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Thursday, 25 March 2021


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Pixels may be free, but time spent culling dross isn’t. Just sayin’.

I don't shoot a lot of duplicates anymore. But, like you, I keep all my cameras set to Continuous High. It's often amazing how things change between frames shot at 5-8 fps.

Another thing I never do anymore is keep the few dupes I shoot. If I go back to the files late, I always second guess myself. Best leave it alone and stick to the first choice.

Yes! I follow your links and appreciate your curation. You seem to be in a groove with several interesting posts in a row, so rock on!

While Bossi's pictures may be, in the view of some,"wierd and different," to my eye the examples shown are also dull and uninspiring, and they reveal all the weaknesses and none of the possible strengths of film. Colour film often handles neutrals really poorly, especially if not processed and printed well. Everything that is a struggle with film in architectural photography--colour accuracy, control of contrast and tonality in difficult and mixed lighting, accurate portrayal of material textures, among other things--are all so much easier with digital backs on architectural cameras. There is a fetish for film and the work of Bossi we see in the article is a good argument against.

Mike, thank you for bringing this publication and the photographer to my attention. Interesting.

As someone who also photographs architecture with a large format camera I relate to the thrust of Simone Bossi's interview. Which is: Spend more time actually looking at the architecture, take far fewer photographs, and accept the imperfections.

Standing, looking, and feeling, waiting for the alignment of light, or the shadow to clear, I have often found myself in a spiritual state. Then I know I am in tune with the architect, the artist. Then I see more and the images improve.

A 4x5 monorail camera enabling large parallel shifts (front rise) and wide-angle lenses having large image circles capable of large shifts are the perfect tools for making photographs of architecture.

Using 4x5 film on an exterior architectural site in daylight is straightforward. Film doesn't take issue with light coming from acute angles.

Recently, as a result of increasing impediments to international travel with film, I have acquired the digital equivalent. Digital backs and digital lenses with large image circles are many times more expensive than using film. When shifted, the light arriving on a digital sensor causes a 'colour cast' in the peripheral areas of the frame that can be corrected in post, but only to a point. The retrofocus lenses produced in response have excessive distortion. If you can, go with film.

Most of the comments posted beneath the article are defensive and completely miss the point. Many digital photographers rush around taking hundreds of exposures, a jab here, a jab there, looking and seeing little, and take photographs that distort the architecture, yet obsess in post over tiny imperfections.

Sometimes, the tools influence the creative process in ways that have to be experienced to be understood.

I watched a European photography competition show where they brought in 12 contestants (based on submitted portfolios) to have one eliminated each week after being presented with wide ranging assignments in every possible type of photography. All had access to any Leica camera and lens, which they picked based on the assignment.

All were really digital oriented and mostly young, with a mentality that unlimited frames and editing would get them the results to pass the challenge.

The last four had an assignment that made me jump out of my chair and yell at the screen, "Ha, take that!" They were handed a Leica R6 and a 50mm Summicron and 3 rolls of B&W film. Then they were flown to unique destinations around Europe and given 24 hours to complete the assignment of "people and places".

Most have never seen film or knew how to load it. The fully manual camera resulted in so many wrong exposures. They instinctively kept looking at the back of their cameras to review the images, only to be reminded that there was no LCD. Most blasted through their film way too quick... they only had 108 frames. Then upon returning it was wet darkroom time to present 3 images.

The winner got 150,000 Euros, but after surviving to the final four that film challenge was a killer for these digital only shooters. I loved that episode.

"... I learned that you could shoot away at something with a motor drive...and still miss the actual peak moment..."

Saw this in a photo magazine decades ago: If you have a 5 FPS motor drive and are shooting at an action stopping 1/1000th of a second thinking this guarantees getting the exact moment, remember in one second you capture 5/1000th of that second, but you miss 995/1000th of that same second.

Metaphysical artspeech...signifying nothing productive. IMO

Yeah, but 5 FPS is so last century!

One of the scarier options in my Oly is the ability to have it start capturing a very rapid sequence of images just before I push the shutter release. I probably ought to be working to incorporate this into my action shooting more; in fact doing something like what Mike talks about, pushing the button fewer times, but getting bursts really fast and starting slightly early (this is "Pro Capture Mode"). And I can do this up to 18 FPS with autofocus active between each frame, or up to 60 FPS without autofocus! Luckily, I can crank down that top rate.

(The "start capturing before I press the release" magic is the same thing as the audio recorders that start recording a few seconds before you press record -- it buffers constantly, and when you push the release it dumps some recent past data from the buffer as well as starting to capture new data.)

A generation or two ago, I read an architecture critic blame modern architectures boxy blandness on photography. When students no longer sketched, drew or painted, they ceased to see complete buildings and created endlessly repeating patterns that extended to infinity. Formerly buildings showed foundations, middles and finials. To Capture an image of building: take paper and pen and study the building. Or at least a view camera with all the movements.

