Fabulous Film Fridays – Back to Back Again

Last week Sam posted a comparison of the same subject shot with film and digital. Her point was to show that the two media deliver very different results and that neither was ‘true’ to her experience of being there. Of course, we all know that cameras do not record things exactly like we see them. Some capture devices seem ‘truer’ than others but none record the ‘truth’ (5 human observers to the same event will all ‘record’ or remember the event differently – so what is truth anyway?).

Given that there is no universal truth then it simply becomes a question of what tool (camera, film type, digital sensor type, processing workflow etc)  returns results closer to the way you view or want to present the world in your art. Of course you can enhance or alter the capture in processing (either in the digital or chemical darkroom) to get the results even closer to your personal view. I believe it’s always better to use the media that delivers results closest to where you want to end up, rather than shaving a square block down to fit into a round hole (but maybe that is just me, some of you might like the shaving process ;-)).

The two images below were photographed at the Nordegg mine and were taken at the same time as Sam’s shots in her post. The results of the comparison look similar to the Sam’s in terms of colour and contrast. Which you prefer is personal, you might like one better than the other, or you might not like either rendition. Your job as a photographer is to translate what you see and feel about a scene to your viewer. Using the media that gets you the results you want is really all that matters.

©Darwin Wiggett

Above – Shot with a Tachihara 4×5 view camera using Fujichrome Velvia 50 slide film (I used a flashlight to paint light onto the wheels – the orange cast).

Below – Shot with a Canon EOS-1ds digital camera and light-painted as described above.

©Darwin Wiggett

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6 Responses to “Fabulous Film Fridays – Back to Back Again”

  1. That’s quite a striking difference. The scene appears to be close to the dynamic range of velvia. I wonder why such a large difference.

  2. It looks to me like long exposure (if you were light painting, I assume the exposure was long) Velvia was the precursor to modern grunge post processing. I’m not sure if that was an artifact of reciprocity or not, but the Velvia looks great. I love the contrast and grunginess (is that a word?).

  3. I’m surprised at the film result also. I would expect a much smoother rendition with the Velvia than is shown, albeit with strong vibrance. Perhaps scanning added a variable.

  4. Your image Darwin, is a superb demonstration between the two capture media! While I may own three digital bodies, I still shoot some subjects with film, because I like the slide emulsion rendition better then the digitally reproduced, post processed version.

    Some websites offer “Velvia look” formulas and settings for digital cameras, however they are no match for the original! For example, I personally find Fuji Provia 100 provides much more pleasing cityscapes photographed at night than digital, simply because digital sensor is more sensitive to the various colour temperatures and variations of city lights, than Provia.

    Thank you for the inspiration to keep shooting film… in a digital world!

    Cheers, Frederic in Montréal

  5. Great experiment, the Velvia is very rich love the tones and colours. I keep meaning to do something similar but at the moment I am struggling to leave the film camera at home!

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