Thinking "film" vs digital.

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Brian
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#1
As a one time film guy I've come back to photography via digital.
In my film days I was relatively fussy with my shooting. Only 36 on a roll plus the expense of processing/printing focused the mind.

Digital seems to be a different methodology. Though we want to get it right in camera we know we have raw/LR/PS to fall back on and shooting is "free". A lot of guys/gals on youtube seem to shoot 500 shots a day, more in the hope of getting a keeper.
Have you made the transition and how have you handled it?
 

Andysnap

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#2
Went back to film....

I got fed up with shooting hundreds and hundreds of shots and having to spend hours on the computer hunting for the one that was 'just' right. I still shoot digital for wildlife and it is brilliant but I don't get the same joy from it as I get from shooting a roll of 120 through my Rolleiflex.

I can't find the image but this kind of explains my philosophy

12 shots on a roll of 120 = 6 keepers
36 shots on 35mm = 6 keepers
2000 shots on a memory card = 6 keepers. :)
 
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#3
1. Film is not dead!
2. Using transparency (slide) film provides very good exposure training.
3. My intro to digital was through scanning film originals.
4. Since 2012 most of my images are wholly digital.
5. Indeed I am more prolific when using digital, but this isn't in order to spray and pray and hope some are any good - the film-based discipline remains and few end up in the bin.
6. I think that digital's 'cost-free' aspect allows for more relaxed experimenting.
7. One does tend to end up with thousands of images rather than hundreds, and it's worth having a strategy for culling / archiving them.
 

Andysnap

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#6
If you're not exaggerating, Andy, then you should be ashamed!
Maybe a bit of an exaggeration but the premise is accurate. (y) I am also exceedingly self critical.....
 
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#7
2000 shots on a memory card = 6 keepers. :)
If you're not exaggerating, Andy, then you should be ashamed!
I suspect that Andy was quoting to make a point rather than explaining his own method. I do know people who will come home with thousands of shots. The last time I was at Bempton Cliffs there was me and another chap who were firing single shots and between us was another chap who fired 10-15 shots for each of our one. We spoke to him about this and he assured us that he would go home with several thousand shots of gannets to my less than 20.
 
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#8
Only 36 on a roll plus the expense of processing/printing focused the mind.
Tell that to Garry Winogrand. :D

The more photos you take the more crap photos you take but also the more good photos. If you don't then you're doing it wrong.

if you don't want to take loads of digital photos use tiny memory cards. (y)
 
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#9
I stuck with film when everyone was going digital but the thing that pushed me into going digital was that the quality of prints I was getting back nosedived. I assumed they'd cut costs to compete but after sending batch after batch back to be redone and getting snotty notes back saying I should take care of my negatives when I'd never taken them out of the packet in despair and anger and disappointment I just gave up and went digital. I did return to film for a very short while but the immediacy of digital and being in control of the quality of output means I'll never willingly go back now.

I do disagree with the idea that we fall back on post capture processing as some of us will deliberately expose for the highlights or shadows or deliberately do something else that means we need to process the shot later and I see nothing wrong in this and IMO it definitely is not getting it wrong in camera and rescuing it in post capture processing no more than dodging and burning and all of the other stuff was getting it wrong and rescuing it in the darkroom in the film era.

Just my VHO and 2p worth :D
 
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#10
Taking a lot of photographs does not mean that any of them will be any good (nor does taking a few). Taking care of exposure and composition is what gives you good photographs and those take time, thus limiting your output.
 
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#11
The ideas that "film is better than digital" or "digital is better than film" are equally silly. No one is "a better photographer" for using one or the other. It's all photography and the best idea is to get on and enjoy it.
 
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#12
Taking a lot of photographs does not mean that any of them will be any good (nor does taking a few). Taking care of exposure and composition is what gives you good photographs and those take time, thus limiting your output.
As I said, if taking more photos doesn't result in more good photos you're doing it wrong.

Pointing your camera at interesting things stuff makes good photos, not getting the exposure right.
 

