Experimentation in Film vs Digital
December 1, 2005 10:13 PM   Subscribe

Alternative methods of photography When I first saw Scott Mutter [previously linked], I was hooked, and purchased a manual focus Nikon FG. I've resisted going digital (as have many) [partial nudity] until recently, when I purchased a DSLR - as I felt that nothing could come close to an SLR. While I love it, I find myself still fascinated by the older methods [main link], and the internet has allowed for easy distribution of unusual pinhole camera plans [annoying flash interface]. But is there a place for those of us holding on to the last fragments of traditional photography, or will alternative digital methods have to suffice?
posted by MysticMCJ (42 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm honestly trying to avoid the whole "Is photography art anymore?" discussion that creeps into these threads. I'm more interested in what sort of methods Digital photographers have to explore, as it seems to be not as open to experimentation.

I, personally, feel that there is a place for both digital and analog photography, but I appear to be in a rapidly shrinking minority.

[my very first mefi post, after years of lurking]
posted by MysticMCJ at 10:16 PM on December 1, 2005

Is there a succinct rationale for preferring analogue/film? Is it an antiquarian hankering for 'something real' in a rapidly changing world? Because there are very limited or no technical reasons not to change.

Especially when the results of your work are displayed digitally!
posted by wilful at 10:18 PM on December 1, 2005

So far, the best arguments to preserve film have been that current technology cannot (affordably - i believe 20MP medium format bodies are around 20K) approach the quality of medium format film. Notice I did NOT say 35MM.

However, most of that seems to be coming from the artistic community. Commercial photographers seem to be jumping ship more and more these days. In particular, portraiture and wedding photography have really taken to digital. But the artistic community as a whole seems to have a lot of disdain for digital. I think some see it as a threat, but I think others may have more valid reasons.

That being said, there's not really a digital equivalent to the pinhole camera, is there? Which is why Im wanting to focus on experimental methods.

What methods do we have to experiment with with digital (when it comes to the act of taking the picture itslf - I'm not even going to discuss photoshop right now) aside from camera-tossing and the like? Is there anything that is truly unique to digital when it comes to experimentation - something that can't be done via post-processing a scanned/digital image?
posted by MysticMCJ at 10:32 PM on December 1, 2005

My brother is a professional photographer (fashion mostly) and he's now 100% digital. His main digital camera is one of those expensive models, it offers him a lot of flexibility, as much as his hasselblad used to.
posted by wilful at 10:48 PM on December 1, 2005

As far as photojournalism is concerned, where speed = money, digital is king. Also, for the hobbyist, one could argue that in the long run a digital SLR camera will be just as expensive or even less than a film SLR camera plus film and processing costs.

MysticMCJ, you're right when it comes to quality—medium format is still king—but since almost every photographer, 35mm or otherwise, I know sends their photos through the computer at some point, for most people it makes sense to go digital from the point where the light hits the film sensor. For amateurs and semi-pros like me, digital is a lot more flexible, and your darkroom can fit into a laptop.

I do enjoy playing around with toy cameras though, for an entirely different reason.
posted by armage at 10:50 PM on December 1, 2005

Digital will soon overtake film in the quality per $ area. Right now if you make large prints film is cheaper and has better quality. For regular prints (say less than 8x10, but perhaps now even including that size) the cost of printing a digital print is about the same, although if you do it yourself rather than have it done the hassle factor, including getting the color right, is much higher. While film still has a higher quality print, at these resolutions it is harder to tell. The one big reason I would stay with film for serious shooting: pro labs. A good pro film lab will make your prints look awesome, for a price. As far as I know, you can not really get the same quality out of digital printing services. This will change, and soon. Good digital cameras also cost a whole lot more than good film cameras of comparable quality. This will also change, and probably fairly soon now that the rush to digital has really taken off. For me, one of the nicest things about taking digital pictures is that you do not have to print them. I store them digitally, I share them digitally, and only rarely do I print one. I also think that digital photography promotes creativity by reducing the cost to zero of taking massive amounts of shots of the same subject. I probably won't completely give up on film for a long time (I still love my Rollieflex and manual Nikons), but the trend keeps moving toward digital pictures.
posted by caddis at 10:56 PM on December 1, 2005

I think there'll always be a market for film, just as there'll always be a market for specialized airbrush inks or really nice charcoal pencils. Some people will never be convinced that anything could beat developing your own film and making your own prints.

Myself, I'd rather have a digital camera because I don't have money to burn on film developing. But it'll still be a sad day when the big manufacturers stop making filmstock.
posted by chrominance at 11:08 PM on December 1, 2005

Is there a succinct rationale for preferring analogue/film?

It's the same reason audiophiles prefer tube amps. They're warmer. :)
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:09 PM on December 1, 2005

This is the basic unit of film grain. How are you ever going to hope to compare an X-by-Y rectangular digital photograph with that? How are you ever going to compare digital noise with that?

In photography that depends only on the aesthetic beauty of the picture (typically bland landscapes) or even the simple subject of the photograph (portraits), there's a large danger in focusing on the subject, and focusing only on the simple presentation on the subject, and deriving from the focus on 'presentation' (rather than 'portrayal') that something more accurate is better. I think that's where the idiotic megapixel-comparison film vs. digital debate comes from.

(Portaits can be different, yes, Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon, and Henri Cartier-Bresson aren't/weren't simply working with the subject but with their human ability to draw out certain emotions and expressions within the subject; having the instinct and timing to capture that emotion. Great photographs/portraits lie on a different level and rely on the emotionality of the photographer, not the image quality. Look at HCB's way of capturing Marilyn Monroe -- this is a totally different person as you've probably seen her!.)

That's not the point. Film and digital are not two different mediums with the identical capacity to display an image. The point is that photography (film or digital) is a medium with a limitation, and it's in the stretching of these limitations that you can find this creativity that you're searching for. It's not about having better image quality -- it's the lack of image quality that's important. After all, without a frame, a photograph wouldn't be a photograph in the first place.

I'm not sure if this is my personal bias, but this seems to be a predominantly Western thing. Try looking at Eikoh Hosoe -- how he uses film grain, the loss of information. Try looking at other modern Japanese photographers. Go online on the Korean photo sites Raysoda.com and Voigtclub.com and you'll see that the general tone and the general way in which people utilize and prioritize composition, form, color, subject matter is different from that of photo.net or so.

Photoshop is seen as an absolutely essential tool for digital photography because it allows for basic digital manipulation, burning, cropping, dodging, levels, color balance, what-have-you-not. This is because digital photography is a digital medium. (surprise!) Film photography, on the other hand, is a chemical medium -- and the capacity for creativity and improvisation within that medium is still strong, I think. Film grain is something that is emulated but never correctly reproduced -- so why not take some iso 400 ilford hp5 and push it up to 3200, 6400? Enhance and cherish the grain and contrast. Muck things up; try using a darkroom; try doing solarization in the darkroom; try shining an image on a print that's becoming solarized, see what happens. Try not printing the entire photograph;
this (warning: self link) Mess the temperature of film up. Try cross-processing, then the other way around (C-41 as E-6). What if you had a photo exhibit created entirely with prints that weren't fully fixed, and that grew slowly darker and darker as time passed? What if you only fix parts of a print (airbrush a stencil onto photo paper with fixer?) and use that to make a print that morphs as time passes? What happens when film is developed in cold water? hot water?

Endless. I mean, take the basic unit of film photography (it's chemicality) and distort it, squeeze it -- I think you'll find that the wealth inside to be found can be much, much more creative than using photoshop filters... or talking about megapixels, for that matter ;)
posted by provolot at 11:17 PM on December 1, 2005 [1 favorite]

That should read 'its chemicality' above..
posted by provolot at 11:21 PM on December 1, 2005

Thanks, MysticMCJ. Here's another good link for creative pinhole photography. For example, Thomas Hudson Reeve folds pinhole cameras out of photographic paper, giving the images an amazing kaleidoscopic effect. I want someone to invent a flexible digital film sheet with a small remote control/LCD screen, for use in a conventional film camera or under a wine glass for more abstract work.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:26 PM on December 1, 2005

shit; I totally misread the FPP. ohhh well. Hope it helps anyways =)
posted by provolot at 11:27 PM on December 1, 2005

Is there a succinct rationale for preferring analogue/film?

