Last month’s Photo of the Month, is unusual in one respect, it was taken with film.
It was not the shot I was after, the conditions were not right, but I still thought it was worth a record shot.
This is a low quality scan of the original slide, but it gives you a basic idea of what the real image is like.
There are lots of arguments over what is better, film or digital, and many get caught up in the technology race and the race for more megapixels.
What people seem to forget is that for the majority of people, who have no intention of producing prints larger then A4, then 6mb is all you need.
The other point is that film and digital are not the same and are difficult to compare, they act differently at the extremes of light and dark. To a lesser degree it’s like arguing between Oil Paintings and Watercolour Paintings.
If your producing an image for a job then you tend to use the quickest, easiest and most cost affective method.
An Estate Agent wanting a picture of a house to help sell it, is not going to use Paint or Pencil, but may have 100 years ago, technology moves forward. Today it’s likely to be a digital compact.
If the image is personal or ‘art’, then use what you most enjoy or is most suitable for the effect you want to achieve. Pencil, watercolour, oil, chalk, charcoal; film in all its different sizes, colour, black & white, negative or slide; Digital, whether a cheap camera phone or a hundred thousand pound digital scanning back on large format.
Digital is not better, it’s different.
Shoot/Draw/Paint More, Enjoy and lets not argue over what is ‘best.
Today 35mm film is just about dead. I shoot a roll of 35mm in my Nikon FM2n about once a year, but even most die-hard film users will admit digital has replaced film for 35mm users.
Most of my pictures are taken with my trusty Nikon Digital SLR’s, but when I shoot Medium Format or Large Format I still use film.
In the medium format and large format worlds, things are still a little more film centric. With full frame digital SLR’s getting so good now, many medium format users moved down a format to full frame digital 35mm SLR. Some stayed with film or bought the still very expensive digital backs. For others they moved up a format, to large format, where today film is still king.
Its great to hear that over the last couple of years, film sales have stopped decreasing and have actually increased, especially for black and white users. Even 35mm black and white sales are increasing.
Many new photographers are enjoying the experience of developing film for the first time. I have to admit it is quite good fun, though I have not developed my own film now for nearly ten years.
While developing film is experiencing a resurgence, printing still seems to be in decline. While developing a film is relatively easy, and no dark room is required thanks to tools like my own trusty Paterson Development Tanks, printing in the dark room is much harder, and can takes years to master to produce consistent high quality prints.
Today, once you have got your negative then once again digital takes over. Negatives are scanned and then the modern computer printer produces the final print.
This month I shot two rolls of Medium Format 120 Fuji Velva, and on Saturday I got the results back. I have to admit, its a bit like Christmas opening the packages.
I was extremely pleased with the results, and my metering skills are certainly improving. I look forward to my next film day with some anticipation.
I recently read the new iPad Magazine Light It, there was some interesting techniques and generally it showed techniques that are currently in fashion.
Today I looked at a very old lighting techniques book. I bought it many years ago, and it was written in 1940s. Some of the rim lighting techniques and back lighting techniques that it goes through are actually now back in fashion.
We may have moved from taking portraits and fashion shots on large format film cameras, to medium format, then 35mm SLR, to now our modern medium format and SLR digital format cameras but the actual techniques have not really changed.
I have to admit, if money was no option I would love something like the Leica S2 for Studio use.
I would also love a large format camera. I have used one in the past and it really slows you down and makes you think.
A bit of a lost art now a days. Most 35mm SLR users have now switched to digital, and most of the last 35mm SLR’s were auto loading. For users of medium format, large format camera’s, film is still the medium of choice.
For Hasselblad users of the V system, loading a film for the first time can be tricky so heres a very useful youtube video to help you out.
As many Photographers already know the great film Kodachrome was discontinued in 2009. While manufacture ended, there were still a few places left where you could get it developed.
The last has been Dwayne’s Photo in Kansas. This has been the last lab in the world that was able to process the film.