Andysnap

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#13
To be honest its all just photography whether its digital, film, pinhole, point and shoot or massive mega pixel medium format stuff, the same rules apply, the same disciplines will get you your shot. The thing is that a good (or even an average) digital camera is so good in auto that a lot of people don't know this, its not an issue, it doesn't upset me and good luck to them I say, but from my standpoint I want to know that I have taken my time and followed my own set of rules and disciplines and taken 1 (or maybe 2 or 3) shots of my subject and got it right. Now, I do shoot a lot of large format film and at £6 or £7 for a colour shot I need to get it right or it becomes a massively expensive hobby.
I can only speak from my spot on the mountain, your view from there may be different. (y)
 
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#14
As I said, if taking more photos doesn't result in more good photos you're doing it wrong.
So I am taking a photograph of, say, a church font. I have taken three photos from the three angles that look interesting. What do I do with the rest of the photographs? Presumably, I aim the camera at not-interesting angles - but to what effect? When you have taken your more photos, you need to look at them to find the good photos - I do that before I press the shutter release, hence the need to only take three photos of that particular font.
Pointing your camera at interesting things stuff makes good photos, not getting the exposure right.
Photography is about light. If you do not capture the light right, you do not end up with a good photo.
 
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#15
Pointing your camera at interesting things stuff makes good photos, not getting the exposure right.
So taking a photo of something very interesting in a pitch dark room with the camera set to -3 exposure compensation would make for a good photo?
 
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#16
So I am taking a photograph of, say, a church font. I have taken three photos from the three angles that look interesting. What do I do with the rest of the photographs? Presumably, I aim the camera at not-interesting angles - but to what effect? When you have taken your more photos, you need to look at them to find the good photos - I do that before I press the shutter release, hence the need to only take three photos of that particular font.
Photography is about light. If you do not capture the light right, you do not end up with a good photo.
You don't get it, do you?

When you've taken your three photos you go take some more of something else. ;)

That 'photography is about light' cliché needs kicking ionto the long grass. Photography is about subject matter. Subject trumps everything else. If the light is good and the subject crap the photo's crap. OK so someone in a camera club might praise it for the light and the care taken, but it's still a crap photo.

Whether you edit your photos before you take them or after, you still edit them. But if you do the editing beforehand you might make a mistake and not take the killer pic. Better to have more than not enough.

So taking a photo of something very interesting in a pitch dark room with the camera set to -3 exposure compensation would make for a good photo?
It might do. You won't know until you try. :p
 
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#17
I found it hard to switch from the be careful with the number of shots, to unlimited when I first went digital about twelve years ago, I do shoot more than when I used film, but try not to get trigger happy, I rarely use the full fps available preferring a slower rate as that can result in a lot of unwanted frames
 
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#18
So I am taking a photograph of, say, a church font. I have taken three photos from the three angles that look interesting. What do I do with the rest of the photographs? Presumably, I aim the camera at not-interesting angles - but to what effect? When you have taken your more photos, you need to look at them to find the good photos - I do that before I press the shutter release, hence the need to only take three photos of that particular font.
Photography is about light. If you do not capture the light right, you do not end up with a good photo.
This is my issue. I find a composition and maybe 1 or 2 extra/optional angles. I certainly couldnt find a dozen.
 
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#19
That 'photography is about light' cliché needs kicking into the long grass.
This. Many times This.

So taking a photo of something very interesting in a pitch dark room with the camera set to -3 exposure compensation would make for a good photo?
If the subject wasn't exposed at all, I'd say it would make for a bad photographer.... Perhaps I'm missing the analogy here?

Saying photography is "all about the light" is the same as saying it's "all about the camera". You do actually need both things. A good photographer can make something worthwhile with either one of different quality. Photography is really all about the mind behind the lens.

And that's part of my attraction to film. It's not perfect and it's not predictable. Digital delivers 'perfection' with consummate ease (compared to film) and for me, that devalues it. Portraits are the last bastion of my work that are in digital format and quite simply the ability to make changes to lighting and see the results immediately are a godsend. I heard a quote once that digital was like going fishing with a hand grenade. And I loved it because it really typified for me how I felt about digital.

I have to work far harder to get anywhere close to what I could get with digital. And that challenge is what keeps me learning, (hopefully) improving, and continuing to strive for better things.
 
