He told me I knew what I was doing...

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Derek Lofgreen, Jul 1, 2010.

  1. Derek Lofgreen

    Derek Lofgreen Subscriber

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    Why is it that when people see you shooting film they automatically think you must know what you are doing? (or they look at you like you have 3 eyes). I was traveling a few weeks ago and had a conversation with a TSA officer while he was inspecting my bag. He said "you must know what your doing still shoot'n film".

    I posted more on my blog, but I guess if you think about it I can make just as bad a photo using digital as I can film. Why the perception that shooting film means you know what you're doing. Does no one have confidence in shooting film? is that what it is?

    what do you think?
     
  2. Dan Henderson

    Dan Henderson Member

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    well, I think you should be glad that he said what he did, rather than something like, "uh, oh" as he pawed through your bag.
     
  3. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    Because any old fool can use digital. And is. :rolleyes:
    Take it as a compliment.
     
  4. rjbuzzclick

    rjbuzzclick Member

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    I get the impression that a greater percentage of folks that shoot digital (as opposed to film), including some that shoot professionally, leave the camera on full auto mode and don't know anything technically beyond that. They still get results that work for them, but the camera is doing most of the work. So in that sense, someone shooting with a film camera, especially a fully manual camera, gives the impression that they know what they're doing, because they have to interact with the camera more.

    This is, of course, independent of the artistic merits of the photo being taken, which can be just as good or bad in either format.
     
  5. Shawn Dougherty

    Shawn Dougherty Subscriber

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    I sometimes fall into the same trap as I believe you have. We both love photography, it is our passion. Most people do not, at least to the same extent. When we stumble into someone else's area of expertise we might sound just as ignorant to them, despite having the best of intentions. Lighten up, I'm trying to do the same. =)

    Shawn
     
  6. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    I have gotten some very nice comments from TSA, actually. Quite a few of the older folks really take an interest in the gear and wonder why I use it, and I've gotten in quite a few conversations on the side. My usual practice is to ask upfront for a handcheck and to be as professional and courteous as possible... and guess what, they've always treated me excellently. When they realize that I have (typically) two camera systems and 30 rolls of film in the bag they generally treat me like royalty.

    The only time I incurred the wrath of the TSA was when attempting to transport crab dip in my personal baggage, but that is another story.

    I should probably report that getting film through the Mexico City airport was very difficult. Perhaps 35mm would have been easier, but I had nothing but 120 and they had literally no one there who knew what it was. The labels did not assuage their fears (120 does, after all, look like ammo) In the end they had to hold up each and every roll to the ceiling camera, to be okayed by some remote individual. All in all, the delay was ~45 mins and it was extremely fortunate that I gave myself 2 hours there.
     
  7. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    I've had digital/casual photographers tell me on more than one occasion "Wow you must be serious; I'm not good enough to shoot film". I don't quite understand it, but whatever. I don't know the first thing about digital photography and when they go into their technobabble conversations about the latest Mujitsu Pictionator 9000s with all of their crazy computerational mouse clicky stuff I gloss over...they must be serious...I think I'm not good enough to do digital.
     
  8. Leighgion

    Leighgion Member

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    I don't see anything hard to understand here.

    The reality is that digital photography has become the norm now, and film a niche. Since film photography requires handling more bits of stuff, more steps and more details to get to the end result, it's naturally going to either be viewed as backward, or elite by the general public; since the path of least resistance/overhead would be shooting digital, one who shoots film therefore must either be a) crazy or b) know what they're doing to have chosen to take all that extra complication on.

    You happened to draw a TSA man who believes (or at least was polite enough to appear to believe) the later.
     
  9. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    Film photography has always had a running subtext of "will this come out?".
    It will if: the camera is set for a good exposure, in focus, the shot is composed ok, and there are no mishaps in processing or other handling. The confirmation of how well all that worked is hours, days or perhaps months from the time the picture is made.
    The better your skills are at those things, the less doubt there is about "will this come out". OTH with digital cameras you know immediatly if it's going to come out, and no skills are percieved to be required to insure that.
    So it's not surprising that using film implies that the photographer has great skill to people who don't have the confidence level with film that those of us who use it routinely might.
     
  10. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    If you shoot film, you are one of three people:
    1. a luddite who doesn't own a computer or only uses the computer for AOL to send email in all caps.
    2. a vastly experienced photographer who has decades of experience and still chooses to shoots film because he/she likes that medium.
    3. a very young digitally trained photographer who has the skills and confidence (because you can't chimp) and learning ability to pick up film and do a good job with that too.
     
  11. magkelly

    magkelly Member

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    I've been going to the same local photography club for over a year now. Mostly in this area it's a lot of older guys shooting DSLR's and/or Nikon or Canon modern SLR's. Only one other guy uses vintage equipment though several like it and have used those cameras in the past.

