Getting Over Film Anxiety

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by fresnel10, Aug 3, 2014.

  1. fresnel10

    fresnel10 Subscriber

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    So this feels very weird and dumb to post on APUG, but I'd be interested to hear some thoughts on this. I shoot both film and digital, and typically when traveling (except, generally, a place I've covered heavily on previous trips) I will have at least one of each handy. One of my biggest struggles lately is that I am having a hard time getting past a nervousness to shoot ONLY film while on a trip. Just curious if anyone else has encountered this and how you powered through and got over it (if you even did)?
     
  2. kb3lms

    kb3lms Subscriber

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    Really? Shooting only film on a trip is what everyone did up until the year 2000 or so. You push the button and get the film developed when you get home. If your equipment is working and you know how to make a decent exposure then chemistry and physics will take care of the rest!

    And just remember, at the end of the day when you retire to your hotel room or whatever, all those little silver atoms are gleefully locked in place. Nothing to back up, no memory cards to get lost or stepped on - especially the little micro SD ones. Pack up the exposed film in a safe place and you just go to bed knowing that they are there and there is nothing more for you to do until time to develop, or get it developed.

    Have fun!
     
  3. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    I had the luxury of growing up and using film when there was no digital option. :D

    Your films are coming out ok right?

    The only doubt I had after going digital then coming back was about myself, and rightfully so. I am the wild card that can make or ruin my shots. That's true either way.

    Trust yourself. Pay attention to what you do and to which film you load. Go have fun. You'll do just fine.
     
  4. Kawaiithulhu

    Kawaiithulhu Member

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    Chimping is a monkey on your back. Used to be that Polaroids let you down easy, but now you have to detox cold turkey.
     
  5. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    I remember going on family vacations and shooting tons of film only on my dads nikon. One trip in china it was so cheap to develop and get prints we processed it all there and actually got to see the prints before getting home! That was 20 or so years ago though. I remember on a later trip when we got a sony mavica to bring along with the film cameras which shot on floppys when it came out, we were worried about the digital storage! Haha wow if feel old.
     
  6. ambaker

    ambaker Subscriber

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    You sound like you are shooting 35mm. If so, shoot some extra shots to finish off the roll, and take it to a place that still does fast finishing. That is how we got fast feedback in the old days.

    When I want to get comfortable with a camera, I take just the one out shooting. After the first couple of rolls come back, I'm pretty much over any worries.

    When it is a "new" old camera, I shoot some cheap B&W, so I can develop it at home and check the frame spacing and overall operation.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD
     
  7. DWThomas

    DWThomas Subscriber

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    These days I generally do one of each, but it depends on a lot of specific what/where/why details. I didn't own a digital device until 2004, and I've been shooting film since around 1957 or before, so maybe I've built more confidence in film. On many trips back in the 60s and 70s, I went with only one camera, a trusting soul -- "well, it worked OK for the past month, it should be OK for the next two weeks!" (And I didn't own much gear.)

    If I took more than one, the extra was often some special item (4x5 with IR film or whatever). In 2002 I took two Canon film cameras, an A-1 and an Elph Jr to Italy for two weeks, but left my heaviest zoom at home. In my old(er) age I've been moving more toward film for B&W, digital for color (sorry APUGers, it just is), partly out of some frustration with the processing and expense of color film. (I consider B&W my "serious" work. Of course, many recent travels have been with several other family members, which I find distracting as all get-out, so those trips may not be "serious" photography anyway!

    How much I drag along also depends on whether I'm flying or driving, and how far from home I'm going, as to how much redundancy or breadth of resources I feel I want with me. For a destination a half day away, I could come back again unless it's a once in a lifetime event happening. For several weeks in Italy, I want to have enough stuff to come back with decent pictures from a range of lighting and subjects, though I have no interest in carrying 15 pounds of gear all day every day either.
     
  8. Dr Croubie

    Dr Croubie Member

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    Yeah, I've been through that. But once you have confidence that you can always produce what you want out of film, there's no need to take a digital as backup, other film bodies can also be a backup. If you take no backup bodies or lenses then digital can fail just as easily as film.

    At first I was a digital-only shooter, then as I got into film I started taking both. For example last year I drove to Melbourne and back past some of Australia's most picturesque scenery with the 7D, Mamiya 645AF with RVP and Efke 25, and EOS 3 with 40mm and FP4/TX. The 7D was good for the wildlife, but I also took some ultra-wide angles with the 8-16mm and stitches with the tripod and panning head. The EOS 3 was for some street-shooting walking around Melbourne, and did its job rather well. The Mamiya also did its job for the landscape scenery, except I took the Efke to a lab who passed it through a roller-transport and ripped the emulsion to shreds (that's when I started developing my own).

    Now that I'm confident that I can get better shots with the Mamiya and/or 4x5 than I can with the 7D, and now that I know that I absolutely hate digital-pano-stitching and would rather take it in one with a 617, I don't use the 7D for landscapes anymore.