The short list: Bleach bypassing, cross processing, pinhole cameras that use paper negatives, the results from a anamorphic pinhole camera, emulsion lifts, SX70 film manipulation, polaroid transfers, photos shot with a diana/holga/lomo lca or any number of toy and/or classic cameras.

as it seems to be not as open to experimentation.

hmm van dyke process, gum arabic prints, heck any of the contact print type processes can be used with a digital camera and subsequent print, dSLR's can be used as pinhole cameras and you can even do a lift off of ink jet prints using paint thinner for the print transfer look.

But I'm with provolot on this one, I like the experimentation film allows over the 1's and 0's of digital.
posted by squeak at 11:28 PM on December 1, 2005

Check out Bethany de Forest. Amazing.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:32 PM on December 1, 2005

There's just as much experimentation to be had in the digital realm. Some guys just like getting their hands dirty, and could never shake their addiction to the fixer-bath high.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:34 AM on December 2, 2005

I'm more interested in what sort of methods Digital photographers have to explore, as it seems to be not as open to experimentation

I really don't understand this. You can spend a lifetime just in photoshop alone and barely even scratch the surface. Plenty of people use and abuse image manipulation tools for artistic purposes.

To my mind, it's always seemed that film is the one less open to experimentation - you spend all day in the darkroom, and you can run up quite a tab. If you're a starving artist, investing in digital would seem to open your experimental horizons far more than investing in a darkroom. You screw up a photo that you were, I don't know, smearing with something before developing it, you get to start over from the beginning. Digital, you can often chose between starting over, or just undo the step you scewed up, or anything in-between, meaning you can get more experimentation done in less time.

In fact, I suspect that is precisely because digital is so much more open to experimentation that some people are reluctant to embrace it - digital is so open it starts to feel like it has no true form, that it's not real, when you're used to working within very tight constraints. I get the impression there is a "If you can do anything, how can the results really ever mean anything" sort of feeling, or something.

I love to work within tight constraints, find new ways to use or bypass the limits, turn bugs into features, take advantage of the nature of the medium, etc, but I'm usually pretty unimpressed with art that hinges on this stuff. I find it tends to convey the unfortunate impression that the average fine artist is quite lacking in skill compared to the average commercial artist, and art where the insight is presented with great skill and the most appropriate techniques to reaching its goal, tends to resonate with me better than insight presented clumsily, or presented merely adequately via masterful use of an inappropriate or limiting technique.

It's pretty boring when someone finds a photoshop filter they like, and applies it to a bunch of images and puts them up for artistic appreciation. By exactly the same token, it's pretty boring when someone finds an old photographic technique, uses it to make a bunch of photos, and put them up for artistic appreciation. This kind of activity, is a hobby, and when it comes to hobbies, it really is each to their own - one man's "exploration" is another man's "waste of time", and if they start arguing over who is right, screw them both. :-)

It's late, this probably doesn't capture my thoughts very well.
posted by -harlequin- at 12:55 AM on December 2, 2005 [1 favorite]

is there a place for those of us holding on to the last fragments of traditional photography

Of course, if you make a place (create in that medium) there will be one. You'll find your expenses going up though as you lose the price support of the mass market for your raw materials.

I'm honestly trying to avoid the whole "Is photography art anymore?" discussion

Ok but I can't help myself on this one, the answer is yes, photography can be art. Most of what's done with the technology, like always, is simple mechanical/representational but so what, see point above about the mass market keeping costs down.

Alternative methods of photography

Looking at it strictly from a results-orientation I would boldly assert there's nothing in this gallery that couldn't be accomplished in photoshop if one wished. It's only a question of tool preference?

