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Post & Photo by Joe Farace – Follow Joe on Twitter
These days I don’t shoot much film but I still have a few film cameras that I don’t plan on getting rid of any time soon and just acquired a new camera—a 120 roll-film camera. OK, it’s a Holga 120 WPC Wide Panorama Pinhole Camera not a Leica, but these days film seems to be more about having fun. And that’s why we all got into photography in the first place, didn’t we? As I often tell my workshop attendees, “if we wanted to be frustrated, we’d take up golf!” And while I enjoy making digital images using real digital cameras, there are still a few things that I miss about shooting film.
Surprise. If you read my post “A Photographer’s Three Phases of Development” you know Phase One occurs immediately after a new shooter purchases their first “good” camera and discover photography’s potential for fun and creativity. During this time, novice shooters are fearless and enthusiastically explore their world creating images that look so much better than they could have ever imagined. You still get that with film but with digital you get to see the good, bad, or ugly right away. I’ll leave it up to you if you think that’s a good or bad thing.
The Total Travel Experience
When traveling, in addition to all the normal photo stuff, I’ll also take a laptop and blank CDs to make back-up images while on the road. That’s just more to lug and I hate lugging stuff anyway. When Mary and I went to Las Vegas recently to celebrate our 29th wedding anniversary all I took was an Olympus XZ-1, which I think is the best point-and-shoot camera currently available. Laptops are just one more airport hassle and I’ve spent far too many nights, while on the road sorting and backing up images when I should have been out soaking up the local culture.
Digital imaging takes a lot of time. In the old days’ I’d drop film off at the lab and come back in a day or whatever and pick up slides, proofs or proof sheets. If it didn’t look good, I’d yell at the lab and make them do it over. Nowadays we’re the lab and it doesn’t look good then all I have to yell at is myself. And so more time is spent learning new digital darkroom techniques. At MacWorld a long ago a guy told me, “I remember when I used to be a photographer, now I spend all my time learning new software.”
Would I trade all this and go back to shooting film exclusively? After all there’s no reason I can’t just shoot film and have my film scanned and stay firmly in the digital realm as far as post-production goes. But no. Years ago I labored many hours in the wet darkroom to produce a composite image showing what an historic statue would look like when it was moved to a different location. Digital imaging software would have let me do a better job in less than an hour and I wouldn’t have to spend all that time working in the dark with smelly chemicals. The “I love Genie” is out of the barrel and while I’ve traded a lot to get here, I’ve also gotten more control than I ever did with film.
Joe Farace is the author of “Studio Lighting Anywhere” the second book in a planned trilogy from Amherst Media. It’s available in all the best bookstores as well as Amazon.com.
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