ASS-ing around!

You digital people don’t know how good your life is! You see dramatic light and shade, just switch to black and white! You see gorgeous colours, you switch to colour!130905 - Olympus XA2 - 003

With film you’re set!

Got black and white film in the camera, too bad for the great colours. Ok, you can convert your colour film shots to black and white but I call that cheating! 😉

When I’m out and about with a roll of Ilford HP5 in my camera I do like Gary Winogrand… no, not photography wise. I could never reach his art.

But he said once “There are no photographs while I’m reloading”.

Just like that I say “There’s no colour when I shoot black and white”!161206 - Ricoh GR1 - Ilford HP5+ - (28)

In fact, when I have a black and white film loaded I’m not looking for color. I don’t see colours, I just concentrate on shapes, on light, on shadows and structures. And people of course.

After developing the roll, I see that colour would not have done anything for the photos I got.

On the other hand, when I have a roll of Fujifilm Superia 200 in my camera, those shapes structures and light effect take second place. Those times I see the colours, I look for them, I need them.image

I won’t be tempted by things a roll of HP5 would make me grab. Strangely this whole process seems entirely automatic to me. I don’t have to think about it. This switch in attitude comes naturally.

One more example, in my eyes, where restrictions help me to make satisfying photos. Help me to be creative.170901 - Olympus XA2 - Lomo Lady Grey (34)

I can’t explain why this should be so. Why the fact that knowing the type of film loaded would rewire my brain to just look for the relevant scenes. Without having to concentrate or actively think about it. Just as the fact that when I see a prospective photo I find myself automatically at the right distance and close to the right angle to get the best shot with the lens I carry on the camera (usually either a 35 or 50-ish lens).170901 - Olympus XA2 -Fuji Superia 200 (23)

I think it has to do with practice of course. To see the world as if through the lens of your camera you have to know it, you have to know what it is capable of and what not.

Call it ASS…. Automatic Selective Seeing? 

When you’re ASSing around the world you can certainly be more creative than when you’re just shooting and trying to get the right photo in post processing.170617 - Canon AE-1 - Ilford HP5 @3200 ISO (6)

Let me give kudos here to Dan James from 35hunter and his interesting concept about Irreversible Photography. In fact he’s a strong advocate against post processing and slowly but surely I come to embrace his views.

And what’s good for digital photography can only be better with film, no? Just kidding of course! But it’s a fact that with film you’re working with readily set film simulations. Simulations that last for about 36 shots. And you better make them count!170314 - Olympus Trip 35 - Fuji Superia 200 (27)

So if you loaded colour, colour you’ll get! And the world in colour you’ll see, as Yoda might put it!

If you loaded black and white, that’s what’s going to come out!

Now wether I prefer colour or black and white, that’s an entirely different question. Stuff for a future post I guess….

Thanks for visiting… and for your comments of course!

 

13 thoughts on “ASS-ing around!

  1. This time round I just do not agree.

    Most people who use analogue camera use at the end of the day a hybrid workflow. What starts off as analogue becomes digital once the film is developed. Scanning is the end of the analogue road.

    Once the resulting images are read into the post-processing software – be it Lightroom, Capture One or perhaps even RawTherapee, the digital manipulation continues.

    The only analogue workflow I know of is to develop the film and then go into the darkroom, or in the usual case of C41 colour films, take them to the local photo shop to be developed and printed. In both cases you are usually going back to digital scanning if you want to show them off on your blog, Facebook, 500px or whatever. If the final resting place of your photos is your photo album, you may have earnt a “saint” status.

    Even if you fully go down the analogue road, you certainly have no deficit on possibilities of changing the photos. Starting with the size and hardness of the paper, it continues with one part of the enlarged photo you use and often ends in having to “snatch” prints if overexposed or “stew” them if underexposed.

    Things are not as irreversible as they seem.

    • Right, Dave…. but!

      Of course there’s always some manipulation involved. In the darkroom as in Lightroom. But Dan James’s Irreversible Photography tends to reduce it to the minimum. Of course a digital camera used in jpeg mode renders the vista to a certain liking, importing it into the software is another point. But these should be kept to the strictly necessary. Most of the work done in-camera.

      As for film, unfortunately after my trials with a home darkroom I had to admit that I don’t have the space, time and long grown experience to do that. So I scan!

      I scan with Silverfast (stuff I hated before) which gives me a good approximation of the rendering of the different film types. I import into Photos and that’s mostly it. Some straightening as I’m notorious for skewed horizons and some contrast perhaps, things that could be done in the darkroom too.

      But anyways I’ll not hold too stubbornly to the minimalist principles. In the end, the important thing is that the photo makes me happy….

  2. Yeah I’m not with this one, although I get the idea it would be nice just to have one camera, film and be an international street photographer and live out of a suitcase 😉

    From the article you cite, Hunter’s idea of minimal processing seems to be founded on ‘laziness’ and in my opinion this revolves around eliminating most of what’s left of the art and certainly the craft of photography and relying on technology and software to do it all. Although I don’t deny that Hipstamatic can make very pleasing pictures as can an iPhone. Of course, you can always shoot on film and errr…. get the standardised look of a chosen Hipstamatic filter.

    My idea of minimalism in photography is quite different. It relies on being in control as far as is practicably and conveniently possible to get the kind of picture you want, not to relinquish control ever further.

    On analogue processing a latent image starts with exposure on a given film type. Post-processing really starts in the developing tank, washing film, starting temperature, type of developer, agitation technique, length of development and so on. Then there’s more post-processing in the darkroom if you go that way, exposure, filters, type of paper. If you’re scanning there is post-processing already built-in and further tweaks available. Personally I don’t use SilverFast as I find it cumbersome and it offers too many options. I prefer to scan and adjust manually rather than rely too much on the value settings of someone else’s idea of what a given film supposed to look like. Of course, this takes time as you know.

    For my pennyworth on progressing the concept of minimalism, if you want minimalism with film you just need a camera with auto focus and auto settings then just do it the old Kodak way – “you press the button, we do the rest”,
    and the lab will even put the scans on a disk. All this might make for quicker posting on the internet but it might take the fun and learning out of it though 😉

    Anyway, some clear pictures there Frank. Hope you’re not thinking to go digital now…?! 😉

    • Nope, not yet!

      About film processing, I like it but I’m not really the technical guy who gets into all the fine art of temperature control, exact timing…. in short, I’m not the ideal analog shooter. I am rather heavy handed, trusting film latitude and Rodinal to give me what I like.

      That’s minimal fussing for me. Just like the few quick and dirty adjustments later.

      As for Silverfast I despised it because of it’s cumbersome interface but now I just set it to the film I scan and go… very good results.

      Sorry but for me the art of photography lies in composition and catching a moment. All possible in-camera

  3. Look on the bright side Frank. When The Reflex hits the market later this year, you will be able to have a back for colour, a back for black and white and use the M42 lenses for the spotty! Or is this G. A. S. Again and will give rise to paralysis of choice once more.

  4. Frank, thanks for the mention!

    I wouldn’t say I advocate against post processing for everyone, I know some people enjoy this part of the process more than any other. It’s just that after a few years os shooting film and digital, I’ve come to know what I like, and what I don’t, and why I photograph.

    90% of the whole experience of photography is, for me, wandering out in quiet places by myself with a camera, finding compositions I find pleasing and beautiful. I love the immersion of the whole experience, and this is disrupted by having to constantly fiddle about with a camera, as well as knowing I will need to spend a further five, 10, 30 whatever minutes tweaking each image digitally before I can be happy with it.

    I work on a computer most of the day in my day job, so the last thing I want is to be hunched over a computer in my photography time, when I could be out walking, exploring and shooting. It doesn’t work for me, it starts to damage my enjoyment of the experience.

    I think it is very possible to find in camera settings that give you very pleasing results. I don’t see this as lazy, just knowing what my priorities are and, like I said, why I photograph in the first place.

    Oh and about colour and black and white, although of course with digital you can change this at a moments notice and the press of a button (or in post processing, as many do), I approach it just the same as with film. That is, I already decide whether I’m shooting colour or b/w before I set out, then stick with it.

    Again, one less decision to make, and another way to simplify, stay focused and optimise the immersion of the whole photography experiences.

    • Less post processing is not laziness. That’s certain. And I too prefer walking around with a camera, getting into the mojo of photography to sitting in front of another computer. Or reading! Love reading and prefer it to tweaking some photos.

      I found my film way, as painless as possible though scanning remains a drag. But it’s cost effective.

      Digital though… has something to it but I’m definitely not (yet) ready for it…

      • “Getting into the mojo”, love this phrase Frank!

        Reading is something I always want to do more of, and have too many books awaiting my attention. But actually I do read a fair bit online every day anyway, and yes I love reading and learning.

  5. My film photography is how I want to do this hobby, and not how everyone else thinks it should be done or why I shouldn’t use it in the way I do.
    I scan onto my home computer but also I have contact sheets too, plus I print my own images from time to time. It’s about the media of film for my vision of how photography should be for me, and myself alone.
    I hear the comments when I’m out like ”Oh, old school camera, didn’t think anyone uses one of those anymore” or once I was asked ”does that thing take pictures?”
    Knowing what my camera will do, the shutter speed and aperture, how the light works with a type of film, one in the chamber, thirty five in the magazine, spare in my pocket, I’m ready to shoot.
    Yes, your right Frank there is a mind set when using something with only a single set of parameters and for me makes you think about what your shooting before pressing that shutter. Maybe being brought up with a generation using film cameras though the 70’s 80’s and 90’s has stuck me in a ‘rut’ as some have said, but I have no interest in digital photography, I tried it, didn’t like it, so this film ‘rut’ is where I want to be and stay!

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