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Thread: Why View Camera & Sheet Film Today, in our here and now?

  1. #1

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    Why View Camera & Sheet Film Today, in our here and now?

    Before the days and times of digital imaging and image sharing via digitized image data, film based images were one of the primary means of image creation and preservation. All that has changed with digital cameras, phone cameras and near instant transmission of digitized images. Adding to this the traditional "wet" darkroom that was print centric has become less frequent.

    Given the daily of digital images transmitted/shared is nearly 4 Billion images and about 750,000 Hours of video..

    Seems some image makers have taken an interest in film photography as being "different", with some becoming interested in sheet film as their means to access and create "alternative" image making applying and reviving photographic image making techniques and process that were once long forgotten or abandoned.. Today often done with a hybrid digital-photochemical process or some "purist" making these images in the ways they once were made from lens-camera-photochemical process to achieve that "vintage look".. What ever that might be...

    Separation and possible distinction from the vast ocean of digital based images of 4 Billion images and about 750,000 Hours of video...

    Or another expression of the age old discussion and debate of Fotographic hardware-image making process

    -vs-

    Artistic_Expressive creativity using any image making process as their means to an end ?


    ~Discuss~


    Bernice

  2. #2
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Re: Why View Camera & Sheet Film Today, in our here and now?

    The encounter with digital would be indirect, in that equipment became easier to obtain. Other than that digital is a different medium. For example, movie cameras use focused light rays too, but we don't discuss them here. So, why discuss digital here? I'd take the discussion some where else. Isn't there some digital forum out there. I know there are cine forums.

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    Re: Why View Camera & Sheet Film Today, in our here and now?

    Quote Originally Posted by ic-racer View Post
    The encounter with digital would be indirect, in that equipment became easier to obtain. Other than that digital is a different medium. For example, movie cameras use focused light rays too, but we don't discuss them here. So, why discuss digital here? I'd take the discussion some where else. Isn't there some digital forum out there. I know there are cine forums.
    yeah, sure, ask film shooters why they chose film over digital in a digital photography forum... makes perfect sense...

  4. #4

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    Re: Why View Camera & Sheet Film Today, in our here and now?

    I've been asking myself the same question for a while now.

    I think the biggest change has been in the way we view images. We've migrated from printed images to electronic imaging in a dramatic way. This is seen in the loss of so many magazines, newspapers, and even personal images. It's all been replaced with electronic imaging on TV and the internet. All the images posted on this site are now digital images, so there's no denying that even we are not immune.

    All that being said, there's still a place for printed images in many forms. We've always had paintings and drawings, and that doesn't seem to be going away. What has changed is the way we think about photography. Film photography used to be seen as the ideal way to "document" things, and was much better and faster than a painting or drawing, since the "camera doesn't lie". Of course, we know that the camera can lie, and it can also be used for far more than documentation, but that was it's primary place in the mass media environment. Since we've moved away from printed images to electronic images, the digital camera is now the primary photographic device. That's makes sense, and is probably as it should be.

    The view camera and sheet film today aren't practical tools for getting "documentary" photographs, but they're just as relevant as they ever were for human expression. Why do people paint, draw, or take photos with view cameras and film? It's the way we choose to express ourselves and our ideas. It's not good or bad, right or wrong, it's just the way it is.

  5. #5
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Re: Why View Camera & Sheet Film Today, in our here and now?

    Why do some musicians insist on playing non-electric guitars?! Bloody Want-to-be-Purists! Get with it! Even Bob Dylan figured that out!

    Or get rid of the old-fashion instraments altogether and go with purely digital sound. Ludites!
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  6. #6
    Sean Mac's Avatar
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    Re: Why View Camera & Sheet Film Today, in our here and now?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bernice Loui View Post
    Seems some image makers have taken an interest in film photography as being "different", with some becoming interested in sheet film as their means to access and create "alternative" image making applying and reviving photographic image making techniques and process that were once long forgotten or abandoned.. Today often done with a hybrid digital-photochemical process or some "purist" making these images in the ways they once were made from lens-camera-photochemical process to achieve that "vintage look".. What ever that might be...
    I'm definitely guilty of at least some of that...

    I have recently bought some 8x10 holders to allow making images in the ways they were once made.

    Been amusing my self with gum...



    Big cameras and sheet film were good enough for the masters....


  7. #7

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    Re: Why View Camera & Sheet Film Today, in our here and now?

    If you want ot make images with your computer, go right ahead. But please leave those of us deeply involved with film and darkroom to do as we please, and I for one will let you do the same.
    A few years ago a well known and highly respected digital photographer was asked by a student in a large group he and I happened to be instructing if it was possible to make prints like mine on a computer. His answer was, "If you want to make prints like Jim's, you'll have to learn to work as he does."
    I'll leave it there.

