Studio Sixty1 | Shenanigans


August 17, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

I might have titled this post I call bullshit, and if you follow along you'll see why.

First go read this piece over at ƒstoppers here. Or at least skim it.  If nothing else, just check the bolded tagline for each paragraph. (which I have liberated and posted here)

Why I've gone back to shooting film, and you should, too.

Here are those bullet points and some of my thoughts.  These are not aimed at everyone, and are certain to offend someone.

1.) I’m making selects in-camera, not in Lightroom

After all of these years, I naturally pause right around 36 clicks of the shutter when I'm shooting.  I have always favored quality over quantity.

2.) I feel "the moment" more, and get a true sense of achievement

See my response to 1

3.) You become more aware (particularly of backgrounds, light and composition)

After spending a decade shooting primarily landscapes, you get very selective when you press the button.  In some environments, you might get six (6!!!) minutes of epic light per day.  You study everything in the scene to make the most of that epic light.

4.) I am being forced to better understand light

See number three.  And remember, if you were shooting film before Bill Clinton was president you probably already knew this.  Light is light when you're applying it to photography.  Learn it, know it, live it. 

5.) I can anticipate the moment better

This is not really about camera speed.  See 1, 2, 3, and 4.

6.) I’m much more patient

This is getting repetitive.  You are not more patient.  You are closer to mastering your craft now.  Paying more attention to what is going on around you, and striving to create the image in your mind's eye with your camera.  People have been doing this for over a hundred years.  ;-)

7.) I’m no longer weighed down with gear

Unless you are shooting high volume fast paced sporting events, you never did need all of that crap.  I studied my own image library a few years back and discovered that  over three quarters of my stuff was shot with only three lenses.  It was easy to downsize from there.

8.) Between sharpness and a better photograph, sharpness loses every time

Here again . . . unless you are just trying to spray and pray, you knew this already.  Look at the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson.  He was a master at creating compelling photographs.  But the largest majority of them that I have studied are not in focus.

9.) Post processing an image takes 30 seconds, not 30 minutes

If you've paid attention this far, this one is a wash.  Understand your subject and your equipment and you'll make fewer pictures, but they'll be much better than what you may have been doing before.  Digital gives us far more settings to manage, so people are always tweaking them in post.  Get it right in camera and all of that goes away.

10.) Film is timeless

I have asked scores of people to define for me the soul of film.  NONE of them have even tried.  They claim to know what it is, but cannot verbalize it at all.  Not even a sentence.  So I respectfully call all of you on that bullshit.

In case anyone cares, my take on the soul of film has everything to do with its method of manufacture.  It is made up of elongated particles deposited on a substrate.  They are not all aligned in the same direction or even the same density.  Try this some time with your favorite old film camera.  Put it in fully manual and shoot 36 exposures from a tripod in even light. (do it in a studio if you can) Now do the same exact thing with your digital camera. The digital pictures should look exactly the same, barring a few hot pixels.  Everything is in perfectly ordered rows and columns.  Now look at your negatives.  Those variations in grain direction and density will manifest themselves as subtle variations from frame to frame.  Much like a painter, the medium will not make an exact duplicate from one piece to the next.

Those random things that you have no control over are the soul of film.  Just my tuppence.

Also, don't peg me as a film hater.  If I could shoot 4x5 Fujichrome all day long for landscapes, I would. ;-)

Tl:dr version: go back and re-familiarize yourself with the basics of photography that you thought you could ignore when shooing exclusively digital.  Changing back to film won't make you a better shooter.  It will get you back in sync with the shooter you already were.


Siochán leat, S.E.G.

I miss you, Pop!


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