Monday, February 21, 2011

New Love: Film

Well, I've gone backwards. I'm shooting a lot of film for personal enjoyment lately, and I'm loving it. Digital is nice and convenient, but when it comes down to it, it's almost too easy. Digital files are clean, easy to manipulate, and you can tell instantly if your shot turned out well or not. You can shoot thousands of photos within a few minutes and you won't even care. You get home to hundreds if not thousands of photos, and you don't even know what to do with them. They end up being archived somewhere in your computer and you'll never really see them again.

So why film?

I've been shooting medium format film for a couple of reasons:
1. bigger negatives
2. using a completely mechanical camera, no electronics whatsoever.
3. expensive per shot.

These three are all equally important to me. I love the bigger negatives as it records a ton of detail. With a good scanner I can get a good ~40mp out of the negative. The fact that my camera, a Hasselblad 503CX is a completely mechanical camera means I don't have any batteries to switch out or charge on a trip. Lastly, being more expensive per shot, I'm forced to be a lot more careful about taking shots. I won't just go around, shoot a couple hundred shots and load them onto my computer when I get home.

Number 2 and 3 actually work really well together. Manual focus and exposure means it takes me a lot of time to adjust each setting before I can take a shot. It takes careful planning, and on average it takes me at least 30 seconds to a minute or so before I'm willing to fire the shutter. Being forced to control each aspect of a frame slows you down to think about each aspect of the photo. Do I need more depth of field? Do I need to freeze the action or do I need to drag my shutter? What is the focus of my shot? What does my background look like? How bright do I want the scene to be?

If you learned photography with digital camera and haven't touched film yet, I strongly encourage you to give it a try. Film makes photography fun and exciting again. I know I can't wait to get my roll of Velvia 100 back from the lab. For black and white film, I do my own developing. It's a great feeling when you finish developing the film and you pull it from the reel for the very first time.

Here are some shots from the Hasselblad: