Analogue Love/Hate

There’s been a resurgence of Arty/Retro/Hipster Love of film recently.  Starting I guess with the Lomo guys and I most recently found a more and more of this kind of stuff around the place.  I got the tour of Sample Studios recently and they even have a dark room (remember those?).

Now, I still own far more film cameras then I’m ever likely to use and every now and then hanker to pick them up, fire the shutter and even tempted to fire off some of my few remaining film rolls.

If only I had the time.

But recently the reality of my film days was brought back to me with a bump.

I recently started leafing through my archive of neagtives looking for a nostagic picture of Mrs Lamb in order to make her Birthday card.  Lots of really lovely old stuff in there and I took more time than I had available to look through those photos.

Amongst them I found a couple of images from my Student Days that I’d had half a mind to scan up so having dusted off the film scanner I ran them through.

Lovely shots (OK I might do more with the location now) but holy cow just how much crap is on that negative!!!

We’re talking, scratches, damaged emulation, dust, drying marks – plus substaintial grain issues.  All that nostaglia about the details of the baths: the signage, the tiling, the scoreboards is now masked with crap.   Now this was probably a home-cooked negative so much of the responsibility is mine.  But I had no better luck with most labs.

Going digital was the first time I got full control over my end-to-end workflow.  Aside from the ability to chimp, the flexibility and speed of digital.  I finally got the quality of finish I was looking for.

Here’s the final, cleaned up image (there’s probably more that could be done with this).   For anyone interested in the original scan it’s available here.

The Loughborough Colleges 25yd Pool, circa 1991
The Loughborough Colleges 25yd Pool, circa 1991

Last Batch

Professional Photographer Cork
Photography Old School

My small stock of film finally lost its space in the Freezer at the weekend.  In fairness it’s been there a few years at this stage and we have a glut of frozen blackberries that had higher priority.

I think I have a couple of rolls of standard colour neg film in the fridge but this was the ‘special’ collection of film which I’ll never be able to get again.  In particular I remember when I bought that last batch of HIE it was very hard to find any that was still fresh.  I’m not sure if you can still get the Velvia but certainly it’s very hard to get processed last time I tried (and that’s years ago).

I came to digital photography at an ideal time – the D3 generation of sensors was the tipping point where digital overtook film in pretty much all practical applications at 35mm or smaller.  While there was still an advantage to studio medium format at the time that’s pretty much gone at this stage.

So I never had to struggle with a film / digital mix.  I didn’t have to deal with lots of compromises in final image quality for the convienience and flexibility of digital.

But I still love film and would love to find more excuses (and time) so shoot some.

There is something in buying film that filled me with expectation and excitment about what you might create.  It’s like buying an artist’s pad of fine paper and a new pencil.

There’s a thrill of endless possibility and potential.

The world has moved on and digital has changed the way we take photographs forever – and mostly for the better.  We do tend to over-shoot and under-think, we don’t get to enjoy your images in the physical way we used to with printed film but we have the opportunity to experiment, learn, develop, create and share more than ever before.

The essence of good photography doesn’t change with the medium.  The proliferation of photographs in the world just highlights the difference between good and bad (because there’s a lot more bad) but the value of the good is under threat.

I’ll find a new home for my antique film and hope that when I finally find a worthy project for it it’ll still be capable of rendering images in its unique way.

For the record, Kodak HIE is an infra-red (IR) sensitive film what, when used with a suitable filter, was capable of recording reflected light in the IR spectrum.  So you get these wonderfully eiree landscapes with black skies and bright folliage (and ghostly portraits).  I love IR in the Irish Landscape but a couple years ago I converted a D70 to only record IR and moved to digital for that too.  IR photography is very experimental and it’s a lot easier with digital – although no way as much fun.  Fuji Velvia is a high quality slide film which renders strong, bright colour with very little grain.