Showing posts with label film. Show all posts
Showing posts with label film. Show all posts

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

And that was Film for Me

We see people - old hands who shot film or new kids who were born in the digital age and absorbed the vibe of old photos - hankering to make film more than it was, more than it is. There are all kinds of scientific differences (some people read it as "superiority") between Film and Digital:

  • Film is low volume (12, 24 or 36 shots per roll) - so you think more before you shoot, making each shot more worthy
  • Film is more expensive, so again, you don't machine gun (people forget those bulk rolls strapped to the pro SLRs).
  • Film colour is all mixed in and "organic" unlike the cold, antiseptic nature of the initial clean RGB digital image.
  • Film grain is prettier than digital noise (yeah, they forget ASA 400 Fuji Neopan pushed in Fujidol to ASA 1600 with golfballs of grain)
  • Film emphasised shallower Depth of Field and bokeh because 35mm film is Full Frame (don't forget the Hassies, Mamiyas, Zenza Bronicas, Rolleiflex TLR). Digital is so pedestrian at sensor sizes one quarter or smaller in area than 24x36mm
  • Film asymptotes (rolls off, in daily parlance) over exposed highlights in a gentler fashion than the brutality of Digital level 255 (full white)
  • Black and White Film and Halide Paper have that deep, tonal black that Digital Screen Media (which projects white) doesn't have.
  • The Darkroom smell of D-76, Acetic Acid and Sodium Thiosulphate has that soak through the fabric scent that Digital will never have.
  • Film was shot with leather covered, fashion strapped, all metal cameras with shutters that go ka chunk louder than that pansy sound that the Sony A7 that some people are horrified about.
  • You sight Film through real glass, unlike the TV looking electronic viewfinder.
  • You have to be real good guestimating how the result will look like - none of that wimpy chimping every few seconds of shooting.
  • Real film photographers take an Ansel Zone V with their hand rather than rely on that 49 segment matrix TTL exposure meter that Digital demands.
  • You choose the type of film for indoor or outdoor, none of this Digital Automatic White Balance thing.
  • You actually scrawled on the back of the print, rather than rely on the ubiquitous EXIF metadata in the image file.
So, clearing out stuff from my room, notably, old books, I came across this bookmark. I made it so long ago.1978 in fact. My scrawl on the back said Fuji ASA 400. It would have been (if memory serves me right) my Minoltat XE-1 SLR with 135mm f/3.5 lens. Maybe.

Yes, I know it's blurry. And that was film for me.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Tired but floating on a cloud

I’ve been meaning to catch Burt Bacharach all these years. His rich music output over all these years covered my early teens through to University and beyond. Part of the nostalgia kick is to listen to Dionne Warwick, Karen Carpenter and all the ones who made it with his songs.
By the way, Burt says Hal David is in hospital and not doing well at all. Take a pause and send some good thoughts his way.
You know the old songs of Burt and Hal, from What The World Needs Now Is Love, Walk On By, Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head – you’ve heard them a thousand times from the hollow sounding microphoned recordings of old through to some chick flick leveraging nostalgia and soft moist tissues. – they’re very much like old film.
A lot of the youngsters have re-discovered the dye colours of film, shirking digital purity. They’ve seen the stuff we used to shoot on Kodakchrome, Ektachhrome, Agfachrome, faded a bit, and they want to shoot the same deal – with sprocket holes. See how many canned effects we have in Instagram, Picasa, Piknik that mock up that. That’s because they didn’t dip their hands in D-76 and the only hypo they know is a syringe reference.
Ok, film, despite the slow demise of Kodak, is not dead and not faded – it’s getting a new lease of arty life. Maybe, maybe you should experience film, just a few rolls, before cost and saving the earth from smelly chemicals and dyes overcome you. For, if you don’t feel the past, feel the current, how do you fashion the future?
Go get an old film camera, it doesn’’t have to be a Leica, it doesn’t have to be a Holga. Shoot it. You’ll never know until you do.
From Ananda's Film Album
From Ananda's Film Album
From 06/04/2012
Oh, and Burt. Bliss like anything. More than just an item on my bucket list. He brought the nostalgia back to me and to the whole audience of grey hairs and balds. We felt like teens and children again, swaying to the spell he cast. But it wasn’t tired, hollow mic-ed music performed competently. It was superb modern arrangements (but still the impeccable timing and precision that you can rely on from Burt), passionately played by his core band (and the Australian ensembles) and sung for all their life with interpretive gusto by Donna Taylor, Josie James and John Pagano. Melbourne still has one day, the 20th April – and tickets should still be available online.


