Magic of film survives in a digital world

By Lauren Shea
Flapjack staff

Roxana Ramirez, a 21-year old art student, shoots in both film and digital.

“I think it looks more organic than shooting with digital,” Ramirez said.  “I like how the colors show up in film.”

Film photography is still around and people enjoying shooting in that format. Film photography may not be popular with everyone anymore, but people still enjoy film photography.  It’s a great learning tool for people that want to learn more about photography.

“I think we should keep it around because that’s where it all started,” Ramirez said. “I would hope it would last as long as digital is around. I hope it never goes away. I think it would be a really bad choice on our part to just think that it’s over.”

Nicole Hill, HSU art professor from Eureka, California, thinks that film is a great tool in teaching beginning photography students. Film provides more basic information about how a camera’s manual settings work. The photographer controls the ISO, the aperture, the shutter speed and the focus on the lens.

“From a teaching perspective, it’s incredibly valuable,” Hill said. “It helps reiterate the concepts of camera functions and exposure. You can teach it a lot better if you have access to both because you can’t really fidget with film. With film photography, it forces you to slow down and pre-visualize the picture before you actually hit the shutter. There’s also the anticipation that goes into it and the kind of excitement from the reveal of that experience that I think is really magical.”

People can take multiple photos at a time. There’s this tendency today for people shoot many photos thinking that some of the photos will be great. That however is not the case most of the time. Taking more photos won’t make great photos, but taking the time to take the shot will.

“There’s this feeling that the cameras are so advanced now and that they can capture these really great pictures, but actually a daguerreotype that was utilized back in 1839 has far more detail  because it really came down to the optics of the lens and the way it was capturing information,” Hill said.

The difference between shooting film and digital is that the image on film is recorded by light sensitive particles on the film that is brought out when light hits the film and then goes through a developing process to bring out a negative image that a photographer can then print through another process. Everything is a lot more hands on in film photography. Digital cameras record light that hits the sensor and then digitally records the information on a secure digital (SD) card and saves it as a collection of pixels in a file that make up a photo. The analogue cameras are able to capture more details of objects and light onto film better than digital can.

“Film was only really uncool for a very brief window of time because people got excited about digital, but then digital was everywhere all the time and it saturated our lived experience almost immediately,” Hill said. “I think it’s going to become more of a niche thing like printmaking or vinyl records, but I think it’s always going to exist.”

Here in Humboldt County, there is still places where you can buy film and places to develop film. Swanlund’s Camera in Eureka still develops film in their shop as well as provides digital services. Joaquin Freixas, manager of Swanlund’s Photo from Eureka talked about film in the digital world.

“Digital in today’s world is a must,” Freixas said. “However, I would say what’s probably disappointing with digital is that people don’t make a lot of prints probably because they aren’t necessarily satisfied with what comes out from their camera. They have everything online and saved on their computer hardly ever getting around the time to organize photos and look at them in the same way. I think people are missing a huge part of their history. I think film will be around because it has the capabilities that digital doesn’t.”

Photography really comes down to the knowledge of the photographer and not necessarily the tools the photographer decides to use to capture an image. People are drawn to a photograph regardless of it being film or digital and chances are most people wouldn’t even know the difference.

“The limitation to digital photography is your imagination, your time and your money,” Freixas said. “The biggest part about any picture is does it tell a story and if it tells a story, people will be drawn to it.”



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