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In April of this year, I started a self-driven project to return to film-based photography that I saw as lasting through the summer. I did this after listening to many famous contemporary photographers who suggested this is a way to grow better, by returning to the core fundamentals of capturing still images. The 2016 summer is over. Has this worked for me?

I honestly feel a greater understanding of photography fundamentals. I find myself making better choices and taking greater care with every frame I expose. I've managed to assemble a few of the best film cameras history has passed down at bargain prices that make me ashamed of how much money I've spent in recent years on throwaway digital technology.

I urge folks new to still photography, or digital-users wishing to grow their core photography skills to choose film. I have not entirely abandoned my appreciation of digital-cameras and will continue to use them for special situations and genres of subjects where they work particularly well. Tonight, I got back the scans of my last two film rolls of the summer, 24-frames of 120-film. I will be uploading the best of those scans in the coming days. Thank you for your support and help.

Amber Alert! by David Uthe on Capture My Chicago

Amber Alert! by David Uthe

Feeding Him for a Lifetime by David Uthe on Capture My Chicago

Feeding Him for a Lifetime by David Uthe

f32 by David Uthe on Capture My Chicago

f32 by David Uthe

December 2016 update: I picked up a clean screw-mount vintage Leica IIIf with a lens that dates to 1939 Three-Eff by David Uthe on Capture My Chicago

Three-Eff by David Uthe

Plus a vintage M3 Leica with four Leitz lenses, all in a fitted box at a remarkable price: Staying Warm by David Uthe on Capture My Chicago

Staying Warm by David Uthe

The M3 and 5cm lens have been sent to a Leica spa for CLA's and renewal for the new life they are about to live .... :-)

Boys, Water, Boat, February? by David Uthe on Capture My Chicago

Boys, Water, Boat, February? by David Uthe

This is a good, fair synopsis of my still-film thinking: Film vs Digital: Why Choose? (5:22) by Erik Wahlstrom

February Wetland by David Uthe on Capture My Chicago

February Wetland by David Uthe

Colors for B&W Film by David Uthe on Capture My Chicago

Colors for B&W Film by David Uthe

Back in ye olden days when I first bought a SLR film camera, there was no Photoshop, and there were no scanners as we know them today. So for special effects of any sort, you bought screw-on filters for the front of your lens. For B&W film, putting a color filter on the lens lightens the shade of grey of that color, as develped on the resulting print. Distinct colors may have a similar reflectance, you see, and result in an almost identical shade of grey, otherwise.

So, with my return to shooting film in B&W, I've been relearning the use of color filters to play with the grey tones and contrasts "in-camera", at the moment the negative is exposed. Everything in my vintage viewfinder is in color, so I've had to relearn, through experience, what the B&W result will be in the final scan/print.

Of course, you can apply these color filters using Photoshop in post-production, when tweaking a B&W scanned file. But the result is slightly different than if the negative was made originally with a color filter on the lens. Is it worth it? To some, yes. You have to decide for yourself.

It is challenging to shoot a vintage rangefinder, with no internal meter, using the Sunny-16-Rule for aperture determination, and factoring in the extra-exposure adjustment needed, given that a color filter robs you of light from one-to-several f-stops. You begin to appreciate what the historical photography masters had to deal with, that we take for granted today with all the digital assistance.

Today, master phtographers talk about learning to see a color scene, beforehand, as it will be when converted to B&W. Leica has a very expensive, quite modern, digital camera that ONLY records frames in B&W. At least with the Leica M Monochrom, you see the scene in B&W before pressing the shutter.

What's most frustrating, though, is when you are still looking through the viewfinder of your old rangefinder camera, after having set up everything for a perfect exposure, carefully pressed the shutter release, and immediately realize you forgot to take off the lens cap. Been there, done that .... blank frame!

Log Rolling Competition by David Uthe on Capture My Chicago

Log Rolling Competition by David Uthe

Filtered by David Uthe on Capture My Chicago

Filtered by David Uthe

Pretty much, all the new digital camera models that have emerged from the main makers in recent weeks all agree on one thing. They all seem to be trying to emulate Kodak Portra 400 color film. This is the look color still-photography enthusiasts seem to like best. So, the native tones, vibrance, contrast, dynamic range, and so on with this emulsion film, are apparently the goal among the digital makers.

Try the organic version of still-photography, and you'll see what I mean.