    I haven't done any major trips like that since, but I'm going on the Grampians Adventure in 2 months, and I'm taking nothing but film. 8x10 for B+W contact-prints. 4x5 (hopefully travelwide) for scanning E6 and/or enlarging C41 and B+W. 6x17, 6x9, and 6x7 backs for the 4x5 (6x7 and smaller for wet-enlarging, the rest for contacts or scanning). Probably Mamiya 645AF but maybe Hasselbladski or EOS3 with Samyang 35 for hiking. Pinhole suitcase and 11x14" paper for the hell of it. Maybe a Bessa R3A and 40/1.4 with Delta 3200 for night-time socialising shots (good thing I'm driving by myself or this wouldn't all fit).

    I still have the digital, and I still use it, but it's a horse for a specific course these days, ie birds and action where I can't afford 7fps on film. My question is not "should I take film or digital or both?", but it's "will I be shooting birds and wildlife or landscapes or street? Am I hiking or flying or driving?" and that answers what equipment I will bring.
     
  9. Truzi

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    There was a time when there was no digital. For those of us who started on film, there was never a choice, and the question did not exist. Some, however, would bring a back-up camera in case their main one had issues.
    In this regard, you are dealing with proven technology. So long as your camera is in good repair, there is not much to worry about.

    I suppose it depends on how confident or experienced you are with film. If you are taking snapshots, and have a good point-and-shoot or range-finder, there should not be any problems. If you have an SLR and are good with it, still, not much to worry about.
    Many family trips were documented with cheap and basic 35mm or 120 cameras with no real settings, and things generally came out fine. We have stacks of old vacation and family photos taken with 126 cameras, and I recently revived one of those cameras and am confident in it.

    You can consider your digital as the "backup." Even shoot with it regularly, but decide the film camera is your primary camera for the trip. That way you are safe with what you are confident in (digital), but are concentrating on film.

    Also, you could try a sort of systematic desensitization. Use only film for things nearby before going on a trip. This may help you become more confident with film before using it on an important trek. Perhaps even make mistakes on purpose (on test rolls); this will give you an idea of what you can get away with. You may be surprized how robust film photography is.

    If you are worried about lack of instant feedback, try taking digital pictures, but not looking at the LCD after the shot - wait until you get home before you look. Get used to trusting yourself to get the picture - don't let the computer think for you. Think of it as touch-typing. When you get good at it, you know what you have.

    I do not own a digital camera, and have no qualms using film for anything I am doing. I just take snapshots, and my composition sucks, but I know I will get a picture of what I want. The only serious problems I've ever had were user error, which I could do just as easily with digital.

    One word of advice whether you do all film or both... make sure you bring enough film. My best friend and I went to New England about 4 years ago, and I thought I was well stocked... I was not. I nearly bought out a local drugstore; they had a lot of Kodak 200 because it was a tourist area, but it was at tourist drugstore prices. My best friend had a digital camera, and she had to be paranoid about backing it up every night. I just put my exposed film in a cooler.

    Today we went to the baptism of my best friend's sister's adopted daughter. They handed me an Olympus Stylus and asked me to take pictures (I told them had I known, I'd have brought a pro 120 camera). Anyway, the flash took forever to recharge, and the camera took too long to save each picture. I missed a few shots simply waiting for the camera to ready itself (I did some test shots w/o flash, and they were unacceptable in the sharpness department). Add the fact the camera's battery doesn't like to be at the ready (because I wasn't going to let it turn off as I didn't want to miss a shot), we had to change batteries mid-ceremony. My 35mm would have run circles around it (including a reload), and my 1980s consumer-grade flash recharges faster. (I'm sure an expensive DSLR would have been just as fast, but most people don't have super-fast high-end digital equipment.)
     
  10. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    That's not a bug, my friend. That's a feature.

    :wink:

    Ken
     
  11. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    Sounds like normal behaviour for someone who is coming back to film. It took me over 12 months to not bring the digital with me when going out shooting.

    Now, its the dead opposite! I have a problem bringing the digital.

    You'll grow out of it!
     
  12. Nuff

    Nuff Member

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    For my first film only trip (since 2004, that's when I switched to digital) I went to Nepal. I didn't regret using film only. Photos came out great.
     
  13. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    I aways love to shoot film!

    Jeff
     
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  15. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    The underlying psychology is that you have accepted that it is easier and more convenient to shoot digital and see the results of your effort immediately, even though the scene you have photographed is no doubt benign and uncomplicated. Essentially, it is a comfortable thing for you. For most achieved analogue photographers they do not need to touch something digital for either a simple scene or one in which they may be unsure of due to technicalities of metering, composition, light or a combination of these and other factors. Even if they are sure, the film record may still not work out. This is where a small digi can be handy to "proof" a scene parallel to film (and this is no different to using a polaroid back widely used for proofing). In the end though, you can use whatever medium you are comfortable with, but film will teach you more about your mistakes (especially exposure) than a digimon will.
     
  16. munz6869

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    I only take film on every trip now. Worse than that, I only take B&W film - initially it drove the extended family insane, but they're used to it now. Keep your equipment in good nick and think about exposures, and you'll get a pretty good rate of successes - and if you shoot conservatively, there's a lot less tedious editing when you get home too!

    Marc!
     
