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Author Topic: Of Film and the Photography of People  (Read 6762 times)
WalterEG
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« Reply #20 on: March 13, 2014, 01:48:29 PM »
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The importance of different cameras is all to do with what they can do, as tools, and how they make you feel and operate when you use them.Rob C

From my perspective the important difference is largely how differently they can make you interact with what you encounter ..... and how they prevent YOU from being the 'tool' in the equation.

In a world of 35mm SLR style cameras (film OR digital) with their horrid little looken-peepers how many functionaries these days are remotely aware of the joy of the waist level finder or the ground glass?  In photographing people flatteringly how useful was the waist-level finder at operating the device at an appropriate elevation in relative comfort?  Apart from the Rollei/Leaf/Sinar reflex and the Sinar M, I know of no other digital reflexes which offer such convenience.

DSLRs and rangefinders are all well and good for a reactive approach to photography whereas the ground glass and waist level finder with inverted and reversed viewing provide a level of separation which affords a contemplative and meditative pathway to considering the world before you trip the shutter.  That single difference has a massive impact on how a relationship between photographer and subject engage, and that difference is magnified immeasurably when you add the element of the live subject, which is the case with the vast majority of pictures of people.  And 'people' photography must be a two-way street of communication.  (I do subscribe to the Roland Barthes' concept that the corpse is a living representation of a dead thing, but I doubt a corpse is really too concerned with how the photographer functions.)

So, I guess I am saying that the camera itself and how it manifests itself on the shoot is an significent contributing factor.

I am also completely convinced that I shoot very differently when I know that I have film loaded which only sees the world in black & white or colour.  Black & white requires a completely different mindset to colour.  Different lighting ratios. Different lighting patterns.  For me at least, the fact that the digital image will be colour which can be rendered as monochrome at will tends to negate a lot of the thought processes that go into managing the formulation of an image.  Contrast by colour is a very different kettle of fish to tonal contrast.  Being aware of, and controlling, tonal merges before I shoot draws me deeper into the intricacies of the image, for example, opens choices of remedies ranging from lighting to the use of coloured contrast filters.  (Have you tried to walk into a store lately and buy a Yellow-Green filter?)

An exaggerated example of being in a mindset for the materials being used would be shooting Infra-Red.

Cheers,

W
« Last Edit: March 13, 2014, 01:55:14 PM by WalterEG » Logged
Alan Klein
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« Reply #21 on: March 13, 2014, 04:56:17 PM »
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When they judge photos at my camera club, no one asks what camera and lens were used, what post processing software, or whether it was taken with film or digitally.  Photographer's names are not listed during the judging either.  Photos stand on their own.  Who says they liked a movie by what camera the Hollywood cinematographer used to film it?  Heck:  Most people don't even know movies are filmed anymore, mainly shot digitally, or at least presented digitally. 
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WalterEG
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« Reply #22 on: March 13, 2014, 05:03:28 PM »
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Sorry to say, "Camera Club" says it all Alan.
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Alan Klein
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« Reply #23 on: March 13, 2014, 05:19:35 PM »
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WalterEG:  Thanks for the put-down of photo clubs.  But you didn't respond to the film part of my post.  You know, it would also be nice if you posted some of your photos so we can judge them and actually see from where you speak.  You talk an interesting game, but how do we know you know what you're talking about?
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WalterEG
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« Reply #24 on: March 13, 2014, 10:07:16 PM »
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You talk an interesting game, but how do we know you know what you're talking about?

I possibly am of the opinion that it matters not a jot to me whether people think I know what I am talking about or not.

I do periodically submit images to Lu-La but I never post them in quest or of comments, appraisal or discussion.

Cheers,

W

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Jagatai
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« Reply #25 on: March 14, 2014, 07:19:00 AM »
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I am also completely convinced that I shoot very differently when I know that I have film loaded which only sees the world in black & white or colour.  Black & white requires a completely different mindset to colour.
I know exactly what you are talking about in thinking in black and white vs thinking in color.  I think any photographer who is seriously shooting in black and white must be able to mentally subtract the color, and if shooting with filters, convert the colors to tones while seeing the scene in full color.  While I shoot mostly digital now, I always shoot with an understanding of how I intend to render the image.  When I'm thinking in black and white, the images I shoot rarely look good if converted to color.  And if I'm thinking in color, the images rarely work in black and white.

For me, at least, whether the camera is digital or holds film doesn't change a lot of how I shoot.  I suppose I feel freer to shoot more frames, but I still often find myself not taking a shot because I can't find a way to make the composition work.  I still will look at a scene for a while, move an inch to one side, take a shot, move slightly more etc.  because composition is one of the most important elements for me in my photography, I tend to look more and shoot less than some other photographers.  Of course with that approach I'd be a terrible wildlife photographer and I have to admit, I'm not good at candid people shots.

To your point about how a different camera imposes a different working style, as I mentioned earlier, I find a Hasselblad to be the ideal commercial camera for me (although I can't afford the digital versions so I use Canon 5Ds for commercial work these days) while a small camera like a Leica or the a7r is preferable for personal work due to its small size yet high quality.  I personally don't need a camera to slow me down... I'll work slowly no matter what camera I have to work with.  I don't find that digital cameras change the fundamental work of seeing the image within the scene.  They do offer some conveniences, but ultimately, no camera, film or digital, can do the work of seeing the image.
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RSL
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« Reply #26 on: March 14, 2014, 09:19:47 AM »
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The "film is better" club reminds me of this story I once read, somewhere: A German professor at an American university owned a Volkswagen bug. One day a student knocked on the professor's door and suggested that he might want to join the campus Volkswagen club. The professor gave the kid a strange look and asked: "And do you have a toothbrush club?"

The camera is like a toothbrush. It's a tool. One kind of camera may feel better to you than a different kind, but in the end the only thing that matters about any camera is the kind of image it produces, and the kind of image it produces depends entirely on the person behind the camera. If you like film, fine. If you like digital, fine. But in the end nobody's going to give a damn what kind of camera produced the heart-stopping picture hanging on the wall.
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Telecaster
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« Reply #27 on: March 14, 2014, 03:16:41 PM »
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I know exactly what you are talking about in thinking in black and white vs thinking in color. I think any photographer who is seriously shooting in black and white must be able to mentally subtract the color, and if shooting with filters, convert the colors to tones while seeing the scene in full color.

With EVF cameras you can see monochrome while taking photos. I find this a huge plus. I set the camera to RAW + JPEG, the tonal profile to mono, the "filter" to orange or yellow if such is available and off I go. I can then see on the spot when a composition works or doesn't work tonally.

-Dave-
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Isaac
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« Reply #28 on: March 15, 2014, 08:35:30 PM »
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One kind of camera may feel better to you than a different kind, but in the end the only thing that matters about any camera is the kind of image it produces...

"[T]he only thing that matters..." to whom?

Much of the discussion on the LuLa forums is about the pleasures of photography, not the pleasures of admiring images but of the process of photography.

If one kind of camera makes photography more enjoyable than another, then that matters to the photographer.
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