Category Archives: Film

Film is Better than Digital?!

After I posted my Digital is Better than Film post last week, I expected some amount of rebuttal… but this is outrageous! Those goobers over at FeelingNegative.com had the nerve to mock me by posting a Film is Better than Digital article.

At any rate, I’m only posting the link here because I’m trying to be the bigger person in this situation. Feel free to go read it (I haven’t done so myself), but I’m assuming that it’s a load of crap and easily disputed.

Film is Better than Digital: 5 Situations

If anybody needs me, I’ll be outside burning some film and old cameras out of spite.

Digital is Better than Film: 5 Situations

[tweetmeme]I hate love film… I really do. But there are occasions when I opt for my digital camera over my film cameras (shh… don’t tell them I said that).

I know, most of you might be thinking “digital is always better than film”. And certainly, the word “better” is open to interpretation. But my point here is that digital photography has certain advantages over film photography for specific situations. I plan to post a follow-up article that explores the situations when film is better than digital (and I might post it on my film photography blog, naturally).

[UPDATE 4-12-2010] I posted a Film is Better than Digital article on my film blog.

So here are 5 situations when digital is usually better than film.

WHEN YOU NEED TO SHOOT A LOT OF PHOTOS

And when I say “need”, I don’t mean shooting a thousand photos on your stroll down the road. I’m talking about situations that require you to photograph hundreds or thousands of photos for some type of event or job.

2010 Parker 425 Car #1532

I can think of several such events that I recently shot with my digital: The Parker 425 race, the Green Man T-Shirt event, the Long Beach Grand Prix, and I’m sure there are others I’ve done. The point is: these types of events (whether you’re shooting as a professional or as a hobbyist) will require that you take many hundreds of photos. Others that come to mind are weddings, concerts, sporting events, product shoots, fashion shows, races, and many more.

It’s not to say that these situations can’t be shot with film, but it becomes very tedious and expensive with ultimately fewer results (unless you’re downright awesome).

WHEN LIGHTING CONDITIONS CHANGE RAPIDLY

One of the major inconveniences of film is the fact that you can’t change your film sensitivity on the fly — you either have to finish the roll or wind it back up and write down where you left off. Digital cameras overcome this inconvenience by allowing you to change the ISO setting at any given time.

We Have Liftoff Moray Eels

One such situation that comes to mind is at a theme park or zoo. One minute you’re outside in the sun, then you’re inside a dark aquarium, then you’re back outside, then you’re back inside, etc. Pain in the butt if you’re shooting film. And again, things like weddings and concerts might have rapidly changing lighting conditions that will require a quick ISO change.

WHEN TRAVELING FOR LONG PERIODS OF TIME

At just a “few” shots per roll of film, you could really accumulate a collection of spent film on a long trip. This poses two problems: the cost of the film and developing, and the space needed to lug it around. Digital photos, on the other hand, don’t take up much space — especially if you’re packing a laptop or other mass storage device.

My baby stash. 1,629 shots.
Creative Commons License photo credit: Hillary Stein

Again, not saying that you can’t (or shouldn’t) shoot film on a lengthy vacation, but I wouldn’t leave the digital behind. When traveling, I bring both film and digital cameras, but I always pack way too much film. That’s the other downside to film — you bring more than you need, “just in case”.

WHEN YOU NEED A QUICK TURNAROUND

Not all paid shoots will require a ton of photos, but some will require a quick delivery of images. In this case, dealing with the film might be more work than it’s worth.

Even for personal stuff, sometimes you just need a quick shot of something that you can toss on the web. This is true for things such as blogs, eBay or Craigslist postings, quick family/friend emails, and other such situations. Obviously, digital rules in this area.

If you want to send a film photo through the interwebs, you have to shoot the entire roll, develop it, let it dry, chop it up, scan it, process it, and finally output it for the web. Digital… shoot, download, process, downsize, done. Hell, you could even shoot it on your cell phone and upload it straight to Flickr or Facebook. At any rate, film just takes a bit longer (and more money) to process and digitize.

WHEN YOU DON’T WANT TO SPEND THE MONEY

There is certainly an ongoing cost associated with shooting film, and that’s not always a bad thing when you can pick up a camera for less than $50. But not every situation you encounter will justify that film & developing cost.

