Why in this age of digital photography and my owning a 36 megapixel digital camera with a marginal cost per image of zero would I pursue film photography? Why with all the software we have with amazing abilities to produce film simulations, stitched panoramas, huge dynamic range, and other boundless effects would I limit myself to a single analog frame at a comparatively high cost?
While cleaning out my garage a few years ago, I found two items in the same box: 5.25″ floppy disks and sleeves of 35mm Kodachrome slides. Holding the slides up to the light, their contrast, color, and sharpness were clearly evident with just as much quality as when I made them many years ago. They were all ready for the scanner for sharing online or making a print for my home. Next I considered the floppy disks. Very interesting historical pieces, but not anything that any technology I currently owned could read. Even if I had a floppy drive, would the magnetic 1’s and 0’s on there still form anything meaningful? This is the thing with technology: the storage formats are constantly changing as well as where we gather online. My internet is still not fast enough that I could store all my images at a raw size of 72mb in the cloud. Even if I could store these images in the cloud, what would they look like in 100 years if I didn’t pay my bill? I believe that film potentially provides longevity to creativity. After filing the film in archival sleeves in a binder at a reasonable temperature, I’m done. Instead of technological risks, I have the physical risks of fire, flood, or theft. In order to mitigate these risks, my best images are scanned and saved digitally as well.
There was a certain nostalgia in looking at the old images in my garage. I used to love Kodachrome 64 when I was in school and I also loved the super fine grain and high contrast of TMAX 100. I spent hours in the darkroom at school while on yearbook staff inhaling noxious chemical fumes. I loved the seemingly magical process of a black and white image appear on white photo paper while immersed in developer.
As a student, I could hardly afford the amazing cameras out there – just look at them in magazines and dream. This has all changed now, and not just because I have a job! The price of used film cameras has plummeted, but not their capabilities. You can now afford to own just about any old film camera you might want (within reason).