  8. #8
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Why View Camera & Sheet Film Today, in our here and now?

    I 'do' film as an insane hobby. Age 71, I of course shot film a long time. I took my only photo class 1999. I also bought my first Digi Coolpix 100 and a new F70 for it. The instructor insisted we have a camera with meter. Never used a meter until then. The class was traditional 35mm with enlarged mounted BW prints. I told the professor, I would do all my assignments with both Digi and 35. Within a month I knew film was dying and told him so. We remain in contact.

    I don't expect Digi to survive as long as emulsions.

    I quit film for 10 years, until I joined here, the date is to the left.

    I shoot my iPhone daily
    image

  9. #9

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    Re: Why View Camera & Sheet Film Today, in our here and now?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bernice Loui View Post
    Why View Camera & Sheet Film Today, in our here and now?
    The broader question is "why film (and darkroom prints from it) today?" My answer is: there's only one reason, namely, print life expectancy. As for why a view camera, given the premise that one has decided on a silver halide workflow, that answer must be the same as it's always been, i.e. larger negative sizes and the ability to correct perspective as well as place the plane of focus where one wants it.

    If one reviews the archive here, posts from Paul Raphaelson will be found that relate his experience after transitioning to a Nikon D800. Paul reported that, up to print size 11x14, he found his results were just as good as 4x5 negative origination. After spending the last three and a half years with a Nikon D810 and various Sigma Art lenses, I concur. Note that I don't "do" social media, "see" in black and white and still consider my prints to be the final work, with files serving as "negatives" and post-processing (in PhotoPlus X8) to be my "darkroom," where monochrome conversions are performed.

    Another factor driving me to ignore the view cameras (I still own and used to regularly use too many, from 4x5 through 11x14) is the lack of darkroom papers that suit my aesthetic for prints. Those available today are too damn shiny -- I'm talking air-dried glossy fiber-based. The least bad is ADOX MCC 110, but even it got glossier several years ago. I communicated with Mirko about correcting/reversing that, but he is constrained by what the market demands: shiny objects. To be clear, mat papers are too dull, incapable of making a real black. Glossy air-dried papers used to be the sweet spot. Just enough shine to support solid blacks but not so reflective as to be obscured in all but carefully configured "gallery" lighting. No more.

    Inkjet printing has plenty of its own problems. Mat papers with pigmented inks are not much better than mat darkroom papers. With dye inks they're even worse. Pigmented inks on glossy papers don't just suffer from gloss differential, they're excessively shiny anywhere there's ink, irrespective of density. The only combination that's acceptable to me is dye ink on some glossy papers. At this point I'm using a Canon Pro-100 with Hahnemühle FineArt Baryta Satin. That printer has now been discontinued, but Canon's Pro-200 looks to be the same dye-based system. Prints I make with the Pro-100/Hahnemühle combination are "goldilocks" in terms of reflectivity and black density. On display, they're unlikely to last more than a decade or two. I don't sell any photography. I'm unlikely to last more than a decade or two. It's a tough psychological hurdle for someone who spent more than five decades in darkrooms, but I'm slowly coming to terms with those realities, and enjoying the most beautiful prints I've ever produced.

    Circling back to the original point, if something comes up where print life expectancy is important, I'll break out the view cameras and set up my darkroom. I just made some 8x10 contacts for a younger relative who will undoubtedly outlive me by a looooong time. Otherwise, the answer to your question, Bernice, is "no reason."

  10. #10

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    Re: Why View Camera & Sheet Film Today, in our here and now?

    I think it is a question of deliberation... In the early period of photography, the group making photographs were scientists, professionals, "country gentlemen" etc, as the process was difficult and expensive, but many also needed the results, or wanted to see if it could be done...

    A noted photo professor lectured a class a photographer I know attended, and was making a point about the combined rise of freedom of the masses with the arrival of the bicycle and the "detective" dry plate and roll cameras and the social impact of this pairing... Many traditionalists were shocked to see Victorian women, with hoop skirts, on bicycles, taking photos unaccompanied, and thought the world was going to hell in a handbasket!!! Unheard of!!!

    Photography always seemed to need a reason to "memorize" a scene or vision... Look at countless snapshots from last century, and you will generally see values reflected in them, like family in front of house, kids, relatives, men by their cars, vacations etc... Photos were not cheap, but was worth it when reflecting their values...

    Taking photos now is more accessible then ever, you don't even need a camera, there is one in your fone there ready to be used at a moment's notice... But if someone decided to take it further, might decide to use a camera dedicated to this pursuit... Used to just be a 35mm point & shoot before digital, or up the chain with LF considered to be the top serious choice (like them studio professionals)...

    Serious cameras for "serious" results!!!

    Steve K

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