I shoot a lot of film, even for personal stuff and family get-togethers. But sometimes I just don’t see the benefit of going analog. If you know you’re going to be taking a lot of personal shots that you’ll never have time or money to develop and/or print, just take the digital camera. Or maybe you’ve been shooting a lot of film and falling behind on developing and scanning — shooting digital for a while can be a nice break and allow you to catch up.

WHAT DID I MISS?

Besides the default “digital is always better than film” answer — that doesn’t count (and I’ll prove it wrong with a follow-up post).

Building a Large Format Pinhole Camera

Over at FeelingNegative.com, we’ve started a DIY Large Format Camera project and our first step was to make a pinhole camera that exposes paper negatives.

I spent last weekend building 3 different cameras for myself and with the kids, and we all took a few shots and made prints. The cameras turned out good and the photos aren’t bad either.

If you’re not already following the project and you’re interested in trying this type of thing, head over there and see how I made my first pinhole camera (it’s a step-by-step DIY kind of thing).

[UPDATE 04-12-2010] You can also view a video I put together on developing paper negatives from these types of cameras.

Feeling Negative? Check Out This New Film Photography Blog!

[tweetmeme]OK, so this thing has been in the works for many months now. I’m pleased to announce the launch of a new blog aimed at film photographersFEELINGNEGATIVE.COM

As many of you know, I’ve been heavy into film photography for the last few years. I post a few film-related things here on Epic Edits from time to time, but I never felt really comfortable pushing a ton of it because we have a mixed audience.

This new blog will give me a chance to write about film photography uninhibited. And the best part of this new blog… I’m not doing it alone. My good friend Tomas Webb will be joining me as an equal partner/mastermind. We’ve been brewing ideas and organizing this thing for several months and I’m confident that we’ll be able to provide outstanding content in this particular niche of photography.

WHAT DO WE HAVE IN STORE?

I assure you, we have a bunch of great topics and themes that we’ll be talking about over there. The site is organized into five main sections: Camera Bag, Darkroom, Digital Darkside, Community, and Other Stuff. Each main category has several sub-categories yet to be announced, and they’ll roll out as we publish more articles. At launch, we have one article per main category to get you started.

In the first few weeks, we’ll also be talking about the various ways you can get involved with the new website. One of our main goals is to create a thriving community of film enthusiasts, and we’ll have plenty of ways for you to get in there and take part. Right now, you can join the Feeling Negative Flickr Group and contribute photos that will be exhibited on the site.

You might also notice that the site design is somewhat mild… we’ll work on that eventually. Our thought was to get the content rolling and focus on the frilly stuff later.

WHO IS THIS SITE FOR?

This one is pretty simple: anybody that is already or wants to be involved with film photography. That includes everyone from beginners with a small interest, way out to the seasoned pros with tons of experience.

For the beginners, we’ll be covering the basics of shooting, developing, printing, scanning, etc. For the ol’ timers, we’ll be digging into alternative techniques, various pieces of equipment and film stocks, DIY stuff, and new ways of working with an old process. I’m hoping we can keep a wide variety of photographers engaged in the discussion.

LAST THOUGHTS…

I don’t want to run on for too long about this thing, so get over there and check it out. I would encourage anybody interested in film photography to give it a chance and watch how it “develops” over the next few weeks and months. We have a lot of stuff to talk about over there and it’s going to take some time to get everything up and running.

Again, if you have any inclination toward film photography whatsoever, please check out the site and/or subscribe to the RSS feed:

FEELINGNEGATIVE.COM WEBSITE

FEELINGNEGATIVE.COM RSS FEED

What do you guys think? Is this a good idea worth the effort, or are we just wasting our time in a diminishing medium?

Also feel free to leave any comments, questions, concerns, etc, right here on this post. And have no fear, Epic Edits will continue on as it always has.

What Would You Like to Learn About Film Photography?

Most of you know that I’m a big fan of film photography and I’ve posted a few articles here on the blog. I started with digital, but I’ve been doing the film thing for about the last 2 years now. At this point, I’m fairly comfortable with discussing most film photography topics from shooting to printing and everything in between.

