No matter what the media, film or digital, a photograph is a photograph. Digital just has a few advantages. Such as I can fit 1,600 images on my SD memory card currently in my digital SLR (a Pentax K7d). The most I ever had on a roll of film was 36. I can have all 1,600 images downloaded to my computer the same day I took them. No paying a lab to develop them (or the time, money and energy to develop myself). No scanning. And I can have them up on Flickr or Facebook within an hour of the image being captured.
So, why am I going to use film for this project? Can’t I just take a digital photo and make it greyscale in Photoshop?
I could do that. It would cut about $500 off my budget (film, chemistry, scanner). But something is lost. That something is magic.
OK, I know that traditional photography is not magic but is science. I know it is all just chemical reactions to light. But when you don’t quite have a strong grasp on science and math (I will admit it, I don’t) it feels like magic. I remember the first time I was in a darkroom developing a black and white image for the first time. I had placed the paper I just exposed in the other room into the tray of developer. Within seconds splotches of black appeared on the page and out of nowhere an image I captured earlier that week with my camera was sitting in that tray. It felt like it appeared out of nowhere. It felt like magic.
Turning a color digital image to black and white, well that happens with a click of a mouse and within seconds on the HD computer monitor before me. It does not feel the same.
Digital feels unlimited. I know when I got a terrible picture. I can delete the bad ones imediately. I have a new habbit of looking at the back of my camera after every shot to see if I got it. I don’t write down my exposure information anymore, the camera knows it and saves it in the picture file. I don’t have to think, I just click. This unlimited nature of digital has caused in me a lot of bad habits. Habits that should not be in this book.
When I take a photo with my K1000 or 3800n, I have to think. I have to look at the light-meter, I have to adgust my shutter speed and aperture acordingly, I braket each shot up a stop and down a stop to make sure I have a good one and I will write this all down in a notebook. All of this sounds so time consuming, but I like it. It makes me think. It helps me know that I am creating a well composed image.
I guess it is hard to explain. So many people just point and click and move on to the next shot. But for me, this is an art. I want to take my time. I want to know I am getting a good exposure without the aid of an LCD screen on the back of my camera. I want to hear the click and the gears whirring. I want to feel the film advance and the springs reset. I want to see the crank advance and the counter click to a new number as I pull the advance lever to the right. I want to take a photograph. I want to feel the film as I load it sightless into a developer reel. I want to smell the chemistry (OK, that is probably not healthy, but I love the smell of developer). I want to hear the chemicals swish as I agitate the tank. I want to see the image magically appear. I want to make magic. I want to make art.