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Saturday, 27 October 2012

Film rules.....no, really, it does!!

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A couple of weeks ago, we went for a stroll in the afternoon sunshine and, not surprisingly took cameras along. The difference was that instead of taking Nikon Pro DSLRs, we took film cameras...that's right, film! You know, where you have to take your time. Think about your composition and exposure. There is no way of "chimping" the screen on the back to see if was OK or not. That kind of camera!

We took a 35mm Nikon F4, regarded in it's day as one of the best ever film cameras and a Mamiya 645AFDII medium format film camera. The equivalent camera in medium format digital would cost maybe around £8000!

Firstly, and most importantly, we had a great time walking around in the sunshine, even if it was a little cold. What was a little difficult to get used to was the fact that you had to take your time, The difference in approach....Think about your shots. Is this frame worth me taking? What is this saying to me? Why should I photograph this? Is my exposure correct? Does the composition work?
You have to pay to get the film processed so you do have to try to make every shot count!

It reminded me, I guess, of what it felt like to shoot when I first had a camera, probably aged around 8. (A black plastic Kodak brownie with a big yellow button and 110 film cartridges...but that's a story for another time.....)

"Don't just throw your shots away, but stop and think!"

Then there is the excitement of waiting for the processing and getting the negatives back. It's been ages since I had some new negatives back from a lab!

Thanks to Steve at MPS imaging who did a great job for us with the processing and scanning. We got bitmap scans of the negatives done by Steve, which I then converted to TIFFs in Photoshop and then imported into Lightroom.

I wasn't sure what to expect when we got them back.....what if they are all blurred, or all over/ under exposed, what if they look terrible! Surely I can't be a real photographer if they aren't good?

I'm glad to say they looked fine,  I am really pleased with the results!

I have been working on some new presets for my editing workflow and the inspiration has been film. I have been trying to emulate the look of film in Lightroom...basically, making a digital image file look like a photograph.

For me, film has a quality that is hard to describe....the best I can do is say that it seems to me to have more soul. I don't know what it is and can't really put my finger on it...but i just love the look of film!

I know this may sound strange, but it's easy to become obsessed with sharpness of images, how much detail is there, if I zoom in on my computer, can I see the pores of the skin!

While all this is fine,  we can sometimes miss the point of a photograph...to portray a moment in time. To convey a feeling or an emotion. Being careful, considered even meticulous with the frames you expose.

To capture something forever, whether print or digital...to commit it film/ memory card. It matters what we do when we press the shutter, to us as photographers if no one else. When you are shooting a wedding, it matters hugely to 2 people and to many others too.

Using film, or using the same approach as if we were using film helps. We think about the shot for longer. We are more involved, more committed to it and that level of care matters and it shows. It's not good enough, for me anyway, to just blaze away at 4 frames per second, or whatever you can shoot at, and trust you have caught the moment somewhere in the frenzy.

So the challenge is to pair the convenience of digital with the soul of film. it's a work in progress!!

Shooting film at a wedding is probably impractical these days and expensive. I'm trying to combine the method of film...time, thought, emotion, care, with the convenience and "edit-ability" of digital.

Anyway, here are a few of the scanned images from the Mamiya medium format with 35mm f3.5 lens. The film used was Kodak Extar 100...There has been almost no/ editing of the images apart from black and white conversions. 

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