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I shall return

November 18, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

This past weekend I went to Hida-Takayama again.  My friend Peter hooked me up (again) to take part in another monitor tour that was sponsored by the city of Hida-Takayama.

With how winter-like the weather has been recently here in the Kanto Plain, I was thinking that it was going to be downright COLD up in the mountains of Gifu-ken.  But as it turned out it was rather nice.  

Unfortunately I have not yet had the time to go through the phtoos from that trip, so instead todays photos are from a recent meetup in Waseda with some people from the Tokyo Cameras Photos Club

*** Click HERE for todays photos***

The Sunday befroe last I met up with a small goup of people from the Tokyo Photo Club that I joined a bit over a year ago.  We usually get together on the third Sunday of each month, but this stime one of the people decided to get a smaller group of people together a week early.  I was up for it since I had to miss this months get together on account of my being in Hida-Takayama.

We met up at Waseda station, a place that was totally new for me.  The weather was not very nice, kind of a slow intermittent drizzle all day, but on the bright side it did cast a very soft and diffused type of light.  (MY favorite)  And over the years I have come to actually prefer shooting in less than fully sunny days.

I think I prefer the softer light of an overcast or rainy day because digital sensors still can’t cope with bright sun.  The highlights and deep shadows present too much dynamic range than a digital sensor can effectively capture.  I guess if I were shooting a lot of film I would just choose to shoot film on the bright and sunny days, and digital every other time.  I’ve got plenty of film cameras, but I just can’t seem to get excited about shooting film.  And in truth, I never really did get excited about film.  Back in the day I shot film because thats all their was.  But as soon as I got my first digital camera (An Olympus D340R, 1.3 megapixels and NO zoom) I never looked back.

yes, it is fun to shoot medium format sometimes, as the image quality is extremely good.  But when I shoot I do it with the intention of posting it to the web, so performing the initial capture digitally just makes a whole lot more sense for me.

I know a lot of people that got into photography after digital cameras were popular.  And eventually some of them start to dabble with film.  A portion of them think that by shooting film the process takes on a certain magical aura, that they suddenly become more creative or artistic.

Personally I think that’s a load of bull.

And while I agree that they should do whatever helps give them that motivation to shoot, and anything that sparks their creativity is also good.  But you don’t become  better photographer when you shoot film, the same way you don’t become a better painter by using oils instead of acrylics.

But what you will most likely do when shooting film is try harder for each shot since you know that each click of the shutter represents a discrete and measurable increment of money.

When I go out for a days shooting with a digital camera I think nothing of taking 300 or 400 pictures.  All it cost me was my time and the electricity required to recharge my cameras battery.  But were I shooting 6×6 slides (my normal film) each one fo those shots would have represented nearly $2.  That’s a $750 bill for a days shooting, and that does not include the time I would have to wait to get the film developed and then the subsequent hours spent scanning the keepers.  In reality would I ever shoot that much slide film in a day, even if cost were not an issue?  And I guess a more relevant questions is COULD I?

The answer to that one is no.  The time “wasted” changing out the spent rolls of film for fresh ones alone would account for a significant part of the day.

Whenever hear someone talk about wanting to shoot more film because they think digital has “no soul” or they feel that by using film you can be more artistic I tell them that instead of wasting their money on film, they should instead just pick up the smallest sized memory card that will give them 24-36 images when using the digital camera that they normally shoot with, and commit themselves to not chimping their images as they shoot them, and not deleting anything in the field.  And to give it the real “feel” of shooting film, they should drop $5 in a can for every memory cardroll” they fill up with pictures.

I’ll bet that this alone would be enough for most people to start taking a bit more care in creating each and every image.

Having said all this I do agree that even film 35mm is superior to digital in regards to dynamic range.  And once you step up to medium format the benefits become larger with increased resolution (if you have the scanning skills/equipment/time to extract it).  All bets are off for large format film, it blows any kind of digital capture out of the water on all but a few points: cast, speed, and changing ISO on the fly.   The closest digital competitor to large format film are digital scanning backs, but they are extremely expensive and a logistical nightmare to shoot with.

But at the end of the day, it’s not about what equipment you use.  It’s all about the motivation you have to shoot, and having an inspiring subject to shoot.

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