Why you should be shooting film

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by blockend, Jan 29, 2017.

  1. blockend

    blockend Member
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    I almost didn't open this YouTube page because it looked like another hipster doing what hipsters do, but he speaks some of the best sense about film photography in a digital age I've heard anywhere:

     
  2. dpurdy

    dpurdy Subscriber
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    Thanks. I love this guy. I spent an hour and a half watching different videos from him. He has made me want to try using 35mm again especially the Nikon F100 which is his and my favorite 35mm camera.
     
  3. ME Super

    ME Super Member
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    I wasn't going to watch this whole thing, but I'm glad I did. I disagree with the assertion that getting pictures printed is expensive. If you're OK with a hybrid workflow, the local Wal-Mart will print my files for 19 cents each. If I'm willing to pay a nominal shipping fee instead of wanting them in an hour, they'll print photos from scans and send 'em to my house for 9 cents each. That's a measly $9 (plus a dollar or two for shipping) for A HUNDRED photos!

    EDIT: I said I disagree with his assertion that getting pictures printed is inexpensive. That should've said "the assertion that getting pictures printed is inexpensive.". I fixed it in the above.
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2017
  4. Peter Schrager

    Peter Schrager Subscriber
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    I already know why...guess my stuff will be worth double next week!!
     
  5. Theo Sulphate

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    I managed to watch about 7 minutes with my feeble connection. Will try again later.

    However, what I saw was good.

    The first ten or so seconds had me wondering exactly what he was doing...
     
  6. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser
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    couldn't agree , more,
    back when we had a walllllmart i think we got 3000 photos printed
    it was cheap and worth every penny ( i think $30 ) there was a guy
    i wish i could remember his name, he had a podcast and he was pretty amazing
    and he said something like " make a print its not a photograph until you have a print "
    ( film photography podcast ? ) .. and that is as true now as much as it was a handful of year ago...
    and this guy's video ( enjoyed it all ! ) that its not real ( archivable &c ) unless there is something tangible from it.
    files, backups and backups of them files are all good in an abstract sense
    but a print is real, just like a negative as far as i cam concerned !

    i love negatives, and sometimes have to wrestle ( and lose ! ) with clients who want archival photographs of " xyzzy-site "
    either they don't want to spent for the film or the state doesn't want to spend for tangible negatives ... it makes me sad
    that they think that image-files are archival ,,, but what can you do, you can't really fight with clients ...
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2017
  7. ME Super

    ME Super Member
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    John,
    I read your post and realized I typoed some of my stuff in such a way that I said the opposite of what I meant. You knew what I meant though, which is good. I fixed my post.
     
  8. OP
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    blockend

    blockend Member
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    The takeaway point is digital is more effort if you're serious about saving pictures. You have to spend more time at a screen deciding which to keep, and digital photographers delay the choice, or print a fraction of a percentage of those they shoot. There is no hard copy master (the negative). You don't know which images will be important to you in the future (certainly true having looked back through my archive recently), and digital storage media is insecure (failures) and cloud storage has to be taken on trust. No one knows whether those companies will be around long term, or who'll own them, whether they'll decide to charge for storage, compress your images, change access, it's all unknown.

    Even if you are scrupulous about multiple hard drives, cloud storage, and changing them to the latest technology as it occurs, no one else will be, so your images probably won't out-last you.
     
  9. Helinophoto

    Helinophoto Subscriber

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    Well, well.

    The Harddrives can be "turned on" again if he wanted to.

    - Open the box
    - Take out the disk
    - Connect using a simple usb to IDE/SATA interface and presto!

    It's the built-int firewire/USB interface that dies on those things. That is the reason I use a regular SATA-drive with an external interface for my backups.
    I have yet to have a hard-drive die on me, if it still works after 2 weeks of purchase.

    But I get the point :smile:

    Shot an event this weekend and my 64GB memory-card decided to malfunction after around 170 shots. Had to change cards and luckily I was able to copy over my shots from the 64GB one.

    Tried to format that card, got a in-camera failure. Tried to format it on my computer, computer froze up.

    Took up my pliers and clipped the card to small strips of electronic waste. :smile:

    Then again, I could not have shot that event with film anyway, due to the volume alone, most shots were done at ISO 3200 and ISO 6400 (f2-f3.2, depending on the lens), so, on that particular event, it was the right tool for the job.