I recently read this from an interview with portrait photographer Jonathan Canlas:

There is not the same feeling for me when using a digital camera vs shooting a film camera. If they could create a camera that literally charged you money for every time you hit the shutter, then I MIGHT attempt to shoot digital but the idea of going through a burst of 10 photos of something and having to cull that down to just 1 and doing that hundreds of times literally makes me want to quit photography. I want nothing to do with it. (Link to full interview here.)

Digital being "too much to digest and too much to control" is something I've been feeling the weight of lately. I liberally delete my photos, and I try to stick to only one or two frames from a particular moment, but even then, when you have twenty to choose from, it can be so hard. "Broadly the same but slightly different" can be torture, and a big time suck. It is easier to come back to it a month later when you're less attached, but making the time to do that when you're busy taking hundreds more photos that are broadly the same but slightly different can be equally discouraging.

Thanks for the thoughts.

Things take as long as they take—there is no magic formula that will compress or lengthen time.

Using film does not change anything important. Composition and lighting does not change—it still takes as long as it takes. As mentioned by others, gear does not make photos, a photographer is still required.

This is a Cambo ACTUS-GFX view camera. Mounts are available for many DSLR, most mirrorless as well as digital backs.

Being a digital native, I appreciate the point about not having to wade through hundreds or thousands of images afterwards, and deleting most of the dross. Done it twice after holidays and that was enough. Prefer to shoot with manual Nikkors on DSLR and think before I shoot.
Interesting point about how he preferred to shoot negative space, too.
There was an interesting article associated to it about shooting images of plants with a micro-ct scanner. Produced x-ray like images. I enjoy a good mix of science and aesthetics too.
Thanks for the link.

This reminded me of my college days (with subsidised film and paper etc) when I used to spend hour upon hour in the darkroom, making hundreds of prints from the same negative, all of which were wrong in some way.

Now I just take hundreds of digital images of the same thing, importing them into Lightroom and finding that all of them are wrong in some way...

Of course I have my tongue planted firmly in cheek, but it struck me that some things haven’t changed as much as we think!!

I hate looking through loads of photos that are nearly all the same and just choosing one. I hate it so much that I value the digital preview function on my Pentax, where I can take a test shot but the camera doesn't save it; one less shot to discard! I have no idea if other cameras also do this, but I take as few photos as I can get away with.

Having said that, I did take 150 photos of a small event on Tuesday night, and I'll probably end up with no more than a dozen; but I had to get results. Even 9000 ISO wasn't quite enough, and I was pushing my luck shooting at an 1/8th at f/2.8.

I am not a subscriber to the school of practice that uses bondage, antique or otherwise, to enforce discipline in photography (or anything else, for that matter). Strengthen your eye/mind engine and give it the most powerful, versatile tool you can get. The whole I-make-better-pictures-because-I-can-only-shoot-1-at-a-time is such faux virtue signaling.

Lovely article and ideas. Yours and the linked one.

Jane Bown again, wryly, when she was asked about her technique:

“I have an exposure I like. F2.8 at a 1/60th of a second.”

Coincidentally, I stumbled upon a pair of Canon G6 (vintage?) digital cameras that are like they left the production line this afternoon. They've got those horrid but adorable itty bitsie viewfinders. And a fairly low ISO ceiling. But wow, what a colour signature. I've yet to find a nicer one. So I made a HaldCLUT that bang on replicates it... Anyhow - the images I make with them are just so lovely. Not to detract from the images with the other Dragoons (too soon?).

I feel like I make the lovely images because of the extended thought that is needed to compensate for the restrictive technical aspects of the mediums device.

Creativeness 101. Limits spur creativity. D'oh.

I must admit, I have learned no life lessons while photographing mud wrestlers in a mall. I guess that is why I am compelled to visit this website so often.

[No, not "a" mall, THE Mall...the National Mall, with the Capitol at one end, the Lincoln Memorial on the other, and the Washington Monument in the middle. The fire department had opened a hydrant for public relief against the heat and the spray had turned the ground to muck. A big muscular fellow was beating all comers until he ran into a smaller fellow who was obviously a trained wrestler. The big guy seemingly couldn't work out why the littler guy kept beating him, so he kept wanting rematches. A crowd formed to watch. --Mike]

I've never understood why people (in this case maybe more the writer, than the subject of the piece) are so concerned with how many frames it took me, or you, or whoever to get the picture that they wanted. Especially these days I say shoot as much as you want as long as you don't show me the ones that are boring.

I am also reminded of a story that Galen Rowell tells about shooting his first story for National Geographic about a rock climbing trip up Half Dome (I think) where he shot on the order of 60 to 70 rolls of film and the only complaint he got from the editor was that he did not shoot enough.

As a commercial photographer, when I branched out from doing mostly product photography into work for agencies and corporations, I noticed that for each situation, the best image was always within the first two rolls of 120, and most likely in the first roll. All additional rolls were shot specifically at the request of the art directors I worked with, who were always worried that they wouldn't have enough images to pick from! I can only imagine that this has run off the rails in the digital era!

I suppose that is why so many photographers are using in camera digital video, you get 30 frames a sec in full 4k HD, very easy to get excellent quality still frames! How can you go wrong?

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