Film to Digital

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by acute, Mar 20, 2011.

  1. Did the transition to digital photography change your ovedrall perception of photography? Did your expectations change? The way you look at images? I think for me the answer is yes, to all those and to many other questions. When I look at a photograph (remember film?) I no longer see what I used to see.
  2. SCL


    What changed for me was the learning curve in aspects I hadn't really spent a lot of time with....the introduction of digital gave me nearly instant feedback so I could quickly observe changes. In terms of how I view a picture .... no change.
  3. Andrew, what do you no longer see? How has digital changed your perception of photography? How have your expectations changed? How has the way in which you look at images changed?
  4. Oddly, almost not at all.
    About like Stephen Lewis, the instant feedback was great. But I hadn't been crippled without it.
    I might even shoot a little less, on a subject where I'm unsure. With film, I'd bracket a little bit, when shooting exposures of odd subjects (white cat in snow, etc). Now, I take my best guess. Take a shot. Look at results, take second shot, and usually nail it.
  5. Not for me. But I would like to hear your answers to Fred's questions.
  6. Related to Fred's questions - I like to quiz people looking at my photos whether they think they're film or digital capture. Since I shoot both, the answer isn't known by the viewer. Usually people try to guess, based on asect ratio (figuring a square or a big pano are old fashioned, and thus, film). But it's more common that they get it wrong.
  7. boz


    Not really. Photography, to me its just a medium of
  8. Andrew, maybe I'm not addressing the subject you intended, but it seems to me a lot of the.pleasure is gone with digital. My film of choice was usually Kodachrome, the film may have been in the camera for a month or so, then out for processing for a week and when I came home and saw the little yellow box on the front hall table it gave me pleasurable anticipation. Some of the pictures I would have forgotten about, there were hits and misses. maybe a miss on a shot I really wanted, but altogether a positive experience with a sense of closure. Digital photography leads to some time on the computer to try to improve and finalize all my shots but seldom a sense of closure.
  9. Digital did change one thing: It made me a better editor.
  10. My "overall perception of photography" has not changed, nor has the way that I look at images. My expectations have
    changed a bit because digital cameras let me do things that I was not able to do before. One example would be the
    ability to shoot clean, detailed, non-grainy images at high ISO settings. Film still lets me do a few things that digital
    cannot, such as star trails in a single exposure, graceful overexposure of backgrounds, and of course reviewing my
    chromes on a light table.

    My approach to composition evolved and improved when I gained the ability to review images right away. Exposure
    has been made easier in some obscure situations, but it has become more tricky in other instances. I still prefer the
    look of film for photos that contain a lot of bright white for example.
  11. Digital technology has actually widened my perception of photography. There are lots of options to become creative with the available digital tools. This is not to say I have abandoned film all together. With digital, I have more tools to convey my imagination into images I could share with others.
  12. The only real thing that has changed when I went digital, is occasional multi-frame shooting. Sometimes to assure getting my best shot, I'll burn a digital roll of 24 quickly, with no added cost or consequence except editing.

    The odd thing is I still feel guilty, like I'm wasting film. On the flip side, being able to quickly review and compensate has saved my butt many times over.
  13. I spend more and enjoy it less.
  14. "Did the transition to digital photography change your ovedrall perception of photography?"

    Yes. As a result I went back to film.
  15. For me, they're both photography roughly the way stamp and shell collecting are both collecting. I like film. I don't dislike digital, I'm just not into it.
  16. stp


