Why I think film

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by Alpha, Sep 5, 2008.

  1. Alpha

    Alpha Troll Extraordinaire

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    is the better learning medium, for me.

    Cost
    Cost is on everyone's mind, particularly beginners. Film and digital shooters go back and forth incessantly about whose workflow is more cost-effective. The pros and cons for those who shoot commercial or high volume work I won't bother going into here.

    Pixel for pixel (or dot, or line if you prefer), digital requires a much larger initial outlay of money.

    Film adds up in cost. But for the average hobbyist, or serious hobbyist like myself who doesn't shoot very often, shooting film allows one in a sense to put their hobby on lay-away.

    Instant Feedback
    Is overrated. With a few rolls of film and good notes, one should be able to bracket exposure, focal length, and aperture. Those few rolls serve as a launching point and a reference for all future work. The same can be done with digital, but how many people do that when they first get their camera, and from then on stop chimping? Almost no one. Trust yourself. Trust your equipment.

    Metaphysics and the option to delete
    The option to delete is too tempting with digital, whether for reasons of dislike or available hard drive space. Binders full of tangible, poor negatives, serve as a reminder more powerful in my opinion, of where one's been, and just how much **** they've produced.

    Getting it right in camera
    There is such a thing in digital, but it's not quite the same. For the seasoned photoshop user, an excellent shot out of camera may require minimal editing. But digital post-processing is nearly always a requirement in shooting digital. Thus, this tasks the beginning digital photographer with not only learning how to properly use their camera, but how to properly use their software. The latter I feel is often more complicated and sometimes more nuanced. It is too easy for the beginner to get their wires crossed...for it to be unclear whether a poor photo is the result of poor shooting or poor editing. This makes the process of deciding independently whether a photo is shot well and/or processed well an often confusing and daunting task as a result of multiple simultaneous learning curves. I argue the same point in the film world. Developing your first roll of film easily creates confusion about whether the final product is the result of shooting or of developing.

    perhaps more to come
     
  2. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Sorry, I just got to join in on this one. It sounds like fun.

    This point I will give on general principle for now. However film choice is diminishing and prices are going up as it is becoming an ever decreasing medium choice. At some point that $25.00 Canon A-1 body doesn't mean much if the film hits $50.00 a roll.

    In 30+ years of film shooting there were a whole lot of people that did the same thing with film and with out instant feedback. I have seen half a roll of film come in for processing that was the same shot at different exposures. Chimping to the max because they didn't know when to quit because they had no feed back.

    I have file cabinets full of negatives. I also keep all my digital negatives. The only time I have ever deleted a photo was when testing a used lens. I am looking only at the quality of the used piece of equipment. Other than that I keep them all good or bad.


    Same thing with film if you are truly dedicated to photography. Why would you take the time, and effort to learn to shoot film like you describe, then go out and take the shots you want, only to have some snot nosed kid, (no offense to any of you snot nosed kids) working in some 1-hour processing mill for minimum wage process you film and print your negatives.

    The only thing I miss about my dark room is the fact that I could lock the door and keep everyone (that translates into the WIFE) out for a while providing me some peace and quiet. Sometimes I was not even processing anything, I was just enjoying the peace and quiet. :wink:

    The point being, film requires processing as well. I prefer to do mine at a computer these days with a cold beverage of my choice in reach with out having to mix chemicals, process film, wash film, fix film, dry film, cut film, load film into the enlarger, adjust for color, contrast etc. expose a positive, process the positive, wash the positive, fix the positive and then hang them to dry, clean up the darkroom and then see what you ended up with.

    Although I will admit that sometimes at the computer when I have 400 or 500 shots from a couple of soccer games to go through I will open a bottle of Zone VI Studios Zone VI Print/Film Fixer that has already been mixed up just to have that smell fill the room for a few minutes. :lol: Makes it fell more like the old days.

    Now with all that said it is all about what works for you. Some like film, some like digital and some like the National Geographic channel in HD. Film was great and I loved it, but for me digital is the same as film without the mess.

