Film - The great teacher


davidhamilton

Link Posted 04/08/2015 - 19:30
I'm no doubt preaching to the converted in this forum but since going digital in 2003 I suspect my photography skills have declined. Its just too easy to snap away and retrieve a good photo with an edit suite or delete and try again. My K-S1 is a wonderful camera and has reawakened my photographģc interest, I also have an Optio for those impromptu moments but acquiring a Pentax film camera has been a breakthrough. Its reminded me to check settings, think of composition and treat the entire process as an artwork. Best lesson ever learnt.
David Hamilton

bwlchmawr

Link Posted 04/08/2015 - 20:02
I couldn't disagree more.

Digital has opened up the hobby for photographers, encouraging experimentation with things such as focal length, aperture, shutter speed etc. without feeling that one is "wasting" a picture. I'm sure "better" photographs have emerged as a result, even if thousands of pictures are discarded for one reason or another.

Granted, some things can be fixed in post-production and most pictures can be improved, indeed, RAW files are useless without processing, but it's still important to get as much right as possible in camera. It's pointless taking a badly composed, highly over or under exposed, out of focus or blurred shot whether with a digital or film camera.

Rich folk and professionals in the pre-digital age often took lots of pictures with their motor-drive Nikons or Canons and chose only the best, often manipulating negatives in the darkroom in order to achieve certain effects.

I'm very pleased you're enjoying both analogue and digital cameras. I like the idea that people still use film but I know I shall never expose another slide or negative frame and I don't miss using my Contax 139 or Yashica TLR at all.

I'm no great shakes as a photographer but I'm way better than I would be without having used my digital cameras and lap-top.
Best wishes,

Andrew

"These places mean something and it's the job of a photographer to figure-out what the hell it is."
Robert Adams
"The camera doesn't make a bit of difference.  All of them can record what you are seeing.  But, you have to SEE."
Ernst Hass
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johnriley

Link Posted 04/08/2015 - 20:40
I always suggested that shooting a slide film was a great eye opener. WYSIWYG and every tilted horizon, sloppy composition and error in exposure is instantly revealed.

ADAPS now has a "straight out of camera" landscape competition once a year, where untouched JPEG captures are entered. That's as close as we can get with digital cameras, but it does get a fantastic number of entries and it makes everyone work a little bit harder at the shooting stage.

A good exercise.
Best regards, John

davidhamilton

Link Posted 04/08/2015 - 20:41
We're not miles apart Andrew. Wouldn't give up digital for anything. Just feel that sometimes knowing you have to get the best out of the capture makes you take time to check the entire photo construction.
David Hamilton

Jonathan-Mac

Link Posted 04/08/2015 - 22:07
Using film is without a doubt a great teacher of photography. In addition, it's more fun than digital, you get to use nicer machines and the results can be fantastic.

I'm very happy using both film and digital but for those who really know the art of photography (ie not me) nothing can compare to film.
Pentax hybrid user - Digital K3 & K200D, film 645 and 35mm SLR and Pentax (&other) lenses adapted to Fuji X digital
Fan of DA limited and old manual lenses

QuestionableCarrot

Link Posted 04/08/2015 - 22:40
Agree with J above. I'm a better photographer for shooting film over the last year or so. Its all the things we have heard before.... You slow down, you "see" the shot before its taken, the organic look seems alive on the paper/screen, etc etc the list goes on and on.

Photography is and always will be loading a camera with film.
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Daronl

Link Posted 05/08/2015 - 00:21
Nothing more to be said really, film was the medium that developed and consolidated the framework and technical infrastructure for the fundamentals of photography.

"Digital" brings the simplified version to the masses and I for one believe that is good for imaging but not necessarily for photography per se.

Those elements of photography, that are needed to produce a proficient film image, without having the luxury of seeing it and retaking it, are not wholly necessary anymore.

The technical, lighting and compositional fundamentals, forged in film days that set the principles FOR PRODUCING A GOOD fILM IMAGE are not needed when you have unlimited heuristic ( trial and error ) opportunities "on the hoof" in real-time, to hone the image, providing you understand the deficiencies of course.

DIGITAL IS DIFFERENT for sure, it affords the photographer the opportunity to practice the heuristic approach and if the outcome looks good then who cares how many shots and how much real-time tweaking took place.

We can always check and get the shot with digital; with film you just didn't know until it was processed; and you needed, ahead of seeing the image, to consider, contrast, tonal / dynamic range, color temperature etc.

Now, we take it, preview it, make adjustments 'till it looks acceptable and then assess, if it is still a little off the mark, whether post processing can correct it; a different process; a less challenging or risky process.

Digital is wonderful as a medium, but we must never forget the deep knowledge and demanding skill requirements that were necessary to be a successful film photographer because even today's "new age" practitioners are better knowing them and practicing them, than not.
.
Anyone in doubt should consider doing a wedding today vs 30 years ago, the main challenges then were a multitude of technical parameters and compositional principles a different you got it wrong you couldn't have a retake; with digital it is arguably reversed.

Today we can shoot weddings without flash, in large part and post-process in the "Photoshop Wonderland" and more; it is just so different;

is it progress ?

I think so. !

I love the freedom and limitless scope of digital but have a profound respect for the film era and it's knowledgeable image makers and practitioners and we should instill and uphold most of those principles today,

Regards

E
Daronl

fritzthedog

Link Posted 05/08/2015 - 16:38
This fairly frequent topic always makes me smile

Personally - I don't think it is a question of film or digital - it is and always has been a question of wanting to be a 'photographer' or just being happy taking pictures.