    For me, it has changed. But it's not due to digital cameras, but rather the new role of the computer in today's photography. But this is said from my particular point of view. I never printed my own photographs in a darkroom. When I got a transparency that I really liked, I took it to a lab and they made a print directly from the slide. Simple as that. They didn't change the color temperature, didn't change any colors, didn't remove anything from the photo, didn't add anything to the photo, etc. etc. The print looked like the original transparency, and the original transparency was pretty close to the original scene (differences were primarily due to shutter speed, depth of field, use of a polarizing filter, and film characteristics).
    Today it is so easy to do so much with the computer that it makes my old process seem "quaint." We've broadened the scope of photography to include the relatively new realm of "digital art." Some photographs owe their existence more to a computer than to a camera. Some photographs depict things that have never existed except in the mind of the photographer / digital artist. While darkroom tricks have existed in the past (e.g., the depiction of "spirits"), it has never been as widespread as it is today. In the past, it required expertise in a darkroom. Today, it requires moving some sliders on commonly available software on a household computer.
    I have great respect and admiration for those who are skilled at using software to affect a digital image. What I struggle with, however, is trying to define the difference between "traditional" photography (yes, I'm well aware of Ansel Adams' work and his declarations) and digital art. There is a long, continuous path from a "straight" photograph and a purely computer-based image, and there are many, many gradations along the way and no bright line separating the two endpoints. In the past, viewers of my photographs never asked, "Is it real?" Now they do. They don't know the extent to which a photograph represents a real experience I had versus the extent to which I created a scene using computer technology.
    Some folks react to this by saying it's only the image that counts, that it's only our emotional and/or aesthetic reaction that counts, and it doesn't matter how the image was made. I don't agree with that. I believe there is a difference between an image that primarily represents a real experience and an image that primarily represents work on the computer.
    To use an example that I've used in the past: I've been trying for about 5 years to get a photo of a nearly full moon coming up from behind Mount Rainier. This happens only twice each year from my particular vantage point, once in the spring and again in the fall. Because of western Washington's notorious cloud cover, I have not yet been successful. Someday I hope I will capture this scene and my experience of witnessing this scene in a photograph. Now, I could take a photo of a nearly full moon rising on an evening when there is no cloud cover, and I could take a photograph of Mount Rainier in the same manner. If I were sufficiently skilled with the computer, I could merge these two photographs and have my photo of a nearly full moon coming up from behind Rainier.
    It might look exactly like the photo I eventually hope to get. People may have strong emotional and aesthetic reactions to the created photo. But when they ask, "Is it real?", I would have to say no. I could tell them how I created the photo, and the photo of the moon is real and the photo of Rainier is real, but the scene which I'm depicting in my created photograph is not real in the sense that I didn't experience it. To some viewers it would make no difference, but to others it would.
    This kind of manipulation is ubiquitous, and in that sense the world of photography is very different today than it was before the advent of personal computer. It's not that I no longer see what I used to see, but rather now I'm not sure what I'm seeing. Is it real in the sense of it represents a real experience? Or does it largely depend on the computer for its existence? At what point does a photographer become a digital artist, and at what point does a digital artist become a photographer? Please don't tell me they are the same, because someone who went to school for several years to learn digital art and has a degree in digital art might be offended, and rightly so. IMO, of course.
  17. stp