    We now return you to your regularly scheduled programing. Tonight will be the first of 65 debates between Barack Obama and John McCain. :lol::mrgreen::lol::mrgreen:
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2008
  3. bhop

    bhop No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Eh.. while I'll agree that the film choice isn't what it used to be, there are still many great choices out there. Kodak, for example is still improving on its Portra films. Fuji has many options. Ilford makes great b/w IMO. I'm not sure when you stopped using film, but it's not dying. It's not getting more expensive. It seems to have leveled out. Who knows if it'll stay that way though. I hope it does.

    With that outta the way, I have to agree with most of your other points. I learned more about photography shooting with my d70 than I did in my photography classes back in the old days, now i've taken that knowledge to my film cameras and i'm getting results that I like.

    As far as the developing/processing. Another reason film is working better for me now than years ago is because I have my own control over the final product, without a darkroom, by using a film scanner. I develop my own b/w and get my color developed at a one hr lab without prints. The rest is up to me, and that's how I like it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2008
  4. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Everyone is free to weigh in on this discussion as to personal preferences; the minute it turns into a full fledged *yawn* film v. digital debate, this thread will bounce away like a red rubber ball. :mrgreen:
     
  5. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Fuji and Ilford just sent out a notice to the local photography shop that I go to. Prices are going up. Again. It is going to be simple matter of supply and demand. The more that educators switch from film to digital for classes, the more old time film users die off, the less demand. Film gear is just not selling at a fast enough pace to keep up with the loss of film users. Lesser demand means lesser availability and higher production costs with means great retails costs.

    This is not going to happen over night, but it is happening slowly. Besides where can you get say Kodak Ektar 25, or Kodachrome 25. The only thing I know of that is left is Efke 25. But then I don't keep up on film like I used to.

    Don't get me wrong. I loved film. I still believe that for some of the reason mentioned by Alpha, film should be the way photography is taught in school. Film has at least for me, a way of teaching you to think the whole process through the first time and to get it right the first time. It teached discipline. The lessons learned from film can easily be carried over to digital.

    It just sucks a big one when you spill your beer in the dark into the fixer tray.:lol:
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2008
  6. bhop

    bhop No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Well, that does suck...

    @terri
    It seems to me that this thread pretty much started out that way, although, I like to use both myself.
     
  7. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    It's still being taught, and many a wet darkroom has survived the digital onslaught with educators. ;)

    The thing is, if you are interested in digital photography and read mainly about digital, do not expect to be fully updated in your assessments of film and analog products.

    These threads quickly become boring when all anyone has to contribute is "film is dead so why bother?" It simply shows glaring ignorance of everything that is still widely available, and how millions of people still approach their photography.

    The thread is about one person's preference for film as a learning tool.

    I can dig it. ;) But then, I'm one of those freaks that finds general digital photography just boring as hell. Personal preference, nothing more.
     
  8. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    If I remember correctly I think that it will be mid fall. Well after school starts and will be about a 5% increase. Nothing terrible, but still. If we are lucky it won't happen.

    I still break out the Pentax 6X7 every once in a while and throw some film through it. Part of it is just nostalgia. I was given that camera by the family of a photographer I worked for in high school in the early 70's. It was his main studio gear. He was not only a master photographer but a great teacher and friend. That gear is priceless to me and I will continue to use it every now and then until I am gone.

    I don't think that there is any right or wrong in this debate. It is all a matter of personal preference.
     
  9. monkeykoder

    monkeykoder TPF Noob!

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    I love film and I also shot digital each one has it's own use. Film gives you one result and digital gives you another. There is something deeply relaxing about working in a darkroom and I like being able to get out from in front of a computer and work with something that involves my hands. I am fairly new to film and without access to a darkroom I'm finding myself shooting less sometimes digital just doesn't cut it and sometimes digital is the only way to go. I hope both media are always taught in school because they both have a purpose.
     
  10. ksmattfish

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

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    "...it is not easy for the new generation of photographers to understand
    the difficulties through which the beginner of thirty years ago had to grope
    his way. To a modern dry plate worker it would be like listening to a foreign
    language if I told him of some of the difficulties of the collodion process.
    What does he know of comets, oyster-shell markings, and lines in direction
    of the dip? In apparatus, also, the early photographers had to put up with
    what they could get, and what was not always very convenient for use."
    -Henry P. Robinson, from a book published in 1888 (the year Eastman introduced film).

