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Thursday, 25 July 2019


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After I conceive the shot (develope in my mind), everything else is scut work. I'm no control-freak, scut work is best done by the hired help.

Not often sometimes and I feel nostagic I change my settings from my Mirrorless digital camera. Monochrome (or sometimes color), single frame, manual focus, etc. I set the priority speed to iso 400 I use an old Nikon prime lens with an aperature ring. I even will limit my shots to less than 24 shots. I try to not chimp the images, but now that is instinctive. Like when I shoot a roll of film I forget to forward the frame. Nobody even seems to know what I'm doing. Of course my darkroom experience is via a cable connected to my computer.

When quality film scanner became available I was elated. Finally, I could do away with darkroom printing. But after a while, constant negative spots, dust and scratch removal in Photoshop became tedious. I finally broke down and bought my first digital camera, a Canon S80 with an 8mp ccd sensor. Then I bought my first printer, an Epson 1160 and started using piezography. I've never regretted it.

I'm in John Camp's camp on his first paragraph.
There's just a certain something to darkroom work, even if my results suck. Regardless, I'm selling off my film cameras and old lenses, and not going back. Signed up for a Scott Kelby seminar in Philly at the end of August, partly induced by getting a copy of ON1 Photo Raw included in the price, since I would love to get out of the Adobe LR/PS madness.

It is said that if one holds a bar of gold, it can change a personality and turn men into monsters. The effect cannot be explained by logic.

Of all my Leica M bodies, the M3 is the most dangerous to hold, because the next thing that happens is to play with it, fondle it, look at it, think about it and then shoot with it.

The M2 and M4 don't seem to have that effect on me.

The moral, I guess, is "different strokes for different folks," or if one is using that M3, perhaps double strokes.

My transition from film to digital was neither abrupt nor trivial after I decided to digitize my precious collection of 35mm color transparencies in 2007, well into my DSLR era that started with the affordable Nikon D70. I had accumulated enough slides to fill 80 carousel trays. Most were Kodachrome II, then Kodachrome 64, Fujichrome and Agfachrome, followed by a smattering of Perutz, Ferrania Color and AnscoChrome.

Kodachromes were still holding up well after 40 years, but the lesser brands exhibited fading, fungus and color shifts that convinced me it was high time for conversion to digital files to achieve image preservation, restoration and enhancement. Then I could conveniently sort, duplicate and share files, not to mention save closet space after discarding bulky carousel trays that held mostly air, anyway. Finally, it had become an unwelcome chore to set up projector and screen for family members to sit still in one place long enough for a slide show, especially after most soon found the event tedious.

A good computer was essential, and I couldn’t improve much then on my Apple PowerMac G5 running 10.4.3 Tiger OS. I connected this by Firewire to a Minolta Dimage Scan Elite 5400, fortunately before Minolta quietly discontinued this nice unit a few years later. Digital imaging was displacing analog film so rapidly slide scanners for amateur home use were rapidly becoming obsolete, except for leftover curios on eBay, or lower quality flat bed versions.

I had unloaded all carousels and placed their slides into Logan metal filing boxes as the downsized reservoir. Next, the slides were sampled in roughly chronological order and edited on a light box for scanning, as it was impractical to digitize every one. The yield of worthy images was not so bad at around 30%, but even after this curation my task appeared daunting.

I needed a minimum 2-hour block of uninterrupted time for efficient work flow with parallel processing of tasks. It turned out the optimum number for scanning in one unbroken session was around 45 for encouraging progress, before fatigue and errors set in. For example, after editing and staging slides, I would boot up the G5 and initialize the scanner. Each scan job was restricted to a batch of four by the slide holder insert, so I’d load this up, blow off loose dust and engage the holder to feed automatically through the scanner. The Minolta Dimage had the very nice digital ICE feature that removed dust by subtracting an infrared image, but this doubled scan time.

I organized the images by year, then month and slide number. Typical JPEG image size was set at around 2.6 MB to balance quality against time. Eventually I processed a total of 2,275 JPEG files for posterity. This number may seem modest for an enthusiastic hobbyist, but it reflects the frugality imposed by shooting Kodachromes on a limited budget. The exercise of paying strict attention to exposure, composition, focus and lighting became good training for shot discipline.