In fact, I suspect that is precisely because digital is so much more open to experimentation that some people are reluctant to embrace it - digital is so open it starts to feel like it has no true form, that it's not real

Great insight, and this (along with photography's vast and ever-growing, and now mostly-digital, legion of point&shooters) is where the distain comes from. Digital post-processing is so wide open and powerful you can do just about anything imaginable with enough time and skill, meaning you can travel so far from photography-as-image-capture that it's not photography anymore. I showed a very experienced commercial photographer an example of my work a while back and his remark was "hmm, you can't tell how good a photographer a person is anymore by looking at their work". Interesting sentiment no? As though the process were more important than the end result.

There is something the appears 'more real' about analog photography, with a slide or negative you're in possession of a little bit of material that was physically present at the time and place the image was captured. Beyond that though, I'd say analog's greater 'reality' is simply a very good illusion.
posted by scheptech at 4:31 AM on December 2, 2005

I think you showed everyone here why standard format is still a medium that has validity: Because it teaches you to work within constraints that digital may not seem to have, and yet explore a myriad of possibilities within that.
I think that photographers who work within both mediums have a very big step up on those who have only worked in digital because they have a better grasp of what digital SLR's are now trying to emulate and eventually replace, and having that knowledge are better able to take advantage of and expand on what digital photography has to offer.
posted by mk1gti at 6:24 AM on December 2, 2005

Well, I'd just point out that just as there are people who still work in tempura, oils and tapestries, there will probably be people who still work with optical effects on analog media for art photography. I wouldn't make the claim that either digital or analog methods are "better." So I really think the choice comes down to what methods you wish to explore. If you want to play around with optical double exposures, vats of Vaseline, and different types of film and paper, go for it.

But of course, that is just for art photography. For documentary photography, commercial photography and photojournalism, the ultimate production path is going digital.

Also, I might be wrong on this, but it seems that once you pay for a camera, you are strongly wedded to a sensor medium with one set of characteristics. With analog media, you can just buy a different type of film with a different range of characteristics. Certainly, you can tweak the end result later in the production process, but neither digital nor analog methods can replace information that is missing from the negative.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:59 AM on December 2, 2005

I agree with everyone that these alternative, film-based photografic techniques are not going to go away anytime soon, and one reason is simply that a lot of people enjoy doing it. Also, it is possible to hybridize these techniques with digital as in the IR link above and pinhole lenses for digital cameras. It is not an either/or situation.

On another level, I think many serious photographers will stick with film for the forseeable future not only for the reasons mentioned above, but because digital is still nowhere close to approaching what can be done with a large-format camera. The amount of detail captured in these images is incredible; that is why even the gigapxl project starts out with a (very) large format film photograph. Add to that the ability of these cameras to move the lens and film independently for incredible control of focus and perspective, and you will see that digital still has a long way to go to match what was being done with traditional photography in the early 20th century.
posted by TedW at 7:05 AM on December 2, 2005

In the same week that I purchased my new(est) digicam, I also ordered a kallitype kit and a pack of sx70 and a pack of 669. I don't think you're in the minority, MysticMCJ. I had a love for photography before Digital came along and I've found a place for my digital amongst my analog.

Also, there is room for experimentation in digital and digital processing.
posted by shoepal at 7:08 AM on December 2, 2005

Forgot to include this, which isn't experimentation, but sort of visual serendipity (from dropping a digital camera in water).
posted by shoepal at 7:12 AM on December 2, 2005

"hmm, you can't tell how good a photographer a person is anymore by looking at their work"

That is an interesting comment. Is technique more important that composition, even for "commercial" photographers? Is the choice of techniques immaterial? I would have said the opposite.
posted by bonehead at 7:28 AM on December 2, 2005

Is there a succinct rationale for preferring analogue/film?


A silver print is a precious object made from a precious metal, and that's one of the factors that gives the great photographs their jewel-like quality that you just don't get in digital photography.

This is even more the case when you move into using other metals such as platinum and palladium prints.