    Archie, well said. And that's my point.
  18. All jobs are still shot on film. Any digital presentation is after the fact.
  19. It made me appreciate film so I went back to it.
  20. Well said Archie - I think the driving force for media is the convenience, being able to transmit images instantly, as well as see what you shot quickly. Aesthetics aside, I can't imagine going back to film and being "limited" to 24/36 shots, digital re-awakened my passion for photography and has made me a better photographer. No offense to the film lovers. I too am amazed at the skills of the Photoshop experts and digital artists. The computer has become the darkroom and a much more complicated one at that, almost TOO many choices!
  21. digital re-awakened my passion for photography and has made me a better photographer. No offense to the film lovers.​
    It did exactly the same for me. I was hardly photographing anything before I bought a Nikon D100. Unfortunately, I hated the amount of time spent at a computer so I started buying film cameras from 35mm up to 5"x4", bought an enlarger and built a darkroom.
    No offence taken.
  22. Digital has brought back the joy of photography for me, simply put. I had pretty much given up on the cost of trying to
    shoot film and wait for days or weeks to figure out whether I had done well. Digital uses tools I know and use every
    day at home and at work, adds great cameras and lenses readily available, provides instant feedback and gives me
    the ability to "develop" and print at home whenever I have few minutes. It has brought back the pleasure that was
    pretty much gone.
  23. In film days I especially loved the visual and physical experience of handling the more compact and reasonably-priced Pentax M Series cameras with their wonderful Super Multi-coated Takumar primes. For film I was mostly drawn to the particular color palette of Elite Chrome 100 and the creaminess of C-41 B&W films, with their seemingly limitless latitude. For me the biggest change is that now I view images almost exclusively on the Mac monitor. I've also developed a deep appreciation for the workflow of raw conversions. I do miss the cult of handling certain film cameras and the personalities of specific emulsions. I try not to think of that too often and then am happy.
  24. I no longer think of photography as "capturing the visual reality". It's much more now about "using the equipment to paint something". That's one thing. And the expectations are different. With film you pretty much took the result for what it was. Now, the result is only the beginning of the process. Now, looking at photographs, I'm not sure how the artist arrived at the final product. Was it blurred? Was it sharpened? Are these the colors that were present? How much of this image is the photograph and how much of it is digital manipulation? And as a result the way you look at a photograph has changed. For me it did.
  25. In the transition from film to digital I found my concerns about the gear and process became less, and my concern about whether I was creating an intriguing photograph became more important. When I shot film I thought 35mm was not good enough compared to 4x5. Now I don't care much how big the camera or print is. I just want the finished photograph to be interesting.
  26. I no longer think of photography as "capturing the visual reality". It's much more now about "using the equipment to paint something". That's one thing. And the expectations are different. With film you pretty much took the result for what it was.
    Even with film, I never thought of photography as "capturing the visual reality." Photos are not reality. And I never thought of what I had when I clicked the shutter as being the final result--it was always just a start.
  27. I don't see what I used to see either and sometimes I don't really like what I see. Now I am trying to shoot alot more film and I may start to do alot more tradtional B&W darkroom printing.
  28. Even with film, I never thought of photography as "capturing the visual reality." Photos are not reality. And I never thought of what I had when I clicked the shutter as being the final result--it was always just a start.​
    greatly put. Worth repeating and chiseling in stone
  29. Here are to shots that I like one is film the other is digital. I prefer the film shot.
  30. To use an example that I've used in the past: I've been trying for about 5 years to get a photo of a nearly full moon coming up from behind Mount Rainier.​
    Are you going to do this with a long telephoto so the moon and landscape are out of scaleto replicate the moon illusion? Or, are you going to depict the actual size of the moon as seen by the camera with a normal focal length lens? If you choose the first rendering (replicating the moon illusion) - is using the lens choice for distorting the image different than choosing to use compositing techniques to achieve the same effect? What type of image manipulation is allowed? Lens choice for distortion is okay but compositing the image you can see in your mind isn't allowed?
    Compositing was standard practice for photographers using ortho plates / film as it was the only way to get around totally white skies. Pure photography is every bit the illusion equal of the moon illusion...
  31. stp


    Steve, the moon will be at the same scale of Rainier, regardless of the lens that I use. I will use a lens that will enable the moon and mountain to appear as the primary components in the image.
    I'm not advocating "pure photography" (and I'm making assumptions about what you mean by that term). But I do think there is a difference between a campfire and a forest fire.
  32. I see more. Looking at a computer image is more like a backlit transparency once was. Reveals more than any paper print. I can also be more let's say playful about photography. More adventurous even to put a finer spin on that. Film always had this nervous expensive never know what you got quality. And the Polaroid test film, when things really got tight that way, was a nail biter at a buck and a quarter apiece. Digital transition was easy slide from scanning to all digital. I guess like hobbies to be easy. Call it lazy if you like. Digital can be lazy and less structured or less disciplined a plus and to many a minus. Lazy can be liberating though and I think it has been. Aesthetically, nothing really has changed. That I can tell. Yet. Not adventurous in digital fussing. Come back in two years and I will make an update, providence willing.
  33. "Looking at a computer image is more like a backlit transparency once was. Reveals more than any paper print "
    Until you look at your computer images on 5 different monitors, and find that what it mostly reveals is that their quality or the way you might have envisioned the final image is all over the place. This is frustratingly apparent when I go from my Imac screen where I process images on to an older laptop screen. Newer screens are better, but there are still alot of older and lesser ones out there too.
    Not so with a paper print or a bookprint, where the base or "infrastructure" of the image always stays the same, controlled, even when viewed under different and less than optimum light conditions.
  34. stp


