Getting Over Film Anxiety
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)?
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.
All this has happened before, and all this will happen again.
I had the luxury of growing up and using film when there was no digital option.
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.
Mark Barendt, Beaverton, OR
"We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin
Chimping is a monkey on your back. Used to be that Polaroids let you down easy, but now you have to detox cold turkey.
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.
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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.
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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.
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.
An awful lot of electrons were terribly inconvenienced in the making of this post.
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.)
That's not a bug, my friend. That's a feature.
Originally Posted by fresnel10
"They are the proof that something was there and no longer is. Like a stain. And the stillness of them is boggling. You can turn away but when you come back they’ll still be there looking at you."
— Diane Arbus, March 15, 1971, in response to a request for a brief statement about photographs