14 April 2010

Rediscovering film photography

These days digital photography are no doubt far superior and much more convenient than film photography. We can shoot hundreds of photographs without paying anything. Better still, we can view pictures taken in just a matter of milliseconds, unlike film. All we need is to pay for a memory card up front to store those pictures and if we don't like what we see, we can simply delete them at no cost.

I believe the highest level of photography is the ability to visualise in our heads how a scene or a subject can be taken before even reaching for our cameras. Photography is all about being creative. If we don't have an experimental spirit, our pictures will be no different from many amateur photographers out there. Take for example a landmark, do we want our pictures to appear as seen in postcards. No, if so we could just buy postcards right?

Luna Park, Melbourne in digital black and white

So, try to take the picture from a different vantage point, maybe take the picture at night, where the lights that light up at night can change the whole look of the scene entirely, shoot it in black and white or even sepia. Just be creative. The whole point of this is so that we can go home knowing we have captured something special worth keeping. The problem with digital is that, we tend to shoot anything at any relevance without much thought. Why we do that? Well because we can. I understand that we want to have as much photos as we can when we are back home. We are actually wasting a lot of time deleting snapshots or missed focused pictures and editing that takes up our entire lives when we could be taking more photos or be doing something else. If you are thinking to go pro, then note that your client will not be paying for the extra time you spent on editing your pictures.

Melbourne State Library in digital black and white

We are also being bogged down our computers by those huge RAW files. These days, technology is moving so fast that a replacement camera model is being released each year and more and more mega pixels are included in newer models, (Canon especially). As the mega pixel race goes on, we have to upgrade our computer to process those large RAW files. If you are a pro then no doubt your pay will most like be enough to cover for the equipment to get the best possible quality pictures for clients. I'm happy with 12-15 mega pixels as I think it is more than enough.

Although film is expensive and the processing also costs money, everything is simplified. It is very easy to operate a film camera, there is no need to worry about White Balance, no fidgeting of menus just to know you missed a shot and NO EDITING is required. Yes it is true that you can't get the look you want the image to look like and you are often not liking the image you get after the pictures come back. Well, that is the point. You are forced to get the picture right before you press the shutter especially the exposure and framing. I am sure you will think carefully before you shoot because each roll of film costs money. This will make us better photographers, by focusing on nailing the exposures and getting a good composition. More on that later.

I love black and white photography and I think it looks better in film than the clinical look produced by the digital files. Film has as certain look or feel. Humans are not perfect and that is what makes us human, so when we take photos the flaws makes the character of film. Its true that we can manipulate the look of film but it some still lacks. Anyway I do not want to spent my time editing all my photos just to get that look.

Leaning Tree, Melbourne in digital black and white

A party shot in black and white chromogenic film (Kodak 400CN)

An outdoor scene shot in black and white chromogenic film (Kodak 400CN)

I'm not saying I will not shoot digital anymore. Digital is still unbeatable in terms of low light photography like the Nikon D3S where the ISO sensitivity levels are taken up to a record highest, namely the King of Low Light or ISO King. Sports and wildlife photography where speed is crucial to freeze action is better served with digital photography with up to 10 frames per second because at 5.5 frames per second, in a Nikon F6, you will have to reload your film every 6 seconds for a 36 exposure film if shutter is pressed continuously... haha...

Film is personal to me... If I were a pro... I will have my expensive big digital beast to do my job and leave film to record my personal journeys. I will make a better comparison using true black and white film later... Feel free to comment...


raymond said...

good job joseph... finally i found some1 into film in tas... hehe swap film!!!
btw koadk bw400cn is not fully bw which using c-41 to develop but its more convenient to develop in most of the labs down town... bsides tat, i think u can try infrared film, mayb u wil like it hahaha...

snap snap snap... $ $ $... hahaha

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