The poll this time around will be another open-ended question because I’d like to get some open-ended feedback from you guys. I know that quite a few of you are film buffs and/or upcoming film enthusiasts, and I know that there are a lot of questions out there on the topic. So open it up and ask away! What film photography topics, tips, techniques, and methods would you like to learn more about?

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT FILM PHOTOGRAPHY? REALLY… ANYTHING!

Seriously… don’t be shy and don’t blow it off. I can’t answer if you don’t ask. And for those of you interested in film, stay tuned for a BIG announcement next week.

Double Exposure Tips and Photos

In the world of artistic photography, double exposures can result in some very interesting stuff. Some can be well thought out compositions with shapes and exposures meant to compliment the other frame. Others can be happy accidents that exhibit a magic mixture of luck and randomness. In either case (and any case in between), a good double exposure catches the viewer’s attention and presents a distorted reality that would not be possible to see without a camera.

Here are a few tips to get you started with double exposures.

  • Pay attention to shadows and highlights in each exposure. You’ll notice that large areas of shadow on one exposure will allow the highlights to show through from the other exposure. If you line up shadows on both exposures, you’ll get little detail due to underexposure. If you line up highlights from both exposures, you’ll get a faded looking image with low contrast.
  • Try to keep at least one of the exposures rather simple. Two busy exposures will typically result in chaos and make everything harder to see (unless chaos is what you’re going for).
  • To create a “ghost”, put the camera on a tripod and take the first exposure. Then remove or add objects or people and take the second exposure without moving the camera.
  • If you wan to go the film route, don’t forget to underexpose by one stop for a double exposure (2 stops for 4 exposures, etc). And make sure you know how to double expose with your specific camera.
  • If you want to go the digital route, one method is to underexpose as you would with film (or do so with post processing) and apply a screen layer blend (which essentially mimics the process of projecting two slides onto one screen). More details on the digital process in this article: Digital Multiple Exposure.
  • And most of all, experiment and have fun with it. Over time, you’ll get a sense for how the two exposures work with each other and you can really start to form the final image to your intent.

And here are some pretty awesome multiple exposures from Flickr. Most (if not all) of these were done with film. If you have some double exposures of your own (and/or tips for double exposing), drop them in the comment section below the article.

I am what I have found
Creative Commons License photo credit: FilmNut

raina
Creative Commons License photo credit: cx33000

Alien Sunset
Creative Commons License photo credit: Brian Auer

Some Time on Earth
Creative Commons License photo credit: *it’s not a cabaret

Britain in Bloom
Creative Commons License photo credit: slimmer_jimmer


Creative Commons License photo credit: moominsean

Office building
Creative Commons License photo credit: Andrea [bah! la realtà!]

double exposure
Creative Commons License photo credit: depinniped

Church of St. Thomas the Martyr
Creative Commons License photo credit: teotwawki

Towers over Tribeca
Creative Commons License photo credit: gaspi *your guide

ghosts
Creative Commons License photo credit: twinleaves

Bursting WindMill
Creative Commons License photo credit: FilmNut

Shopping Carts on Film! (13 Photos)

I’m still a little burned out from our recent project, so here’s a fun little post. All shopping carts — all on film. Could there be a better combo? I think not.

And if you really want to see something cool, check out this short documentary titled “City of Lost Carts“. It’s about a guy who spent a lot of time photographing shopping carts on film.

And if you have some shopping cart photos of your own (film or digital), feel free to leave them in the comments below!

Means To An End, by Fanboy30
Means To An End, by Fanboy30

Car in a Cart, by Brian Auer
Car in a Cart, by Brian Auer

shopping cart, by caste_aka_adrem
shopping cart, by caste_aka_adrem

cart vs. ford f150, by Mick 0
cart vs. ford f150, by Mick 0

Trash scene taken by trash camera, by kevindooley
Trash scene taken by trash camera, by kevindooley

by moonpies for misfits
by moonpies for misfits

pas de deux, by suttonhoo
pas de deux, by suttonhoo

296 (waiting), by heather
296 (waiting), by heather

cartfrontation, by I, Timmy
cartfrontation, by I, Timmy

Recovered Shopping Cart, by kukkurovaca
Recovered Shopping Cart, by kukkurovaca

by nicoleramona
by nicoleramona

cvs cart, by nocklebeast
cvs cart, by nocklebeast

dino kart, by mugley
dino kart, by mugley

My Favorite Film After a Year of Shooting

I started shooting film right around April of 2008, and here we are a year later! At first, I basically bought one of everything and just tried all the different films available to me. Over time, I started leaning toward certain brands and even specific films. Now, I’m fairly picky about what I shoot — though I’m always open to trying out new films (or at least new to me).

Also in the last year, more and more people are getting into film and asking me which film to use. Of course, that kind of thing is dependent on what you’re shooting, which camera you’re using, what the light is like, what kind of mood you’re going for, and personal preference. But if you’re completely new to film photography, it’s nice to have some advice to start with. So here are 11 of my favorite films after a year of shooting.

BLACK AND WHITE FILM

A Dreary WorldIt's Lonely Out HereSpin Me!CruisersMetal and GlassTicket Booth

Black and white is definitely my favorite when it comes to film. Each film captures the scene a bit differently at varying levels of contrast, dynamic range, and tone representation. Here are five of my favorites.

  1. ILFORD PANF PLUS
    This one is my favorite film of all. It’s a medium contrast low speed (ASA 50) film that goes nicely with old cameras. I love using this film in my TLR on a sunny day because it allows me to open up the lens for a shallow DOF.
    See my sample photos on Flickr
  2. ILFORD HP5 PLUS
    This is my go-to film for any time the sun isn’t shining. Also a fairly medium contrast film, but with a faster speed (ASA 400). Awesome dynamic range with great looking grain. A very versatile film, capable of being pushed to ASA 3200 and pulled to ASA 100 with decent results.
    See my sample photos on Flickr
  3. ILFORD DELTA 3200
    I like this one for indoor shooting because of its fast speed (ASA 3200), though it does have some very pronounced grain. The contrast on this film tends to be higher than the PanF or HP5.
    See my sample photos on Flickr
  4. FUJIFILM NEOPAN 400
    I’m not a huge fan on non-Ilford films (in case you haven’t noticed), but nothing beats the serious high contrast on the Neopan (ASA 400).
    See my sample photos on Flickr
  5. ILFORD XP2 SUPER
    This film is a bit different than the others since its not really a black and white film. The XP2 (ASA 400) is actually a C-41 film, so it needs to be processed as if it were color film. This is handy for folks who want to shoot black and white but don’t have access to anything but standard color developing.
    See my sample photos on Flickr

COLOR FILM

Over the CanLow Tide SunsetWinter DocksTake a KneeSan Clemente PierLa Jolla Pier

Though black and white is my favorite, color is quickly growing on me. Color film usually renders a scene in a very different fashion than a typical digital image. Like black and white films, the various color films have differing levels of saturation, contrast, and grain. Here are 3 of my favorites.

  1. KODAK PORTRA 400VC
    The Portra VC (Vivid Color) films are very strong in color saturation and well suited for toy cameras and such — though I assume they’ll work just as well in a “real” camera. I have yet to try the Portra 160VC, but I’ve got some waiting to be loaded up in my TLR.
    See my sample photos on Flickr
  2. FUJIFILM REALA 100
    This one is fairly slow (ASA 100) as far as color negative films go, and the results are nice and sharp with little sign of grain. Color accuracy seems to be very good, and the saturation and contrast look great without being overdone.
    See my sample photos on Flickr
  3. KODAK EKTAR 100
    This may become my favorite color film due to the extremely fine grain and color accuracy. Also a low-speed color film (ASA 100), this stuff loves the sunshine. You can also read my informal review of the 120-Format Ektar 100.
    See my sample photos on Flickr

SLIDE FILM (XPRO’D)

Flying and FloatingJessWarp SpeedI'm So Hot I'm RedDarkness Creeps InI'm a Survivor

I don’t usually shoot slide film because it’s expensive to buy and develop, and it tends to be very finicky about exposure. But the stuff is great for cross processing! Here are 3 of my favorites.

  1. KODAK EKTACHROME OR ELITECHROME
    This film gives that classic green-shift when cross processed, but a lot of it can be white-balanced out to give the photos a more neutral tone.
    See my sample photos on Flickr
  2. FUJIFILM VELVIA 100
    The Velvia 100 gives very different results from most other xpro’d slide film. It has a very strong red-cast with hints of purple or yellow depending on the lighting.
    See my sample photos on Flickr
  3. FUJIFILM VELVIA 50
    The Velvia 50 is quite similar to the Ektachrome, but with a more subtle green and more prominent blue-cast. I haven’t shot too much of this, but I really should do more.
    See my sample photos on Flickr

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE?

Drop us a comment and tell us what your favorite films are, and let us know why! Feel free to leave photos in the comments to back up your comments.

Film Review: 120-Format Kodak Ektar 100

Kodak Professional Ektar 100

I managed to get my hands on some 120-format Kodak Ektar 100 before it was available to the general public, and I was given the opportunity to conduct an informal review of the film. Based on the hype surrounding this film, I was quite happy to test it out. After shooting 5 rolls through a few different cameras, I was not at all disappointed with the results as I scanned them in.

I found the colors to be extremely natural and pleasing under daylight conditions. And the sharpness and grain are absolutely to die for. In general, the film has the best characteristics from both slide film and color negative film. Read on for my informal review.

ABOUT THE FILM

The Umbrella Perched on a Sink

Kodak Professional Ektar 100 is a color-negative film (using the C-41 process) available in 35mm and 120-formats. It is claimed to have extremely fine grain (the world’s finest for color-neg) and high color saturation, making it ideal for nature, landscape, and travel photographers.

In September, 2008 the Ektar 100 became available in 35mm format. Due to popular demand, Kodak has made the film available in 120-format in April, 2009 (I believe it’s available for purchase through a few vendors right now).

MY NON-TECHNICAL REVIEW

La Jolla Coastline San Clemente Pier

Equipped with a pro-pack of the Ektar 100, I loaded up my two medium format cameras and headed out on a few photowalks along the coast. One camera was my old 1956 Minolta Autocord MXS (twin lens reflex) and the other was my Diana+ (toy camera). I must admit, putting this film into a plastic toy camera felt a bit like ripping the engine from an F-1 car and strapping it to a tricycle.

The first day I shot this film, the weather turned heavy overcast quite rapidly, but I managed to finish off three rolls. I went out a few days later and shot the last two rolls in full sunshine. The film can certainly be used in either condition, but its white balance is intended for daylight use. The overcast photos just scanned in a bit cold — and I could have adjusted it, but it seemed fitting to leave them as is.

The Family in La Jolla Splish-Splash

Up to this point, I’ve been shooting mostly Kodak Portra VC color-neg films on medium format (and a little bit of Velvia slide). The Ektar 100 seems quite comparable to the color saturation of these films, but the colors on the Ektar 100 seem more “realistic” to me. The color saturation and contrast isn’t so overbearing that it looks unnatural, and the colors seems to closely represent the actual colors of the scene. One thing I did notice, though, is that the greens tend to be more saturated than the other colors — sometimes a bit too much.

The shots (especially those from the TLR) appear to be very sharp and free from grain. I might even go so far as to say that the Ektar 100 is comparable to Ilford’s PanF Plus black and white film (which is the primary film I use with my Autocord). Though I’ve only scanned the film (which tends to present softer grain versus an optical enlarger), I was hard-pressed to find any signs of grain even at 100% zoom on a 3200 ppi scan.

GRAIN? WHAT GRAIN?

If you don’t believe me, see for yourself. Here’s an image with a decent exposure — the little box is the spot I’ve taken the 100% crop for the image immediately below it. The full image is approximately 50MP, or 7000 x 7000 pixels.

Kayakers

Kayakers at 100% Crop

The softness of the 100% crop probably comes from scanning the film since I don’t use any sharpening while scanning. Even so, I can usually make out the grain easily on most films — it’s just not as sharp as with an optical enlargement. The Ektar 100 scans don’t show much sign of grain.

MY FINAL THOUGHTS

I Stand Alone La Jolla Pier

I like it — a lot. When I decide to shoot color on my TLR, I’ll probably use the Ektar 100 exclusively. The colors look great and the shots appear to be very sharp and fine-grained. I’m still undecided with the Diana+… I might try a few more rolls and see how it goes, but I’m still leaning toward the Portra VC films just because I have a history of good results with it.

