Film Vs Digital Photography
I am a lover of all things old and new. I appreciate art and music of all genres. When it comes to my own style of photography, I have always seen myself as a fine art photographer. That can mean a wide variety of things to different photographers and I feel the term “fine art” is used very loosely used these days. In the dictionary “fine art” is defined as “creative art, especially visual art whose products are to be appreciated primarily or solely for their imaginative, aesthetic, or intellectual content.”
So what exactly does this mean? I love the words imaginative and esthetic. My style has been developed over time and inspires a visual esthetic that is soft, timeless , painterly and graceful while invoking a creative response in the viewers of my images. These qualities name how I love to produce my imagery and all those things encompass my film works.
So why film?
I mean sure It’s expensive and doesn’t always respond well to low light situations. It also doesn’t provide instant gratification the way digital does and did I mention its expensive? Yes its costly.
I probably would profit more if I did not shoot film. But that is the artist in me, and my heart wants what it wants…and it wants to shoot film.
The day I picked up my film camera I felt like I fell in love. Both excited and terrified at the same time. I remembered when I was 12 shooting with my old Pentax camera. The smell of the old leather case that it lived in, the sound of the trigger, the speckles of dust and grain through the lens are all still etched in my memory. Every time I shoot with my old film cameras all those memories instantly come back.
When I get my film scans back from the lab its like Christmas every time. The excitement is overwhelming at time. When I shoot with my film camera of choice, my Contax 645, I choose my shots very carefully. The connection I have with my subjects become deeper. Its almost like I crawl inside of the image and hyper focus to be sure I get the shot. There is more connection to the moment as I can’t look at the back of a screen to see what I just shot. SO I stay connect and focused.
The results of film images are softer and less digitalized looking. The highlights and the shadows stay in a beautiful harmony to one another whereas digital can tend to get hyper digital and some times blow out the highlights or create blackness with the shadows.
I get a beautiful amount of grain which gives my images a timelessness that looks authentic and old. I get colors that are beautiful and look almost watercolored. I love the look of film and honestly my best works have been shot on film.
Now does this all mean that I dislike digital? Absolutely not! I love digital for what it is. I love that it is a fantastic tool that can respond in low light very well. I will usually shoot digital indoors in low light situations and use my digital to back my film photography, but for fine art painterly images….I choose film.
Here are some film and digital images you can compare to see the differences…
Notice here in these two images the details in the leaves are softer in the film image.
In full sun situations where there is no shade we get more detail in the sky and colors of the greens become punchy.
Lena’s hair is richer in the film image. This was shot on the Pentax so the resolution is a little different than my contax, however I love the timeless quality the film image on the left has.
Shot at the same exposure I prefer the film image on the left especially because of the skin tones. You also notice a lot of detail in the leaves of her bouquet without it looking hyper digital.
I will always prefer film in full sunlight images. Here you can really see the difference between the highlights of the film image (second image) vs the highlights of the digital image on the left. You lose more detail in the digital image and the highlights blow out more.