    More directly to the OP's question, for me personally not much has changed. I do take more photos, and often I still feel I haven't taken enough. I still have the same measured pace when I walk through a landscape, and I still have the same measured pace when I decide on a composition. While I like the immediate feedback of digital, I've probably become less proficient in knowing my light meter; I used to bracket, and 98% of the time I was wasting film because my first shot was right on. One of the biggest benefits of digital, IMO, is the promise of HDR to be able to overcome the inherent limitations of film or sensors regarding their abilities to record a range of light. I've seen some HDR images that were simply amazing in this regard -- much more like the human eye would see a scene, and made so much more easy to accomplish with digital processing. Finally, digital photography for me has been so much more expensive than film ever was. The technology is changing and improving so fast that camera upgrades are relatively common (by my choice). I don't like the time spent at a computer, I lament the loss of many films, but I do prefer digital to film (that has been a relatively recent shift in preference).
  35. Finally, digital photography for me has been so much more expensive than film ever was.​
    I think it could be argued both ways (and has been many times!). The costs are probably similar in the long run but for digital, most of the cost is upfront whereas with film its spread out over time.
  36. I just photographed a three day swim meet at Harvard. I brought a couple hundred pictures home and edited those down to 70 and had them edited and on the internet after about an hours work in Lightroom this morning. I also cut a disk for another use. I quickly went through each picture doing minor exposure edits, some cropping and correcting white balance from the indoor lights that are pretty weird in indoor pools. I had my raw images converted into properly sized jpegs for the net in about two minutes. I don't do much to my swimming pictures. When I did sports for a local paper with mostly TMax I would have had t go into the darkroom and develop several roles of 36, make contacts and then decide with my editor which ones to print for layup. Minor exposure corrections had to be done in the enlarger. Other than that we didn't retouch. The difference in effort is enormous. When I did film and had my own darkroom I was very sparing with the amount of images I took knowing I had to look forward to spending time in the darkroom although i farmed my weddings and big jobs out. What I see in sports is more of a proclivity to take a lot of pictures with digital. I also see a lot better color outcomes than I got with film particularly with improved high ISO capabilities today.. With weddings film was easier for me because I sent my proof printing out. However, there is not much I could to without a lot of effort and expense with film to alter backgrounds and save pictures that today can be used with digital after some correction in photoshop. However, IMO, when wedding photographers who go well over a thousand pictures improve the odds of getting memorable pictures.Although that can also breed carelessness. As someone said you really can't distinguish between my film prints and my digital prints as they hang randomly in my home. I have used medium format, 35mm and digital both full frame and crop. I think all the equipment I have used has been capable of the job at hand and I refuse to make judgments about which is better. The outcome is still mostly a product of what goes on between the photographers ears. I do think digital has greatly expanded my capabilities as a photographer particularly in the area of speed of process. I am still just an average photographer doing average acceptable work regardless of the medium. .
  37. As a film shooter, I have no issue with digital equipment. But as a result of what I have seen of the digital revolution I am especially compelled to maintain a realistic approach. What I want to capture is what is there in real life, in all it's subtleties and unexpected nuances. Of course there is manipulation in film based material to obtain the best rendition, but I eschew anything that stands out. I can't even live with high contrast treatments. I want the photograph to be a window, to disappear from thought and reveal only the subject, like a mirror. There is a wonderful little shock to viewing a photograph that is cleanly and clearly showing a real scene. Remember looking at them when you were a kid?
    I find the largely digital trend towards hyped imagery to be disconcerting, but there are too many great examples and good uses of it to rule it out.
    The cream will always float to the top. It's just a little disheartening to see that so many people seem to prefer a Disneyfied version of reality. An artist is trying to show you the depth that a superficial viewing will overlook. If it becomes all about the superficial, there will be no chance of that.
  38. stp


