Friday, February 19, 2010

Filmy bubble

I realize I live in a film bubble. I shoot film and most photographers I know shoot film, but I realize we are a small minority. I know that most photographers shoot digital and they will never go back to film. So while I'm content in my bubble, I hold no illusion my world is like the outer world.

Eugene Saturday Market, 2000

Maybe it's my imagination but it seems that in recent weeks my bubble has expanded slightly. Are people returning to film? Or maybe they never left? I noticed Mark Tucker first, then Jake Stangel. This morning it was Mike Johnston of all people. I'm not sure what's going on. Maybe this is nothing, just a few outliers. Or maybe it's a sign of some wider backlash. I don't know, just wondering out loud, realizing that all bubbles face the same fate eventually.


Anonymous said...

The majority of shoot film exclusively.

Certainly you've been in the bubble much longer than I, but in my brief experience with photography, I've mostly been in the film bubble.

Speaking of which, those five rolls of Portra 120 need to be scanned...

Johnny Autry said...

I have always shot film.. Hell, I've never even owned a 35mm camera.

What sort of bubble am I in?

Tom Leininger said...

If you are shooting black and white does that make it more of a bubble? I just bought some color neg and I can't wait for it to get here. I feel like color negatives days might be number though.

Stan B. said...

I used to pray for something, anything to deliver us from the shortcomings of filmdom. Now that it's long been here, I've yet to make the switch. Something sensual about an all metal body and a film advance lever.

PS- Now, if a B&W only digital comes along that you can stick a WA on... meh.

mozda said...

Majority of belgrade raw people shoot mostly film, too. And since I switched to film (I'm one of those who started out with a digital p&s) I've gotten to know about a couple dozen people who did as well (hell, I'm probably to blame for a dozen myself) in my immediate surroundings. And it seems the conversion happens more and more often these days.

John said...

Weird, I was just on this thought yesterday while walking the streets. Thinking about what the future holds for digital storage seems to be bigger space in smaller spaces (meaning more storage - smaller package, or even an invisible package).

Well, that kind of cheapens digital photography if you can take a thousand pics in a day just because you can. The actual hands-on factor with film is where people may find they stand out with their art. Film is tangible and I think that's what I like about it most.

I shoot with both (b&w with film and color with digital).

Blake Andrews said...

That is the switch that's interesting to me, although I can't get a sense of how widespread it is.

It makes some sense to me that people who've shot film for years would stick with it. They get a certain work-flow going, and get used to the look of film. But to switch from digital to film is different. You have to change all your habits and give up a lot of convenience. Why would folks do that?

Tom Leininger said...

Part of the reason I am going back to film is that I am interested in slowing and using a camera I am very comfortable with. One that I can not afford the digital version of.

It is harder. I do not have a scanner at home, and I am not sure if I can get one because they getting harder and harder to find.

I started with film, went to digital, back to film (briefly), back to digital, and now I am headed back to film as the dominant choice.

Anonymous said...

"But to switch from digital to film is different. You have to change all your habits and give up a lot of convenience. Why would folks do that?"

Aesthetics. I can't really even describe it properly but film looks different, even when scanned. There's just that X element. Maybe my eyes are bias, but after staring at both scanned film and digital images, I feel I can sense the difference.

However, there are some photographers who are so damn good at processing their digital photographs that I can't tell. That's where it gets interesting for me! How do they do that!?!?

jedrek said...

Does it really matter? A lot of people will shoot multiple media. I'll shoot film, digital, polaroids, paper negatives. At the end of the day it's just a means to an end. If the image isn't there, the medium doesn't matter.

Blake Andrews said...

To a certain extent you're right that it doesn't matter. It's possible to make great images using any medium, which is why I don't want to turn this into the tired film v. digital debate.

But I am curious about trends, and if this is one. Knowing that the medium is relatively unimportant makes me even more curious why there might be a move toward film. Why go to all the hassle if it doesn't matter?

I agree with Bryan that film has a certain look to it, but as he says this can be imitated by someone skilled in Photoshop. So I don't think that's it.

I think Tom has a point about comfortable cameras. I love the simplicity and of the M6, and I might switch to digital if something like it came along that didn't cost $7000. Still, I don't think cameras alone are enough to motivate the switch.

Is it some nostalgia factor? A love of the process? A backlash against computers? Maybe none of the above.

Wolynski said...

I spent 20 years in the darkroom and enough is enough.

I LOVE digital, not that I've mastered it yet.

Downside is that the Internet is buried under an avalanche of mundane images. Used to cost money to churn out that crap.

Lovely photos on your blog.

Anonymous said...

Well, I've just sold a couple of lenses from my digital and bought a Bronica, an F70 body ( to share lenses with my D90 )and a little vivitar rangefinder with the money. So I guess I'm covering my options. I want the detail and the grain, and the discipline of film. I don't think the look is entirely reproducable in Pshop. Film just seems like a nice idea and a logical step to take ;-)
I'll still machine gun with my digital as well. . .

ChrisN said...

Hey Blake-

First of all, it's been a long time. Hope you & yours are all doing well. Secondly, check out the large format b/w film photography of one of my best friends, Bob Kolbrener. He & his wife, Sharon, are like my adopted parents.

All the best......Chris Nitzsche

Ben said...

You’ve heard from me on this subject and I was determined not to post -- but here goes again.

There will always be sculptors even though the need to carve stone by hand is long past. As long as film is still made, there will be film photographers. That said, twenty years from now we will be looking back on the authenticity of tiffs and lamenting the shallowness of the new technology. Time marches on; nothing has changed.

“Is it some nostalgia factor? A love of the process? A backlash against computers? Maybe none of the above.” Probably all of the above.