The Situation (Hold Please)

I’m sitting in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales after taking the first half of the day to get here. A walk, taxi, train, car and short walk. In tow were my three Tenba bags including my roller bag, large backpack and small backpack. I’m not trying to sell you a Tenba bag, but as you can see, I use them. . But why do I have them, and why would I want to navigate the world with so much stuff?
photo copy
Great question, and one that I ask myself on a daily basis.

How much easier would it have been to get up this morning with a Fuji XT-1, one lens, or even two, my laptop and drive and make the same journey? As many of you know, I contracted Lyme Disease a little over a year ago, and all I can tell you is that everyday is a challenge. Still, all these days later. I simply don’t have the energy I used to have, and when I hit the wall I hit it for real.

So fifty yards from where I sit writing this, in my room, is my Hasselblad with two lenses, Leica with two lenses, Polaroid and Canon 5D-III with three lenses. It sounds like a lot, and it is, but it all fits in my roller bag, including all the film required, model releases, cables, bellows, card reader, extra batteries, medicine (a lot), light meter, hoods, pens, plastic bags, etc., etc. This is my standard rig. Inside my large backpack is a Zoom H6 audio recorder, two mini tripods, two microphones, XLR cables, etc., etc. And yes, people think I’m crazy. Perhaps I am.

But if any of you have seen my new site Shifter you will know that I use all of these things on a regular basis. In fact I have entire campaigns based on these materials.

So today my feeble mind wanders and wonders. I know there is no way around having all this stuff. I could swap the Canon for the Fuji, which would save a fair amount of weight, and I’m seriously considering doing this. I rarely use the digital but when I need it, like last night at TEDx Sydney, I need it.

It’s funny. I’ve had these conversations with myself many, many times. Games I play. Remember a few things. Working with a film camera verses working with a digital camera are as different an experience as you can have. I don’t believe someone swaps and then makes the same work. That just doesn’t happen, and I’ve got fifteen years of examples of photographers I know who USED to be great but suddenly became very average when they picked up a digital camera. This is another conversation I’ve had countless times over the past decade, always in private because photographers are fearful the “public” will hear them bashing well known photographers who haven’t made a decent image since picking up a digital camera.

I actually don’t think this has to be the reality. I think we have to learn how to use each camera for what it is, and be vigilant in our attention to detail. A Fuji with Nik filters don’t make TRI-X no matter how bad you want it. But maybe you don’t need TRI-X? Why try to make it something it really isn’t? Digital is immediate, endless and flexible far beyond anything in analog history. I think a lot of photographer who declined with digital did so because they were ready to taper off anyway. It’s about laziness, years of busting ass, and also we all love new shit. That’s a fact. Compound this with the reality that many well known folks are surrounded by people who are telling them they are great, so when they show subpar work they are still getting “Oh man, you are AWESOME,” and most of the time they think “Wow, I must be awesome.”

I just put down this laptop and shot four frames with the M6 and 50mm. f/2 at 1/8th. I KNOW this image will be fantastic. I had a foreground, midground and then the subject with window light coming from the left. A classroom of people. Very quiet. This is Leica territory.

And then there is the lifestyle of digital. Computer, computer and more computer. I think maybe this is the part that really has me cringing. Now if I was GOOD on the computer perhaps I wouldn’t feel this way, but I’m not so I do. I will shoot at least ten times over the next days days, here in Australia, and don’t need to edit any of it. No computer required. I will ship the film the day I return and then board another flight to another location.

Not sure why I wrote this, but this scenario has been on my mind today. Two hours in a train to think and wonder. I want the digital to work. At least a part of me. But I have a sinking suspicion I’ll be humping this kit until I pass out or get robbed. I have a sinking suspicion I’ll be adding a Fuji to my lineup once again, probably replacing the Canon, but I don’t see anything replacing the Blad, Leica and Polaroid anytime soon.

52 responses to “The Situation (Hold Please)”

  1. Wim says:

    Oh Daniel I know your thinking process! I don’t have the experience or a long time career in photography like you but I started with a digital camera and switched to film and back to digital because the cost of film was to high for me. I still would love to shoot film but I have to stop think to much about this stuff and try to get a quick and easy workflow with my Fuji equipment. My conclusion is for now I concentrate more on the subject instead focusing of the processing a photograph in my computer. 😉 I don’t know if this makes any sense?

    • Smogranch says:

      Wim,
      Digital for me is far more expensive due to the time involved. Would I rather be processing at night in the hotel room, backing up images, or out in the world enjoying life. Then, when I come home, I pay the lab to do their job. It’s a lifestyle really.

  2. John (aka Wish I Were Riding) says:

    Work on the computer can feel tedious. Can you elaborate on why you don’t need to edit once you ship the film though? Is someone else curating your work? Are you getting digital scan made of the film? Don’t you still need to edit the film and decide what to do with the images eventually? Do you think that you shoot more with digital, and less with film while getting more keepers? Just curious…

    On a trip like you have described, not needing to be tethered to the computer would feel nice. You can free up your thoughts and energies on the next shoot, without getting bogged down looking at everything right NOW. But couldn’t you also shoot digital, and just not look?

    P.S. I recently saw Tim Ferris mention he may have gotten Lyme disease. I wonder if either of you could benefit from contacting each other?

    • Smogranch says:

      John,
      I know more people with Lyme than you can imagine. There are many, many networks out there, and even more misinformation, denial, strangeness, etc. Let’s hope he doesn’t have it or if he does he finds a good doctor who doesn’t blow him off. I do edit when I get my film, but the editing takes about 20% of the time. Far fewer images and the images need far less work to make them what I need/want. The archive is easy, goes right in my file. And I don’t try to make my images look like what I’ve had at my fingertips for 25 years. I don’t know anyone who shoots digital who doesnt’ look. I know a lot of people who claim they do but it’s very, very rare.

  3. Tim Lumsdaine says:

    Some interesting points, Dan. I know I spend way too much time processing digital files, but then that’s part of my job. Shifting down to the Fuji XT and smaller lenses is definitely on the cards for me, which will cut down weight but entails investing in a completely new set of glass.

    But the whole issue of film vs digital comes down to a meter of convenience and flexibility. There certainly can be a trade-off with the creative aspect. I used to get some great underwater images with Velvia and Provia, but couldn’t imagine doing this today. I dived with a friend who had made a custom housing for his Hasselblad and the images he finally unveiled were astounding. But when you run out of film at 30 meters it’s a long way to the top… It’s a particular form of luxury reserved for the most passionate purists.

    Thanks for using digital for the TEDxSydney launch, by the way. I’d still be waiting for the results otherwise, although I’m sure they would’ve been worth the wait.

    One question: if you had a digital back on the ‘Blad, don’t you think you’d still be able to get similar results to film from the same camera if you processed the shots with the right techniques?

    • Smogranch says:

      Tim,
      Great meeting you and hopefully see you later this week or early next. For TEDx, digital is really the only way to go unless I was doing a long-term story about the event or something along those lines. Anything that requires immediate images, digital is king. But I wrangled my current deal by saying I didn’t want to shoot things where images were needed immediately. So most of my shoots I have the time to wait. As for the Blad, sure my 503CW will take a back. A $40,000 back. My two main cameras were less than $2,000 combined, so I can’t imagine having to put out for something like a digital back. Not to mention the laptop time and storage issues with files those size. And finally, the archive. Where do I put these things? When I posted about a REAL digital archive a few months back I was stunned by the response. I have no idea where to store anything digital over time. I’m facing a 40Terabyte crisis at my house as I speak.

  4. Mike says:

    Film cameras make photographs, digital cameras make images. I’ve spent the summer months using both film and digital cameras in an attempt to decide which to use for a new essay. I intended the essay to be in b&w but after I used a roll of colour film, on a whim, just for the fun of it, I was in no doubt as to which medium to use: colour film. Nothing in the digital world comes close to the look I get from film – even when it is scanned. I just love it and I’m done with digital cameras.

    Enjoy, N.S.W Daniel. Thanks for Shifter.

    Mike.

    • Smogranch says:

      Hey Mike,
      I’m laughing because over the past few years I’ve sat with photographers and looked at old transparency images and the “Oh man, that looks so good,” comment. But those days for most are gone. Speed has become the primary driving force, so I get it.

    • Mike says:

      Well after a month of using colour film (Portra 400) I’m facing the reality of scratches, processing marks and camera shake due to low shutter speeds. I don’t have the facilities to home process and I use a lab with a good reputation (although there are only a few labs left). I really miss not being able to change ISO as the situation demands, which is strange because back in the day I used to use Kodachrome 64 almost exclusively. When film works it looks beautiful; when digital works it looks beautiful too – enabling photographs to be taken that would just not be possible with film. Can I get a digital photograph that matches the best of film, I ask myself?

      Mike.

    • Smogranch says:

      Mike,
      Find a better lab. Richard Photo in LA will eliminate those technical issues. As for camera shake from low shutters, just embrace it. I don’t think changing speeds has ever crossed my mind while working with film. And I shoot TRIX at 250. I just shoot. Forget all the noise and just look.

    • Mike says:

      Daniel, I agree that to embrace the film workflow is the way to go. I’ve just scanned some low-light Portra photographs and there isn’t digital sensor made that could give me the atmosphere and colour that I have on those negatives.
      Try as I might I can’t learn to love digital.

      Hope you enjoyed / are enjoying Australia.

      Mike.

  5. Mike says:

    Daniel, that “Oh man, that looks so good,” was what happened to me! I looked at this

    http://proof.nationalgeographic.com/2014/09/19/rick-smolans-trek-with-tracks-from-australian-outback-to-silver-screen/

    and loaded up a roll of Velvia 50 – shot it in a day – and just the sheer experience of shooting colour film, even before I saw the results, was a blast! I was never a real fan of Velvia (I’m with Paul Simon on that one) but the next roll was Portra 400 and I’m hooked. After using film, digital looks like an ‘almost real’ computer game: great graphics but … somehow …. not quite ….. real.

    Mike.

    • Smogranch says:

      Mike,
      Transparency film looks insanely good, but it’s harder and harder to find processing. Digital has that one dimensional, plastic look to it, but when processed well it can look fine. (Hence the computer time pushing buttons, automating a “workflow,”) Things that make me cringe.

  6. Tim says:

    Dan,
    Managed to get hold of a Mamiya RB67 two days ago. Heavy, but a beautiful camera.
    It feels so good to return to film. Feels like I’ve found what was missing when I went back to digital for a year or so.
    Personally, I miss the process when I shoot digital, and that’s partly the reason I bought such a slow cumbersome camera. As film photographers, most people will never understand why we’d actually want to shoot slower, but photography is self-indulgent, and we do these seemingly crazy things because we want to, not because of what others think.
    Tim
    P.s. Just saw your Hassy on Twitter. Camera porn.

    • Smogranch says:

      Tim,
      Yes, working slow is viewed by most as a wasteful process but it’s what I love to do the most. I don’t want to sit in Sydney processing digital files, which I have to do later today and tonight. Spoke to a gallery director here in Sydney last night who said “Digital combined with the Internet really hurt the art and photography world.” “Too automated.”

  7. That is a lot of gear my friend. The Fuji X-T1 would definitely lighten the load a lot.

    As for the almost religious and neverending film vs digital discussion.

    My take: Who cares. Use whatever works for you. You make great work with film, GREAT – make good work, don’t waste time talking down “the other camp”. You make great work with digital and like it, GREAT – again, don’t waste your time talking down the opposite. Use *whatever*, carve it in stone. Just make great work.

    A picture is great because it’s great – NOT because of what medium was used to create it. I think content beats technical, always. Just my take.

    • Smogranch says:

      FBJ,
      You and I have very different paths into this business, so for anyone who came before it is impossible to look at the business today and not try and attempt to figure out where things went wrong. The actual piece of gear has little to do with anything once the image has been sucked into the “Professional” space. Now we are talking about a range of things that move far beyond the image itself. This is where the real digital v film or new v old has real impact. The issue is one of balance. If you as a photographer don’t take a stand, or prefer to find another line of work, then the idea of compromise becomes front and center, and this is applying to pros of all levels. Nobody escapes anymore outside of the pure fine art who are just making what they make and then deciphering the resting place. Anyone who walks into a shoot with a digital camera is walking in under an entirely different set of demands and perspective than someone with an analog camera. This is where the debate rests with me. I don’t like walking in with digital but at times this is precisely what I have to do. Most of the images I make this way are strictly biz images. I have almost no real attachment to them. This disassociation is also what has impacted the idea of photography as much as anything in the past decade. I’ve found a really good way around it for about 95% of what I do, so I’m doing fine. It’s the 5% I’d like to get rid of but not going to happen anytime soon. And as for great, I haven’t made a great image in several years.

  8. Charlene says:

    Dan,

    I’m going to court some rotten tomatoes and suggest that one of the reasons a lot of photographers turn out crap when they switch from a lifetime of film to digital, is that they too are overtaken by the technology when they have it. As you have so eloquently pointed out, film and digital cameras are different beasts despite the same end purpose, and most photographers have spent a lifetime getting intimate with what film will do what in which conditions and developing methods etc yields a finished work of degree.

    It’s madness to expect to pick up a different tool and produce the same quality of work immediately – the familiarity with the new tool an its possibilities simply isn’t there at the start. We all make crap when we try something new (well ok, there are some prodigies that don’t, the freaks 😉 ). If we spent those same thousands of hours thinking, experimenting and getting used to how we work with a digital camera rather than a film one (or a paintbrush as opposed to a pencil, a blowtorch as opposed to a candle, or, as some Aussies would have you believe, a Holden vs a Ford).

    I think what’s missing here is: a lot of photographers no longer WANT to spend that time. And many of them, in eking a rapidly slimming living from photography, might not have the luxury to get to know something new they way they would have had at the beginning of their careers (I often wonder if this is the case with you – 300 things to do a minute, no time to play?).

    But these are practical reasons and not artistic ones. My point is, given enough desire, it can be done.

    This whole “look” reason is also one that’s falling away. The film look can be re created in digital, given enough time mastering your available tools. What can’t be created at a computer is a great photo. Mike’s example of Rick Smolan’s TRACKs trek in Nat Geo is example of this – I know someone who could recreate the look of those old pictures exactly, on a computer. Given enough time, I could do it myself. But man, those are such sensationally made photographs, they’d look good no matter what the hell they were shot in, and whether post processed in a film lab, computer or beer in a basket.

    I find it insane that as members of the same community, so much of our work is validated by our tools. Yes, they are important, but to say one can or cannot make great work on one set of tools as opposed to another, is as much a comment on the desire/motivation of the user (artist?) in question, as much as it is the many other limiting facets of the tool or the economics etc of the world around it.

    Anyway, my 0.02 straight out of bed.

    • Smogranch says:

      Charlene,

      The look is important but it falls secondary to the idea of what the digital camera represents. Digital provides immediacy and perceived ease in the minds of many, many clients. I remember conversations with catalog and fashion photographers in the late 1990’s in Los Angeles, folks who are perfect candidates for digital, seeing cracks in their business because their clients would see images emerge on the tethered laptop screen and say “Well that was easy, what am I am paying you so much for?” Soon many of these people were isolating their clients in other rooms and NOT shooting tethered. “Well that was easy, can’t you shoot these other ten things for us?” I’ve been doing this Dispatch campaign for about six months now and the reaction to the Hasselblad has been more than you can imagine. From the entire range of creative, so not just the photographers, I get a very different response by simply using something like this because of what it represents. It’s everything our culture isn’t. I happen to love using it, but the positive reaction to it has really helped me get some of these appointments because people seem relieved I’m not coming in with immediacy on my mind.
      For me, I don’t to spend my imaging life in front of a computer. I can’t. I spend so much time with work in front of the laptop that for my sanity I need to detach. As for simulating film, you can get close but you can’t mimic entirely. I’ve been hearing this about TRI-X for years, but mainly from people who never shot it. Film is random, nuanced from lab to lab, especially color, and how the image is captured is different. These would look like digital images processed to look like Kodachrome or Velvia or whatever. However, most people don’t care, don’t spend anytime anyway, so they might think it’s close enough. And when you only run things online it really doesn’t matter. “Good enough” as they say.

    • Charlene says:

      Ah, I completely misread your point in this post. My apologies.

      “I get a very different response by simply using something like this because of what it represents. It’s everything our culture isn’t.”

      That statement hits home in so many ways.

      Thank you for clarifying.

    • Smogranch says:

      Charlene,
      I find the entire thing somewhat fascinating. Strange too.

  9. xtian says:

    Hey Daniel, I really like this post and agree with much of it. I grew up with Eugene Smith and David Douglas Duncan as my photo heroes – so, I have been at it a while. There are a couple of things you said which I would like to comment on, not argue about, but just comment.

    I don’t want to name names either, but when you take a world renowned photographer who has his own printer working for him, and whose 35mm Leica prints are absolutely gorgeous, mouthwatering fantastic, the quality of which I could not duplicate in a million years – when this photographer takes up digital, everything changes, aside from the fact that he probably is a decade or two older than when those fantastic 35mm b&w negatives were made. However, this not the fault of digital – it is life, and I don’t think it proves that digital is in any way inferior to analog.

    “I will ship the film the day I return and then board another flight to another location….” When you say this, it raises a whole other issue for me, and that is doing one’s own developing and printing. I used to work in my darkroom after dinner, with an informal print display on the shower stall walls after they had been washed. Now that I am 75, I don’t have the desire/energy to do that anymore and much prefer to sit at the computer with a cup of tea, or glass of cold water, and get up and wander around the house or garden whenever I feel like it.

    I have maintained from the beginning that digital is a construct, and the images we get from digital cameras are what programmers and engineers think we want, for all they care they could be sound or numbers, or whatever. So, I think it is up to us, as photographers to decide how we want to photograph, and then get on with it. I for one would be extremely sad if digital went away tomorrow, much sadder than I am now that analog has gone away & of course, it really has not.

    A million thanks for your fantastic blogs & all my best wishes – xtian

    • Smogranch says:

      Christian,
      Yes, you are nailing it. Lifestyle. Electronic imaging is a lifestyle. My wife and I were walking down the street in Sydney talking about a show we had just seen. Photographer is now elderly. I can’t look at the new work. It’s just not good. But the old work is insanely good, and so much came into play in regard to what and how he makes his work now. I have a darkroom but it’s 1000’s of miles away. I’ll be in it in two weeks, but it’s not a realistic way for my commercial work. But, when I return home I buy an Epson V700 and new processing tank because I’m starting a new project and want to do this route. I have the time and the desire.

  10. Mike says:

    Flemming, Charlene, Xtian, I totally agree that whatever works for you is the way to go. My way is hybrid: film and scan: I love the look of film when scanned. Maybe I could get the look using digital and post processing but I think its a right / left-brain thing.

    https://www.pinterest.com/pin/21321798208362646/

    With every respect for the author, this article

    http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/stitching___an_advanced_aproach.shtml

    which includes the statement “I typically finalize a stitching job by deleting control points with optimization errors larger than 0.3-0.5 pixels so as to end up with an average optimization error lower than 0.25 pixels” (which I’ll never, ever, ever, want to understand) confirms that digital is not for me. To each his own.

    Mike.

    • Smogranch says:

      Mike,
      I just went cross eyed. Although in defense I did have a conversation with a master printer friend who spoke for 20 minutes about the darkroom and I had no idea what he was talking about. He thought my “Master” prints were work prints.

  11. xtian says:

    I think you hit on a big part of the issue and a lot of the misunderstanding when you said “…He thought my “Master” prints were work prints…”

    I think a lot of people coming to analog now for the first time [and I think that is great] seem to think they have a masterpiece because it is on film and enlarging paper when technically it is crap.

    Oh, by the way I am certainly not talking about your prints here Daniel.

    • Smogranch says:

      Christian,
      I think a lot of folks working today think they are making great work because it’s being published or being used, but don’t really know the first thing about what good work actually is. Little reference, little knowledge, little idea of where and how they fit in the history of photography. But, many are happy and that trumps all. I just spoke to someone who said “We don’t think of photographers like we used to because there is so much junk being made.” “We are embarrassed by it and try not to associate with photography because of that.” Now many would say “Who cares?” but anyone working in photography knows that this trickles down to EVERYONE working today. Less money, less time, more rights taken, etc. It’s ALL connected. Again, ties to the perception of what photography now means and what it represents.

    • xtian says:

      Daniel – I think you are absolutely correct with that one. I very much notice it with my ‘people photography’ – a photo/print no longer has the same caché it once had as an inducement to get out and ‘do some photos.’ All in all a fascinating subject – however we have to be careful that it does not stop us from going out there and doing photo work! 🙂

    • Smogranch says:

      Christian,
      I don’t think anything would stop me from going out, other than…..work. Got out yesterday for a few hours here in Sydney. Shot Impossible film and recording sound.

  12. Steve says:

    Hi,

    Suggestion for your gear, have you try a Leica m9p or the new one with no screen on the back it’s still digital but you get closer to your m’s and lenses

    Steve

    • Smogranch says:

      Steve,
      No, haven’t tried either, but I won’t spend that kind of money on a camera with a such a short life span. I have a 5D III that works fine for digital.

    • Mark says:

      Agree. I have a 5D3 as well. I shoot Leica for film and the Canon for digital. I think the Canon is a really nice camera, a bit functional in comparison to a Leica to use, but it produces some nice images. I don’t think I could part with the Canon set up, personally. I agree with the comment that digital looks too CGI. But, for some of my work, I want that modern look as it suits the topic. Horses for courses, as they say.

  13. mike a says:

    I guess I’ll stay out of the digital v.s. film debate. I do know after going through some old prints the other day I was amazed how good they looked. My daughter is taking a photography class at high school and they developed some BW prints the other day and she was so excited. I think we’ve become a society who gets the results of their photos so quickly today that we sometimes forget them just as quick. There’s something about a BW print in the hand that’s magic.

    • Smogranch says:

      Mike,
      It really isn’t about film vs digital, it’s about the changing face of photography and the perception of what photography means or doesn’t mean in the digital age. As for film and digital, an old tired debate. One full of pitfalls, bias and misinformation not to mention a consumerism machine that is moving at an all time high.

  14. xtian says:

    I think that is an excellent summation – basta!

  15. DJ says:

    Dan, what does the art world say these days about silver gelatin prints?

    Any one still interested in collecting silver -gel ?

    Thanks DJ

    • Smogranch says:

      DJ,
      Silver is still the most sought after print. They are objects because each one is unique. However, there are not that many being produced, and the galleries have to sell inkjet to survive so they are pushing inkjet as on par with silver. In many ways digital prints are superior in terms of technical quality, but silver prints are unique.

  16. mike a says:

    Oh I agree with what you said Dan, the face of photography has changed and in many ways and for the worse in my opinion.

  17. I was and remain a pretty brutal printer. Get the highlights pretty good. Change grades to place shadows pretty good. Pull a good straight print and eyeball it for dust and a burn/dodge pattern.

    Clean neg as required. Burn and dodge. Eyeball print, make mental adjustments. Pull another. Good enough? Pull a couple more to cover spotting screwups.

    DONE.

    My digital ‘workflow’ is roughly the same. I still get sucked into the maelstrom of farting around with a picture endlessly – but not very often. It does take discipline. And it probably helps to be a brutal printer in the first place.

    I don’t care about detailed tonality or the way a particular lens renders a scene or whatever. All I care about is form and tone in large rough strokes. That’s me, not you, not you, not you. I don’t judge. But I’m me and that’s what I care about. So, brutal works for me.

    • Smogranch says:

      Andrew,
      I was with an accomplished Photoshop person yesterday and began describing how I dodge and burn and was met with a look or horror. Brutal works for me too!

  18. Mike says:

    Whether using film or digital the fundamental issue is the same: you have to have something to say visually and you need to hone the skills necessary to be able to do so.

    We all keep reading that now ‘everyone is a photographer’, and it’s nonsense: it’s like saying that giving everyone paints, brush and canvas makes ‘everyone a painter (in the artistic sense of the word). Daniel writes earlier in this post that he hasn’t made a great image in several years and this is the reality of great photography, it’s ephemeral – here and gone in an instant. Having the instrument and skills to capture the moment is one thing: being able to see it amid the confusion of daily life is another.

    Mike.

  19. Wow! Lots of comments and responses … Definitely we photographers are gear-heads.

    Well, I remember when you asked on Twitter about what should be your digital equipment. I remember I suggested the Fuji XT1 precisely for what you mentioned above. True is that if you need video the 5D is the way to go …

    Anyway, I think the most interesting part is when you mentioned one thing about the look/feeling we (almost all of us) seem to be obsessed with … Getting digital to look like film. I don’t care if is my beloved Tri-X or Kodachrome (by this I mean BW or color). But yes, this seems to be something that we all like. We all know (or at least some of us) that no matter what filter you use, what postprocessing you do or how many candles you lit up to the photography saints … that ain’t gonna happen. Period.
    It is true that some filters, presets or postprocess effect can “resemble” the look. In general seem that even with that photographers are never happy with it … Well, maybe we should accept things as they are. If you want the real film look in your images – shoot film. If you want something that resemble that look – use the filters/presets but don’t complain it doesn’t look the same, cause is not the same. Maybe is time to recognize that digital looks good. It looks good on itself, is not film is digital, and digital has it’s own look, and it looks good. Is just different than film. It’s just another option. You can paint with oils or acrylics or watercolors; all is painting but each one has it’s own distinctive look … Why in photography we try to make everything to look the same? Go figure.

    Want to point out too what you mentioned about criticism, honest criticism … It is true that in this digital era is difficult to stay away of the likes and comments like “nice photo” … If any time you want to get honest criticism so far I only know one place online where you can get it, I look for more places but seems that as soon as you point out something in a photo that you don’t like, all the followers of the X photographer who posted the photo are ready to jump to your jugular with a knife in between their teeth. You speak Spanish, I’m sure that enough to read comments and answer them so if any time you feel like getting honest criticism, with no sugar coating, I will recommend you to check http://www.caborian.com It’s a photography forum from Spain where the participants just want to be better photographers and we understand than that only comes through honest feedback in our images. We are tough but respectful. If you want to know more about this oasis of sincerity in the NET I’ll be happy to answer any question, I’ve been in that forum for many years already. Not publicity here, just sharing one of my favorite spots to learn and share.

    Cheers Daniel. Keep up the good work you do here.

    • Smogranch says:

      Erlantz,
      What a great comment. Thank you for that information. I spent two days in the darkroom and have about ten new prints, 11×14. I will carry those and MAYBE show them to a few people, but I’m not really much of a photographer these days, so my needs and goals are different. I’m getting ready to write a post about this, about the darkroom, and what it made me think about.
      As for people cloning film, or attempting to, it’s nonsense. Most of these folks have never even used film, and are doing this because it’s the hot thing to do. It’s a LOT easier to press a few buttons while doing three things at once than committing in the field, committing the process and print. I get it. People, including myself, are dabblers at this point. When you run into a real photographer who is still committed it can be scary thing because it shows you very clearly how far away from being a real photographer you may or may not be. I find the scare to be motivating while others hack it down or don’t even recognize it when they see it.
      I made a fatal mistake all those years ago, the mistake of thinking I needed and wanted to be a working photographer from the very beginning. I became that, but in the process destroyed any chance of actually make work that matters.

