Why do we bother?

Discussion in 'Misc. Hybrid Discussions' started by xtolsniffer, Oct 20, 2017.

  1. xtolsniffer

    xtolsniffer Member

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    This is a bit of an introspective question, but the other day I was wondering why I bother doing the 'workflow' that I do. I print monochrome in my darkroom - I like the smells, the tactile nature, the mixing chemicals, the creative feel of making a real darkroom print. For colour photos of the family (Portra mostly in 35 mm), I send them away to the lab for 7"x5" inch prints, but I also use 35mm and medium format slide film for other photos. For these, and for special prints of the family or trips I scan. The 35mm goes through a Reflecta RPS7200 and the medium format through an Epson V700. After spending a good few hours scanning the other day I began to question why I still do this. I have a perfectly good digital camera, a Nikon D700 that can make lovely prints up to 12"x16", the biggest I ever need to print, but I hardly ever use it. I only ever get it out for photos I may need for presentations or lectures because of its convenience, so why do I still use film and then scan? It's time consuming, tricky, expensive (for the film, the software and the scanners). I don't have an answer, I just thought it was interesting to think about why I still do things this way.
     
  2. FujiLove

    FujiLove Member

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    I've practically given up scanning. I run 35mm film through my Pakon and use those as a digital contact sheet and I scan the odd MF frame to share with family overseas, but that's about it. B&W film gets wet printed. Colour slide gets projected. Colour negative are wet printed (RA4). It's much simpler and the results are lovely. I regret the weeks I've wasted fiddling with scans that never looked right, and the money spent on software and scanners that I could have spent on paper, chemicals and good quality frames.

    There's no getting around the fact that film works best when you have a completely analogue end-to-end workflow. It's what it was designed for. If you haven't already, I'd definitely give RA4 printing a go. I use a Nova tank and haven't had any problems whatsoever. It took a couple of short evenings to get the hang of it. Pulling huge prints out of the blix, turning on the light and watching their colours appear as they are being washed is a fantastic experience.

    At the end of the day, if photography is a hobby, it should be fun. If you find that what you're doing isn't fun or satisfying, then you need to do what is. If that means using a digital camera, then that's fine. I wouldn't beat yourself up over any of this. Life is definitely too short :smile:
     
  3. OP
    OP
    xtolsniffer

    xtolsniffer Member

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    Thanks for that, I have to say that I find myself leaning towards RA4 printing just because it's different from sitting in front of a computer. The one downside is that I adore Velvia 50 in medium format, and there is no way to really get a print from that other than scanning.
     
  4. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    I'm with you. I don't get it either. I know many people who have come from digital to film, but no intention of ever printing in a darkroom, either color or monochrome. If one intends to print digitally, why not start with a digital capture?

    Black and white film - absolutely - print on silver gelatin (or pt/pl, etc.). Color - just shoot digital and get on with life.

    (Full disclosure - I own three scanners, but they are for putting things on the internet, and other purposes.)
     
  5. TheRook

    TheRook Member

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    Some people can't afford medium format digital camera, or are not willing to spend that amount of money on a camera. Buying a used medium format film camera and scanning is a more affordable alternative.
     
  6. jim10219

    jim10219 Member

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    When I scan film, I can wet print through an enlarger, contact print with alternative processes, upload to the internet, and make huge digital prints all with the same negative. Also, it gives me Photoshop capabilities, which are much more robust than traditional methods.

    I still do 90% of my photography with a digital camera though, because of the cost and convenience. But you lose the look of film, the process of film, and the capabilities of wet printing through an enlarger that way, so it's not the only way I shoot.
     
  7. pdeeh

    pdeeh Member

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    For those folk who "can't see the point" of other people's methods (or whatever), it's important to remember that no-one is compelling - or even suggesting - that you do the same things.
    Chacun a son gout after all
     
  8. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I enjoy film photography from taking a photograph to prints both color and black & white.
     
  9. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    You're absolutely right. I (for one) am not saying people shouldn't do photography the way they wish, but I am still allowed to wonder about some things I don't understand. Trust me, there are many - and not just in photography ... :smile:
     
  10. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi xtolsniffter
    there really isn't a point ..
    except to enjoy yourself ?

    i use film and scan it,
    i use paper and scan it
    i use a digital camera and cellphone
    and sometimes print it into something i will scan later ..
    its not earth shattering but i enjoy it at the moment,
    and nothing is new or pretends to be new except the printer
    because the other one died ... ( and it is all in one to make my life ez )
    sometimes i print, but ill scan that too ..
    i could ask whats the point to a lot of things but ive realized
    most things have no point ..
     
  11. ozmoose

    ozmoose Member

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    A loaded issue, this. Also very complex.

