What can you learn shooting film for 6 months?

Discussion in 'The Watering Hole' started by i.am.mine, Dec 11, 2013.

  1. i.am.mine

    i.am.mine SC Regular

    50
    Feb 7, 2012
    • Like Like x 6
  2. flash

    flash SC Veteran

    372
    May 6, 2011
    Gordon
    Great Article. Do you think it's the film though? What if it were an M8 and a 35mm Voigtlander? You still get all the benefits of manual control, etc with the advantage of a built in Lightmeter and instant feedback to speed up the learning curve (or you can tape the LCD). I gave up film the day i bought my D60 (not 60D) about 9 years ago. When i moved to a digital Leica I felt i got many of the benefits you talk about.

    Gordon
     
    • Like Like x 2
  3. entropic remnants

    entropic remnants SC All-Pro

    Mar 3, 2013
    John Griggs
    I shot film for 35 years. Glad to have modern digital. Film is a technology, thats all. Just go shoot anything and learn and forget this whole film "magic" crap. I shall now dodge the arrows of those who romanticize film...
     
    • Like Like x 4
  4. pdh

    pdh SC Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    I see these sorts of articles and posts, and I think ... It really is nothing to do with film.

    You will learn nothing about how to assemble a good photograph from using a film camera that you cannot learn with a digital camera.

    No-one has to fiddle with menus and settings, use zoom, change ISOs all the time, shotgun pics, chimp or any of the myriad other things that film is supposed to be able to stop you doing.

    "All" that's required with any camera is thought, understanding, the capacity and willingness to learn a bit about the craft and art of the activity, and some patience and discipline - whether you use film, digital compact, dslr or 'phone.

    And I say this as someone who now almost exclusively uses film, and with all due respect to i.am.mine, whose photographs I like and admire and who writes very nicely.
     
    • Like Like x 5
  5. grebeman

    grebeman Old Codgers Group

    Jul 13, 2010
    South Brent, south Devon (UK)
    Barrie
    When I began photography back in the early 1970's I shot black and white film with manual cameras, mainly roll flim or a Leica M3 for 35mm stuff. I never owned a zoom lens or anything automatic.

    These days it's all to easy to just adopt a point and shoot mentality giving the process little or no thought. That's not because you are shooting digital instead of film, but because you are allowing the camera to do all the thinking for you. I like shooting with adapted manual focus lenses because to some extent it forces you back to thinking about the process of obtaining the shot you are seeking, however I'm happy to use digital as the actual capture medium and rid myself of all the hassle of the darkroom.

    I can agree with the idea that one lens, and a fixed focal length lens at that, forces you to concentrate and means you have to put in some creative effort to obtain your shot. That's why I think the best competition that has been run on this site was the Single in January challenge issued by Mark (Stillshunter) back in 2012, it required some effort and was also a learning process.

    Barrie
     
    • Like Like x 4
  6. porchard

    porchard SC Veteran

    344
    Feb 24, 2013
    Devon, UK
    I agree entirely - I often shoot with a Lumix G1 + Industar 61 L/D (sometimes a Jupiter 8) for the same reasons. For me, the sense that my judgement (such as it is...:wink:) has gone into multiple elements of the shot is far more satisfying than simply letting the 'Auto-everything' functions of the camera decide everything (composition aside, of course). Moreover, I often find that my resulting images are better, too! :thumbup:

    Auto-modes - convenient though they are, at times - leave me with the slightly uncomfortable feeling of being just a passenger on the journey.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  7. ajramirez

    ajramirez SC All-Pro

    Jul 9, 2010
    Caguas, Puerto Rico
    Antonio
    Very nice article, Giorgio.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  8. i.am.mine

    i.am.mine SC Regular

    50
    Feb 7, 2012
    Hi flash! I think it can be the same. But only if you shoot everything manual, you tap your LCD and you don't watch your photos at the pc when you come back home but wait some days-a week before doing it. Of course you will improve your photography! I envy your Leica ;)
     
  9. i.am.mine

    i.am.mine SC Regular

    50
    Feb 7, 2012
    Ciao entropic remnants
    Of course film is a technology, i totally agree with you.
    But i understand that you didn't read/understand my article at all.
    You didn't get the point out of it.
    Film is not magic at all.
    Digital is not magic at all.
    From my article : "3.Film and digital are different. Period. No one of them is better than the other one. They are just different. I will make an article about this later."
     
  10. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    great post
     
    • Like Like x 1
  11. i.am.mine

    i.am.mine SC Regular

    50
    Feb 7, 2012
    Dear pdh,
    First of all I'm glad that you like my pictures.
    I totally agree with you.
    In fact the article was about film as a teacher as you correctly understood.
    Film or digital doesn't matter, but if you are new in photography you can be "defeated" by all the automatism of digital cameras.
    You will agree with me that using this method will help you to forget about those and take the best out of digital or film photography.
    And not everyone is able to do this while shooting digital or have a so strong willingness to do that. ;)
    It's just an exercise, a long one!
     
    • Like Like x 1
  12. Lightmancer

    Lightmancer Super Moderator

    Aug 13, 2011
    Sunny Frimley
    Bill Palmer
    Film and digital are simply media. What makes them different is not what they do, it is how one feels about how that is done. The journey, if you will. Personally,there is a difference to the end result of a "pure" film workflow vs digital that I can sense - note that I do not say "see". Can a film workflow teach you anything per set? I would suggest three things. Patience, parsimony and getting it right in-camera.

