Digital/Analog — An experiment in film photography

July, 2015 Washington, DC

To confess, I was never a photography student. At least not the type that ran around high school with a film camera and frequently inhabited darkrooms. For most of it, I was actually running around with 14 types of granite pencil, 72 shades of Prismacolor, and charcoal to various degrees of softness. So it was all the more exciting to get a hold of my first film photography kit.

In fact, other than the inevitable disposable cameras, my first personal camera was after my first laptop. It wasn’t until about two years into actually picking up photography as a craft did I first come across my very first film camera. I didn’t bother learning how to properly insert or remove film let alone meter, so safe to say everything from my early attempt is lost.

I was recently gifted a score of film cameras, and along with my affinity for VSCO made me give film photography a second chance.

Well the day progressed better I managed a few shots, and for the following month or two ran around with a film camera, more often than not along side the Canon 6D. I took it to events, weddings, even client meetings, till eventually I used up all my rolls. As fun as it sounds, sitting in a darkroom to develop my rolls isn’t a commitment I want to make as of yet. So I sent it out to a lab, Pro Photo Connection, and patiently waited. I sent in five rolls of film, of which three were able to be developed, and Dropboxed to me.



Adventures in Film
The full collection of photos, check it out

What’s fun and interesting though, is attempting to compare the film I used, Fujicolor Superia X-tra 400 with a 50mm lens, to the VSCO equivalent with the 6D and a 35mm. I applied the Fuji Superia 400 preset, and tweaked the white balance and exposure to mimic what I got on film.

Here are the results.

The images on the right were shot on film.
There was a curious situation with the third set, where the film miscolored the lady’s outfit. I assure you though that sweater was definitely orange.

Then there’s this

This was an installation titled Perspectives by Chiharu Shiota. The piece is a collection of discarded shoes and notes to represent memories and moments we leave behind.

The second image was Shot on Nexus 5 (Take that Apple!) and edited in VSCO Cam.

So, the takeaway?

Well I’m definitely going to be running around with my film camera every now and again. I’m excited to try out new films, lens, and do further comparisons like this. There’s a certain romanticism here that breaks the pace between shooting 5,000 images at a wedding, or in a studio with one model and five lights.

It’s also curious to see that as we advance faster and further technologically, a little niche starts to develop that seeks out that which is analog. I caught an early glimpse of this a few years back, in 2009, when Jaguar unveiled the new XJ, a luxury car with a digital dashboard and an analog clock sitting in the center. Then, the other night I saw a full sized boombox complete with D batteries, and an iPod dock (Why it wasn’t Bluetooth, I don’t know). Next up is a car equipped with Apple Carplay, Android Auto, Microsoft Sync, and an analog clock. As painful as it is to admit, I’m actually drawn to these things. I’m sincerely hoping this interest doesn’t extend to record players though, that will be a tipping point for my already overwhelming hipster tendencies.

Black Love DC Part Deux
One of the events used for comparison, check it out

Still to come.

I recently got a hold of one of the successful brainchilds of this idea, the Fuji X100. I’ll show and tell about my experience with this later. Stay tuned.


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