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#20
I find that when I use film, I instinctively go back into the habit of being frugal with my film use. The other week I took out on a walk with a camera with less than half a roll left to use with the intention of finishing it off. I took about 8 frames (and still haven’t finished the roll as I write this). When I went on the same walk with a digital camera I took about 40.
 
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#21
With film & digital alike, first I have to see a photograph, then I raise the camera. If I see no pictures, the camera stays in the bag. It's a focussed activity! So I can carry a camera all day without using it, but it's there if I see an image. I don't think that photography is meant to be a compulsive activity.

And it is about the light - light is always a vital component of the character of a shot. In fact in a way, light can be the subject. It's possible to get away from the mindset that photographs are always of 'things'.
 
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#23
As a one time film guy I've come back to photography via digital.
In my film days I was relatively fussy with my shooting. Only 36 on a roll plus the expense of processing/printing focused the mind.

Digital seems to be a different methodology. Though we want to get it right in camera we know we have raw/LR/PS to fall back on and shooting is "free". A lot of guys/gals on youtube seem to shoot 500 shots a day, more in the hope of getting a keeper.
Have you made the transition and how have you handled it?
I've been away on holiday & only shot a quarter of that ;)

I'll happily go out hiking/walking/etc & only come home with a handful of photos but I can almost guarantee they will be good (in my eyes) ones! Same with sunsets/sunrise.

Obviously if you are shooting night sky pano's multi image to stack, or sports, or wildlife then there are exceptions I guess.

We'll do car breakfast meets..... (when I actually drag the Escort out!) & I'll have 20-30 decent shots, unique angles, bit of foreground blur, etc & then someone will upload a FB album with 350 photos in it....!!
 
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#24
I have taken atrocious photographs with film and atrocious photographs with digital.

For me if there is nothing worth photographing I won't take a photograph so i think about, and use, both film and digital in the same way. I love slide film and a transparency on a light table looks amazing, but there are limitations with slide film exposure that you can work around with digital and with digital there is less chance of using your last piece of film and then something amazing happening.
 
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#25
With film & digital alike, first I have to see a photograph, then I raise the camera. If I see no pictures, the camera stays in the bag. It's a focussed activity! So I can carry a camera all day without using it, but it's there if I see an image. I don't think that photography is meant to be a compulsive activity.

And it is about the light - light is always a vital component of the character of a shot. In fact in a way, light can be the subject. It's possible to get away from the mindset that photographs are always of 'things'.
I never see pictures when my camera is in the bag. I have to have it at least hanging from my shoulder, preferably in my hand. Bags are for keeping my butties in.

Photography must have been a compulsion for Winogrand if the number of undeveloped rolls of film he left are anything to go by.

Just because photography isn't all about the light doesn't mean it's only about things.

This is one of the fascinating things about photography, it isn't any one definition, it's many things to many people. Whatever anyone says photography is it can also be the opposite, without contradiction. One person's contemplative pastime can be another compulsive lifestyle.

It's all good.

Except film which is for dinosaurs. :LOL:
 
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#26
Photography must have been a compulsion for Winogrand if the number of undeveloped rolls of film he left are anything to go by.
And dear old Vivian too!

there are limitations with slide film exposure that you can work around with digital
Don't forget negative stock - more tonally forgiving.

I feel that everything has a different look, and therefore merits a place in the pantheon. It doesn't have to be mainstream to do that - and we accept that digital is now the mainstream. But people are still making cyanotypes, for instance, and it isn't wrong or inferior. There's room for everything.
 
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#28
I’m shooting some film at the minute and I’m enjoying it to be honest, the type of camera is something that I’ve never had before as such and as a result I’m using it more. If I had the same thing in digital it would be that camera :LOL:
 
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#29
I am sorry to say i have hardly used negative film - Ektar is nice but not i think a more traditional type of negative. I have some Porta somewhere which I will have to dig out some day...
Portra is one of the reasons I like film and when I do shoot it, it’s this that I’ve got loaded more often than not. I’ve tried loads of presets and tweaking in lightroom but just can’t get digital to look the same, so end up with something completely different. Maybe we need Kodak to make cameras again that have their film emulations in :D
 
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#30
And it is about the light - light is always a vital component of the character of a shot. In fact in a way, light can be the subject. It's possible to get away from the mindset that photographs are always of 'things'.
I was just about to write the same thing! When I run street workshops one of the first subjects/challenges we work through is looking for light and making light the subject. One of the favourite photos I have ever taken is of an empty table outside a cafe/restaurant. In flat light it would be a terribly dull image, but the way the light played across the different surfaces makes beautiful.
 