In the days of mass film use - there were millions of people happy to take photographs on a compact 35mm or 110 or even a Polaroid without ever concerning themselves with exposure etc - for a number of years - I was in this camp

Today - there are millions happy to take photographs with a mobile phone or digital compact

This does not necessarily make any of them photographers.

I think photographers and those that aspire to be - will always be considering the 'art' and 'science' of what they are doing - regardless of the format.

Did you have to be more careful with film? Yes - most of us did - I remember the holidays when I knew I could only afford to buy 2-3 rolls of 36 exposure film and pay for developing/ printing

Now - I have the freedom to be creative and not worry about whether I can afford to take the shot.

Does this make me a lazy or worse photographer? Of course not, I have learned more in the past 5 years than the previous 20 and use my gear a 1000% more than I ever did with film

Carl
No matter how many lenses I have owned - I have always needed just one more

McGregNi

Link Posted 05/08/2015 - 18:03
bwlchmawr wrote:
I couldn't disagree more.

Digital has opened up the hobby for photographers, encouraging experimentation with things such as focal length, aperture, shutter speed etc. without feeling that one is "wasting" a picture. I'm sure "better" photographs have emerged as a result, even if thousands of pictures are discarded for one reason or another.

Granted, some things can be fixed in post-production and most pictures can be improved, indeed, RAW files are useless without processing, but it's still important to get as much right as possible in camera. It's pointless taking a badly composed, highly over or under exposed, out of focus or blurred shot whether with a digital or film camera.

Rich folk and professionals in the pre-digital age often took lots of pictures with their motor-drive Nikons or Canons and chose only the best, often manipulating negatives in the darkroom in order to achieve certain effects.

I'm very pleased you're enjoying both analogue and digital cameras. I like the idea that people still use film but I know I shall never expose another slide or negative frame and I don't miss using my Contax 139 or Yashica TLR at all.

I'm no great shakes as a photographer but I'm way better than I would be without having used my digital cameras and lap-top.

I could have written exactly the same. It is the instant feedback and no cost of multiple exposures with digital that has allowed me to put into practice so much that I read about in the photography books, but couldn't really risk trying and experimenting enough.
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doingthebobs

Link Posted 05/08/2015 - 21:15
I think most has been said already but it is a personal choice thing.

I used to do a lot of photography in the past. Started with an instamatic, even did my own processing and printing. I had to wait for some time to be able to afford a DSLR but once I could it reawakened my interest in photography. I now use the digital most of the time but also use film sometimes. I have not managed to really get into Photoshop and all the computer manipulation software, happy to try and capture the image I want rather than sit at the computer for hours. Not that I want to knock anyone who has those skills or their image's, there are some truly stunning images shown on here!

I understand the slowing down idea but you can do that with digital, if you want. My film explorations now include a 5x4 camera so I get to really slow down! Using camera movements is fascinating and is still manipulating the image, I just get to see the manipulations before the image is captured on the film.

Film is expensive but I like to use it some of the time. Digital offers a different way of doing things and is now very accessible. Both are enjoyable and are worth having a go at, if you feel inclined.
Bob

K10D

Link Posted 05/08/2015 - 23:17
bwlchmawr wrote:

I'm no great shakes as a photographer.

Some on the forum would disagree.

I still shoot film, both 35mm and medium format and get great pleasure from doing so.

Best regards
cameradextrous _ Motorcycles etc. link

richandfleur

Link Posted 05/08/2015 - 23:56
If you're going to through the term teaching in the mix, then I don't know that film is the best option. You don't get that instant feedback of your settings, so there's a huge delay between see what I did there and see what I got as a result.

Personally I focus on image creation. There's a bunch of stuff that's related to film and a bunch of stuff that's related to digital that isn't related to outputting a great shot. Examples are film selection, handling loading and protecting from light, development methods etc and batteries, memory cards, usb card readers, quality settings, sensor cleaning etc.

I think a huge plus of digital is that it's provided the tools to a much wider audience, where as it used to be the domain of those who could afford it, or were prepared to do the home work to save money at home developing etc. Personally I think that's great.

ChrisPlatt

Link Posted 06/08/2015 - 01:04
Yeah, digital is great for those who like to "Run 'n' Gun".
Why not shoot video and just grab frames?

Must be pretty tedious though.
Hell, I don't even like looking over 36 frames on a proof sheet trying to find a good one to print...

Chris
Bring back the latent image!
Last Edited by ChrisPlatt on 06/08/2015 - 01:05

richandfleur

Link Posted 06/08/2015 - 01:47
Whether it's digital or film, composition, lighting and exposure, aperture, shutter speed, focus point etc are all required to achieve the final image.
As mentioned above, switching between film and digital doesn't remove the need for these aspects of photography.

I don't know, as I get older I get less enthused about taking sides that aren't all that different.
There's not a lot between film and digital if you stand way back and appreciate the final image.
Like wise there is actually very little difference between a DSLR and a Mirrorless camera in terms of both having a sensor, battery, grip, mechanical shutter, write to memory cards etc. Are the differences between viewfinder and autofocus points that dramatic for your individual style of photography?

Not saying they're the same, just saying they're not that different to get all wound up against.

As for the still from video frame, yes, if you up your shutter speed to 1/800s or so, and shoot 4k then you'll get a bunch of stills you can extract an 8MP image from. In some cases that may be sufficient for your needs. The video will appear quite staccato though, so you'd need to approach this with stills extraction in mind right from the outset. I don't personally believe it's ready to do both at once yet, but the likes of Panasonic will now tell you otherwise in their marketing brochures. At any rate it's a non issue in Pentax land as they don't offer anything with 4k video yet, and I personally feel they've got a way to go in other areas before then anyway...
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