Confessions Of A Film Addict

If you have read more than a couple of posts here you have probably figured out that it's fairly strange mix of digi-techno-stuff, film zealotry, photographic philosophy, and pointless rants about things that set me off. In my last post I challenged you to shoot a contact sheet that you would be comfortable showing other people with a set of very stringent rules designed to alter your thinking just a bit when making decisions about releasing the shutter. While that was my primary agenda of attempting to contribute to the photographic universe of all things that I consider good and righteous, I did have a more nefarious agenda as well.

One part of that nefarious agenda was the subtle use of the term contact sheet. Obviously you can simulate one by printing out JPEGs but you cannot make a real one without shooting film. You can even go so far as to simulate one via output of digital files to real film using a film recorder and then make a real contact sheet but it still will not be the same for a bunch of reasons. While I really do enjoy my contact sheets (as well as other people's contact sheets) and think that they can be aesthetically enjoyable in their own right, my real mission was yet again to promote the occasional use of real film. Be it color or black and white.

There it is, my confession. Why am I so adamant about this shooting of the film thing? Many, many reasons. Let's take a look at just one today. Shooting different cameras can and does cause you to make different images. Of course both you and I and most other people can do cockamamy left-brained exercises that show you how the same crappy (or reasonably competent) image can be made with any camera from a point and shoot to an 8x10 view camera. We could also arrange idiotic circumstances to demonstrate how you couldn't possibly make the same image with anything but a particular camera. This is not what I am talking about at all - namely exercises designed to demonstrate some point.

What I am talking about here is that there is some degree of intuitive, subconscious, tactile, emotional, non-technical things that go on in the course of making photographs that is influenced by what particular tool you are using on a particular day, month, or year. There are vast differences like those between a view camera and a cellphone camera as well as subtle differences between a rangefinder or an SLR or even between SLR's. Shooting a camera with a limit of one image every minute or so at full speed is way different than shooting a camera that has infinite number of images at a rate of 10 fps. If you shoot people even your subjects tend to react differently to different cameras.

The problem with digital cameras are that they are mostly the same. Really, with very few recent exceptions they are the same, same, same. Yea, I know the M9 is different than an SLR that is different than a point and shoot but for the most you have two different camera types - an SLR and a point and shoot if you exclude the M9. What is worse is they mostly have the same output across the entire spectrum. No I am not talking about noise or resolution - I am talking about aesthetic qualities of the image but that is a conversation for another day.

As we go down the road you pretty much have point and shoot cameras where you view the image through no viewfinder and SLR's where you look at the image in somewhat real-time. They all feel the same way, they all look very similar, they all work the same way. The diversity of film cameras throughout the history of film are so very different it makes your head spin. Use one and you will take different pictures - really. A D3 vs a 5D? Will you make different images? Probably not.

RB

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