    We do it and go on doing it because we care about it, I believe. I've been in and out of the darkroom since 1962, and for me there is still magic in seeing an image appearing on a sheet of previously white paper in a tray of D72. Virtually all the processing and a lot of the printing process is mechanical, but it gives me time to think about what I'm doing and what I want out of my finished prints.

    In my half century and more in film, I've seen so many once-popular processes come and go. My first prints were made on Kodabromide single weight glossy F paper, I have a few left and these are by my current standards amateurish, but those images are valuable to me and when I look at them, memories come flooding back. I printed on many now long vanished paper types (some of them very beautiful) and then did a heap of newspaper and wedding prints first on Dupont Varigam and Ilford Multigrade I papers. When Kodak Polycontrast paper and filter kits hit the Canadian market in 1965, I was one of the first to "go Poly". In the 1970s printed on Agfa papers and then on various European brands in the '80s and '90s. Since 2000 it has been Multigrade all the way. All except Ilford have vanished from the scene and are now only bits of photo history.

    From my first shooting days I shot to please first the client and give them what they wanted, and then for myself, with little or no regard as to what other photographers thought (or still think) of my images. We photographers are an opinionated lot, and when I looked at the work of others I remind myself to bite my tongue and swallow my caustic comments, on the to me, sensible (and polite) principle that every shooter thinks of their work as perfect. Especially mine...!

    The decline of film from 1987 (yes, that's when it began, with the "downrating" of Kodachrome, the disappearance of Panatomic-X and the discontinuation of many other good films and printing papers from the glorious era of our craft) and the eventual ascendancy of digital photography, all threw left curves into our hobby and professions, but we survived.

    I'm fine with digital photography. I didn't bite the bullet and actively get into it until 2009 when I tested the Nikon D90 and decided it produced a standard of quality I could accept and work with. The D90 is now a dinosaur, also my D700 which I bought in 2012. I first got scanners in 2005 and 2007 and put in years, no end of drawn blood and a fair amount of good red wine into diligently turning my best negatives and slides into good images. After 12 years I'm about half way there and a further decade of diligent scanning if I live that long. I now use short cuts to reduce the workflow, more negatives are batch scanned as proof sheets to send to prospective clients. The years 2012 to 2016 were a lean period in image sales, but this year the markets improved and I've seen more sales in 2017 than in the last three years. I now shoot more more digital than film, but with 'analogue' I'm shooting more medium format black-and-white film than I've done since the '90s. Digital suits my color work. MF film produces the highest quality images with the best mid tones, but recent scans of old color negatives shot with my Contax G1 nothing short of superb.

    So who knows what about what? Why am I doing this? I often ask myself these questions and the answers are elusive. Because I can. As I must. To preserve something for those historians and publishers interested in colonial architecture in Asia. Aren't many other photographers doing the same thing? Probably. Should I care? Nobody is doing it as I'M doing it , and this keeps me going. I also enjoy traveling and locating and photographing new old buildings in new places, also my time spent at home researching places online and planning my next journey. All this is expensive and so far I've not seen many returns from it in money, but the future may be more promising. Who knows? My sons will, if they decide to go on with my photo projects after I'm gone. One is an architect like his dad and I hope he will, but I must I'm far from certain about this.

    Even after half a century there is still so much I don't understand about my own photography, my motives (and motivation) to shoot what I did in my lifetime, and my periods of ambivalence about it all.

    I wrote "ambivalence" as I've known four dedicated photographers who put down their cameras and closed their darkrooms and walked away from it all. One lost interest in cameras and film at age 55 and like the late great Henri Cartier-Bresson, took up painting. Another at 71 won't use a camera again and ignores his vast (undocumented) archive of 150,000+ images. None of the four will discuss photography. They are greatly missed by the rest of us who still shoot, but I understand why they chose to end such an important aspect of their lives. They had reached the end, and there was no going further beyond or back. All of us will likely reach that same point.
     
  12. ozmoose

    ozmoose Member

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    jnanian (#10), you wrote "most things have no point .."

    My exact thought. I wish I had written that.
     
  13. JWMster

    JWMster Subscriber

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    Because it's fun and the struggle is a challenge and a worthy challenge that breaks me away from my 18-hour days in front of a screen....but uses it where it's best... which for some of us, digital printing is just easier... and why throw away what you already know and technology you already have because you want to start with say... water color or pencil as your original medium instead of acryllic... ? Film is a medium. I'm not sure I ever really understood "The Medium is the Message", but it's certainly going to define part or how you deliver it and how it is received. But here ares some thoughts by someone more articulate and worthy than mine on the subject:

    http://svac.org/cat-blog-upcoming-exhibitions/405-i-choose-film
    https://figitalrevolution.com/figital-revolution-manifesto-pdf/

    But fairly, at the end of the day, the images have to matter, too... and the fellow writes:

    "Lately I am seeing far too many images praised, not for their quality, but simply because they are film based. Much as I love film, that ticks me off. I want to see great work get attention- film or digital- whatever! Favoring film-based images simply because they’re from film strikes me as similar to the mistake that some shooters make when they assume a certain camera brand (did someone say Leica?) magically makes their images superior. Bottom Line… use the tools that help you make your work. Process is important but it’s not all-important especially to a collector or client… in the end people buy what they like." (Stephen Schaub)

    Maybe a little harsh... because the same is true about derivative or sketch work done by someone who's good, but their seconds admittedly just aren't... or someone who's shot something with a particular... as he says.... camera or lens.... it's the image, the subject, the light, the contrast, the design or pattern, the composition and how it all fits.... that matters. If film ain't working for you... you're right not to bother. If it is... then maybe you stick with it. I see each as having their place and creative possibilities as well as limits. I think folks are often unaware of the limits of digital. Maybe it's just "so new and all", and perhaps like the iphone and the internet we may find that digital photography will reveal it's own darksides as well. With the internet, it's been the loss of attention span, an ability to think independently and in depth that is lost... and has now been lost for a full generation to such an extent that it's noticed and studied as a defect. Turns up in juvenile thoughts being passed of as academic thesis... because that's all that's been seen. Something to think about. Yipes!
     
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  15. Ko.Fe.

    Ko.Fe. Member

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    Scrolled though op. Another film vs digital post. It is next to farting for fun, IMO.
    It is different, once you will be able to recognize it, no threads like this are needed.
    If you can't realize it is different... How to put it politely... Do not bother and keep on clicking diginikon.

    You do like darkroom smell, seriously? :smile:
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2017
  16. 1kgcoffee

    1kgcoffee Member

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    Analog image capture is fundamentally different from digital, and produces a different result.

    The result is subtle, but enough for me to notice when I was first starting out in digital photography. I thought it was lenses, but no. This is only part of the story. Lenses do have some influence, but it is the combo of film on lenses that produce something intangible on the negative. With digital image sensors you have filters over the sensor and the image processor doing calculations to understand the light hitting the sensor. Also you have pixels, as opposed to grain of varying sizes. End result is something that looks 'digital'. But once the image is captured on film, it retains that intangible quality even if degraded through the process of scanning.

    A new approach to digital sensors would be to incorporate a hexagonal pattern with clusters of hexagons for higher iso. This would simulate grain somewhat but then you would have to transfer it back to the pixel model. I liken it somewhat to the probability model of the electron cloud vs bohr orbital model (film vs pixels.) Grain and dye has a more natural structure appearance, allows for a little bleeding with interference and yields a more striking image like what the human eye sees no matter how less in terms of pixels you count the detail. With pixels you are trying to shoehorn nature into a uniform and bland set of 0's and 1's. And overwhelm the viewer with detail so that can't tell on the other side of the screen , which is artificially blurring the pixels together, that what they're looking at seems 'natural'. Scanning is useful and for me preferable to shooting with digital, unless I am trying to save money. VSCO is for people who don't understand.
     
  17. Svenedin

    Svenedin Subscriber

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    I do it for the following reasons:
    1) I like my existing film equipment and enjoy using it. My cameras are old friends of many years.
    2) It would cost a fortune to convert to d*git*l and buy all the lenses to create a comparable system to what I have
    3) I like the way film looks
    4) I don't like plastic electric cameras the size of a house with horrid screens and 4 million buttons. When I see people using such apparatus I feel a sense of ridicule and disdain (but I never say anything).
    5) My cameras are already decades out of date. I don't want to get into an "electronic rat race" of regular upgrading and equipment going obsolete. I feel this is a terrible waste of money and resources that cameras end up in landfills after a relatively short life. Compare the ongoing cost of film with the cost of upgrading every few years.
    6) I am not following the herd into the latest, greatest, must have gizmo.
    7) I am not reliant on a computer. I can scan if I wish but I can also enlarge in the darkroom.
    8) Even d*git*l photographers spend significant time playing around with their images. Downloading to their computer, altering their images in those softwares etc.
    9) It's like any hobby. These things take up time. If you no longer enjoy it then stop!
     