    It's my impression that many photographers, and people in general (I'll limit this to the U.S., as I'm not that familiar with other cultures), seem to have the attitude that if some amount is good, then a little bit more will be that much better. I see that to be especially true with saturation within a photograph. Sometimes we don't know when to stop, and we sometimes don't know that subtlety can be a good thing. And when adding saturation is so easy to do, we just can't seem to resist the temptation to make it "that much better."
    It's also my impression that if colors are clearly super-saturated in a photo, sometimes even in a bizarre way, the most common comment will be "Great color!" It's as if we are so jaded with reality that it takes hyper-reality to catch our eye or spark our appreciation. On the other hand, maybe the primary ones commenting are those who like it, and those who think the photographer has gone overboard are keeping quiet -- often people would rather compliment than criticize. So I realize that the comments may be a very biased sample. Still, that bright, neon green algae on the shadow side of an intertidal rock as the sun sets on the opposite horizon still makes me shake my head. Just because we can doesn't mean that we should.
  39. I shot film for a lot of years before digital came along, and in a very real way I wish I have shot film more like I shoot digital now. When I was shooting film pretty much every shot had to be "worth" shooting. When I started shooting digital I started shooting a lot more of the date to date things in life that slip by, the kind of shots I mostly missed getting with film.
    Whereas I loved the range of photos I was getting with digital it was pretty rough going in the beginning. I had a 1.3 mp camera that would take at least 2 seconds to take the photo once you pushed the shutter button. It was only good for print up to about 4x6, and not great at that size. It was not until I got a DSLR that photography really felt that same again, that responsive feel that I use to get with my film SLR.
    I have digitized many of my old film photos, when I go through the years I much prefer the photos I have taken with my digit camera.
  40. There seems to have been a steady progression of desensitization by media throughout the 20th Century. It would be an interesting graduate thesis to chart the effects and attempt to gain an insight into whether or not it all comes down to the steady growth of industrial apparatus into our environment. The inevitable evolution of the machine into the silicon human hybrid that Kurtzweil espouses. By our increased appetite for what the machine can do for us, supplanting what we once innately held within ourselves, we have guaranteed our own obsolescence.
  41. Digital has profoundly changed my approach in how I make an image.
    It gets me to mimic with software the look of film, saved as a preset in ACR that I apply to images captured on my DSLR. And because this is a flawed way to mimic film, I get so many unexpected glorious accidents with regards to ambience and color that I could never possibly imagine shooting film.
    It has allowed a way to come up with unique ways to stylize an image, intuitively and very quickly over painting a picture which is what I used to do.
  42. All of these threads seem to prove that everyone is different and that we are all capable of producing photographs/images/artwork which we are pleased with regardless of the medium we choose.
    Film has had many years to be perfected and digital is now at the stage where it can compete in terms of resolution so now it is equally possible to produce good (and bad!) images either way.
    I think the time has come to stop comparing them in terms of one being better than the other and think of the differences in much the same way as a painter would compare oil to watercolour.
  43. By our increased appetite for what the machine can do for us, supplanting what we once innately held within ourselves, we have guaranteed our own obsolescence.​
    I think in practice what happens is the bar gets raised on accomplishment. The Night Watch and Toy Story are comparable accomplishments in my book, whereas you'll have to do better than a day at the zoo with a camera to impress me at least, I don't care how long it took in photoshop to get the monkey just right.
    (Yes yes there are many unexplored niches in between Toy Story and a parasite infection, where a person can still be original and creative. There are many places, too, where a person can just be content. Watever --- no worries! It's just pictures. The world will make some more after we die.)
  44. Not too happy about the bokeh in that last du Toit shot.
    Another month in the sick pool and he probably would've nailed it!
    But hey, I imagine his immune system is strong and hearty for it.
    Good grief, man. It's just lions for god's sake!
    Thanks for the link, Leo.
  45. The bar gets raised by the exponential computational power of technology starting probably even before the Clovis Culture 11,000 years ago. We integrate with technology because we ourselves are technology. Or so goes Kevin Kelly's argument in "What Technology Wants". But the speed of that exponential growth has now become so fast we are unable to adjust it to ourselves, and are more likely to adjust ourselves to it. We are being absorbed, yes Borg -like. It's been joked about a million times, but thats what makes it so benign. As the digital vs. film forums foment , it's usually all about the stuff. Not the effect of the stuff on us, beyond of course that guaranteed enticement of easier, faster, more this, more that.
    That it what technology wants, and we are more and more in it's service. It becomes the tastemaker. It raises the bar, and it provides the high. We are no longer in control as much as we pat ourselves on the back with" look what I have done" imagines.
    I don't recommend raging against the machine, as we are too integrated and dependent. But we have different needs that are being swept away without protest. Our enthusiasm and natural tendency towards the positive has become precarious.
  46. I not shooting with a camera. I'm shooting with a PC.
  47. To Kenneth Smith
    Dude, it's just a camera.
  48. I'm with Charles. I've lost the anticipation of getting the shots back a week or so later. Although being able to see them right away is handy it feels a bit cheap to me. The digital revolution has actually made me use film more oddly enough. I even put a B&W darkroom in my basement. My sister gave me all the gear and I figured why not do it. It is the best/cheapest time to have a darkroom for sure. People are literally giving away enlargers/trays and so on.
  49. Haven't really made the change yet. :)
  50. Epson 750 or drum scans occasionally for large prints. Depends on how big I want to go and final usage. Web is always
    with the Epson.

    One thing that did change is that now I shoot almost exclusively with slide film as I can better adjust the scan to match
    what I see. Makes me much more confident.

    Did I answer your question?

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