Then you've got the ability to

I think it probably doesn't matter so much when you're talking about colour images. Personally, I've never been someone to wax lyrical about the highly saturated colour of a Kodachrome slide, but if you're talking about monochrome, then for my money, the quality of digital prints will always be inferior.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:07 AM on December 2, 2005

Im really pleased that photography is now open to eveyone.
Its going to be bigger than when cheap guitars and samplers came in.
posted by sgt.serenity at 9:05 AM on December 2, 2005

Some good discussion out of this so far...

mk1gti: You nailed the contraints thing. That was something I meant to bring up last night. If I never learned how to shoot film, I would not be as effective of a photographer as I am now - That discipline taught me quite a bit.

PeterMcDermott: Monochrome is precisely what keeps me using film more than anything else at this point. I've never seen a digital equivalent that does it justice.

I guess I'm relatively new to the digtal world when it comes down to it. I've always been interested in what one can do to manipulate the light before it hits the film/sensor - I'm intrugued by what several of you have brought up. It seems like most discussion of digital photography covers how awesome some new camera is, what someone can do in photoshop, or flicker/blogging web 2.0-ishness. It's good to see some different takes on this.
posted by MysticMCJ at 9:35 AM on December 2, 2005

it's always seemed that film is the one less open to experimentation

er no would have to disagree. Digital has one (locked in) recording surface, whereas there are multitudes of different types of recording surfaces for film which are all open for their own experimentation either by directly experimenting with the negative or the chemistry in which they are developed.
posted by squeak at 10:10 AM on December 2, 2005

TedW: Actually you can produce images digitally that far outstrip the resolving power of large format film. I shoot hundreds of overlapping images of a scene, then spend weeks in PhotoShop putting them together so they seamlessly blend. I end up with HUGE files (some more than 2 gigs) that I can print 3 or 4 feet across at 300dpi. I could make them even larger, but I'm already maxing out my Mac. Certainly 8 X 10 will make a print just as nice as the ones I make, but you could also make much higher resolution digital images far more detailed than 8 X 10 negs are capable of. Just can't be anything that moves. Severe limitation, I'll grant you. Portraits tend to be tricky, but I can make them work.
Self link panoramas.
Film has grain issues (which may be either a problem or an advantage depending on the user), digital has least significant bit issues. Seems like film still wins on pure tonal repro ability, but hopefully sensors will get better and that will change.
I can't see the purpose of arguing which is better. They do different things. I just bought an old Leica that I'm very excited about, but I'm also about to buy a Nikon D200 when they come out. They both take photos, but differently. The more the merrier, I say.
posted by johngumbo at 10:15 AM on December 2, 2005

A silver print is a precious object made from a precious metal, and that's one of the factors that gives the great photographs their jewel-like quality that you just don't get in digital photography.

But it's perfectly possible to make silver digital prints.
posted by Western Infidels at 10:21 AM on December 2, 2005

One thing that hasn't been mentioned yet is that analog and digital engender different psychological relationships with the camera itself. Because bytes are free as long as you have enough memory cards handy, digital photography invites a machine gun approach to shooting. Hold down the trigger, burn through 30 frames, then look at the display to see if you managed to catch anything worthwhile.

This is a lot different from analog, where the finite amount of film in your pocket forces you to slow down and be more deliberative. The same phenomenon occurs with different film formats: I know that I shoot slower, and maybe more thoughtfully, with my medium format TLR than I do with my 35mm. Large format would be an even further step in that direction.

And I think it results in more than just an abstract feeling - it has a direct effect on the type of images we produce. Imagine if Henri Cartier-Bresson tried to shoot his famous street scenes with an 8x10 instead of his 35mm. It'd be impossible, of course. Now imagine that he was equipped with the latest Canon DSLR. What would happen to Cartier-Bresson's "decisive moment"? Would he not think about it, shoot everything at 5 fps, and just go back to his flat, download the 500 frames he shot that day into iPhoto, and then pick the one he thought looked the best? Would he as a photographer have the same sensitivity to his subjects? Would his pictures capture the same humanity?

Of course, there's nothing that prevents a person with a DSLR from shooting as slow and deliberative as Ansel Adams, but it seems that everyone I know who's been raised on digital photography and never shot film shoots with a machine gun approach.
posted by caffeine_monkey at 10:26 AM on December 2, 2005

Have you seen the last few years of Winogrand's work, when he had a motordrive on his Leica and was driven around LA? His method of working was always, "Shoot anything that moves." Film's not really much of an issue. He had about 2,500 exposed but undeveloped rolls left when he died. An additional 6,500 had been developed but not proofed and another 3,000 had been proofed but nothing printed from them (not yet edited). Digital's not the issue. Photorhea.
posted by johngumbo at 10:31 AM on December 2, 2005

I've always been interested in what one can do to manipulate the light before it hits the film/sensor

Yup, and processing techniques aside (in either realm) this is the main difference between pros / artists / serious amateurs and point&shooters. Very few people will do anything in terms of manipulating light beyond enabling their on-cam flash or avoiding shooting directly into the sun.

everyone I know who's been raised on digital photography and never shot film shoots with a machine gun approach.

Film certainly engenders a greater respect for each shutter release. It may help one to be a little more hyper-aware and in-the-moment looking for perfect timing?
posted by scheptech at 10:56 AM on December 2, 2005

Love them both, started out with film but around the time I realized how expensive and time consuming film was they came out with affordable DSLRs. If you're a pro, then film and processing is just part of your expenses, but as a hobbyist the cost savings on digital is too persuasive. Eventually, I'd like to explore the fine art end of B&W printing, platinum, alt processes etc, but that will have to wait unti I retire.
posted by aperture_priority at 11:23 AM on December 2, 2005

He had about 2,500 exposed but undeveloped rolls left when he died. An additional 6,500 had been developed but not proofed and another 3,000 had been proofed but nothing printed from them (not yet edited).

I don't know Winogrand's work, but I'll assume from this that either a) he had assistants to process his film for him or b) he lacked the normal aversion to wasting film. Both of these would have helped him overcome an intrinsic property of film, which is that it takes time to process. If he shot digital, maybe he would have had time to edit those thousands of images. He body of work would certainly have been different as a result. Better or worse? Dunno.
posted by caffeine_monkey at 11:25 AM on December 2, 2005

From what I remember reading of Winogrand, he also deliberately didn't process his film for maybe up to a couple of years after it was exposed. By doing so he believed he would evaluate his own work with a more detached and objective eye.

I think he was onto something, there. Photographers have always been poor at evaluating and critically editing their own pictures. Digital photography hasn't improved this ability in any way. What it has done is given photographers the ability to be orders of magnitude more prolific. If the ability of photographers to critically edit hasn't changed, but they are suddenly enabled to generate hugely increased numbers of photographs, it's sadly inevitable that the volumes of meritless photographs in the universe will greatly expand. The good stuff might become ever more difficult to discover whilst adrift in the sea of dross.
posted by normy at 12:32 PM on December 2, 2005

Related observation on the digital/film thing, in my experience, a lot of people in both the digital and the film camps feel their medium is not taken seriously because of the existance and momemtum of the other. Worrying about the perception that tools and techniques have seems to suggest a lack of confidence that the work is a product of them, rather than simply a product of their tools. If a work is a product of the tools more than the artist, it (quite rightly) tends not to be received well in the sense of artistic merit. (Photography obviously has always struggled with this more than say, painting). Digital vs film sometimes seems like another instance of crap like judging the merit movie based on whether the effects were done on mac or pc. Tools are tools, it's the art that matters.
posted by -harlequin- at 12:33 PM on December 2, 2005

By the way, thanks, provolot, for your earlier linkage. I hadn't seen those before. Excellent, gorgeous pictures, especially RaySoda.
posted by normy at 12:53 PM on December 2, 2005

Johngumbo, that's good stuff you have done. A couple of links in the gigapxl thread I linked to have similar very high-res digital composites. Of course stitching pictures together can also be done with conventional photography, although it is even more work than with digital. (I assume, since I have never done it myself.)

