For me, film represents everything I love about photography. Don’t get me wrong. Digital sensors have completely revolutionized photography – especially photojournalism.
But where would we be today without digital? Film photography is more that an art form. It is a science. It takes knowledge to be a professional. Today, anyone with a load of cash can buy the latest and greatest gear. There is no need to worry about messing up. If a picture turns out poorly, it can be erased. All you need to do is check your local CraigsList postings to see how many “professionals” there are now.
Generally speaking, it takes an antiquated professional to know what I am talking about when I say “reciprocity failure” or if I mention the Scheimpflug principle. Many folks don’t know the difference between a zoom lens and a telephoto lens. Thought and creativity has vastly left photography for many shooters.
After getting my Hasselblad recently, I decided to go through some of my film from the past. I scanned a few 4×5 positives that I shot a few years ago on a Sinar large format camera.
I remember the challenge I had to make this photo. On a large format camera, to focus, you extend the bellows between the lens and the film. To achieve this close of a focus, my bellows were over four feet long and the entire camera rig was supported by three tripods. Remember, this image filled a 4×5 inch sheet of film. This is MANY times greater than life size.
Once I acquired focus, the lighting was another challenge. I had to fire off my strobes about 15 times to build up enough light.
This picture may seem somewhat bland on its face, but it showcases the Scheimpflug principle – a way of focusing on a plane rather than by distance.
This picture also is gearing me up for one of my hopes of 2010 – to visit Shanghai, China for the World Expo. I’d love to be sent there on assignment but I might settle for a personal visit. Shanghai is truly one of the greatest cities I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting.
So, in summary, my goals for 2010 are:
- Visit China again
- Shoot more film
Two things. I should be able to handle that.
My challenge to the rest of the world – take time taking pictures. Think about what you’re doing. Try something different. Slow down and make nice images. The rest of the world will appreciate it.
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