Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Zeelim en Film

Today I have another short one for you.

Don't worry, next week's post will be really long...

I recently came back from 'miluim' in the desert. Knowing how dusty it can get I didn't take along my DSLR. Last time I had gone I took my old Sony H7 and got pretty decent pictures.

This time I wanted to challenge myself so I brought my film camera, with three rolls of film (thats 108 pics more or less).

This proved to be a good limitation, prevented me from taking loads of copies of the exact same thing and got me really thinking about each photo I took. The fact that each shot costs a few cents (in film and developing) also makes you stop and consider your frame and settings.

A sample of the best out of ~80 shots I took that week:

Surprisingly, I did get good shots (good enough to send to my friends at least) one out of two frames. In digital I would usually only bother to edit and upload one in ten.

Sunset. Some contrast and red tones added in Lightroom.

The fact that there are less pictures to choose from helps convince me to edit one out of two, but still. Digital photography has gotten me into the habit of 'spray and pray': shoot many pictures and hope one will be good. In film you don't really have that option (unless you are willing to carry lots of rolls and pay for all the developing costs). After a few days shooting only film I find myself thinking about each shutter release, even back in good ol' 4 frame per second digital.

Nightshot: using a small gorrilapod on top of the hummer. I was lucky to get a good angle with such a small tripod.

Beyond the limitations mentioned (which are good in some way) there are also technical downsides to shooting film. I don't have a darkroom and shoot cheap color film that gets developed in the store. You never know how the color will render at their machine and the scans are small and often low quality. It is extremely common to find dust pieces from the scanner.

This requires a lot of editing, adding lots of contrast and playing with the color settings in the scanned jpg's, but the quality of the images (no more than ~2.5 megapixels) really limits what you can get away with.

Deliberately under exposed by 0.7EV. Some recovery in the computer was added to get the sky as it looked in reality.

I decided not to go overboard with the noise reduction, for example. Thinking grainy pictures are a natural result of using film. If I really wanted to make it look like smooth digital quality, I would have lost a lot of details (cranking it up to ~50 in Lightroom's noise reduction). I do want to keep some of the attributes of film, so I kept a lot of grain in there.

Shot while driving, at about 1/400 to try and get it sharp. You don't get many chances in film.

One more thing: I tried to keep a notepad with the camera settings of every picture I took, to see where I made mistakes. Digital makes that much easier for us. In digital this is a very good habit if you want to learn to get better exposures (more on that in the next post).

All in all I recommend getting out your "FSLR" and trying it out (steal your parents' or friend's camera and buy dirt cheap expired film rolls), it will help you get into the mind set for getting better pictures. This really improved my picture taking process, having played with film before I got my first digital SLR.

All pictures taken that week were in color 200ASA, using a cheap (but in no way bad) Nikkor 50mm f/1.8.

Comments are welcome, as always...

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