I think Thom was right, again...

Started Mar 26, 2013 | Discussions thread
MiraShootsNikon Contributing Member • Posts: 907
How do you define "Instant"

You make some good arguments, Mahmoud; but one thing you wrote caught my eye:

Mahmoud Mousef wrote:

Are you still using film daily? I bet you aren't. The benefits with digital are too great and your argument goes off into other areas such as "kids these days" rather than focusing on the technology itself and the many benefits it has brought to millions.

I do shoot film daily, professionally.  And I do so in large part because I've found that the digital workflow and its results just aren't always as "instant" or as "gratifying" as the technology suggests they can be.

The pro film workflow is so deeply straightforward.  Meter, shoot, send.  A week later, download finished, color-correct scans from lab and send them to client.   That's it.   You spend almost *zero* time on a computer.

Now, I don't deny that there are some big limitations to using film--you're stuck with the look of available stocks; high ISO just isn't really there unless you're into gritty black-and-white (which clients sometimes are); the camera metering and AF technology isn't as advanced, so it's not for sports or big motion.  But within its sweet spot--portraits, casual event work, landscapes--the look is undeniably gorgeous.  And film--print film, particularly--has some interesting strengths of its own.  I'm thinking, particularly, of the amazing highlight range, the grace with mixed lighting, the unbeatable skin tones and texture.

For all of its amazing advantages, the digital workflow has some real pitfalls.  The big one is that you're responsible for your own color, balance, and image structure.  It's a wonderful creative possibility that, frankly, seems to bedevil most shooters: they either roll with camera-processed JPEGs or spend lots of time with RAW processors cranking out some serious aesthetic trouble.  Post production is an art in of itself, and not everyone's got the time, talent, or inclination to develop a sensibility for it.  (How often do you see a pretty solid photograph posted somewhere that's just so terribly "cooked?"  I see it very often.)  But even if you are talented and so inclined, you've still got to put in the time: in most circumstances, a pro result doesn't just spit out of a digital camera.

So, to my eye, the big question is not whether one technology gives you "instant gratification" and the other slows you down; but rather, it's where you want to put in the time and craft.  Unless JPEGs are your thing (and they can't be for many workflows, although they're certainly fine for others), there's nothing instant about the digital workflow.

I love the whole photography workflow, start to finish--meeting / designing / interpreting the client, shooting, post and finishing; but in my heart of hearts, it's the front half of that process I love most--and that's why I shoot film whenever the conditions are right (and why I often push for those conditions with clients).  If I have to choose between shooting and time back in the studio with Lightroom--which is an unfortunate fact of balancing a workload--I'll choose shooting every time.

If you haven't shot a roll of C41 in a while or you haven't done so with a really top-notch lab supporting your work, you owe it to yourself to take a look.  Kodak might be teetering on the edge, but their shattering corporate disorganization allowed them to dump truckloads of cash into film R&D between 2008 and 2010.  And the new portfolio of films that resulted--Portra 160, 400 and Ektar 100--produce striking results.  Shoot them right, have a great lab do your develop/scan/color (I recommend Richard Photo Lab in Hollywood), and I think your thoughts on what constitutes "instant gratification" in photography may change.


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