Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Upgrade to Film

"You've definitely lost the plot"

We have a perfectly good Canon DSLR with pro lenses that has provided us with some great shots on our travels. So when I announced my intention to purchase film cameras and developing in coffee, the above encouraging words were spoken. So I will try to explain my Upgrade to Film, or is it just a regression with old age like going back to Beatles music on vinyl?

Looking over many digital photos in Flickr and 500px they just seem a bit unreal. There appears to be more kudos in direct proportion to the time spent in Photoshop ramping up the contrast to levels where landscape shots look like a different planet to the one we live on at present. The Film galleries just seem to provide more warmth and natural realism. I'm not a fan of photo editing software programs as I am told I have a colour perception deficiency. For me it's just run the scanning program, click auto adjust and accept the inevitable outcome in good faith - job done and await the critics.

I see Film Photography as an art form.

  • The art starts with the thrill of securing the right camera at a bargain price, then buying all the bits and pieces for a few $'s from Hong Kong ebay traders. Little parcels arriving weekly in the post and half the time I am perplexed as to what I ordered until I feel the package and go oh yer - a lens cap.
  • Once I've got the camera it usually needs some cleaning and basic servicing. They have sat on a shelf for 20+ years and just need a new battery and fire off 100 shots or so. Light seals are easy to replace and often it is the camera that looks a bit rough that comes up a diamond mechanically. Nearly every camera I purchased has immaculate lenses which is a good sign the camera had very little use. I prefer camera sets that are one owner and have lenses.
  • Sourcing 35mm film at a reasonable price locally is impossible. The ebay trader 'Film Festival' has good stocks at the right price but there is a shipping delay that is worth the wait.
  • Taking the camera out for a photo shoot is just awesome. Each shot has to be thought out, planned and executed as film is too expensive to waste. The feel of the metal body, the simple adjustments using real dials that don't beep, manual focus, frame the subject perfectly and press the shutter release to feel the superb internal mechanical movements as the piece of jewellery in my hand operates a multitude of mechanical and electrical functions to allow just the right amount of photons to enter and embed into the film coating. Did I just capture light!
  • Finding a good colour processing lab can be the next challenge in this art form. Not much help there but for a whole lot of fun is self developing black and white film in various emulsions. The best challenge is Caffenol where all the ingredients can be sourced at the supermarket.
  • If I've had success with all this and by some miracle have exposed negatives, then it's time for the 'coup de grace' when the negs are put in the scanner and the preview scan comes up on the screen. Be prepared for many disasters, but then there are the surprise rewards with great shots that I've forgotten I took.
Thats the art form for me. It's the whole process and the challenge with what can occasionally be an outstanding result as good as anything an expensive digital camera could do without a big dose of photoshop.

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