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Author Topic: Ye Olde Film Photography  (Read 2125 times)

Sabaki

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Ye Olde Film Photography
« on: June 15, 2014, 07:25:10 PM »
One of my mentors is, as he puts it, a relic of photography's film era.

He is ever willing to impart knowledge but he also enjoys explaining that there's a whole slice of photography that those of us, who started in the digital era, just don't get.

The one I'm aware of is that as film was an expensive medium, that offered limited shots, the photographers took their time composing a shot, thinking through all aspects before pulling the trigger.

So that leaves us digital era photographers with a more reckless reputation with a less than meticulous approach towards composition.

I think it's fair to say that as the entire industry has shifted towards digital, it is on the whole, a better medium.

But what of us digital age photographers? Are we missing some intrinsic components in our photography? Is the lackadaisical attitude offered by modern technology's high burst rate, high storage capabilities hampering what we do?

If you are a "relic from the film era"' what would you say us run-and-gun photographers are missing and should try implementing into our workflow?

As always, this is me trying to improve myself as a photographer and any advice offered will be much appreciated.
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Ye Olde Film Photography
« on: June 15, 2014, 07:25:10 PM »

JonAustin

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Re: Ye Olde Film Photography
« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2014, 08:12:12 PM »
Digital technology is what brought me to photography in a serious way. As a computer geek since the late '70's, it was the advancement in technology and relatively affordable prices on both the camera and PC fronts that made it appealing to me. I bought my first digital P&S in 1998, and my first dSLR in 2003.

I took photography (and art) classes in high school, and hung out with a few guys who were into photography while in the military, so no doubt I brought some of my classical training in composition, etc., and exposure (n.p.i.) to film-era tools & techniques into the digital era with me. And due to my education in engineering, the technical aspects of the equipment call out my inner nerd.

But more than anything, I am drawn to digital photography by the quick feedback it provides while shooting, the virtually cost-free (after the upfront investment) ability to shoot and shoot and shoot some more, and the extensive post-processing power provided by the digital darkroom.

I love shooting both professionally and for hobby (particularly landscape / travel), and I happily fear that I am addicted for life.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2014, 11:54:05 PM by JonAustin »
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unfocused

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Re: Ye Olde Film Photography
« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2014, 08:15:11 PM »
Nothing.

Anyone who is nostalgic for the film era falls into two camps:

1) Those who never lived through it, or at least, never lived through it at a sufficient depth to fully appreciate all its limitations.

2) Luddites who are unwilling to accept that technology moves on and today's technology is far superior to yesterday's.

The inclination to take one's times and carefully compose a shot has little to nothing to do with the technology. Rather it is within the nature of the photographer. And, taking one's time can be, but is not always, a virtue. Garry Winogrand and Robert Frank are two of the 20th century's greatest photographers. Many of their greatest images were shot quickly, intended to catch a fleeting moment before it disappeared.
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Re: Ye Olde Film Photography
« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2014, 08:35:38 PM »
I'm not a relic from the analog era, but I see a few intersting points in film.

1- You keep focused on shooting instead of reviewing and you can't say for sure 'ok, got it, lets pack up.'. You 'might' stay involved longer and catch the magic moment.
2- The fact that a longer period separates  the shooting and the  viewing helps being critical of your own work.
3- it is harder to hope and fix it in post,
4- well, thats pretty much the idea...

Honestly, I enjoy shooting film in a manual camera, but in the end digital has many more advantages. The most obvious is for learning the technicalaspects, experimenting is much less costly and the exif is a nice tool to help understand what went good or wrong. I think that today, for an amateur, film is nice. But for a professional, digital is awsome. (Except for the fact that digital might have killed the last pro).
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ajfotofilmagem

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Re: Ye Olde Film Photography
« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2014, 10:23:05 PM »
It's not just a philosophical question. We all like the facilities and make less effort. Today a bodybuilder have special food, supplements, exercise equipment, as well as anabolic steroids to achieve "fast and guaranteed" results. That's the danger of the digital ... The fast and guaranteed result can accommodate us because we have super sophisticated equipment to "fix" our failures.

Digital allows a huge amount of good pictures, and it is wonderful. But if we think proportionally, digital photography results in less than 1% of spectacular photos.

If Jimmi Hendrix learned to play guitar today, he'd be a genius with all the facilities of digital audio processors? We will never know the answer.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2014, 10:32:00 PM by ajfotofilmagem »

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Re: Ye Olde Film Photography
« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2014, 11:02:29 PM »
It's not just a philosophical question. We all like the facilities and make less effort. Today a bodybuilder have special food, supplements, exercise equipment, as well as anabolic steroids to achieve "fast and guaranteed" results. That's the danger of the digital ... The fast and guaranteed result can accommodate us because we have super sophisticated equipment to "fix" our failures.

Digital allows a huge amount of good pictures, and it is wonderful. But if we think proportionally, digital photography results in less than 1% of spectacular photos.

If Jimmi Hendrix learned to play guitar today, he'd be a genius with all the facilities of digital audio processors? We will never know the answer.

As "roadie" for my friend's musical group, I can say that it is a lot easier to carry an electronic piano than a grand piano :)
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Halfrack

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Re: Ye Olde Film Photography
« Reply #6 on: June 15, 2014, 11:25:52 PM »
There are reasons to pick up film, and it's a great way to challenge yourself.  Plus, film is the only cheap way to shoot larger than 35mm, and being able to 'chip' digitally, then shoot with medium format 6x45 or 6x7.  I'm taking some Fuji instant pack film and a Mamiya RZ camera for a beach excursion next weekend.
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Re: Ye Olde Film Photography
« Reply #6 on: June 15, 2014, 11:25:52 PM »

bdunbar79

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Re: Ye Olde Film Photography
« Reply #7 on: June 15, 2014, 11:45:45 PM »
Here we go again with the purist mentality.  I knew it was coming...

If it weren't shot in full M, manual focus, and with film, it wasn't good.  I know the argument isn't that extreme, but there is absolutely and objectively nothing better at all about film shooting vs. digital shooting.  If you think digital produces less than 1% great shots, tell that to Peter Read Miller.  Remember, he shot with four EOS-1V's and now shoots with four 1Dx's.  Does he get less than 1% of his original great shots from when he shot with film?  If you're talking burst mode, who cares?  He's getting the shots and he's simply using technology to MAKE SURE he gets it.  The exposure and composition are still correct, so who cares how many "bursts" it took to time it correctly?  If anything, we have MORE great shots because of that, not to mention AF locking.

People make assumptions and that's what the OP stated and feared.  Assumptions that aren't backed at all and the biggest assumption is that digital photographers aren't as careful or creative or don't work very hard to get a great shot, when that is biggest load of bull ever.

In my opinion, if you know what you're doing, are careful and creative, there is nothing special or more "pure" about film than digital.  Get a digital camera and don't waste money on film, unless you love doing film specifically. 
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sanj

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Re: Ye Olde Film Photography
« Reply #8 on: June 16, 2014, 12:31:07 AM »
I'm not a relic from the analog era, but I see a few intersting points in film.

1- You keep focused on shooting instead of reviewing and you can't say for sure 'ok, got it, lets pack up.'. You 'might' stay involved longer and catch the magic moment.
2- The fact that a longer period separates  the shooting and the  viewing helps being critical of your own work.
3- it is harder to hope and fix it in post,
4- well, thats pretty much the idea...

Honestly, I enjoy shooting film in a manual camera, but in the end digital has many more advantages. The most obvious is for learning the technicalaspects, experimenting is much less costly and the exif is a nice tool to help understand what went good or wrong. I think that today, for an amateur, film is nice. But for a professional, digital is awsome. (Except for the fact that digital might have killed the last pro).

Very well put.

benperrin

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Re: Ye Olde Film Photography
« Reply #9 on: June 16, 2014, 01:25:28 AM »
Here we go again with the purist mentality.  I knew it was coming...

If it weren't shot in full M, manual focus, and with film, it wasn't good.  I know the argument isn't that extreme, but there is absolutely and objectively nothing better at all about film shooting vs. digital shooting.  If you think digital produces less than 1% great shots, tell that to Peter Read Miller.  Remember, he shot with four EOS-1V's and now shoots with four 1Dx's.  Does he get less than 1% of his original great shots from when he shot with film?  If you're talking burst mode, who cares?  He's getting the shots and he's simply using technology to MAKE SURE he gets it.  The exposure and composition are still correct, so who cares how many "bursts" it took to time it correctly?  If anything, we have MORE great shots because of that, not to mention AF locking.

People make assumptions and that's what the OP stated and feared.  Assumptions that aren't backed at all and the biggest assumption is that digital photographers aren't as careful or creative or don't work very hard to get a great shot, when that is biggest load of bull ever.

In my opinion, if you know what you're doing, are careful and creative, there is nothing special or more "pure" about film than digital.  Get a digital camera and don't waste money on film, unless you love doing film specifically.

+1 :)

I think you just have to go on flickr or 500px or wherever to see the amazing work that people are now developing. Sure there's probably more average/bad photos now than ever but the learning curve has been cut dramatically with digital. People are creating amazing things never created before and surely that's all that matters. People need to stop with this 'purism' and go out and shoot something different.

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Re: Ye Olde Film Photography
« Reply #10 on: June 16, 2014, 01:46:40 AM »
It can be fun to play around with an analog camera, and it may help you improve your technique. After all a different take on things can boost your creativity and technical understanding of photography.

I went through the same 'maybe analog is *real* photography and I'm a faker' phase so I bought a couple old DSLR's to play around with. It's fun to use the old manual stuff and the results can be pretty good even with the cheap film I used and crappy third party film processing. The latter however is the point where the big difference is made I think - to be a *real* analog photographer, I think you need to take control of the post)processing so you need a dark room to do your own processing (something I definitely don't want to do). If you rely on third party processing, it's like shooting jpg with little control over the end result.

Attached shots are from my old camera's; the first two using an AE-1 Program and third one with a FT-QL and the fourth using a 50e.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2014, 01:48:25 AM by mrsfotografie »
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Re: Ye Olde Film Photography
« Reply #11 on: June 16, 2014, 02:21:21 AM »
The one I'm aware of is that as film was an expensive medium, that offered limited shots, the photographers took their time composing a shot, thinking through all aspects before pulling the trigger.

So that leaves us digital era photographers with a more reckless reputation with a less than meticulous approach towards composition.

If your talking a static scene I'd say the issue here is that a lot of film photographers incorrectly carry forward the idea that all time spent considering composition should be before a shot is taken. The reality is that digital has shifted the goal posts here, the ability to review images in the field can be used as a tool to devolp composition.

There are potential cost advantages with shooting larger format film and advantages in carrying a low value camera when shooting 35mm but I'm not sure I view film as the "learning tool" its often hyped as. To me alot of this seems more like gear lust in disguise combined with believe that just using a less popular medium/equipment will give added credibility to your work rather than actually improving that work.

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Re: Ye Olde Film Photography
« Reply #12 on: June 16, 2014, 04:20:09 AM »
Don't worry, you're not missing anything.  A fully digital workflow has numerous advantages over film capture.  And it is so much easier and faster to learn using digital cameras than film cameras.  You just have to look at the quality of images produced these days by serious amateurs.  They'd easily eclipse the work of most professionals 20 years ago.  Still, I still shoot the occasional roll of film and love the results I'm getting from some of the more recent films like Kodak Portra. 

On a less serious note, shooting film is also good for your ego, as you just know that you are superior to the billions of people shooting digital.  You can actually afford a Leica (or a Hassleblad or any number of other great cameras).  And girls think of you as an artist, and not some computer geek who can only talk about DR or whether DXO is biased.  You'll stop worrying about noise at high ISOs....because there aren't any high ISOs.  And you'll no longer wish for a Canon FF mirrorless camera once you pick up a Canonet QL17 GIII.
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Re: Ye Olde Film Photography
« Reply #12 on: June 16, 2014, 04:20:09 AM »

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Re: Ye Olde Film Photography
« Reply #13 on: June 16, 2014, 04:47:52 AM »
there are only so few differences between film and digital photography. Your eye, your imagination, the right moment and good composition still reign supreme. Aperture still controls depth of field. Areas in-focus and out-of-focus and their relation to each other. Colors, contrasts, lines, areas. Shutter speed still controls blur vs. sharpness for moving subjects. Visual isolation  vs. inclusion of context.

Things to plan and keep in mind before taking a shot, while taking a shot and processing an image once its captured. 

Differences? Much faster learning curve. Instant and full feedback - visually and with all capture-relevant data. Seeing, whether something worked or not ... immediately ... not only days or weeks later.

Painting with light, converting photons directly into electronic images, rather than having to take the cumbersome, indirect route of transforming light-sensitive chemical substances from one state to another.

Absolutely fantastic. No nostalgia whatsoever. I don't want to be a chemical laboratory worker. I don't want to be an optician. I don't want to be camera-machine operator. All I want, is to capture and create images with technology as simple, effective and unobtrusive as possible. We've com,e a long ways towards that goal. So glad I live in the digital age.  8)

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Re: Ye Olde Film Photography
« Reply #14 on: June 16, 2014, 10:25:55 AM »
Don't worry, you're not missing anything.  A fully digital workflow has numerous advantages over film capture.  And it is so much easier and faster to learn using digital cameras than film cameras.  You just have to look at the quality of images produced these days by serious amateurs.  They'd easily eclipse the work of most professionals 20 years ago.  Still, I still shoot the occasional roll of film and love the results I'm getting from some of the more recent films like Kodak Portra. 

On a less serious note, shooting film is also good for your ego, as you just know that you are superior to the billions of people shooting digital.  You can actually afford a Leica (or a Hassleblad or any number of other great cameras).  And girls think of you as an artist, and not some computer geek who can only talk about DR or whether DXO is biased.  You'll stop worrying about noise at high ISOs....because there aren't any high ISOs.  And you'll no longer wish for a Canon FF mirrorless camera once you pick up a Canonet QL17 GIII.

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Re: Ye Olde Film Photography
« Reply #14 on: June 16, 2014, 10:25:55 AM »