Sunday, October 21, 2007

Feeling Analog

Women on scooters in black and white

Feeling kinda Analog
I did something radical on our vacation to Europe. I took a 35mm film camera. Then, I did something even more radical, I only brought black and white film. Of course, as well as shooting analog film I also took a digital camera. I shot a lot more digital than analog. I am very concerned about the ability of digital images to keep for many decades without a lot of work and careful stewardship and backup of the image files. Conventional black and white photos, I have seen, can be neglected for decades, maybe even centuries and still survive long after disk drives have failed and even color analog photos have faded away.

What I discovered though was something else. Black and white film gives you a very different interpretation to a moment than does a digital photo. How the film reacts to light is much different to how a digital sensor does. Yes, you can do things with a digital photo and Photoshop that you cannot with film. But, and heres a mind blower, you can do things with film and under an enlarger that are hard to do in digital. It is all in how it reacts to light. One is not better or worse than the other. They are just different palettes, like comparing oil paint to water based paint. They are different mediums. Another side benefit was after my battery died in my digital camera, I could still make pictures. I even bought a roll of color film in Rome and shot that as my digital was dead after the battery died. (Note: If you are going to shoot only digital, bring backup batteries!)

Once in the airplane on the way to Europe a flight attendant got angry with me. She had asked me to turn off my film camera when we landed. I said I could not. She thought I was being smartellic. I tried to explain to her the camera neither turned on nor off, that my camera was powered by springs. She just could not comprehend of such a thing. It was totally off her radar.

In Europe I saw only one or two other film cameras that were real cameras. I only saw one empty film box on the ground the entire trip. When we went there eight years ago they were everywhere on the ground. But, for now I can still get film and I will continue shooting it. I do not think I will be sorry. But, I think I could be very sorry if I didn't save some memories on black and white film.

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