I agree with your point that there is no use arguing which is better; it's kind of like debating whether oil or watercolor makes better painting. Each has strengths and weaknesses and looks pretty bad in the hands of an untalented hack, but can produce wonderful art in the right hands.
posted by TedW at 1:11 PM on December 2, 2005

normy: I'd never heard that about Winogrand. Very interesting insight, thanks. I know i can't evaluate my own work for years after i make it, which makes producing anything very frustrating! I never know what I'm working on.

TedW: Thanks! Oh, but watercolor is crap ;-)
posted by johngumbo at 1:28 PM on December 2, 2005

Film certainly engenders a greater respect for each shutter release. It may help one to be a little more hyper-aware and in-the-moment looking for perfect timing?
I started on digital and am only starting to use film at college now , 35mm , Med & Large format , it really does slow you down and make you think about what you're taking.
Just shooting my first large format photo , it took maybe an hour to set up the camera (the back of which helpfully fell off), the light , take light readings , operate the flash 16 times , develop it , then putting in the 5x4 enlarger all takes time ...i guess 7 hours in total for one photo ?
which by the way , i dont think it was really all that hot a photo , i was just shooting it cause i was told to.
(this is it scanned and messed about with in photoshop , that took me half an hour with this black neg)
I think the object in the picture is too flat , i can see in my mind how i would have made the object more three dimensional and interesting but this would involve , booking a studio again ,setting up all the equipment etc etc and with digital i could have saw what was wrong very quickly and amended it.
I think there are two side effects of the 'film slowdown'
one is an increase in awareness , which is obviously a good thing but theres also a lot of the need to control an image , a lot of rigidity that can come in as well.
I just watched a bio of ansel adams yesterday where he was quite looking forward to the use of digital , i cant remember what he said about it precisely.
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:00 AM on December 3, 2005


er no would have to disagree. Digital has one (locked in) recording surface, whereas there are multitudes of different types of recording surfaces for film

This is quite false. Both film and digital have multitudes of types of recording surfaces. In consumer cameras, most digitals are either cmos or CCD, just like most consumer film cameras are 35mm (but already digital is in the lead), however if you want to experiment with other surfaces, there is a staggering range to choose from, including ones that record outside the human range of vision (such as used for many of those spectacular NASA photographs that use visible colours to represent colours beyond our visible spectrum). On top of that, there are countless digital/electronic surfaces that were not really designed with photography in mind, but can and/or have been used for imaging, such as moving LDRs, scintillators, tiny bits of solar panel, even UV-eraseable EPROM memory chips. I think I also saw a project online where someone was using the element out of a broken flatbed scanner (ie a one-dimensional strip of light sensors) and a moving shutter to make a camera with it's own oddball way of capturing light.

Not to mention, when it comes down to it, all semiconductors are affected by light, but depending on various factors, will respond in different ways, and at different wavelengths. (This is why they're normally packaged in opaque cases). The breadth of the range of semi-conductors in the world today is truly truly vast. The constant cross-talk between light and electronics crops up everywhere. There are limitless different recording surfaces in the digital sphere. There only limit is how many people give enough of a shit to experiment in uncharted terrority for experiment's sake when such highly refined 35mm and digital cameras are so accessible.
posted by -harlequin- at 3:16 PM on December 3, 2005

In case I am misunderstood, I should point out that the digital sensor in a camera is just as "fixed" as the film in a camera - which is to say, not very. If you want faster response time without altering the optics for example, in a film camera, you must change the type of film loaded in the camera - you can't alter the properties of loaded film*, and in a digital camera, you must change the settings of the sensor, you can't swap it out for a different one*. They work in different ways, but the properties can be changed (in different ways) in both cases.

*Well obviously you can if you're hard-core enough, but no-one does :-)

posted by -harlequin- at 3:44 PM on December 3, 2005

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