Why use film?

Is film better than digital?

There is plenty of acrimony out there in the disagreement between film and digital photographers. There is also plenty of people for whom the medium doesn’t matter in the slightest.

In my case, I feel the need to pontificate, mostly because I can’t help being opinionated and I like to share those opinions. So there.

I think in some ways, film is indeed superior to digital for recording images.

Why? First, the look of a film image is different. The medium as well as the camera and lens combinations lends a more unique look to the images. Digital tends to bring a sameness, a uniformity to the look of an image, as does the processing that follows. True, you can’t tell with some. But overall, there is a difference and with digital, I find you lose something when you lose those unique qualities that film, let alone alternative capture methods, brings. Why else are film based filters so popular for digital shooters?

Not only is there a diminishment in unique qualities, there is also a loss of serendipity, unique results, happy accidents. While you might make mistakes, digital doesn’t have real flaws nor can you induce unknown results by playing with chemicals or processes. And messing about with Photoshop doesn’t count I’m afraid.

Second, there is the process. Film, by nature of it’s scarcity, (as few as 12 shots in a roll let alone single sheets), requires you to slow down, think abut your shots and make them count. Yes, you can do that when you shoot digitally, but how many people do? While the bountiful nature of digital does mean some additional freedom is possible in your approach, how many rely on number of frames versus quality of frames?

Professsionals used to shoot film, they got the shots, and did so without needing to take 5000 images. They also engaged in plenty of experimentation. I think photography has actually lost something with the ease of digital capture. It’s lost people really learning the skills of a photographer in knowing their gear so well, knowing how to create great images in camera, knowing how to get the shot the first time.

Third, digital has led to a lot of people with cameras calling themselves photographers who really don’t know much about photography or even how to really use a camera. Anyone can get lucky shots and if they shoot enough frames maybe quite a few good ones, but it takes more than that to create with intent. And that is the difference. If you count the number of people using digital cameras vs the number of film shooters out there creating images with intent, I think you’ll find they are proportionally a lot smaller the the film camp.

Before you object, I’m not talking about all the pros out there making their living with a digital camera, they are beside the point. I’m talking about everyone else. Pros don’t have as much choice these days as client expectations require digital compliance unless you get some exceptional clients.

Given these points, in many cases I say film is superior to digital and here’s a finger to all those old farts saying “thank God I don’t have to be in a darkroom anymore”. Lazy buggers.

Posted in film, philosophy, photography Tagged , , |

Analogue photography is far from dead

I was at the camera swap in Vancouver today. I was surprised at just how busy it was at just after 10am on a Sunday morning. What was even more surprising though was the sheer volume of film cameras for sale. I didn’t see much digital stuff at all, other than some Canon and Nikon lenses. What I saw at table after table was film cameras. Lots of lots of 35mm rangefinders in particular, but also quite a few medium format cameras and large format ones also. It was fantastic to see hundreds of film cameras for sale and people actually buying. Shooting film is far from an obsolete process and I think it will only continue to pick up pace for the near future.

Things are so rosy at the moment, we even have three brand new silver gelatin papers brought out by major players in the last year. Ilford has a POP (printing out)/direct positive paper new on the market as well as a great pinhole camera to use it in. They’ve also brought out a fine art textured paper, their first new one in 13 years. Freestyle just brought out their own fine art paper and I think it will do well. And to top it all off, Jobo is bringing out a new film/paper processor, 2 years after they stopped production of the last model. All of this definitely puts paid to the regular bleating about the death of film.

Posted in black and white photography, darkroom, supplies

Back in the dark

It’s been quite a long time since I last made a post and a lot has changed since then.


I’ve ended my 365 project several months into it as it no longer fulfilled my primary goal, which was to get me out shooting daily. I found too many times I ended up looking for an image last minute, rather than getting out shooting. The way I structure my days just doesn’t work for getting me out shooting daily and while I may want to make some changes to that, it’s not a priority at this time.


As for what I am working on, my b&w film work has taken precedence and I am not shooting much digitally at all. I have several ongoing projects that I am getting back to. Some, such as my trees project, can only be shot once the trees are bare so I’ve had to wait for that, and it’s almost time to start shooting again.The last of the autumn leaves are still lingering, even though it is December.


And the project that took up a lot of my time as summer ended, was getting my darkroom ready. It’s now done and I’ve started printing as of mid November. I managed to find a decommissioned darkroom that I could set back up and with all the bits I’ve accumulated over the last two years, it’s well stocked. I’ve a nice, bright, warm place to work that is fantastic to have. I’m even open to sharing it if someone is looking for a darkroom rental in Vancouver.¬†As printing progresses, I’ll post here some of the images as I go.


And finally, here’s some images of my new darkroom.






Posted in black and white photography, darkroom, printing, Uncategorized

365 Project Day 80


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365 Project Day 79


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365 Project Day 78


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365 Project Day 77


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365 Project Day 76


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