    I've had my Fuji S7000 which is a higher end point and shoot with pretty good manual settings for over 7 years and though I have taken plenty of good shots with it and have had some liked by others, in these clubs as far as the guys were concerned I was just a dilettante, hobbyist, female getting lucky shooting with a pocket camera.

    First time I brought in my two old SLRs with some real lenses you'd have thought I'd changed heads or something. They were so impressed that they nearly fell over in their chairs, particularly with my Takumars. Suddenly I was being taken seriously, and they were all about paying attention to what I was doing, offering tips, and teaching me how to use them the "right" way.

    It was all I could do not to laugh my arse off.

    Mind you I was no more skilled than I had been for the past year and more. I just had more gear and some real lenses to play with and for some reason that made ALL the difference with this bunch.
     
  12. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    hey derek

    someone told me that a few weeks ago.
    seems like it was a compliment, so i just smiled.
    i don't think if someone says that
    they mean it to be a snide remark
    i think they just realize
    that there are people who
    like film because, well
    they kind of know what
    they are doing
    more than the average
    person with a camera on their cellphone.
    after all we can't just chimp-it and delete all 6000 frames
    until we get to the one we like.
     
  13. Shawn Dougherty

    Shawn Dougherty Subscriber

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    How about an artist who prefers to create work by hand rather than on a computer?

    or

    Someone who works with computers all day and wants to get away from them in their hobby/free time?


     
  14. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I am guilty of:
    2. a vastly experienced photographer who has decades of experience and still chooses to shoots film because he/she likes that medium.
    5. Someone who works with computers all day and wants to get away from them in their hobby/free time.
    6. I cannot find a good chimpin' class
    so I rather stare at ground glass.

    Steve
     
  15. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    Mmm hmm. That's where I sit, comfortable and contented. :smile:
     
  16. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    What about 5 and 6? :confused:

    Steve
     
  17. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    Really? I really am ignorant of digital photography, but film photography seems really really simple. You load the film in the camera (easy-self explanatory with most cameras-I don't even know if I could turn on most digital cameras), you shoot it (easier than digital, and controls are obvious usually), you develop it (dunk it in developer...oooh hard), you print it (put negative in enlarger, project onto paper. Tough stuff). Very simple.

    I don't even try to scan stuff for the web anymore because the process is annoying, unfun, and opaque. I guess it's a matter of perspective.
     
  18. alexmacphee

    alexmacphee Member

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    I haven't found quite the certainty that you know how a digital shot is going to turn out the moment you take it. I use, when the digital mood takes me, a Canon 10D and a G9. I've found that the sense of sharpness and luminosity on an LCD screen is often out of proportion to what it really is, and often the pictures when looked at on a proper monitor betray obvious problems with focus and exposure, particularly focus. Even when I'm doing static shots using a tripod, say for some table-top photography, using a release cable or self-timer, I'm often having to take several safety shots because the impression of focus accuracy on the camera review screen is misleading.
     
  19. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    The only hands on digital experience that I know about is the doctor's prostate exam. :surprised: :surprised: :surprised: :surprised: :surprised:

    Steve
     
  20. fwank

    fwank Member

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    i think one of the best things to ever happen to a photographer is when you know you got the exposure right (or in my case at least acceptable to print). i understand that more than likely this is a product of experience, but i believe that shooting film certainly helps learn this ability. the instant gratification, preview, and virtually unlimited quantity of the digital image means you don't have to be "right on" with exposure when you release the shutter, and in general, that leads to less consideration about your image quality.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 1, 2010
  21. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Experience and practice get you to the point that you know if you moved the camera, left the lens cap one, or need to bracket the exposure. Then you do not even think of needing to chimp.

    Steve
     
  22. Derek Lofgreen

    Derek Lofgreen Subscriber

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    I did take his comments as a compliment, as I think he meant it to be. I have heard this comment from others who I bump into on the street/trail that have a Dxyz in their hand. Or I get the comment "I wish I didn't switch to digital". So here is the thing, let's say you put a roll of Portra in a Canon 1V and set it to auto, and then shoot a Canon 5D on auto. Your going to get a great image on each, so why this perception of knowing what your doing because you shoot film? It's that little screen on the back of the digital camera, that's why.

    Imagine what would have happened if the digital camera didn't have that little screen on the back. would consumers think it's easier, or better to shoot digital if there was no screen? Probably not. It would be just the same as shooting film. Sales man says "well, what you do with this new camera is take your pictures, and then you download them to your computer. Once you decide which ones you want you can process them and then print them." How different is that from shooting film? I don't think it is much different at all. But put a little screen on the back of the camera so you can see what you just shot and it's like a kid on crack.

    Now don't get me wrong, I believe that digital and film can live side by side but each has it's own strength and weakness. Both are only tools for the creative mind to use. Nothing more. The best thing a photographer has to use while making photographs is the tool between his/her ears.
     
  23. magkelly

    magkelly Member

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    I think I'm putting this on a T-shirt....

    :wink:
     
  24. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    A female doctor did that to me once Steve, I told her it was more customary to shake hands.:redface: