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Digital Photography & ‘Special Effects’ Yet Some Prefer to Use Film
I recently spoke with a young man who I discovered was very interested in photography (didn’t know anything about my own special effect photography), and after he told me that it was his main hobby, I was intrigued and very surprised when he explained that he preferred to use film instead of digital imaging. Although it is so difficult and expensive to buy movies these days. I mistakenly assumed he meant black and white photography, but soon realized he was buying color film.
All new cameras, even cell phones, are digital. Also, there are only a few small labs that will process color film, and home processing, while possible, is not easy. Still, he told me that there are groups of photographers, like himself, who prefer to use film, and their numbers are growing.
I’ve looked around the internet and there is actually a lot of discussion about the advantages or disadvantages of using film versus digital.
Most say that in the use of films, because of the need to be much more selective (take much less pictures due to high costs)it has trained them to become much better photographers.
Another claim was that good digital cameras are expensive and need to be replaced every four to five years because they are updated so often. However, buying a used film camera will be cheaper, last a lifetime and hold its value, even though film cameras are much bulkier and heavier.
Finally, old transparencies and negatives can, and will always be, easily viewable, but who knows, as digital technology changes so quickly, whether it will be possible to view digital images in the future.
I was surprised to learn this, because of the incredible possibilities of digital photography, which now exist. Cameras not only make it easier to control the image and exposure in many ways that were previously much more complicated with film. There is the advantage of seeing the digital result immediately. But even after you’ve taken the photo, with the help of software, the options available now for manipulating digital photographs are fantastic!
This got me thinking about why I had favored using color reversal films (for my own creative transparencies) rather than negative film in the 60s, before anyone had computers. I enjoyed seeing the large projected image much more than a print, although there was no option to alter the image once it was done, but I used it for my own “special effects”. But having to wait at least a week, to see the transparencies, was frustrating.
I preferred transparencies to negatives because color printing was very difficult for me to master as a hobbyist, so I always relied on professional processing labs to make my prints.
My special effects shots were imaginative (nothing like the usual photographs) and I soon found that it was almost impossible, when they made prints from my negatives, that they knew how to get the color balance I really wanted. The advantage of transparencies was that I could just tell them to match the color balance of the transparency they could see.
My favorite film was Kodak ‘Kodachrome 25’ which unfortunately is no longer available. The transparencies were much more vibrant than any of the prints and so I concentrated on what I could do with Kodachrome. By always using this film, I soon learned how to control it better, even with my own “Special Effects”.
These days I’m excited about the digital option, more than the cinema. However, using my invented “Light Painting” technique of photographing projected images, I can create some effects that would be very difficult to achieve with digital software.
My opinion has always been that the most important aspect of photography is the resulting image, composition, quality and choice of subject. Not the questions of technique, or the brand of camera, the lens used or the film, etc. Only the resulting image matters; however, it was created!
After so many years of using film, I’m now totally sold on the digital system personally, but if any readers are interested in what special effects I’ve achieved with my own “Light Painting” technique, please check out my site web https://www.jncohen.net/Limited-Edition-Prints/Painting-with-light.htm
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