    And imo that is what it's about.....for all other stuff, except studio shoots, I use film in many different formats.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2017
  10. OP
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    blockend

    blockend Member
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    But most people wouldn't know that, right? I mean there are three computer acronyms in that post alone, plus a reasonably advanced skill set which has nothing to do with the ability to capture a good image. A film photographer on the other hand can take a disposable camera to a C41 lab and return with the same hard copy as someone with a Nikon F6, a Jobo kit and a colour Beseler. Sure, we can argue different aesthetic qualities, but both will offer photographs you can look at, pass around and keep for future generations. Digital photographers have that potential, but how many make a 6 x 4" copy of everything they do - and you still don't get a master negative with a hundred + year life.

    The point he makes well is a digital image is entirely virtual until it's printed, because the on screen alternatives are infant technology and subject to technological redundancy and commercial changes. You can keep up with those changes but most people probably won't, and even those who do are unlikely to have a relative or friend who cares as much once they pass on. The picture of his great grandparents and grandparents are precisely the kind of thing that gets junked in the digital era, or succumbs to a failing hard drive and people say, well, it was only Aunt Mimi on there so it becomes landfill. Even the crappiest neg shot on a 126 Instamatic has its future potential locked in those halides permanently, or close to it.

    I currently shoot digital/film about 50/50, but apart from putting the digital images on a couple of hard drives in different places, I don't have the energy to future proof those files, and doubt its even possible.
     
  11. Helinophoto

    Helinophoto Subscriber

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    I agree to you, I was just handing out some information.

    I get contacted by people with external drives that don't work anymore, all the time, they are rather desperate (even more so, if their laptops died or something).

    When I calmly extract the disks and hook them up, they are always very happy.
    - But they still don't print anything though, nor do they copy over their photos from that disk even though I tell them to, or to other disks or the cloud.....so they will keep using it, until the disk finally DO die (they all do, in the end, that is also why I always have my photos on a minimum of 2 drives at any time and change them out even though they may not be dead yet)

    But memories? For the past 12 years, I've been keeping that on film and before that (more or less), there was only film anyway :wink:

    I'm not loosing all that much in terms of memory if my drives went to hell today, only work (already delivered and forgotten).
     
  12. OP
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    blockend

    blockend Member
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    Good point, and I was going to say you'd think they'd get the message, but the fact is people don't want to have to care that much about saving every image they've ever taken. They want to know it's shot, it's done and the photo is reasonably safe. Unless you're a professional with blue chip clients, why would you want to expend that much effort second guessing tomorrow's technology? If you're a local portraitist you can offer the best archival print currently known, and a 5 year promise to back up files, but beyond that? It's a huge ask for anyone to worry about a photo that much.

    The truth is there's a disconnect between how people shoot photos, and their aspirations for those pictures, and what archiving them actually entails. It's not easy, but people don't want to think about it too much and hope for the best. Film is perceived as hard work and expensive, and if you treated every digital file shot in the same way as 35mm film, it would be both of those. But a film a week to record your life and have a hard copy? I think most people would think that a good deal but they won't because they think their images are free and forever, or just don't care either way.
     
  13. twelvetone12

    twelvetone12 Member

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    I had a LaCie disk that in which the box *welded* together - no screws!. Opening it was not a joke, but fun indeed :smile:
     
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  15. klownshed

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    I found the video too long and too preachy.

    After watching (and skipping through bits, 38 mins is way too long) my conclusions to his video:

    1. The reason you should shoot film is because you want to.
    2. Digital does not have to be bad for film to be good.
    3. Poor storage affects film as well as digital.

    For some reason he got my back up and made me feel defensive. And I love film!
     
  16. OP
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    blockend

    blockend Member
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    It was a polemic, not an instructional video. Regarding 3., he made some very good points. A house fire or flood is a tragic but rare occurrence, a hard drive failure is commonplace, indeed almost unavoidable unless you take extra precautions. There is no comparison in terms of likelihood. The long term viability of your preferred digital storage medium is out of your hands. Film enjoys the benefit of digital media (scanning, copying, cloud storage), digital does not have the benefits of film (original master, known archival longevity).
     
  17. Helinophoto

    Helinophoto Subscriber

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    Yes, some of those drives require knives as well, usually it's just a normal laptop-disk inside with a (broken, cheap, crappy) usb-interface.
     
  18. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser
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    no worries .. i understood what you meant even if you confused me :smile:
    a couple of cents a pop for a photograph is cheap !
    i wish everything was as cheap as getting a machine print --
     
  19. klownshed

    klownshed Member
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    I didn't think it was instructional ;-) I don't see why it had to be polemic though. That was my point. You don't need to attack digital for film to be good. Besides, the digital ship has well and truly sailed. But it's still OK to like film.

    Mould is more common. I have lost photos I took as a youngster that were stored in photo albums. The faux level covers were untouched, the photos didn't fare so well, mother nature seemed to think they were food. The negatives in print envelopes were also beyond repair. Don't tell me I stored them badly, that’s kind of my point. ;-)

    But I find these film=good, digital=bad 'polemics' to be tiresome. His title is "Why YOU should be shooting film". It didn't speak to me about why I shoot film, hence my reply.

    But for me, it was an unenjoyable video about a subject that I do enjoy. You don't have to dislike it just because I did though... ;-)
     
  20. OP
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    blockend

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    I share your dislike of film vs digital rants, but I thought this was a cut above the usual because the points he made were not subjective, aesthetic judgements but hard facts. My negatives have been through at least ten changes of accommodation over the decades from unheated student bed-sits, to damp old cottages, to centrally heated flats, and they're as good as the day then came out the wash. I know because I went through every one in the last six months. I don't even know where my old digital photos are, hard drives, memory sticks, CDs, SD cards, and even if I did know the clock is ticking on every one of those formats.
     
  21. Vincent Brady

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    That was long,but enjoyable and scary at the same time. I did notice that he had no contact sheets with his negatives and I think that this might come back to bite him, not now, but in 10 or 20 years time when he is looking for some negative to print.
     
  22. klownshed

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    I don't disagree about the issues with digital archiving. It takes a lot of time, thought, planning and care to ensure your files survive into the future. Which can be a right royal pain in the proverbial.

    It's not just the storage, but also the file formats that become obsolete. I have a stash of backups safely stored on 230Mb optical discs. I have no way of reading them though.

    I don't have an issue with the points raised in the video, but didn't enjoy the way they were presented.

    For balance, there is a documentary about film in the movie business called "Side by Side" that covers the same topics which I did enjoy. Whilst it deals with moving images, many of the issues are the same as for still images and film in a digital world. They cover the archival aspects of digital and film. It's commercial, not free to view on YouTube, but I believe it's available on Netflix in the US/Canada (But unfortunately not in the UK at the moment).

    It's well worth hunting down for a well written and balanced view of film in the digital world. I really enjoyed it and found it to be very interesting and informative. Many of the points in the youtube video above are covered in the film.

    http://sidebysidethemovie.com
     
  23. LAG

    LAG Member

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    Excuse me

    One question, was this video shot on film? Let's hope that nothing happens in the HD of Youtube so that his message full of wisdom is never lost ... No offense but frankly, this man is a short-sighted person, not only talking about d-g-t-l, but himself with film, and unfortunately for him, the reasons are recorded.

    Although the whole idea that he wants to transmit with his video is admirable, (nothing new to all of us and no doubt about it) most of his approach and all the background are completely wrong. I do not buy this kind of arguments and I do love film, just like the one who loves it the most (here and out of here), but if any of us, someday, need someone to talk about film seriously, it won't be him, nor his reasons, that's for sure.

    Regards

    p.s. The video should have started a few seconds after wiping the drool on his pants.
     
  24. OP
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    blockend

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    There's no serious argument against using digital recording media for moving pictures, unless you're making a feature film, and most directors have given up on film even for that purpose. The competition for a digital stills camera is a film stills camera. The competition for a modern digital movie camera is a 16mm film camera, but more likely 35mm film camera. 35mm film stock is around £1300 per 5 minute roll, minus editing, plus processing. Let's say £10000-12000 to shoot his YouTube segment. I don't think the YouTube guy expects his video to last for posterity
     
  25. Helios 1984

    Helios 1984 Member

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    ''Shooting film is the only option for keeping your photos forever" not it is not. If one can be serious about archiving physical photo/negs, there is no reason why someone could not be serious about archiving digital datas. Stop the bias plz.
     
  26. Chan Tran

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    Very true! and if Helios has the time and patience he could write down the value of all the bits and bytes in the image file on paper. Someone far in the future should be able to reconstruct the image perfectly.
     
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