Film Photography  

Posted by The Simple Layman


It has been a while since I used my film cameras to shoot any pictures. I used them last spring and was disappointed because local labs who processed film really didn't care to process it anymore. This attitude showed in ways of poor developing resulting in thin negatives caused from turning on film developing machines and not letting them get up to full temperature before developing the film, or in exhausted developers and a unwillingness to change expensive, exhausted chemistry. My last six rolls of film were ruined to three local labs as a result. In all honesty, I understand the demand for film developing is almost none so why should labs even keep developing film at all, let alone replace expensive chemistry for a few rolls a month, or waste time waiting for machines to warm up when they have other things to do in a lab? With lab employment turn-over, because it pays so little, few people are even properly trained to handle the film let alone know why it didn't turn out. Try to explain why the numbering on the edge of a film being faded, instead of bold and distinct, is a result of poor developing, not poor photography skills, and they are at a loss to understand it. Having developed my own films in the past and actually running a photo lab back when all my adjustments were manually made instead of automatic I think qualifies me to know the difference.

So why do I bother if digital is the way to go?

Well, because I love film photography, more than I like digital, and I do like digital for many things. Digital is fun, has quick results you can see, and provides more ease of use in low light and difficult situations, not to mention easy white balance and other color balance without the use of filters. For me though, it doesn't provide the satisfaction or the involvement mentally that film does, nor the therapeutic benefits of spending time with, well, an old friend. Shooting good pictures on a camera with manual focus, aperture settings and shutter speeds while having to deal with contrast and time in a darkroom is different in many respects from digital. I suppose if all you want is a digital outcome, that is, a digital file you can view on a computer or send off to a local lab for quick prints, then yes, the average person is quite happy with the results. Why then shoot film if the only result desired is to get a quick scan of them you can view on a computer? In this case, buying a digital camera has saved you many steps and at a greater advantage.

I love the look of film, even when scanned into a digital file. That's why I still keep using film, although that has been hampered by the lack of money from being out of work for a couple of years. When I recently began looking at film for my camera I was really shocked to learn how little film stock is being produced. I knew this was happening, and last I heard, Kodak had stopped offering any processing of Kodachrome film, (the last lab to process it stopped developing it a couple of Christmas's ago). What really surprises me is people are still selling old Kodachrome stock on the internet hoping people will buy it and take it off their hands, which is ridiculous since there is no one in the world that can develop it.

Now I see that during my financial sabbatical from film photography, Kodak has stopped making all the other best all around films I used to love, (Kodak 100/200 Gold, and Kodak Elite slide film, and others). Some old stock is available from a few distributors until it is gone, but the big 'K' no longer exists for all intents and purposes. I am thankful that black and white is still available, but the companies now making color film are the ones I only ever played around with and I always ended up going back to Kodak films for best color and archival properties. I knew Kodak had sold off some of it's patents and I hoped some small, independent company who had an interest in renewing the sale of it's formulations would market them. Sadly, this has not happened. Also, finding a 200 ASA color or black and white film is near impossible because most manufacturers are only making 100 and 400 films. I preferred 200 ASA speed for all around film shooting.

It's a little late to say it I guess, and so many articles have been written about it already, but film photography will be missed when if it does finally die. Right now, for me, it is like watching an old friend just fade away from old age until he takes his final breath.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at Tuesday, February 19, 2013 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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