Inspired by Digital?

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by alexecho, Sep 26, 2005.

  1. alexecho

    alexecho TPF Noob!

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    I've been reading a lot recently in the press about how/if digital photography is 'killing' traditional photography.

    I went off photography whilst I was studying it at college. Nothing was ever good enough for my tutor and my favorite works were knocked most. However when I picked up a digital camera I got that passion back, and have now made my way back towards black and white film photography too.

    My style has changed and I think improved when I've been able to shoot pictures without being blinded by the cost of film and processing. :)

    Am I unique in being inspired towards, rather than away from film by the technological advances? I just see something good on the monitor and want to go out and capture it on film - especially B&W which just doesn't look the same to me, shot with a digial camera!
     
  2. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    In the sense that film photography is a major consumer product, yes digital is going to replace film. It's fast, convenient, and getting cheaper, and that's what the consumer wants, coupled with built in obsolescence that the manufacturers love. ;)

    In the sense that film photography makes beautiful images, and is a great way to take a photograph it will never die. They aren't going to put digital sensors in my Rolleiflex or Widelux, and those are wonderful cameras to use. I seem to take a high percentage of my favorite photos with them.

    Photography is expensive, period. Film or digital is going to cost you the same in the long run: a whole lot! Realize it, and get past it. Just to start digital photography you need a camera, software, and a computer. These days you probably can get all of that for $600, but if you want a DSLR, Adobe PS, and a computer that won't choke it's going to be $2500+. I could start with a used 35mm film SLR (that will take great quality photos), a roll of film, and money for processing for $50. Everytime I think about how much film and processing I haven't paid for, I fill up another hard drive.

    I think digital photography is more immediately stimulating than film photography. That makes it a lot of fun, and may help push people over the cost/inconvenience hump of starting an interest in film photography.

    Earlier this summer I started doing mostly digital wedding shoots instead of all film wedding shoots. I love my film cameras, but I cannot deny that the DSLR is the perfect tool for me to shoot weddings with. I'm very happy with my BW conversion results, and my BW lab prints from digital, and BW lab prints from film both look great. I don't think that lab prints from either look as good as a gelatin silver print, so I'll be keeping my darkroom. On the other hand I definately prefer medium format or 4x5 film for landscape work.
     
  3. panzershreck

    panzershreck TPF Noob!

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    they said the same thing when Kodak started churning out hand-held cameras, but photography as an art didn't die then, it's like a musical instrument - you can't just put it into the hands of anybody and expect good no matter how easy you make it

    ie: i own/use a manual film camera, but have no qualms about using a digital camera whenever i see a photo-worthy moment, and consistently churn out better photographs than the people who own and use the camera all the time

    doesn't mean they're bad because they own a digital, it's simply because they aren't interested in spending the time to improve themselves and really get into photography - that's all - it's convenient and they bought convenience for a reason

    film is a tool in a toolbox, and should be treated as such, but just because there are nail guns doesn't make the hammer obsolete
     
  4. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    Personally, I don't really think about the difference anymore. It's what you do with it that counts.
    I went digital because I no longer have access to darkrooms - but to be honest I've spent so much of my life working in one that I don't miss it.
    I will always consider film to be superior, though. It's a bit like a concert violinist playing on a violin - and then playing on a Stradivarius. There are definite differences but they shouldn't affect your enjoyment of the music.
     
  5. Marctwo

    Marctwo TPF Noob!

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    Now and then you look through the VF and instinctively know that the shot doesn't work. With digital, I'd take the shot anyway and go on to take more in the hope that I may just get something useful. With film, I don't want to waste film on a shot I know doesn't work so I'm forced to think more about why it doesn't work and what would make it work.

    A 2 hour walk with my digital would yield 100-200 shots and I'd often end up with less than 10 shots to keep. Maybe only 2-3 that I still wanted to keep a week later.

    A 2 hour walk with my film camera won't even use a whole film - maybe 15-20 shots. But most of these shots will be better than the digital equivalent as I've put more effort into getting the composition right. So I actually end up with more shots for my time with film and I don't have to sift through 100s of brain-numbing pictures to sort them out.

    Maybe after shooting film for a few months I'll be able to apply the same dicipline to digital - time will tell.
     
  6. alexecho

    alexecho TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the answers!

    Marctwo, you describe almost the opposite that I've experienced.

    If I went on that walk you describe with the digital camera and shot 100-200 shots I'd maybe only end up with about five that were real keepers. If I went on that same walk with a film camera, like you, I'd only shoot about fifteen pictures, of which the same five would be 'keepers'.

    What I find inspiring is that when I sort through the 150 'average/poor' quality digital shots I see things I didn't notice at the time. A little bit of cropping here or there and there are another four or five pictures well worth keeping. Pictures that I'd never have drempt of taking with film, because they are experiments, which opens my minds to new ideas when I get back out taking pictures.

    Most people I know, the type that take pictures with digial and don't get them printed, are the same people who throw away the negatives or store them badly so they get damaged, so they woulnd't have access to re-prints even a year or two down the line anyway!

    ksmattfish, I'm not looking to find a cheap way to do photography, just a cheaper way to experiment with things I don't expect to work. Digital DOES offer that.
     
  7. Marctwo

    Marctwo TPF Noob!

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    The point is that when I'm shooting film I tend to do this 'live' rather than when I get home and start sorting through them. This is why I end up with more 'keepers' from film. ;)
     
  8. jadin

    jadin The Mad Hatter

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    I grew up on a computer, so for me digital is the only way to go. I find I shoot a scene until I think I've nailed the shot. So for me being digital means I have a preview of when I think that has occured. This also means that I'm not as good at metering exposure as I should be. I almost always shoot in manual and usually have a warmup or two before I get the exposure I want. (I have a feeling one of the other metering modes will suit me better, but I haven't figured out which yet)

    I will say though, that had I been shooting film, many of my shots would've been "good" instead of "perfect" simply because I wouldn't have taken enough shots to get the results I was after.

    It's my belief that digital is the way to go if you don't have access to a darkroom. With a darkroom you can fine-tune your film to what you want as it's are developed. If you don't have access, your film is in the hands of a lab, which may or may not get the results you desire. With digital your darkroom is your computer giving you full control over your results.

    About the only thing digital is losing against film is noise. As a night-photographer I spend a lot of my editing time eliminating pixels that have over-heated due to long exposures. But technology is improving every single day, so it's not something that will last very long IMO.

    As far as price I think digital is cheaper if you shoot and print a lot. Each photo you take lowers it's price compared to film. So if you shoot enough, digital is definately cheaper, if you're casual and don't shoot much, film is cheaper.

    As far as not printing a copy of every photo, that's something the end-user is to blame for, not the technology. Most of what I don't print, I don't consider worthy of printing. Although I understand where it's important from an archival purpose.

    panzershreck - I think you're confusing point and shoot with digital.

    marktwo - for me having 100 shots and 1 keeper is my way of keeping my quality up to par. It makes me more picky about which shots I find worthy of keeping. I doubt I'd be as picky as I am if I shot film and took less photos.
     
  9. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    I like Hertz's musical analogy, although for me the difference between film and digital is more like an acoustic instrument and an electric instrument. Using a Leica, or Alpa, or Ebony field camera would be like using the Stradivarius. Using a Holga is maybe like playing a cheap banjo. ;) Most of the guitar players I know play both acoustic guitars and electric guitars. I shoot film and digital. I like working in the darkroom and in Adobe PS, and now I have a digital photography dedicated computer right outside my darkroom. :) I think it is important to enjoy working with the tools you use.

    Definately a serious issue, but one which has been a problem before. Right now at least a decade of early color photography is vanishing or has vanished because it wasn't anywhere near archival. As everything becomes digital, not just photography, people are going to have to have a digital archiving plan to maintain all of their digital files, records, music, movies, documents, photographs, etc... It takes more time and energy than tossing negs in a box in the closet, but if done right it can pretty much insure against most disasters short of the collapse of civilization. ;)

    You may be able to print from glass plate, but how many of your local photo labs can? In my town there is only one lab left that would be able to make a contact sheet, and I don't know how much longer they'll offer that service.
     
  10. jadin

    jadin The Mad Hatter

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    I just wanted to add that film will never die. It will always have a following just like some people prefer records to cd's.
     
  11. Marctwo

    Marctwo TPF Noob!

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    Strange... I really would have thought that my experience (more effort into less photo's giving better results) would not have been unique. But then the more I partake in these forums, the less I seem to have in common with other photographers. :confused:
     
  12. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    I'd agree with regard to not being particularly worried about this extinction of film that's supposedly upon us, but I have to admit that when it comes to expense I find the "so what" rather perplexing. Nothing personal, I've noticed a lot of people express similar views, but personally I'm not so happy about the cost of working with film potentially going even higher when I think of how much I'm paying already.

    As for the question of the permanency of film vs digital, I'm not convinced either way. Film can be scratched; files can be corrupted. I might save my photos to DVD, but how long before that format of DVD is phased out and how soon then before DVDs are replaced completely? I wouldn't need to make all those backups with film, I could simply file it away somewhere, but there's no real guarantee that the film wouldn't get lost, or caught in a fire. In short, I don't see any sense in arguing that one form is more permanent than the other.
     

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