Two Fridays ago, I took an intense, crash course on how to develop black and white film.
In the morning we were introduced to analogue photography. Our teacher went through the basics explaining how an analogue camera works and where everything was placed. I must say, having the aperture and focus on the lens, is a much easier way to control the settings than a digital DSLR.
Unfortunately, the ISO, known as ASA, depends on the film. One has to preplan what one is going to shoot beforehand. We were given a 400ASA to shoot with. It was a bright, sunny day, so I thought that the photos would come out very bright. The result was not so, as with developing one can control the brightness. The ISO, in this case, was used to achieve a grainy effect which can increase depth of field.
We then left the workshop to shoot some street photography, which was a lot of fun. The camera I was shooting with had a 24mm lens, thus having a wide angle. The lenses come with one distance and cannot zoom in or out. At first I was a bit apprehensive, as I had to physically go up close to my subjects. This actually worked out better than I thought. People did not really seem to care, nor notice me all, which gave me the confidence and allowed me to interact with the scene more. With a digital DSLR camera, I would have had to take the photos from a distance using my zoom, thus allowing for a less intimate shot.
Knowing that I could only take 35 shots, I was more cautious. I took my time and observed more. I planned out my composition before I snapped and I was made more aware of my camera setting. Being on the ball helped me to take good photos. If I was taking digital photos, I would have snapped away and taken about a 100 as opposed to 35 shots.
Our teacher also mentioned that taking less photos helps one to become more selective and really choose the best of the bunch.
His words struck me, and made me think that I usually would have taken about 200 photos in one shoot and it would then have taken me forever to narrow the choice down. This would have resulted in a few great shots, but a lot of bad ones too. Having carte blanche to take infinite shots, can make one lazy, and also make it more difficult in the end to select the best ones.
After I finished my film, I wanted to rush into the darkroom to develop. I, however, had mixed feelings about this, as I had no idea if my photos were good or not. I was then told that film is more lenient than digital, as digital images are made up of pixels and analogue images would contain all image data on the film.
The film is the raw data which can then be manipulated in the developing process. When observing a film, one has to keep in mind that the dark colours are the whites and the whites are the darks. From here on, one can play with the aperture and time exposure of light. Even if an image is extremely overexposed, one can revive it by playing with the exposure. Not only can one revive an image, but one can also increase the colour contrast. This is done with the magenta setting in the light which will intensify the blacks increasing the depth of field of the image.
As mentioned in the previous blog post, the darkroom is today’s modern Photoshop. I might be old school, but I prefer a hands-on experience where I can physically create my image.
This crash course might have converted me. Analogue photography has certain qualities that digital photography cannot achieve. Where fine arts is concerned, I believe that the analogue method is more suited than the digital one, due to the process and making properties. Without a doubt, for black and white photography, analogue photography is better. This is because one can better create contrast and depth of field. With digital photography, it captures natural light, which unfortunately results in flat images. Although one can edit contrast on Photoshop, I believe that nothing beats the qualities resulting in analogue photography.