mean however, that getting back to analog does not have an attraction. You’re basically going back to a situation where the limits are more clearly defined, and you have to make do with less. One of your main arguments is the cost, and yes, boy oh boy, are those films expensive these days. If ever you ventured into dark room work you would find the prices for paper and chemicals are also awful and the choice unfortunately as well.

    you would find the prices for paper and chemicals are also awful and the choice unfortunately as well.

    There is, however, one question that I do not find an answer to: if, as you say, this is the golden age of photography, why do all the photo shops and a lot of professional photographers struggle to make money? Somehow we seem to have endless technological capabilities, and maybe, this is not for me to decide, we do get better pictures overall, but from what I can see photography has become more of a niche than 30 years ago. By photography, I mean, taking time to take photos. Probably vastly oversimplified, but mindless, snapping in my view is not photography.

    , but from what I can see photography has become more of a niche than 30 years ago. By photography, I mean, taking time to take photos. Probably vastly oversimplified, but mindless, snapping in my view is not photography.

    All the best with your daily chats.

    Regards

    Regards

    Rainer

    I will still say we are in a golden time for photography.  We have great cameras, great printers, and a way to share our images across the world within seconds of making an image.  What has happened is the advent of all this technology has made everyone a pretty good photographer.  I just ordered the new iPhone, and I didn’t order the phone as much as the camera.  The iPhone and other mobile devices has changed photography for all of us.  Everyone is a good photographer these days. and they can be without any training.  Kind of scary but exciting too.  What disappoints me the most is we now have a generation that where everything is in the cloud.  50 years from now when you go to an antique shop there will be no boxes full of prints to browse through.  Our history is in the cloud.  Will it disappear when we do?  All of this presents some interesting challenges.

    Kevin Raber
    Owner and Publisher of photoPXL

    Jean-Michel Komarnicki
    Jean-Michel Komarnicki
    Participant
    Posts: 17
    Re: Film, I Just Don’t Get It
    Reply #8 on: September 15, 2023 at 11:25 am

    Hi Kevin,

    Yes, there is no going back to film for me either — I recently disposed of the remaining dust-gathering film equipment I still kept for some reason. Do I  miss the darkroom? Yes, on occasion when remembering how I enjoyed the hours spent in it, but then there is the realization that LR’s development module’s history does all the recording of my work as opposed to my scribbles on paper to record all my dodging, burning, paper grid, etc! LR wins, every time.

    Still, film did impose more discipline when photographing. My early ‘pro’ work – I was barely 18 or 19 – was doing weddings, in b&w, using a 4×5 Speed Graphic (that on I still have for display) and anywhere between 6 and 12 holders. Do the math: 12 to 24 shots for an entire wedding. Photograph at the bride’s home, church, fake the first dance at the reception hall, then to the studio, soup the negs, get quick prints, go back to the reception hall and see if any guests would order a print. Later the studio owner would go and do a colour shot of the going away couple. Last wedding I attended, there were two photographers and a videographer and a drone, for what end, I wondered.

    My personal work was exclusively in b&w – mainly because I was able to keep full control of the entire process, and because colour prints would fade in less time than my lifetime. Epson pigment inks now allow me to explore and add colour to my work.

    I do have a number of projects that involve scanning my negs. It is a bit of a drudgery to do and I certainly would not enjoy such a hybrid workflow if using film.

    I imagine that in not too long this discussion will no longer be about using film, but will be about why still using cameras, and not too long after that, why still using iPhones or such.

    Jean-Michel

     

    Jean-Michel

    Jeff Schewe
    Jeff Schewe
    Gold Member
    Posts: 136
    Re: Film, I Just Don’t Get It
    Reply #9 on: September 15, 2023 at 2:33 pm

    Well, Kevin, all your arguments in favour of digital are true but, sorry to say it like that, irrelevant. Using many film cameras is a whole different experience which might be enough of a reason for some.

    Then the rendering is different and that is a very valid reason, even if technically inferior.

    A piano is a better instrument than a harpsichord, but the harpsichord has its own harmonies that remain a valid reason to use one, and Bach pieces for harpsichord are still better played on one.

    Vinyl is resurgent too, while by all measures it is technically inferior to CD. And lossless digital streaming is the equal of CD. So, why is vinyl still relevant? For a number of reasons that some will find valid and others not. But the fact is digital did not kill vinyl, and in my opinion never will.

    To bring a more pictorial analogy: is oil paint better than water colours? Or vice versa? Is photography better than painting? Is video better than cinema?

