Well, here it is! The first blog post. I have to be honest, I’ve no real idea what I’m doing. I’m somewhat walking into the unknown as I have no real idea about what makes a successful blog. I suppose I really just have to keep in mind the aim of this website: that of promoting Large Format photography, and film photography in general. I truly believe film still has so much to offer. Yes, sure digital is cheaper to run and easier in post processing and blah blah blah. Who cares? Photography for me isn’t about megapixels this, and barrel distortion that. Photography is about being out among the landscape and capturing it at its best. I choose film because it’s not about taking an image, it’s about making a photograph. Arguably the same thing in principle, but not for me personally. Photography goes deeper than just the science. My aim is to feel more connected to the photograph, its process, and how it converts from one form to another to end up at the final result. I couldn’t help but feel that with digital, it was all too quick, simple, and safe, not to mention a little sterile and predictable. Film offers that unknown, that little bit of excitement, and characteristics in rendering that digital is still a long way off replicating in my opinion.
I’m yet to touch upon the most important aspect of film. On my first trip to the highlands back in early 2009 (Please do read my about page), I took the D700 and took about 800 frames in 6 days. 800! Now, of course, any wedding / event / gig / etc photographer will laugh their lens caps off at that, thinking: “800?! I take that amount every hour!”. Indeed, and that’s fine. I’m not saying that film is the only way forward for all genres of photography. I’d certainly use digital were I taking those kind of photos at those kind of events. For me though, taking landscapes, 800 is frankly excessive. Isn’t it? Perhaps some may think that’s fine. I however look at it in terms of frames taken as a ratio with *good* photographs achieved. I achieved perhaps around 8 decent photographs from that trip. 1 in every 100 frames was worth NOT binning. I personally find this a little bit silly and in my opinion, means I’m missing the point. We all want to improve, so why not be critical of the scene at the time as well as later in review? But this is the thing. Digital makes it so easy to machine gun the shutter with no repercussions other than devaluing the body on the second hand market slightly and clogging up your hard disks! And who cares about that?! Film, on the other hand, costs to run. Every frame costs a non-negligible amount of money, which will add up very sharply with a heavy shutter finger. The result is, while your out there, that muffled high-pitched noise coming from your pocket is your wallet screaming at you to slow down. And there it is! You’ve converted a financial burden into motivation to improve as a photographer. As such, one takes fewer frames, and thereby considers the scene more critically at the time; is this shot worth it, or not. You’re now considering what the frame looks like. Are there any distractions in the frame? Is the light right? Could it be better? Is the composition exactly how I like it? These are all the right questions for any level of landscape photographer, only now you’re forcing yourself to ask them at the time. THIS is the most important aspect of film. To slow down, consider more and to improve as a result. The simple phrase “get it right in camera” sums it up perfectly for me, and that’s how I aim to work. I don’t claim to be a professional and this is all my personal opinion, but it’s at least logical, right?
So there it is. The first post. For anyone thinking of trying film for the first time, or even going back to it after a long absence, just do it. Embrace it as a separate medium to digital and challenge yourself to make every frame from a roll or box a frame worthy of showing off. Just see how your frames to great photographs ratio improves!