In the past somewhat years the digital camera has brought a new age of digital photography and technology and with it came a death cry for film.
Although my reasons for still shooting on film were very clear, I wondered what moved fellow photographers to the so-called “outdated” technology.
Here’s a recap of the answers supplied …
#2. Higher Dynamic Range
Don’t gasp, HDR has been around nearly as long as photography itself. Only since the advent of digital photography and software like Photomatix and more recently Lightroom have we started seeing these grotesque creations by fledgling photographers experimenting with tonal layers in devastating numbers. But did you know it can take up to three bracketed RAW digital files to achieve the same sort of tonal range some films can get?
The saying goes “film is more forgiving” and this generally applies to black and white which can be rescued up to 6 stops in either direction, under or over exposed. However even with most color films you’re still able to bring out detail two stops above and below without sacrificing quality. With some basic skills in the darkroom you can recreate a scene with film much closer to the one the eye saw.
#4. The Pictures Are Permanent
How old is the oldest digital photograph you have, and where is it stored? Unless you’re incredibly organized, much of your first digital archives have already been lost. All it will take is one little knock and the hard drive with the last five years of holiday snaps and your only backup of them could suddenly be gone permanently – technology isn’t built to last forever.
The advent of digital photography brought with it some problems of its own, namely ephemerality. Both by intention and by accidental loss, photographs from the beginning of the digital age have either already vanished or are at high risk of never being seen again. There is indeed talk of a forgotten century because of our reliance on digital technology over tangible objects.
#5. The Chemicals Smell Oh So Good
Any old codger proficient enough in the darkroom will tell you that the funk of dev and fixer is addictive and, like any acquired taste, gets better over time. It’s not actually that pleasant a smell at first, but if you’re going to do your own developing (not required as plenty of places still offer the service) you’ll find it can be a relaxing time away from light and noise just using your one perfect sense.
Some photographers will tell you that this meditation time is one of the most enjoyable parts of photography – all now lost with digital.
…and anyway, film smells much better if developed in caffenol.
Besides, even with these filter packs most keen eyes can tell the difference between a digital print and a darkroom print in 99% of cases. It should be put to a test though — that’s a job for another day.
Alternatively, use a high powered microscope to look at film negatives and you’re presented with a soup of randomly spaced crystals and an all together more natural appearance. Paul Graham did this in his project ‘Films’ and gave evidence looking at dozens of different rolls of film with fascinating results.
There’s also nothing like the reaction from young photographers when they see you on the street using a TLR or Kodak box brownie with nothing but confidence. It’s a great talking point and an easy way to influence those impressionable young photographer minds.