Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I like film... but I can't explain why I like it.

Typical conversation:

Friend: "I like film"
Me: "Why do you like film?"
Friend: "It looks different"
Me: "How does it look different?"
Friend: "I dunno, it just does"

I'm more and more convinced that people who like film aren't very good with Photoshop. They like film because they don't have to do anything to achieve a certain film effect. Whether this be B&W or the washed out look that Holgas produce, these photographers want a specific look and feel without working for it. Problem is, they don't know exactly what that look and feel is.

If they did, they'd figure out how to replicate it in Photoshop and be done with film (assuming they were all about the "look" of film)

Now, there's nothing wrong with liking something you can't explain. But if you consider yourself a photographer and more importantly a professional photographer, shouldn't you spend some time trying to enunciate/verbalize what it is you like about film? I find there's nothing so debilitating as being asked questions that I've never considered... essentially uncovering my weaknesses and sometimes my ignorance.

Perhaps it's an excuse not to learn Photoshop. Perhaps it's a stab at digital photography vs. film photography. No, film is not going away. Film has a place in photography just like LP's have a place in music. But technology won't stop because you refuse to move forward! LOL! Evolve or go away.

"Oh but you can't replicate the look and feel of film.."

Really? Tell me which of the following images is film and which is digital... or is this a trick question??? LOL!


  1. now teach us how you processed these! Honestly I love the look you achieved here, it is something I have been unable to reproduce to my satisfaction. I think part of my problem is that i like contrast and end up with blacks at 000 instead of much higher like they are in these shots.

  2. Unfortunately I neither shot these or processed these. They are another photographer's work so I can't answer your questions unfortunately. What I do know is that it's entirely possible to duplicate film effects.

    I also know the original film shot is on the left. It was shot on Portra 160NC.

  3. It takes a hell of a lot of finesse to replicate that film look with the level of fidelity in the examples above...

    As an experiment I shot a couple of tranny types, and then shot the same set with digital. I used the relevant AlienSkin filter on the digi files to compare and they were close enough that I couldn't justify using film except for fun... but I don't find loading film and dealing with all that to be that fun anyway!

    I don't discount that there is a seemingly intangible quality that various films have which many feel is lacking in digital, but as you said that just makes me want to get better at PS... and also verbalising what I want my images to achieve. I'd like to be able to get there without using 3rd party filters but at the moment they provide far better results than my attempts. Similarly they really do wonderfully for black and white conversions.

  4. I applaud your drive and willingness to not give up learning... I wish everyone had the same spirit when it came to PS :)

  5. Oh and a great way to learn is to try and improve upon your 3rd party filters. Keep trying til you can make your images better!

  6. Thats a really good perspective: make a filter conversion, then replicate manually, then improve...
    Thanks for the push :)