  17. NJH

    NJH Member

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    It depends entirely on what you expect to get back from your photography. Do you want to accurately document everything you see with 100% success rate or do you want to be wowed by occasionally seeing an artistic vision come to life. I decided the later for several reasons and its this sort of freedom that I not only love about film photography but that it enhances my memories of where I have been rather than tries to replace them. One has to set oneself free of the burden of documentation to be free of the desire to shot digital, its as simple as that IMHO.
     
  18. darkosaric

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    Before I had one camera with color film, and one with B&W. Or I shoot some snaps with mobile phone. My style of shooting often needs fast reaction - so I decided not to use color films and mobile phones after I got myself couple of times in situation that I missed good shoot because I had mobile phone in my hand.

    So for me when traveling: one full mechanical camera, one lens, manual focus, B&W film. More than this is distracting.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 4, 2014
  19. trythis

    trythis Subscriber

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  20. trythis

    trythis Subscriber

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    Keep it simple, and try not to think about allegiances or at least don't let them get in the way of enjoying your trip!
    That was supposed to be an edit....oh well tapatalking on phone error. Can't fix from here.
     
  21. bvy

    bvy Subscriber

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  22. momus

    momus Subscriber

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    Just make sure you bring cameras that you KNOW work properly. That should do it. I've never had any issues in half a century of traveling w/ film cameras, and I am pretty sure that the people who do, use "new" cameras that haven't been verified to be reliable.
     
  23. benjiboy

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    I too have travelled with film cameras for more than half a century and never had issues, it's about having confidence in your abilities and in your equipment by ensuring that your equipment is maintained and checked occasionally by a professional camera tech. which in the long run is a lot cheaper than going on the trip of a lifetime and coming back with un useable results, I believe this applies not only to film cameras but also digital ones that can also develop faults that aren't immediately apparent.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 4, 2014
  24. ajmiller

    ajmiller Subscriber

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    I'm the opposite to a lot here in that I started out on digital and then changed to film at college. I practised using film at all times when I first changed, before I went film-only on some college assignment work. Sounds like you're using film so just go for it. I learnt early on that it's ok to miss some shots - there's a lot of subjects out there.

     
  25. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    For me the anxiety is regarding a digital image. What if it turns out to be something worthy. The image winds up as an abstract collection of numbers that cannot be viewed or printed without being converted back to its analog form.
     
  26. MattKrull

    MattKrull Subscriber

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    Fresnel,
    As is evident by three pages of replies in a day, you aren't alone. I still travel with both a film camera and a digital. I use the digital to dial in my lighting in difficult situations (it replaces polaroids) and for shots where digital makes more sense. I use the film where it works best (for me that is portraits, architecture, and landscapes). I'm still not a 100% confident that it'll turn out who I envision (especially since I use a lot of expired film but am not looking for the lomo asthetic), but I have learned to embrace unexpected results. Despite shooting the majority of my honeymoon, last year's road trip (and a wedding) through BC and Alberta, and this year's roadtrip through Quebec and New Brunswick on film, I have far fewer misses than I ever would have expected.

    You asked for advice, so here my advice. Chose your format (35mm or Medium Format, B&W or Colour) and buy a big stock of the cheapest and most forgiving film you can, and shoot a lot of it in situations where it doesn't matter. For colour 35mm I suggest Superia 400 or Kodak Gold 400. For colour MF I'd go with Porta 400 (Ektar is cheaper, but not forgiving. Lomo has a cheap ISO400 colour film, I know nothing about it, but would guess it would work well). For Black and White everyone has a favourite: Kentmere 400 is good and dirt cheap 35mm, Tri-X and HP5+ are staples for a reason, and Tmax 400 is the most forgiving film ever made (it has an extra stop of latitude up and down so you can shoot ISO 200, 400 and 800 on the same roll - oh, and it is the cheapest 120 film I can find these days).

    Okay, how do you shoot a lot? Be Young and Stupid :wink:
    Take a weekend trip someplace with some friends; bicycle, motorcycle, car, or bus. Just go someplace new or different. Get excited and go with a sense of adventure. Make up your plan as you go along, and be open to the photographic opportunities that appear. Take snap shots. Take serious photos. Take every photo you feel like (but only take that photo once, maybe twice if it really matters) Make a point of using the sunny 16 rule as much as possible; when in doubt over expose.

    When you get your prints back (or develop your film yourself) you'll be amazed at how well everything turned out. C41 film in particular is so forgiving you'll quickly start to trust it. If you do your own dark room work, you'll learn that even a badly misjudged (3 stop off) B&W film shot can be brought back from the abyss with a bit of playing in the dark room.

    I did say get your prints back, not scans. For me, prints are what make film so great. Feelign them in your hands, holding them up and passing them around you'll forgive imperfections that you probably wouldn't on the screen.

    I now trust film to the point of carelessness. I'll wing my settings more than I should. So far it hasn't bitten me. So far, I've had only a tiny handful of failed shots. I am not content to walk around with a meterless camera and only pull out the pocket meter (or phone-app that does the same thing) for the shots that really matter to me (and I'm finding my guess and the meter are usually pretty close these days).