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Old Apr 10, 2006, 2:17 PM   #1
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I have been shooting Digital Photography now for several years. To help become even a better photographer, I took a pro photography class at the college. The requirements of this class is that you m MUST have a 35mm film camera and process your own black and white prints. I purchaseda usedCanon Elan 7NE andIlford Filters, Developer, Print paper, etc.

However, I found I strongly do not like shooting or processing film. Dodge and Burn in a dark room to me is a joke compared to Photoshop CS2 and my Wacom. Many are saying to become a better Digital Photographer you have to learn the basics which mean shooting and processing film? Is this true?

I don't get it... I need help from others who are pure Digital photographers. or from those who have transitioned from film to digital.

I currently shoot with a Digital Rebal which I am quite happy with but will upgrade to a Canon 5D soon. My primary insterests is shooting model portfolio's which almost always require editing in Photoshop. I am not against scanning film if it gives noticably better quality over 16 bit RAW processed Digitals. I also use Alien Bees Studio strobes and love looking at the photos and histogramto get my lights correct. I feel uncomfotable shooting studio with film and relying 100% on meter to set ratios.



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Old Apr 10, 2006, 8:51 PM   #2
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Patrick, for what its worth, I've been a film shooter for thirty-five years, and from my personal experience with film photography, darkroom work will actually make you more aware of what you are doing behind the camera. In this day of digital, however it seems to me that getting a good picture should be easier, with photoshop, etc. I do think anyone serious about the craft should try 35mm and some b&w darkroom time. It can't hurt and it definitely will teach one what makes a good print before the picture is taken, unlike digital where the picture is "photoshopped" after the fact. Just my $.02

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Old Apr 10, 2006, 11:51 PM   #3
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darkroom work will actually make you more aware of what you are doing behind the camera. In this day of digital, however it seems to me that getting a good picture should be easier, with photoshop, etc
Thank you for contributing on this difficult issue for me. I do have a couple of questions. Why do you think darkroom work will help me understnad my camera better? By the time I develope and dry film, create contact sheet, figure out which photo I want to print and finally get an image I have completely forgotten how the camera was set. Digital images metadata retain aperture, shutter speed,flash fired,WB, etc. and give immediate feedback through histogram. Ifeel lost when shooting film without having all this immediate info I am now used to. Don't get me wrong I can take really good film photos it just takes a lot longer and I feel I have less control over final image. I doget better digital imageif I think like I am shooting slidefilm and not like I can just fix everything in PS. How do you keep track ofthis information, do you write down camera details for each image you shoot with film? I don't know how to connect print image result with camera settings used to create image.

Thanks for any suggestions you can provide

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Old Apr 11, 2006, 12:19 AM   #4
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To answer your last question, most people write down the settings. It's difficult when they change so much (with the wildlife work I do, I'd go insane trying to write it down... and I'd miss shots too.)

I'm very mixed on the need to shoot film. It forces you to be much more careful and learn things via negative reenforcement. You blow the shot it really costs you. That can be a great, but frustrating, way to learn. But you do really, really learn it.

If you can put up with it then yes, it would probably be a benefit. You could also learn the same way with digital... but only to some extent. You'd have to make yourself throw out images that would probably be fixable via PS. And I can't see anyone holding to that.

When I started to take photography seriously was the day I switched to digital. And there was a big reason for that.... and I'm sure you know them all.

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Old Apr 11, 2006, 12:37 AM   #5
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Thanks Eric S. I think I have talked to you before your name sounds familiar. I have already learned the hard way with film. While moving one of my strobes I pushed the power slider up too high. I didn't realize this until I developed film and had over exposed several rolls of film. I have a terrible habit ofglancing at images on LCD after everyshot. I should have been more disciplined to periodically re-meter lights but this is not a habit I am used to. I lost money on that shoot and now always shoot both Digital for color and film for Black and White. I use digtial camera setting to set film camera. I cheat like using poloroid works good.

