film fridays: a personal project where I put down my digital camera and share images created on film.
Last month, we went on a spring break trip to Louisiana to see my family. This was actually Chloe’s first time to ever step foot in Cajun Land. I had to break it to the children that they were half Coonass. lol. That’s right. Wear that badge of honor with pride, kids.
I schlepped ALL my photo gear, digital and film, all the way to Louisiana. I know my husband thinks I’m absolutely INSANE. This is a family trip. Not an expedition. I just wasn’t sure if I should rely solely on film. Seven days and 10 rolls of film later I realized I shot very little digital. And you know what I did with all those roles of film? I popped them into an envelope and waved goodbye to them. Then danced a little jig knowing that I would not have to lift a finger once I received them back. They would be perfect just the way they were. The digital images I did take are still sitting in their RAW format waiting patiently for me to cull, edit and then convert to jpg. In fact, I still have all the digital images from our anniversary trip (6 months ago) just sitting there. Raw and unedited. What a shame! It’s amazing what a weight has been lifted off my busy shoulders by film.
There IS a draw back to film, though. THE COST. The cost alone is a huge deterrence and I can see now why digital eventually choked out film. First you have to buy the film, typically online because there are so few camera shops around anymore, so add shipping. Then shipping to send the film to the lab, then the lab processing fee, then they charge shipping to send it back to you. All together, I have figured out it costs me about $2.50 for every click of the shutter. So you can see why digital is so appealing. Digital has it’s own set of cons, though. For example, you must buy and repeatedly upgrade expensive software just to be able to manipulate the files. Not to mention expensive memory cards, censor cleanings and additional hard drive space to store all that data.
So, you might notice I’ve lately been going back and forth between digital vs film. Film, in my opinion, is far superior at capturing detail and nuance. And the colors I find almost…edible. Does that sound weird? However, my digital camera is fast and sharp. I certainly could not imagine trying to photograph a busy toddler with my slow-as-molasses Mamiya and a manual focus lens. Yet, digital lacks the warmth film naturally has. I also feel like sometimes I “miss” moments with my film camera. I know that with every “click” I spend money, so I’m less decisive.
The internal debate continues and I think it’s too soon for me to rule out integrating film into my work but one thing is for sure, I will be using film for most of my personal photos. There is a special feeling I get knowing that I am using the same practices that hark back to the birth of photography: Recording light on light sensitive material. And no amount of “film look” photoshop actions can replace that.
So far, I have been using RPL to process/scan my film. This is the lab that all the rock stars of film use and you will not be disappointed if you use them. However, you will also pay dearly. Several hundred dollars into it, my film hobby soon felt like I had a gambling problem. I thought it might be time to look for an alternative and my research brought me to NCPS A significantly cheaper (and faster) lab than RPL.
In an effort to compare the two labs, I split 10 rolls of film between RPL and NCPS. This first post consists of scans from NCPS only. First up, Medium Format. Fuji 400H.
Not bad! The following were taken with my 35mm Pentax k1000 using kodak portra 400
So, not overly impressed with the 35mm scans. They all seemed really dark. (I had to bump curves in several) And this is confusing to me since I used a light meter and applied the same technique as I used with the medium format. Meter for shadow and overexpose by one stop. Also, several had dark streaks and little specks all over. I think they took great care with the 120 rolls but half-assed the 35mm. It’s hard to say though, as I’m still learning and these were two different films.