    Film and digital photographers are a bunch of wussies. Those guys back then, they were the real photographers. ;)
     
  11. epatsellis

    epatsellis TPF Noob!

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    I'll take these one by one:
    Not only a larger outlay, but a continuing outlay, with software upgrades and the like. Even for a hardcore film person like me, digital does have some advantages, though now that I process film in house, turnaround is less of an issue. I can shoot a roll or several sheets of film, process and scan in less than an hour, and typically with little to no post work, for some of my commercial clients, it just makes more sense (typically items that require large reproduction, and/or the use of view camera movements)

    Much like any other artist, one must become comfortable with your tools, whether they're an airbrush, paintbrush, or camera. For photography, this means limiting yourself to one film/developer combo, and learn all it's strengths/weaknesses before chasing the next. Exposure accuracy does come with experience, and using just one meter and either learning it, or better yet, calibrating your process to that meter/film combination, will guarntee consistency and the ability to previsualize your photo, and with experience, what filtration will affect. When you do get comfortable with your materials, you will know when you shoot whether you got it or not.

    Unlike most people, I relish failure, for it's an opportunity to learn how not to do something. This attitude allows one to try new things, and quickly learn what works and what doesn't (not just in photography, btw..) My first few rolls of color film I processed weren't perfect, and I learned quickly (and ulitmately fell into an automatic processor cheaper than I could have imagined). Failure, and how one reacts to it, can breed success. Surprisingly, some of my most favorite images were 1st round rejects, 20 years ago, when sharpness and contrast were my primary concerns. There's a current revival in the more artistic aspects of photography, and I personally find that a good thing.
    Contrary to popular opinion, digital is less tolerant of exposure errors, clip the highlights and they're gone forever, with film, and especially the newer Portra NC flims, you can hold both detail in the shadows and highlights (think black tux, white dress, for example). This can open up tremendous creative potential, film is capable of capturing an astonishing dynamic range, scanning and printing become the limiting factors. Careful attention to scanning can give you an astonishing dynamic range to work with. You can easily reduce contrast now, as opposed to having to change color papers/developers to lower contrast, and predictability was always an issue. A partial digital workflow makes it a non-issue, most of my work is printed on the Frontier at the studio, and the scanned film images have a certain "look" that I prefer, personally.

    The predominant attitude in commercial work is "fix it in post", and I battle with it every day. I've gone so far as to construct a cyclorama area in the studio, which solves the background clean up aspect, saving lots of hours in post alone. When I'm left to my own by the client, they typically get an image pretty much as shot, other than possibly some contrast reduction for repro. When working with an art director, not only does it typically take me twice as long to shoot, but ulitmately another 50% more time in post, and I'm still not always happy (though the client always is).

    Regarding film, for b&w, we go back to the aforementiond calibrating your process, standardize on one film, one developer and one time, once you find the sweet spot for you. Yes, testing is a pain, but if you do it right, you only do it once per film/dev combo. Color work, on the other hand has few variables in processing, I process my own and have some creative control with regards to push/pull and cross processing, but typically, there is only one "right" C41 process, period. The flim choice and how you expose it becomes the only variables. One example, only have Portra 160NC or Fuji 160S and need colors to pop? Expose at 80 and standard processing will not only pop the colors better, but also reduce the already nearly invisible grain. Perhaps not quite as vivid as 160VC or 160C, but nearly as vivid, so with both NC and VC, you in fact end up with at least 4 choices with regard to color saturation, depending on exposure alone. Once you factor in processing adjustments, you can really fine tune the process to your vision. (Fuji 160C with :30 addtional dev time (1 stop push) makes things insanely saturated, for example, though contrast does rise quite a bit)

    Like any other hobby, there are varying levels of involvement, some are happy to just shoot and have fun with it, others are more involved, and a few want total control. Being one doesn't negate the others validity. (and each can learn from the other)
     
  12. sarallyn

    sarallyn TPF Noob!

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    Good post, Alpha.
    I always try to push film SLRs on my friends when they want to get into photography... it's cheaper at first, and it forces you to really think about what you're shooting before clicking away. I think it really helps to "develop" photographers (pun intended :wink:).
     

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