Is it worth it to continue learning film or am I wasting my time with this if I already shoot digital?
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Old Apr 11, 2006, 4:22 AM   #6
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I recommend talking to your lecturer, if they require you to shoot film they should be able to explain how you'll benefit.

I suspect that the answer is that the syllabus requires it. More likely if there is an external assessment/certificate.

I shot film for about 30 years before switching to digital and that stood me in great stead for the switch. What I learnt in the darkroom helped me understand PS.

That said I don't see any benefit to you. You don't intend to shoot film, you have at least some knowledge of PS the tool you will use and you understand the basics of photography.

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Old Apr 11, 2006, 5:16 AM   #7
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IMO everything you do in the chemical darkroom is essentially wasted time, unless you get a real kick out of it of course.

Everything leading up to the point where you press the shutter is similar, but after that if you don't intend to use film then what's the point?

I have kept my film body, when I got my 20D I thought I would still shoot film occasionally. I haven't touched it in 2 years, and frankly see no likelihood of ever doing so again.

Of course it would mean that the lecturer would have to re-write his course to either focus on PS or provide twice the content on the pre-shot stage. Much easier to pretend that flim is still best.

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Old Apr 11, 2006, 7:05 AM   #8
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After more than 50 years experience in all aspects of photography, I am intotal agreement with peripatetic. Learn to use your current "tools" to the best of your abilities ... there is little need to learn virtually archaic methods unless playing in thechemicals floats your boat . Hey, even Kodak is seeing the light and gradually abandoning ship on the wave of falling profits. And as an aging, but progressive,college level IT/Photography prof, I feelmanyteachers simply feel itis easier to leave long-standing curricula unchanged due to thetime and effort involved, and to insist the old ways are always better. While film still has its place and its many benefits (especially archival-related), digital is where the real world has gone in leaps and bounds. IMHO.
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Old Apr 11, 2006, 8:40 AM   #9
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I learned on an old Crown Graphic (one of those press cameras you used to see in 1930's movies, for you young whipper-snappers). There is nothing quite like seeing what you are doing oin the ground glass. If you correct for paralax by adjusting the angle between the lens and the ground glass, you see exactly what the film will see. If you double-extend the bellows, you see "macro" imaging. This is just about as immediate and tactile as imaging can possibly get.

Also, when you work with film, you can experience things that just aren't available in the digital world. The dynamic range of B&W film is just not able to be grasped except by experiencing it, for example. Without seeing it up clase and personal, someone raised only on digital imaging would just not realize what they are missing. There is a lot that is gained by digital, too. But I think every person who has a soul would re-experience the mystery of unsharp masking by doing it in film! Not that I want to go back....
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Old Apr 11, 2006, 9:43 AM   #10
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I started out with a Russian TLR with120 roll film & 12 shots to a roll. Manual metering with a handheld meter, manual focusing on a ground glass screen. Every shot had to be carefully set up. Everything was B&W & I did almost all of my own processing. I guess about 60 to 70% of my shots were keepers.

When I moved to 35mm, I had TTL metering (still manual) & manual focusing with s spilt image prism. I used a lab for processing & moved from B&W to colour. I would bet my keeper rate fell to about 40%.

I now shoot digital - If I want, auto focusing, auto exposure, no need to wind on film. (Having said that, I still often use manual metering . . . ) If I'm honest, my keep rate has probably dropped below 30%

Would I change back ?? NO WAY ! ! ! ! ! I probably take at least 5 times & probably nearer 10 times more shots. I can afford to try out more options & experiment with light, filters & effects, because the only processing cost is my own time. Digital has made creativity affordable - at least to me - & to me, photography = creativity.

I agree with most of the other posters, I value the experience I have had growing up with photography, but I don't think that this is necessarily the best way to learn today. To me, photography is about recording & creating images which touch people. There is no need to include film & a wet lab in this.

Sorry for the rant


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