    Maybe digital is more realistic and film more impressionist?

    those that say film has a different look than digital are not skilled enough in their post processing skills to know how to make digital look like film. Sorry to say, it’s really easy when you know how.

    😎

    • This reply was modified 7 months, 1 week ago by Jeff Schewe.
    Mark McCormick-Goodhart
    Mark McCormick-Goodhart
    Participant
    Posts: 13
    Re: Film, I Just Don’t Get It
    Reply #10 on: September 15, 2023 at 4:03 pm

    I think film is trending strongly with a younger generation that never used film before. So, for them, it’s undoubtedly a “new” way to create an image that happens to be fun, and it’s a way to distinguish themselves from the instagram masses. That said, I grew up in the same era as Kevin, so for me, starting to use film again is about trying to retrace my photographic journey, a look back if you will in order to breath some new life into my current interests in photography. No, I’m not abandoning digital imaging. It’s just too damn powerful a tool to walk away from, but taking some time out to work with film again is helping me to reconnect with what photography meant to me in the first place.

    FWIW, I’m still trying to decide whether the term “photograph” even has any validity today over what I’d otherwise describe more accurately as “photo illustration”. I think it does, but I can’t explain why. Back when I started taking photography seriously in the mid 1960s, everyone had a fundamental perception about what a photograph was. Sure, compositing and “fake” photographs have existed since the dawn of photography, but the overwhelming majority of photographs prior to Photoshop represented a uniquely singular exposure…a single moment in time, what Henri Cartier-Bresson spoke of as “the decisive moment”.  Today, with computational photography effortlessly combining multiple exposures right on our smartphones to overcome traditional process limitations plus post-processing algorithms like “sky replacement” filters, AI generative fill, etc., creating millions of heavily manipulated images every day, what looks like a photograph nowadays often does not bear any spatial reality to an original scene.  Not knocking this rapid and profound change in image creation for those who find elaborate image manipulation aesthetically and/or technically pleasing, but can we still call the final image a photograph?

    Grant Ball
    Grant Ball
    Participant
    Posts: 1
    Re: Film, I Just Don’t Get It
    Reply #11 on: September 15, 2023 at 5:36 pm

    I think film is trending strongly with a younger generation that never used film before. So, for them, it’s undoubtedly a “new” way to create an image that happens to be fun, and it’s a way to distinguish themselves from the instagram masses. That said, I grew up in the same era as Kevin, so for me, starting to use film again is about trying to retrace my photographic journey, a look back if you will in order to breath some new life into my current interests in photography. No, I’m not abandoning digital imaging. It’s just too damn powerful a tool to walk away from, but taking some time out to work with film again is helping me to reconnect with what photography meant to me in the first place.

    FWIW, I’m still trying to decide whether the term “photograph” even has any validity today over what I’d otherwise describe more accurately as “photo illustration”. I think it does, but I can’t explain why. Back when I started taking photography seriously in the mid 1960s, everyone had a fundamental perception about what a photograph was. Sure, compositing and “fake” photographs have existed since the dawn of photography, but the overwhelming majority of photographs prior to Photoshop represented a uniquely singular exposure…a single moment in time, what Henri Cartier-Bresson spoke of as “the decisive moment”. Today, with computational photography effortlessly combining multiple exposures right on our smartphones to overcome traditional process limitations plus post-processing algorithms like “sky replacement” filters, AI generative fill, etc., creating millions of heavily manipulated images every day, what looks like a photograph nowadays often does not bear any spatial reality to an original scene. Not knocking this rapid and profound change in image creation for those who find elaborate image manipulation aesthetically and/or technically pleasing, but can we still call the final image a photograph?

    Yes it is. Jerry Uelsmann created photographs from up to 5-6 negatives from 5-6 enalrgers he had in his darkroom. W. Eugene Smith heavily manipulated his photos to get the emotion he wanted people to have from them. Bill Brandt (my first silver hero) also heavily manipulated his photos. Was this the original scene that was before them? It’s what they saw. Ansel’s way of seeing was so strong, you would barley recognize the original scene from what he captured. Photography is a multiheaded beast. Ansel previsualized and Jerry postvisualized. The photograph is a result of how a photographer sees.

    Our tools are different today and as Kevin said we have an incredible array of tools to use to get what we see. I’m sure Ansel would be into it in a big way.

Viewing 12 posts - 1 through 12 (of 23 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.