|Epic Fail, Light leak - Film|
Let me be a little bit nostalgic to start with... yes, here comes Granpa' with his stories of how things were amazing before...
When I stopped serious photography in the mid 90's, digital cameras did not really exist (or the quality was so poor that nobody took this option seriously). I was still able to process my own films and to print my pictures in an improvised darkroom in my parent's bathroom. I spent countless hours learning how to photography and print pictures. Back then, there were no real online ressources to learn from and I had just a few books I paid with my weekend job money (as a salesman at Ikea among other things, I was pretty bad at it and hated it...). It was all trial and error and I had only started to really understand the link between the holy trinity (light / speed / Aperture) as it was a few days between the click and the final picture (chimping, ie looking at the small screen in the back was not an option in those days). Still those days were amazing and I was one of a very few of the people of my age I knew to do photography on my own, without going through a lab.
After this, and with more than 10 years of interval, I hoped on the digital wagon.
In 2007, I jumped into digital like there was no tomorrow. As I was in Japan, I decided the technology was finally good enough and also affordable enough, so I bought a Canon EOS Kiss Digital X (the equivalent of the EOS 400D) with a staggering (!) 10megs sensor and two lenses (an 18 55mm and a zoom lense). Used it, abused it for a couple of years in France and during my first years in Asia. It was all I ever dreamed of, click and see what you done, click and see again, and again... Chimping was my new religion. No cost, no problems, no films to carry just CF cards, liberty was finally there at the tip of my index!
After a couple of years and near loss of my complete gear under the heavy rains of Agra while visiting the Taj Mahal (where all hell broke loose on my head while I was right in the middle of the path leading to the Taj; if you've been there you know, there is no shelter whatsoever for 500 meters each way!) I decided to move to a bigger and more rugged camera, a 7D. I also wanted something that would allow me to take larger pictures and make larger prints, the Kiss was an excellent camera, but far from a semi-pro camera. This was perfect as I was at the same time moving to a more outdoor photography (portraits, landscape...). This camera was good, but GAS (Gear Addiction Syndrome) started to hit me less than a couple of years after I bought the 7D. So I wanted a larger sensor and a better quality of image and went to the 5D MkII. Man this camera is amazing. There it was, we were now close to the holy grail... a camera that could shoot as well or even better than film and that could allow to print very large formats (not that I do this on a regular basis...but this is what GAS is about, having what you don't need). And on top of this, I could have made the switch to Nikon (I am not the kind of guys who preaches for one manufacturer or the other) but truth is most of the lenses of my 7D worked on my 5D so I did not need to buy new lenses (which is the expensive part of the gear in reality!).
|Scanner Lucky problem - Film|
After that, I decided I was done with GAS and that I needed to get back to something more "simple".... so to get read of GAS, I went out and did what each person that has GAS syndrome does... I bought a new (well technically old) camera (yes, that is still GAS!). This is when I bought the Hasselblad 500cm and I moved back (partly) to film.
Why did I do this? Well, its simple, I was a complete chimpanzee by then and I was living in the moment. I wanted everything now (isn't it what we all want?) and was not really thinking about photography anymore but was in a mood to accumulate useless pictures, many.. Gigs of useless pictures... My photography was clearly at a standstill and I needed to take on a new challenge to move forward. The Hassie helped me, I beleive, achieve this.
There is no shooting and praying option, each click of the button is a few bucks out the window. You don't take pictures of a puppy or a your cute cup of coffee in the morning and you start putting some thoughts in what you photograph and the message you want to get accross.
After a few trials and errors (more errors and less trial i have to admit!), I decided I would have 2 chargers (the Hassie can change chargers anytime). A color and a black and white. I used both very differently (lines and colors) and have started learning a lot about composition and taking the time. I can now prepare a shot, seat at an interesection for 20 minutes waiting for the right thing to happen. It's not about quantity, its about getting the shot I want.
Am I going to throw all my digital gear out become a vegetarian and go and raise sheeps in the south of France? May... errr... Hell no, I love my digital gear (and my meat!), how easy it is to use, process, work with etc.
But I still love the film and I beleive that the two are useful. I use film for fine art and when I decide to stroll around and take the time to think and enjoy the moment. I use digital when I need to take action shots or I have a very precise idea in mind (or when I use lighting, there is no way I will use lighting with a film camera; too painful!).
|Imperfect film adds texture without post processing!|
Of course, don't get me wrong, it's far from perfect, I get those rays of light on the film that make a part of it totally overexposed if not burned (see first image!!!). Sometimes you get it completely wrong in the light reading and also sometimes, by the time you read and sort out the light, the moment is gone and you look like an idiot that stayed on the pier while the ferry is leaving. But all those negatives are offset by the magical moment when you go to the lab (for color) and pick up those shots you did 2 weeks before and you remember. You have a fresh eye on those pictures.
Finally, on the Digital camera, I would say that 1% only of the shots are worth keeping. On the Hassie, I believe that this ratio is around 20% (and I count all the failed shots because of light leaks and there are a few!). This is only because I take the time for composition and I take the time to answer a simple question each time I press that button: Is this picture worth (litterally) taking?
More on my Film Series on Hong Kong here
More on my Film Series on Hong Kong here
|When it all works out - Only film gets that creamy feel|