Digital files were then burned onto CD-RW discs (remember those?) for physically distributing to family members, given the limitations of dial-up connections and bandwidth. Later I made several albums from the digital archive in printed book form as final admission this was the best medium for intimate sharing after all. The wheel had turned full circle.

The beat goes on... My 15 year old has just come back from a geography field trip to The Azores. He left his A7iii behind, taking my father's Nikon F301 and my old Nikon 35mm f2. He's now into 'film photography'. "Do you get the same grain in the prints as the scans Dad? Wow!" What goes around, comes around...

Re the “Return to Film” group
A. It makes me happy
B. It makes me wonder if it is a phenomenon primarily of those of us ‘of a certain age’, who grew up with film, or if there might be a corollary younger group who came to film after growing up with Digital?

It would be fun to know.

I recently got a promotional email for a new version of a consumer photo editing package, and it’s marquee feature is
“Instant sky replacement” it sounded like a library of stock sky photos that you can appropriate and call your own.
Now, you no longer even have to BE where your “photograph” was taken.
Perhaps next years feature will be a selection of faces that you can use to make your family more attractive?
Maybe stuff like this will be the thing that drives people back to film??

Photographers are not the only and artists who sometimes prefer the older slower ways of practicing their art.

Neil Gaiman, Joyce Carol Oats, Tom Wolfe, Joe Haldeman, Andre Dubus III, and Joshua Ferris are well known and successful writers who prefer pen, pencil and paper to word processor.

Although Wolfe prefers using typewriters for his novels, he decided to write his fourth book, Back to Blood, completely in longhand. When asked why he wrote the 704-page novel with a pencil, he simply replied that it was easier to erase.

4 Nikons (1 Nikon Z, I think), 6 Canons, 1 Sony (I think), 1 Leica M10, and 11 cell phones (one person has 2).


My B&W film days shooting Leica M rangefinders were the best time I ever had as an amateur photographer. My first and only enlarger was a Focomat V35 Autofocus and soon after I added a Heiland Splitgrade controller. I used to spend a lot of time in my darkroom. Even though I was, and still am, an average photographer, I became a very good printer and framer. I had an amazing friend who was my darkroom teacher, and then I read everything about printing. I am very proud of my framed prints. Now I need to learn to properly print with my digital files. Easier said than done.

Bernard, that Elmar in the back is an amazing lens. It looks funny but if you hit her sweetspot is just incredible. ( lens hood is a must )

did anyone here get any of that $94.50 Sony and other cameras on Amazon prime day?

After all these years with analogue photography, Minor-White-type pre-visualisation has become a bone in my body (hm!) and I perform it almost subconsciously.

With digital photography, post-visualisation has become much more important - and time consuming. When my computer screen fills up with thumbnails of unprocessed RAW images, the post-visualisation of what these files may yield when properly treated in Capture One is just as decisive for the end result as pre-visualisation. It takes a lot of imagination, dedication, time and work. But it pays off.

I’ve been following along with interest. At present, I still shoot color using digital cameras. However, for the last year and a half I’ve been shooting BW using film which I develop myself and then scan into the digital world for adjustment and printing—a “hybrid” approach. I decided to try this approach because I just love using film cameras, especially the older ones. I have a cabinet full of them and I was getting ready to put them on eBay, but then thought better of it. Most of them are mechanical marvels like Swiss watches. They are fun to use and it is fun to learn about their history. I also like the process involved in using them which I find more “in the moment” than DI. I’ve enjoyed researching and learning about film and film development, and like the “craft” part of it. But I don’t have the desire to set up a full darkroom and do all the work associated with wet printing. I also find that shooting with a camera like a Rollei TLR on the street has some advantages...it has provoked great interest instead of hostility in potential subjects when I wish to engage with people, or allows discrete shooting when I do not.

The “scut” work associated with film scanning nearly ended this renewed foray back into film for me, but digital camera based scanning and a Lightroom plugin called Negative Lab Pro may save the day. Much faster and easier. I see no advantage to shooting color film in this way, I think that DI has that nailed and I find the options and processes with BW film more appealing than C41.

All this conversation has resulted in my M6 sitting on my desk loaded with p3200 ready to go, so good work?

[Not till you actually shoot it! :-) --Mike]

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