Film, A Dying Art, Really

Discussion in 'Industry News' started by akfotog, Sep 23, 2013.

  1. akfotog

    akfotog Subscriber

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    I've been debating this article all weekend with some of my former film, now devout digital friends. Seems they've given up entirely on the process, and while I agree that in journalism digital has become not only the norm, but a must, the use of film in other photographic genres lives on. Some say that film is hard to come by and expensive (I haven't run into any problems there), that no one has the time for darkroom processing, and that once they capture an image, they want it processed for immediate consumption. What do you think?

    http://theliteratelens.com/2012/02/17/magnum-and-the-dying-art-of-darkroom-printing/
     
  2. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    The article is about Darkroom printing as a dying art, not film specifically. There's journalists still shooting film but scanning their negatives and even photographers shooting digital but printing analog, Sebastian Salgado for instance.

    It's a new world and there's a fluid hybrid mix as well as analog 0r digital purists. So no film & darkroom printing aren't dead but just like we used to choose B&W, Colour neg or transparency or even Polaroid we now have even more choices.

    Ian
     
  3. lightwisps

    lightwisps Subscriber

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    I think if anything it is making a comeback. Film use seems to be gaining interest with the younger crowd to a certain degree. And I also think that collectors that buy photography for hanging in their homes also are cognizant of the differences between an ink jet print and a hand made print in the darkroom and can see the subtle differences in the quality of the print and the feel of the paper.

    I can't imagine not being able to work in the darkroom because I am to busy. I have found some real easy ways to make time. Drag my butt away from the TV works well. I live out in the country so driving to a shop that carries darkroom supplies can easily take me an hour round trip. Solution? Again simple. I call Rob at Big Camera and give him my order. He puts in in a box or 2 and like magic it is here in a couple of days. Simple and saves me quite a bit of time driving around in traffic. As far as cost goes, in the long run I think in my particular world it is about a wash. When you add in the cost of fuel and the time, I'd rather have the delivery guy employed.

    I think film is far from dead. I think it is now actually more of an art. Don
     
  4. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    I think that it's time to make more prints. The more of us that do that, the better our chances are.

    Everybody is so darned ADD these days, wanting everything now now now. Waiting for something good is a beautiful thing, and to slow down in anticipation. Patience, I think, breeds good art. The immediate feedback can be a detriment, because fast decisions are not always good ones.

    I also find that the slower process is beautiful because it forces us to pause between each of the steps and the process is mostly a tangible one. It's possible to rush a film through in a relatively short period of time and have a print ready, but the point here is that the human touch of placing the negative in the carrier, adjusting the easel, focusing the negative, inserting paper, using our own hands, fingers, and arms to work on the print exposure, and rocking trays to develop and tone our prints, adds a human element to the process. That is what I miss the most when I'm forced to work digitally. I do not enjoy it, because it feels so lacking of human interaction.
    Another aspect of the film based process is that you can't reverse many of the steps like you can in digital. If you don't like what you did in the layers when you edit digitally, you can just back track or start over. With film that's not possible. I thoroughly enjoy being on that knife's edge with one attempt to succeed or fail. That is exciting to me.

    Then everybody else can do what they think is exciting.
     
  5. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    The consumer electronics industry is totally dependent upon the constant sugar high of people constantly needing the latest and greatest silly
    techie toy. They understand their own dilemma, and that's why they cultivate steamroller marketing campaigns. DLSR's yesterday, cell phones today, cell watch/phones before tomorrow, then camera-rings after that... no end in sight. It the life of Sisyphus. The next generation of kids will once again rebel, and turn against the geek culture of their couch-potato parents. I've already had plenty of kids ask to look behind the darkcloth of my 8x10, and almost everyone of them responds with, "cooool". The real need is for more darkrooms where people can learn how
    fun it all is.
     
  6. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    living these days is difficult and expensive.
    try getting unprocessed / whole foods
    or foods without HFCS ... it costs a kings ransom ..

    photography is no different. sometimes things cost a bit more
    and take a bit more time to make.
    i agree with ian, there is a wonderful mix these days, someone with a camera
    ( electronic or non electronic ) has so many choices, prints made of ink
    prints made with silver, or iron or copper plate gravure ... the world of image making
    has opened up which is good and bad ..
    its good because of the new possibilities it gives us, and it is bad because what old school
    hard core purists might suggest is the death of their medium.
    there will be film and paper for a long time, and when the big companies stop making as much of it
    it will become more expensive. we are at about 1900 these days, and in some ways going backwards
    as well as 2013 going forwards ... people are cranky as upstarts are using roll film instead of glass plates
    and people are cranky as other upstarts enjoy immediate gratification ...

    i used to be cranky, now i don't really care ...
    and i try to cook food from scratch, and if i have to
    use something in a can or pouch, i don't fret..
     
  7. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

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    True. This weekend I am opening new box of Adox MCC 110 :smile:.

    BTW this is what I am saying to people who uses digital as well. My cousin had multiple hard disk failure (main and backup) - and only paper prints from his kids childhood remained. My neighbours daughter had even less luck - hard disk without backup died - no pictures of her baby. To add also - couple of weeks ago we looked at slides when my cousin was kid; 30-40 year old slides are like new.
     
  8. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    Lest we forget...

    MS iLoo

    :cool:

    Ken
     
  9. akfotog

    akfotog Subscriber

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    Good input from all. I agree that it is "the instant gratification" of digital that appeals to this generation. Not sure about a lot of schools in the lower 48 states, but nearly all of our larger high schools and universities here still offer traditional photography courses, and I think that any student who takes the course will carry an appreciation for art with them for years to come.
     
  10. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    i-watch cam ?
     
  11. David Allen

    David Allen Member

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    "Collectors and galleries still want prints on fiber paper—they just like the way it looks." - It is not just collectors, the majority of the people who buy my photographs have no idea about the differing technologies they just respond to the quality of a well made analogue photograph and are then more happy when I explain that every photograph from the edition of 15 is different and that they are processed to museum quality.

    "Digital prints have their own kind of look, and it’s fine, but fiber prints have such richness and depth." - Absolutely the point I think, there are thousands of great images being produced digitally BUT even people with no idea about the different technologies (my main collectors) express, well to me at least, an appreciation of the 'depth' of my prints. We should never forget that Ansel Adams was very excited about the potential of digital technology and would have worked hard to master the new working methods but I am sure that he would have worked towards creating digital prints that had the same depth as analogue prints. This, of course is now available, if one can afford to print digital files on conventionally processed baryta paper.

    "I also find that the slower process is beautiful because it forces us to pause between each of the steps and the process is mostly a tangible one." - This, I believe, is THE key point: that analogue photography is a slower process that fosters reflection and consideration throughout it's process. I generally process my films shortly after exposure but then leave them a minimum of 4 months before deciding which to print.

    Digital technology has truly freed the masses to make images that 'come out'. Being technically adept at photography is no longer a requirement for a photographer to make an image or, indeed, earn money working as a photographer. However, what remains and defines both commercial and exceptional art photographers, is how and what you photograph, your ability to create a meaningful image plus how it appears in the final print. Within these terms, it is not digital or analogue that is the debate but rather what is the final product and I would strongly suggest that the reflective nature of analogue photography delivers more thoughtful images. It is not an either/or question but rather a modus operandi question balanced with an aesthetic question of how you want your images to be judged.

    Bests,

    David
    www.dsalen.de
     
  12. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    I love film and I shoot digital too. I also work in IT at a university art computer lab. We are always upgrading the Camera RAW import plugins for Adobe Bridge for all the new DSLRs that the school buys. If this happens in the analog world, we'd upgrade our film developing reels and enlargers for every new SLR. I tell the students that I use film gear older than they are. Blows them away. I'm a cheap geezer.
     
  13. Helinophoto

    Helinophoto Member

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    Well, it may be true that the good-old darkroom-wizardry, as it was in the olden days, is more or less gone - as an industry.
    It doesn't make sense for anyone who shoots commercially or needs to deliver fast, to do it with film, it's just plain logic.

    However, film and darkroom as an art-form is imo no way on it's way out just yet.

    My impression, me being on a lot of social media and all :tongue:, is that people fall in love with shots made from film and/or processed prints.
    Shots made with Collodion spread virally like wildfire on the social media, where people constantly ohh and aahh and re-share it, same with most other good film-based work.

    There are also a few new faces to the scene, younger people taking up the old ways, collodion being one among many.

    But it has become a niche for sure.

    It may just be just as well, digital photos, no matter how good, are being traded off for pennies at stock-photo sites, many magazines has moved to the web and are getting a lot of free material
    - because when they publish it, is is "great promotion" for the models and photographers etc, fubar!

    And don't complain about film/paper/chem prices please, everything cost money....next time you feel that the prices are high, think about all the bagles or hamburgers you could have skipped instead, that crap sure as heck is expensive poop in cheap wrappings :D (or when you buy a new iPhone because the old one is.....old...., or spurge on useless things, like new shoes and things ^_^ )

    Keep doing what we all do, one day when I have something worth wile, I will hold an exhibition and sell like hot-cakes to all the people who have forgotten how to create beauty with film, paper and what have you :smile:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 23, 2013
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  15. momus

    momus Member

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    I think film gives a look that digital can't give, and probably never will be able to give. Two totally different mediums. True, for a LOT of people, film is not worth their time and trouble. Some people don't see much difference between images made from the two, which astounds me, but there it is. I look at it like this. Most people are wanna be photographers, or lousy photographers. The very good/great photographers are a tiny, tiny minority, and that's as it should be. Film won't help them if that's the case. True, a good photographer can make a good image w/ any camera, but only film gives a film look. You STILL have to have a great subject, correct exposure, etc to make a great photograph though. Most importantly, you have to have a good eye, and that's something that cannot be taught or learned. Someone w/ that gift would be more naturally inclined to use film in my mind, and no, I can't explain why, but I'd bet the farm on it.