Saturday, 24 December 2011

Happy Seasons Greetings / Merry Christmas

I’ve been head down in non photographic work – that’s why I haven’t been writing on photography that much. 2011 is coming to an end, it’s been a good year, photographically, for me. I got myself an Olympus E-620 to replace my E-330 that failed. And some months later, the E-PL1. I also shot a few rolls of film on my old Minolta X-700 and my new-old SRT-101.

I haven’t gone through everything I’ve shot on my hard disk, but I thought a few shots from flickr would be nice to review.

Film patina

Above is film shot with real light leaked right edge. The patina of warm browns and hazy unsharpness is a lovely memory of that day’s shooting.

All that glitters

Women’s shoes have attracted my interest in previous years, but this year showed a resurgence of the thick heeled platforms from my Uni days. Of course, if they are in gold, they are super scrumptious.

NVW-1 in the woods

Paul was kind enough to invite us on his maintenance checks for the Puffing Billy railway. It was a wet day and we were a little exposed to the elements sitting on the side of NWV-1. This was taken with the very special 7-14mm Super High Grade Zuiko Digital ultra wide angle lens. A really sharp scenic lens as long as one remembers to stop down to f/8 to avoid over shallow depth of field.

Enjit Enjit Semut

I saw these Nonya Ladies at the Malaysian Festival in Melbourne. Their sarung-kebaya garb with kerosang reminds me so much of what mum used to wear in her younger days.


I see this some evenings and never tire of its beauty.

Monday, 22 June 2009


I’ve had scanners and I’ve had scanners. I remember I had a 5R type scanner, not pro quality, where I would sandwich the film or paper between transparent polycarbonate sheets. It was hooked to LPT port (remember those?) and the scans were not really good for print much less 35mm film. Then I had a flatbed scanner, Genius, I think, and that didn’t do much for film either. In 2008, I got a Plustek Optic Pro 7200 for my birthday. I processed a batch of slides and negs of 30 plus years ago – they weren’t again pro quality as of current technology, but they allowed me to see my old images again. I didn’t want to want a long time between each scan frame so didn’t use 3600 dpi even.

After sitting idle, I took out the Optic Pro and carried out some scans of new 35mm film. I asked the neighbourhood photo store to C-41 process Fuji Superia 100. The result? Nothing like the digital stuff we shoot nowadays. If not for the romance of the film dyes and the Lomo – Henri Cartier Bresson look, one would just hit the delete button on them (well, not really, you can’t delete film, you have to walk to the bin).

All kinds of technical issues – longitudinal scratches, film grain, weird film dyes (the Silverfast software colour corrects that orange base of the colour negative but the colours still look like they’re painted on), poor dMax causing blocked out shadows and burnt highlights. Retro? They sure are.

But, but, but – could you get something in digital this romantic without post processing? Really?

From Retro

Saturday, 21 February 2009

What is Correct Exposure Part 2

The Perfect Picture’s Creatively Correct Exposure video tutorial is interesting to watch, but it encourages newbies to link two different facets, “technically correct exposure” and “creative choice of f/no for depth of field” without a seam. Sure, a veteran photographer juggles both these facets intuitively.

The newbie though, does need to pause and think that these are two facets – they overlap in the fact that the f/no is present in both facets but that’s the only thing they overlap in. Otherwise the spiral of confusion, that winds into equivalence of every facet (f/no, shutter speed, ISO, sensor size, focal length) perpetuates.

In truth, Bryan is demonstrating exposure (the permutations of shutter speed and f/no). He’s not speaking of twiddling the ISO dial (because in the film days, you could not easily change ISO in mid roll) nor is he talking about the effect of different digital sensor sizes and focal length.

Bryan Peterson explains this slightly better in this second video – emphasising choice of shutter speed:

and another video, emphasising f/no

In truth, Bryan's videos and the title of this very blog post should be more aptly changed to "Choosing an aperture and shutter speed permutation to effect creative control of the visual aspects of the photo" rather than "Understanding Creative Correct Exposure". Because we have not yet begun to discuss whether we should underexpose or overexpose a scene (in modern parlance on a digital camera, twiddling the Exposure Value compensation dial, to creatively darken or lighten the whole photo so that we can target the face of a person as the most important element in the photo.

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Monday, 24 November 2008

Whet Plent Ees It?

I remember when my Dad would have a tyre flat between towns. He'd hitch a ride to the nearest town, get a fix to the puncture (the spare would be bad or not useable for some reason). Meanwhile little boy that I was, I would be fascinated by the wild tropical creepers. This was a passionfruit species I think, it had small fruit that was sweet.

Later on, I would encounter it once in a rare while. This is one from Thailand, captured on film.

From Plants and Flowers