    Sent from my HP Slate 7 using Tapatalk 2
     
    • Like Like x 2
  13. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey SC Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Kyle
    I haven't read the article, but I will. In the meantime, quick thoughts on the responses:

    "Film is just a medium." Yes. But that's not what makes using it helpful as a learning tool, in my mind. It's the cost -- and by "cost" I mean both time and money. I've said it before here, but when I picked up film again (and used it alongside the X100), each time I went to press the Minolta shutter I had this thought of "is this worth seventy cents?" That does NOT happen with a digital camera. Everything else can be mimicked with digital (as has been mentioned) or doesn't matter, like the image "quality" (as has been mentioned). Digital is so nice to use because it doesn't cost so damned much per shot, and doesn't take hours / days / weeks to see the results. But the moral of this particular story is that there was a learning baby that was thrown out with the cost bathwater (to complicate a metaphor), and for people who DIDN'T spend 1971-1989 shooting exhaustive volumes of film and thus learning their craft, picking up a film camera and making yourself use it pays dividends.

    Poo poo it all you want, but people will keep discovering it over and over again, because it's true. Really does help to slow down and think, and film doesn't give you an option to cheat.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  14. pdh

    pdh SC Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    I still don't get this idea that what people need is to have their options limited by the camera/medium.
    Switch digital camera on, set fixed ISO, set to aperture priority, take pictures. If you find you can't do that, and are inevitably drawn to faffing about with settings, then see your gp because there's obviously something wrong with your frontal lobes. (they are the seat of volitional control).
    As for the cost of film ... Well, the incredible depreciation of new cameras is a topic oft-covered here and elsewhere
     
    • Like Like x 1
  15. drd1135

    drd1135 SC Hall of Famer

    Jul 13, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Steve
    I think you've hit upon the difference between old and new cameras. My most modern film camera was the Pentax MZ-S, with AF, AE, etc. During that time my daughter took a high school film photography course, and I pulled out my then 35 year old Pentax SP500. I ran a roll of film through it and had that great nostalgia of manual metering and needle matching, etc. that was nothing like the MZ-S. The problem is that modern digital cameras can be put on manual but they never "feel" right because the ergonomics aren't the same.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  16. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey SC Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Kyle
    Perhaps I wasn't clear. Apologies.

    Setting ISO, Shutter, etc to manual isn't it. It's:

    1. Paying $7 for a roll of film,
    2. Hitting the shutter button after all the manual stuff, then
    3. Waiting another day? Week? til you finish the roll off, then
    4. Dropping your film off, then
    5. Paying $11 or so for the developed roll

    ... and THEN you get to see how you did. That's the difference that somehow improbably helps newer shooters learn more about control and image making. It's the long lead time, and the financial pay-as-you-go model that punishes mistakes and rewards success in a more severe way than instant gratification through digital. As for "needing to have their options limited," there's no reason that should sound crazy when you're learning how to use something. Learner's permits for driving, maximum engine size cc's for motorcycle beginners, engineers and carpenters forced to start with hand tools before they move on to computer-controlled power equipment... Your brain is a weird, illogical place, and giving it every option available from Day One is not always the fastest / best way to results, at least not for everyone (read: Worked for you? Awesome, golf clap, whatever gets you there is good. Didn't work as well for the original poster, hence his film experiment and resulting happiness.)
     
    • Like Like x 2
  17. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey SC Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Kyle
    Hope I didn't sound flippant - it's not even my cause to champion, just trying to explain a point that I think is interesting, and worth making.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  18. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey SC Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Kyle
    Side note: I think people are mistaking "going slowly and deliberately (by using a film camera, as it happens) has helped me" for "man, this film stuff I've just re-discovered is the awesomest and I wish we would all just stop using digital."
     
    • Like Like x 2
  19. stillshunter

    stillshunter Super Moderator Emeritus

    Nov 5, 2010
    Down Under
    Mark
    Giorgio,

    A very well considered article - thank you for sharing. I see the thread has brought out the usual suspects - Bill, Kyle, Barrie and Paul with their insightful commentary. Now it's time for Mark to blunder in and bring down the tone and possibly lose the subject of the thread completely - in the absence of a :dunce: emoticon I think I'll go with :woohoo1:

    I agree with most every word in your article. Much of it sounds like the longest foreword ever written - a.k.a. my scratching in "Single in January" photobook from 2011 (as mentioned by Barrie earlier). Much of it still rings true. Again I agree with all you have said but would add that what has changed for me over time is the aesthetic of B+W photography.

    I have experienced a realness or tangibility with film that really appeals to me. Submergence in the world, feeling ultra-sensitive to your surroundings (can do this with any camera I know), then you advance the film and you have a tabula rasa (a.k.a. 'clean slate') a small piece of film keen and so latent, you size up a scene - add or subtract to your frame as per your intended message and figure the exposure (either by 'blind' adherence to your average meter or reading your zones based on what you want as 18% grey), but then …oh yes then….you slowly press your finger and things explode. Light floods through the hole you determined of the lens and the silver halide crystals are excited - some more so than others. Then, a small sigh as the shutter closes so quickly. Back behind the black curtain. There is an image that remains in my mind's eye about that 1/125sec, and it remains locked there in the dark. Then I advance the film again…

    I hold the image in my mind's eye. And latter there is the anticipation (and art) of development - another separate essay right here - Then to spy the result and the memory returns. The world in miniature, silver halide in suspended animation seemingly in only two dimensions. In your hands (well gloved or within the plastic) is something very real and precious and fragile and sensitive. Crystals arranged in a pattern in response to light. In a pattern that you witnessed in the world and translated into tones. There is something very real and present about this to me. Every negative is individual and unique. I look at my negative very different to my RAW files. Granted the latter are 'ordinarily' sharper and more vibrant to look at but I am left feeling a little distant from them.

    Generations from now can hold these negatives and simply project light through them again to replicate what I once saw.

    Generations from now might still have the codec to break into my RAW files…..
     
    • Like Like x 3
  20. pdh

    pdh SC Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    Just take the damn picture
     
    • Like Like x 4