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#31
Light without a subject is meaningless and a subject without light is invisible. Plainly both are needed. Worth remembering that a subject doesn't have to be a 'thing' that sits up and begs, but it can also be a table surface as described above, but the light MUST have a subject to fall apon. The key thing is that the light enables us to see some quality in the subject that is interesting, else we might as well just resort to image processing either through photoshop or creating Rayograms & stuff.
 
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#32
You don't get it, do you?

When you've taken your three photos you go take some more of something else. ;)
But if all I want is photographs of the font (and it is frequently all I am after) then I have no interest in something else. I do not leave the house just to take some photographs.
I never see pictures when my camera is in the bag. I have to have it at least hanging from my shoulder, preferably in my hand. Bags are for keeping my butties in.
The reason I got into photography in the 1970s was the large number of pictures I was seeing and my need to capture them. But I do not bother trying to capture a picture I have not seen.
 
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#33
But if all I want is photographs of the font (and it is frequently all I am after) then I have no interest in something else. I do not leave the house just to take some photographs.
I can't relate that at all. It strikes me as being more about fonts than photography.

The reason I got into photography in the 1970s was the large number of pictures I was seeing and my need to capture them. But I do not bother trying to capture a picture I have not seen.
There are pictures of all sorts of stuff all over the place. I never know what I'll end up photographing when I leave the house (or in the house). Even when I set out with something in mind I can end up seeing something equally or more interesting.

“The important thing is not to have an aim, I just go out the door and, what ever’s real, I try and deal with that.”
Tom Wood
 
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#35
I went back to film about two years ago. It was a novelty for about 2 weeks and I'm not doing it again.
In truth, I was scanning any "good" pictures and realised what I was doing was digital photography with more steps to the final image.

I'm quite happy now to blast away at max FPS and sort out the occasional keeper.
I don't find it takes long to sift through a couple of hundred pictures using thumbnail previews.
 
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#36
Digital all day long for me (and I have been around for a LONG time!).

Nowadays, I get well over 50% keepers and end up deleting a lot of good images. - If you are only getting a small percentage of keepers, then you either need to improve your technique, or stop being so trigger happy. - Don't get me wrong, I do take a lot of images, but it should only take a few shots to get your settings somewhere close to good enough!

The cost of a replacement shutter mechanism, compared to the hassle and cost of film, make digital a no brainer for me.

Having said all that, as long as you are happy with your choice and enjoying your photogarphy, who gives a sh*t!


.
 
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#37
As someone who spend decades shooting film I still "think film" in a manner of speaking.
Why shoot 500 when 5 good ones will do? Yes it's free but your editing time isn't and your hard drive space isn't, and your camera only has so many shots on a shutter. Plus getting it right in camera isn't really that hard most of the time. We even have a screen on the camera (how I wish I'd had ones years ago) to make it easier.
Yes I'm an old git (and tight) so I'm carefull with my shots.
Not saying I'm right and spray-and-pray is wrong. Just what works for me.
 

Nod

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#38
I've still got a similar proportion of keepers to binners but a lower proportion of printers to binners. I might shoot a 5 shot burst while panning - 3 or 4 will be half decent but I'll only print 1, similarly a short set of similar shots of a group of birds/deer etc., one will get printed but few will actually get binned.
 
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#39
How many frames you take can depend on the subject. If it's stationary then you can take your time to get a couple of frames right. If it's an unfolding event then you might not know when the best moment to open the shutter will be, so you over shoot and edit later.

I remember reading in mags that you should always bracket your exposures in the days of film. That seemed like wasting two thirds of a roll of film to me.
 

Nod

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#40
It was to a large extent with colour print film but could make all the difference with slide, whose exposure latitude was far narrower.
 
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