    My background is art, and I assure you, most artists are lousy artists. How many people make etchings or lithographs these days? But for those who have an appreciation for the images those processes are capable of, and who are willing to devote the time and energy into mastering the mediums, it's worth it. Same w/ film. It is becoming an art form, and not something for the consumers/masses. But as I said, you still have to have something to say. Otherwise, you're doing what I see over and over again these days. Plenty of people who have absolutely nothing to say, but are capable of saying it beautifully w/ technically clean, sharp images. They have missed the point.
     
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  16. Prof_Pixel

    Prof_Pixel Member

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    Speaking as one who has been involved in the photo industry for over 50 years, that is the way the analogue camera industry behaved before the advent of digital imaging. Every PMA or Photokina always had something newer and better. Nothing has changed.
     
  17. Black Dog

    Black Dog Member

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    True, but digital certainly made it faster, faster, faster:munch: I do love the way a lot of digital friends admire my darkroom prints though-as long as grass grows green, or water runs,or brave men still have the strength to lift their cameras, the name of Ilford shall live!
     
  18. Wolfeye

    Wolfeye Subscriber

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    One of the horrors that can happen with digital can't happen with film. I was doing some cropping of digital images for a collage, and nearly hit "Yes" when it asked me if I wanted to save changes when I closed it. 4000x3000 image near suddenly became a 700x555 image. Lucky for backups!

    I just wish my darkroom was permanent. I'd do a lot more printing if it was. Takedown and setup is a drag.
     
  19. Prest_400

    Prest_400 Member

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    Film nowadays is an art medium. Or at least, a medium used by those who appreciate its qualities and know what they want. With patience and passion.

    Agreed. Except part of the core variables that define the image and its qualities was detached from the camera and its tech: Film itself
    Film did improve in steps, but being a consumable its not the same as a more lasting product (cameras) are.

    I am getting some slides scanned and printed (sadly on here some choice has been lost). Printing can get expensive! But if the image is worth it, it pays it completely off; Film, dev and printing.
    A point that some people commented me is: Film is expensive! ... I just think what I said above.
     
  20. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    That's easy to get around. You should always work in versions digitally, so that you don't touch the original.
     
  21. Prof_Pixel

    Prof_Pixel Member

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    I remember a case at Kodak were a darkroom worker was working on some historically significant negatives on 35mm nitrate film base and managed to destroy several images. I was asked to see if I could recover them using the then new digital equipment we were developing, but the images were to 'fried' to recover.

    It's always been possible to destroy images through carelessness.
     
  22. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    The consumer electronics steamroller started well before digital. Look at the endleaf ads of any old NG magazine and you'll encounter some silly
    diabtribe from Canon or Nikon why you just absolutely had to own their very latest 35mm with all the coolest bells and whistle, if you want to
    get pictures like those in the magazine (which generally didn't impress me much, either). I don't necessary despise the newer technologies per se, but I do find the spend, spend, spend craze of new for the sake of new to involve some pretty dumb cultural and economic priorities - unless of course, you happen to be one of those Silicon Valley types who depends on gadget addiction to feed his own continuing income.
    Putting a cooler camera in front of a doofy photographer won't make his images any less doofy.
     
  23. akfotog

    akfotog Subscriber

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    Great input everyone. The fact is that most everyone says film and paper is expensive, but fail to mention the upgrading to a bigger and better digital camera, larger media cards for that camera, a new computer to keep track of the media, backups in the form of raids and external hard drives, and software upgrades, which would, and does, buy a lot of everything I need to capture, develop, and print true silver images.

    Instant gratification, yes, but not for me. I use digital for some things, but you can't compare opening a digital file in Photoshop to watching your image slowly appear in the darkroom.
     
  24. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Don't forget the price of ink and good quality inkjet paper! Huge cost.

    Either way, photography is expensive when done right. Period. It's all about what we love to do. I hope to do my part in keeping it alive, by showing my best work to those who appreciate it.
     
  25. jetcode

    jetcode Member

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    Would you prefer 110 8x10's lined up at vista point? LOL ... let the kids go ADD ... the rest of us can take our sweet time!
     
  26. batwister

    batwister Member

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    A dying product, yes, it is.