Monday, January 06, 2014

Moving Towards Photography

Allen Street in State College, Pennsylvania on Sunday morning -- would have been fine to ride the Vespa in to town.  Roads were mostly clear.  I passed the opportunity in favor of warmth.  I can only attribute this weaseling decision to aging, some treacherous biological process of confiscation of all that's good in life.  There are always opportunities for recovering missed opportunities.  As I type the thermometer has descended to 9F in the dark amidst a 25mph wind and promises to settle near -5F by dawn.  No snow or ice so I could ride to work.  But I digress...

I've been thinking a lot about photography lately, or more precisely how little time I spend making photographs.  I don't count the ones you see here for some reason, or the ones I make professionally.  If its digital it doesn't count.  Instead I continue to puzzle over how to bring the 3 Prints Project back into my creative life.  A hole remains where those silver prints used to reside.  It's a crazy thing that I'm not ready to explain.

My friend Paul Ruby showed up at Saint's Cafe with a box full of prints.  Digital prints.  And the one that resonated strongly was crafted to look like a platinum print despite being shot with a digital camera, processed with Photoshop and printed on exhibition grade fiber paper with an Epson 3880 printer.

Looking at that print had visions of Tri-X dancing in my head.  With no Vespa available to distract me the chemical photography scheming continued to grow.

Gordon Harkins, the third leg of our photographic meetings, (or maybe he's the first leg?) did his best to distract us with his brand new Canon DSLR camera (a 6D?) that was able to operate wirelessly from an iPhone.  It was like magic.

Being an engineer, Paul was completely enthralled with the electrical wizardry.  Why couldn't I get caught up in the same wave of astonishment instead of dreaming about mixing chemicals, processing film and making prints?  This is 2014 and film has to be dead.

I'm stubborn I guess...


Paul Smail said...

Hopefully film is not quite dead yet. I dug out my trusty F3 and bought a few rolls of Tri-X to make a few photographs in the next month or so.

I feel that film forces me to slow down and be more deliberate in considering things like light and composition. But maybe that is only an excuse for an adherent to the Old Ways, like carburetion and physical throttle linkages.

bob skoot said...


I have two M6's both with abrahamsson Rapidwinders, and a collection of Summicrons and a summilux. I also have a handful of LTM and many SM lenses, my favourite being a Leica II black with matching nickle elmar. I was one of the last to embrace the digital age but somehow it seems like too much work to dig out the chemicals

. . . so you are not alone

Riding the Wet Coast

D. Brent Miller said...

Steve, I went through the film vs. digital a few years back. I used to shoot B&W film passionately producing documentary projects and exhibits. Then commercial photography almost demanded the use of digital. Customers wanted it now, not wanting to wait for film to be processed and proofs submitted. A long distance move that resulted in the loss of my darkroom was the nail in the coffin. No darkroom, but I could still develop film and then scan it, but it just wasn't the same. With decisions made, I moved on and sold my Hasselblad to someone who would use it passionately. Now, I'm trying to return to the photographic passion with a variety of digital cameras and techniques that are immediate. It's convenient ... but not quite the same. I won't say it's better. Just different.


Charlie6 said...

Wow Steve, your mentioning of Tri-X triggered a flood of memories of standing in a dark room, developing film and processing prints.....hadn't thought of that name for decades!

Mark Myers said...

I actually found digital to be liberating. I had almost stopped shooting any film unless I was getting paid and I found developing a chore. A digital camera felt like I was freeing up the creative process to me. Guess it's all personal preferences.

Richard M said...

I had sold my SLR equipment when I moved to Alaska and didn't really embrace digital until about 2009. Until then, I played with digital cameras back in the mid 1990s but was never satisfied with their output.

That being said, I don't miss the chemicals and the darkroom and I though I love the look of the old Cibachrome color prints, digital is way easier.

VStar Lady said...

Steve to me it is the feeling of losing the past, of losing longevity...Digital seems to be so 'disposable,'like so many other things in life today.
Life has changed, just think of it as freedom to create art with less cost and with less inhalation of carcinogens. Then smile and print on something as permanent as you possibly can. Steve, your photos are timeless - even in megapixels. (I've been running a(now)13 year old experiment to compare longevity of prints, it's been interesting.)

Bryce Lee said...

Suspect as times change image recording devices also change.
The new devices are fictious, the images do not exist except as an electronic charge recorded on a storage device. The electronic charge needs to be viewed on a screen similar to film as processed.
Film and glass plates beforehand could be physically handled. Not so this new digital,it can only exist as a printed image, unlike the negative as a long lasting image on the plastic or glass negative.

My own problem is digital is not for me slide film; Kodachrome is gone so it is E-6. After 50 plus years of doing mostly slide photography with ongoing side trips to black & white find this new digital method is for lack of a
better description colour negative film which resulted in the past,
colour prints.

So like you Steve,(and others) I find film comfortable, digital
is weird. Prefer my Nikon F100; my
small Canon point & shoot for those
"other" images.

The big problem here is a lack of viable processing; presently a roll of 36 exposure Provia costs to $1.32 a slide. Many of my friends still are noncoumputer and not digital. Therefore understand your plight. Follow your dream, film is
happy time, digital is photography on steroids. Oh, and film will survive 100 years; digital, 10 seconds if that.

Paul said...

I've asked some friends to go film photography shooting with me. My view camera is still set up and the lens and holders are loaded. Just like in the olden days my motivation was tied to others'. Would I shoot black and white film and make silver prints if I had a darkroom? Not sure. I might scan a negative and print that with inkjet printer. But Sometimes, when the photo called for it I'd make a silver print...especially if it's an 8x10" of Taos Pueblo.