    • Oh Daniel! I think I might be all screwed up, because I want to be a full time working photographer LOL.

      I see this is going into another direction and is not my intention so let’s put it this way … Real photographers shoot. No matter what is your weapon of choice. Real photographers don’t care about it, only if the equipment gets on the way or let you do the job in the way you want it. And that is about it. Sometimes you have to carry a huge load of equipment and sometimes it fits in your pocket.

      What ever you shoot, documentary, portraits, weddings, news, … just be honest in your work and try your best every day. Just choose what helps you to get the job done in the way you want it. Remember … Not all the digital photographers are careless and not all the film photographers are “hipsters”. Some of us are just photographers.

      There. My two cents of philosophy straight out of a fortune cookie.

      (I’m having a weird day, my apologies)

    • Smogranch says:

      Erlantz,
      Weird days are the best. I just want to shoot. Be happy. See the world.

  20. DJ says:

    Yes- it is difficult to make work that matters to you when you go full time- it doesn’t matter if you are indie or on a staffers position.
    I, like many have tried it several ways over my lifetime. A good full time job[outside of photography]with photos on the weekends. A crappy part time job with flex hours and photography on the weekends and maybe a bit during the week, and the full time staff job at a daily.

    I found them all to be equally frustrating in different ways over my lifetime.

    As I hit my mid 50’s I am at a point where I have decided to go film as much as I can- and probably need the crappy day job to fund my projects. I would rather work the part time job than sell my soul to the digital gurus in the publishing world. If there are even any staff jobs left.

    I love my vintage cameras ! I love film. Follow your passion. Find a way to make it work.

    If you are young, and do not have children or a mortgage- you have a bit more flexibility to try things out different ways. Once the money responsibilities become reality- you have to do what you have to do to support the family.

    Would love to hear marketing ideas on silver-gel prints !

    • Smogranch says:

      DJ,
      Most of the real photographers I know who are still working today are incredibly compromised. Some don’t seem to care, will shoot anything and anytime and look at jobs as problem solving. Most others just shrug and day “What are you gonna do?” I also think lifestyle is a serious part of the conversation. What allows for them to get home to their kids? Is anyone complaining about the work? There are so many variables as to why things are done the way they are.

  21. Dave says:

    I ditched my Canon 5dMKII and assorted lenses after a trip wherein I was lugging around a 26 lb backpack like some kind of pack mule. I moved to an OMD EM5 and a few lenses then to a Fuji x100s. I found the OMD photos to be meh and the handling to be annoying. I love the x100s now. One lens. Figure it out and shoot it. Process to B&W in Lightroom in a few strokes, tweak the shadows and call it good.

    I’m torn on what to do with the film stuff I have. I love my Holga photos and have a Leica and a few decent medium format cameras. I like their process better as it’s slower and more deliberate. My keepers ratio is much higher. I hate the processing bills though.

    Part of it is an existential crisis. What the heck am I shooting, and why?
    I guess I’ll figure it out. I just won’t be lugging 26 pounds of gear around to do it!

    • Smogranch says:

      Dave,
      I do the same thing with my Leica on projects. Just that camera and nothing else. I can’t stand having to sit after a computer when I’m done shooting, so film is the way for me, but I’m not much of a photographer these days. Moving on to other things. Publishing books, guitar, writing, etc.

    • xtian says:

      Hey Dave – not sure if you are familiar with Rodney Smith’s work. I mentioned him on my blog once or twice. I love his work and was totally fascinated when I read an interview with him in which he said that he came to assignments with only one camera, one lens, and film in his pockets, and that it drove the art directors crazy. I don’t know if he really worked that way all the time, but I loved the story nevertheless, and kinda adopted that way of photographing for myself – of course I don’t get big magazine or other assignments.

      http://rodneysmith.com/blog/

    • Smogranch says:

      Christian,
      Sure, I know Rodney. Have met him a few times, very nice guy. Helmut Newton used to the do the same. Scout for five minutes, they would hand him a Blad and he’d shoot a few frames and leave.

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