The Ektar 100 film seems to have similar features of slide film (high saturation and fine grain), but with a more forgiving dynamic range of a color negative.

But the thing that gets me most about this film is how natural the colors appear. Color film often has a “film-like” appearance to it because of shifted colors or grain. The Ektar 100 (to me) looks more like a well-processed digital than it does a typical film.

Would I recommend this film for color enthusiasts? Certainly! It seems well-suited for landscape and nature photography, but even skin tones in portraits aren’t completely unnatural.

SWEEPSTAKES OFFER

As a promo for the new Ektar 100 films, Kodak is running a bit of a sweepstakes giveaway along with a rebate offer on the film. You can get a $5 mail-in rebate for certain film purchases, and that rebate automatically enters you into a drawing for a prize package. The prize is a nature photography experience at Disney’s Animal Kingdon Park, including a 4-night stay and a full itinerary of activities. You can also enter the prize drawing without buying the film or mailing in the rebate. Visit the official sweepstakes web page for more information.

Special Offer: Analog Prints for $25 Each

Old Bessie

After spending countless hours in the darkroom over the last few months, I’ve come to a point where I’m ready to offer up a few prints at a discount. I’ve learned a lot of new things and I’ve experimented on a fair amount of prints. At this point, I’m comfortable making a good looking print from most of my shots (there are a few that I still can’t get totally right).

Taking a look back at my film shots, I’ve picked out 10 photos for this print offer. These 10 either did well on Flickr (lots of interest in the comments), or they’re a personal favorite of mine. In any case, I tried to choose a good mix of genres and subjects — so hopefully you can find something you like.

LIMITED-TIME OFFER

I’ll be taking orders for this special offer for 2 weeks — so the cutoff is around April 17, 2009. This is a one-time offer for these particular prints, though I may or may not do something like this again in the future with different prints.

As an extra-special offer, I’ll throw in a second print of your choice at no additional cost — but only for the first 3 days! So if you want two prints for the price of one, get your order in by April 4, 2009. Just purchase one print and I’ll email you asking for your second selection (they can be two different prints). UPDATE: The 2 for 1 deal is over, but you can still get single prints!

ABOUT THE PRINTS

Again, all of these prints are produced in the darkroom using an optical enlarger with high quality lenses. These are not digital prints from film or print scans — I’ll be creating each one by hand using the old analog techniques.

The paper measures 8″ x 10″ and the prints have a 3/16″ border all around. This leaves about 7-5/8″ x 9-5/8″ of actual print, and most 8×10 frames are 7-1/2″ x 9-1/2″ so they should fit perfectly without showing border. The square prints measure 8″ x 8″.

The photos are printed on Ilford MGIV Deluxe RC Pearl Finish paper, so they have a little bit of shine to them while being a bit more scratch resistant than glossy paper. Though the paper is not archival quality fibre paper, I would expect these prints to last many years without signs of aging.

The prints are not signed, and they are not limited editions. If that’s what you’re looking for, you can still get one at regular price any time — but I may do a similar special offer for discounted signed prints in the near future.

PRINT SELECTIONS – $25 EACH

What you see below is pretty much what you’ll get — these are actually print scans and I tried to match the tones as close as possible. That said, the prints still look different… but in a good way.

To purchase, just click the button next to the print and you’ll be whisked away to PayPal for the transaction. Once that payment goes through, I’ll email you with a confirmation. I’ll ship to anywhere in the world at no extra cost. If you guys have any questions, just let me know in the comments.

UPDATE: The print offer has officially passed. If you would still like a print from the images below, please contact me directly.

AUERPRINT-081029-11

“A Dreary World”

AUERPRINT-081029-05

“Metal and Glass”

AUERPRINT-090228-04

“Broken Phone”

AUERPRINT-080901-05

“Sailfish”

AUERPRINT-080629-28

“It’s Lonely Out Here”

AUERPRINT-090117-13

“Reaching Rays”

AUERPRINT-080816-08

“Merry-Go-Round”

AUERPRINT-080601-08

“Big White Boxes”

AUERPRINT-080601-33

“What Lies Beyond”

AUERPRINT-080802-05

“Rescue Board”

NOTE: Feed readers may not be able to display the purchase buttons — please visit the website to order prints.