Well today is the end of an era.
Dwayne Steinle the owner, will today have the last every roll processed.
With no more places left to process the film today is the end.
I shot a few rolls of Kodachrome 25 myself back in the 1980’s, but my allegiances switched to that young upstart Fuji Velva 50. It is a sad day. With so few film sales now, not many films can survive but I am glad to see film has seen a bit of a revival this year.
Even I have shot more film this year then in the past six. Most of it being Medium format and some Large Format, but I only shot one roll of 35mm.
I think we may see the end of the 35mm film, but medium and large format still seems to be going strong and sales even increasing. Lets hope it continues. I still feel there is a place for film in this very digital world we live.
Saturday was my introduction to large format photography.
The one day Intensive Large Format Landscape Workshops are a great way to get a taste of what Large Format Photography is all about. Dav and Tim are great tutors.
Taken with my iPhone.
The course gives you the chance to get your hands on a large format camera and have a go for real. Tim and Dav do their best to explain the somewhat complex ideas around Tilts & Shifts, but its the demonstrations and being able to try it for yourself that brings the theory to life.
The downsides of large format photography are generally the sheer size of the camera’s and the amount of time and effort it takes to set up a shot. This slow and deliberate nature of photography is something that I like, and have got used to when using my medium format Hasselblad camera. Others may also consider the fact that most large format photography is still done with film a major downside, but the cost of digital large format is out of the question for the majority of people, and large format film is hard to beat.
The big advantage of large format photography is the range of movements available. If you are from a small format (35mm) background this is possibly a big mystery unless you have used a tilt and shift lens.
I certainly know, that for my landscape photography, large format is tempting. For the price of a modern Nikor Tilt and Shift lens I can buy a complete large format outfit.
A full explanation of camera movements would fill a book, and some university photography courses take an entire term (semester) to explain them.
Basically the advantages of movements are as follows:
Apparently infinite depth of field without resorting to closing down the aperture.
Correct perspective when photographing buildings, ie no converging verticals.
Removing the camera from the image when photographing a mirror.
Tilt is one of the key effects that landscape photographers utilise to produce apparently huge amounts of depth of field. The effect is known as the Scheimflug Effect. It was discovered in 19th Century by Theodor Scheimflug.
While it can be hard to explain, once you have seen it demonstrated and have tried it for yourself you start to understand it.
Tim and Dav first explained the basic workings of the camera, and then with the aid of sketches, how movements work. It was then a practical demonstration, so you could see the effect yourself. Then it was time to have a go. At first just focusing the camera was a challenge, and the temptation was to use too much tilt, but after a while I got the hang of it, and it all began to come together.
With the basics understood, we then had a walk round Robin Hoods Bay taking a few shots, trying to use the movements available to our advantage.
The other part I found a struggle at first, was using the spot meter. Taking readings round the scene to determine the dynamic range, from that selecting an appropriate film to try and match the dynamic range or using filters to control the scene and bring it back to the dynamic range of the film.
All in all, a very worthwhile day and I look forward to putting some of my new skills into practice with my small format and medium format photography.
Thanks Tim, Thanks Dav, a great day and i’ll try to put some of the things I have learnt into practice.
I have always used small format camera’s; eg 35mm film or APC-C sensor equipped SLR’s.
This year I made the move to Medium format to complement my SLR kit, it certainly slows you down and makes you think about your photography.
I decided to book myself on a large format course, now thats slow photography.
Its being held in December so i’ll update you all then.
Carl Zeiss 80mm F/2.8 Planar CFi T*
1/250 Sec at f/11, Fujifilm Fujichrome Velvia 50 Professional [RVP50] ISO50
Processed in Adobe Lightroom V3.2
On a Mac MacBook Pro, OS-X 10.6.4
Wow yes Film, I enjoy shooting landscape and find that often I work better using the larger formats. Medium and Large format digital backs are far to expensive currently so its back to film. Only a quick low quality scan but the slides look out of this world.