. . . Of my two days shooting Street Photography at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, I spent half of the first day with the Fuji X-E1 (article here) and the remainder of that day and all of the next shooting with the Leica M6 & Voigtlander 50 1.5 LTM Classic lens (review here). Here then are the photographs taken . . .
What is this ‘thing’ with film that you just don’t get with digital? It can’t be superior image quality as digital technology has more than surpassed 35mm in that respect. Nor for that matter can it be grain, as software such as Silver Efex can easily add as much or as little to your digital files as you like.
It’s not because of the ‘speed’ with which you can take an image and moments later have it processed and printed or uploaded to your favorite website, as digital has a definite ‘handle’ on that one.
Then there’s the smelly chemicals, the lengthy processing rigmarole, the dust, the hairs, the scanning and the ever growing number of folders to store and protect your fragile negatives.
You can’t even review what you’ve just photographed and to add insult to injury, your limited to just 36 shots per roll !!!
The answer I believe is that despite all of these ‘drawbacks’, it’s because of them that film continues to maintain it’s hold and fascination with photographers such as myself, around the world.
Film simply refuses to die.
Take for example the image quality. There’s no doubt that in a direct side by side comparison and at full magnification, the detail of a digital image is something to behold. Every minute piece of information, such as the print on a newspaper – crystal sharp and easily readable.
And there in lies the problem. Digital images often have a tendency to be rather clinical and can lack character because of it. With the equivalent film image, there is an inherent sense of age to the photograph. When was this picture taken . . . 1945 ?
Then there’s the inability to review your images and the restriction of only having 36 exposures.
This is one of films true strengths. It slows you down, it makes you concentrate, it forces you to choose. With only 36 precious frames at your disposal, gone is the privilege of being able to ‘machine gun’ the subject in the hope that at least one shot will be usable.
Each one of these images presented here are one of a kind. One shot taken per subject. Knowing that each time you press the shutter means one less frame available, forces you to wait and to study your subject, concentrating on the moment when things ‘look right’.
Then after your day is done, there’s the uncertainty of what you’ve taken and how they’ve turned out. Maybe it’s a sign of approaching middle age, but apart from a few memorable subjects, I struggle to recall what I’ve taken that day.
Which brings into the equation the element of surprise. More often than not, it can be anything up to a week after taking the pictures that I’ll develop the film. No matter how many times I process a roll, the sheer anticipation of carefully studying the negatives with a magnifying glass as they hang to dry, never loses it’s edge.
Least not forget the actual process of developing your pictures. Those smelly chemicals can actually grow on you and in time, become rather pleasant. Now if I even get a whiff of fixer, I’m instantly transported to the darkroom – a cozy, warm and private place where time stands still. Rather like the images themselves.
It’s a fair bet that with a Bulk Film Loader full of Ilford HP5, a bottle of Rodinal and a Leica M6 with Voigtlander 50 1.5, I’ll be shooting film for many years to come, whether it goes out of fashion or not.
Long live film. 🙂
eBay UK always has a good selection of the Leica M6 for sale here.