  18. Michael Firstlight

    Michael Firstlight Subscriber

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    For me, it's mostly the sheer enjoyment of the craft as well as the uniqueness. Also consider the throngs of people flocked to the Ansel Adams exhibit in my local museum recently - I haven't seen anything equivalent for a digital exhibit yet, I think a lot of people are fascinated when they see true analog darkroom prints vs 'meh' response with digital. Hand crafted works immediately get a deeper appreciation. Don't get me wrong - I shoot a Nikon D850 most of the time, but when I shoot my 6x7 67II and go analog - everything is far more deliberate. I budget my film frame - I am far, far more selective in my subject matter, composition, thought process etc. Could I do the same with digital? Sure, but it is too easy to fall into the 'shoot first, think later' syndrome. I am sure if I were lugging a 4x5 or 8x10 I would be even more selective.

    Mind you, I've been shooting and processing since 1969 - compared to many digital shooters I am already quite a selective low-frame shooter even with my D850 due to having grown up on film. Then there is is the joy of the darkroom experience itself, having some good music playing, the smell of the chemistry, the tactile feel - all wonderful. Then there is the visual difference. I use the term 'different' intentionally vs 'better' Analog is different. It looks different - has that analog feel which I believe it different due to at least 4 factors: 1) better continuous tone (you'll never find banding with an all-analog print or talk about the size of an Adobe 1998 or other color space, right?), more limited impacts of diffraction, (there is no pixel pitch to affect it), analog grain is more random than fixed digital patterns, unique color profiles of film stock that is difficult to replicate in digital. I found digital tools to try to replicate analog film stock and grain with digital images to be laughable.

    The motion film industry is bringing back analog film for a variety of reasons as well. Finally, I shoot MF film, and study after study has proven that you'll need about a 250MP digital sensor to really match 6x7 it in terms of head-to-head resolving of line-pairs.But I also still shoot digital for the immense workflow convenience, greater flexibility, and lower cost to churn out beautiful 24x36 prints on my own Epson 24" printer.

    Suffice to say, I think they are two very different beasts. I'd never use the word 'better' to compare the two. Done right, either can produce exceptional results. I enjoy being able to go fully digital, fully analog, or hybrid and have them all co-exist.

    MFL
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2017
  19. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    i don't really care that someone used a wisk instead of a fork
    to scramble my eggs, and that is pretty much what these
    DVA arguments are all about ..
     
  20. faberryman

    faberryman Subscriber

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    No. 1 is sufficient by itself. The rest just seem like rationalizations.
     
  21. Michael Firstlight

    Michael Firstlight Subscriber

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    You don't, and that's fine for you, but many others do care. It's the same effect why people will pay a premium for a hand crafted wood bowl versus something you can by at a home store. It's also why, in photo galleries, that 'True Photographic Prints" even from digital command a higher premium than ink-jet eggs :smile:
     
  22. faberryman

    faberryman Subscriber

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    Just for clarification, what is a "True Photographic Print"?
     
  23. Michael Firstlight

    Michael Firstlight Subscriber

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    Its a print on photographic paper, not inkjet. I think a Durst Lambada qualifies.
     
  24. faberryman

    faberryman Subscriber

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    Okay, but I'm not sure why. It's all technology. Is it a quality issue or a process issue? And using the Durst Lambda takes it out of the hands of the photographer; it is a machine made print from a digital image. Or are machines okay as long as they use chemicals. Do platinum prints using digital internegatives qualify? If inkjet negatives are okay, then why not inkjet prints? It's a tar baby.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2017
  25. Michael Firstlight

    Michael Firstlight Subscriber

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    Mostly quality I believe.
     
  26. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    not all people care. some do but a lot don't.
    not all people would pay a premium for a hand made bowl vs something
    they can get at a home goods store. to a lot of people it doesn't matter its just a bowl.
    just like people who like to pay 10thousand dolalrs for a camera, when a 100dollar camera works as well..

    and regarding your suggesttion that a chemical print is somehow
    a true photographic print and people pay more money for them at galleries
    i think is kind of out there. there are galleries that sell ink jet prints for lots of $$
    and they are high end, pigment ink rag base prints. there are also galleries
    that sell/sold color prints made in the 70s-90s that were done using processes that
    were not able to withstand time or light, they are every bit as "true" as a hand crafted
    print made in your darkroom that you might claim to be from a 6x6 negative enlarged on
    silver gelatin paper, and toned in gold and thioria.

    what about an ephemeral print made from photo paper that is scanned, worked and printed on ink and paper
    or through some cheap mini lab process ? is that a true photographic print ?

    its too bad this thread has become a process bashing thread, it was about something else,
    what matters to one person might not matter to others no matter how much one might chest thump
    and claim how imporant it is or how important the intrinsic qualities of the process are ... in the end it all ends up
    being important mainly to the person doing it, and no one else really cares ..

    i still don't care if someone used ghengis khan' golden wisk to make my scrambled eggs, a plastic fork with 1 prong works as well.
     
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