Friday, January 24, 2014

Shooting with Film

My Dad still shoots with Film. (Sorry Dad, your secret's out of the bag.)  It’s not that he’s a purist; it’s that for him it works. He likes getting prints, and going through them, he likes the camera he has and doesn't see the need to change.
Another problem with film? Not knowing if these rolls are blank or empty!
Dad also likes thinking about the shot he’s setting up, and not just snapping away in the “hopes” he gets something. In fact it’s almost a prerequisite for film. You have a limited number (Usually 24-36) of shots per roll, and so every shot matters. Plus you are stuck with whatever ISO you chose for the entire roll!  So you actually have to think about what type of images and shooting you would be doing when you purchase the film!

For those of you who haven’t experienced shooting with film, but instead rely on the instant gratification and seemingly unlimited images on your camera phone, this may be a hard concept to grasp. For those of us who haven’t shot with film for years, it’s something that we may have forgotten. I know I love being able to look at the images I take instantly, and definitely take more than I ever did during the days of film.

I am a huge fan of digital cameras, and believe they have made me a better photographer. I still think about composing my shots, but I also shoot more frequently. I don’t think I’d take half as many food, flower, or leaf photos if I were capturing them with film. (Something I now find therapeutic.) I am always searching for the perfect light, and will wait patiently until the conditions are right before capturing my images, but I also like the fact I can take a couple of quick shots of a group and digitally swap a head or two when needed. Or I can look down and capture a pretty heart shaped leaf because it caught my eye.
Hearts in Nature are always fun.
Although I now capture my images in digital format, I still insist on prints. I know it would be so much easier to just burn the images to a CD, but the RAW files I capture still need to be converted into .jpgs and processed for prints. (Color correction, blemish removal, skin softening, cropping, etc. ) I've found that while digital image galleries are fun, it’s easy to just quickly look at the image and move on. But when you put a print in someone’s hands, time slows down. They take longer to look at the details, to feel the texture of the paper, and to savor the captured moment. Albums, canvas prints, and folio boxes all create a similar effect, we use more of our senses with prints, and I think it just feels more balanced.

Even the pictures my Dad sends me are treated differently than the ones that show up in the inbox of my computer. They arrive by snail-mail with tons of stamps parading across the padded envelope announcing something fun is inside. I immediately make a cup of coffee and then sit down at the table to enjoy them; turning them over to read the notes inscribed on the back, and savoring my Dad's view of the world one image at a time. It becomes an event of its own, and for a little while, time slows down just ever so slightly.

Unfortunately for Dad, he's struggling to find places that still print film. This means he either has to send the film out, or move on into the digital world.  If he does make the leap to a digital camera, I’m hoping that like me, he’ll not go completely digital, but will still get his images printed.  And that I will still receive an occasional package of prints every now and then, so I have an excuse to step away from my computer, make another cup of coffee, and savor the moments one frame at a time.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, how I remember film cameras and developing. I actually learned how to develop my own film and print photos in college. I resisted the digital craze for a loooonnnggg time, but finally gave in when Peanut was born. I would have gone broke buying film!! Sometimes I still tend to take an inordinate amount of time trying to get just the "right" shot. Sometimes I randomly shoot and it goes like this: SHOOT. @#$%. SHOOT. @#$% You know what I'm talking about! But I do admit, I miss file canisters. Always found a repurposed use for them. :-)