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Fro Film Project Episode #001

From time to time certain events inspire you to take action. Recently I watched the documentary Sound City which made me want to take photography back to its roots.

I decided it was time to break out the Nikon F5 and grab a few rolls of Illford 3200 film and photograph my friends in the band Silvertide. They are a straight up ROCK BAND that plays loud and looks the part.

I knew that their rehearsal spot was going to be pretty dark which is always a challenge when you are shooting film. You have to decide on the speed of film right off the bat and live with it for the entire roll. It’s not like what you can do with a DSLR and change the ISO every shot.

Loading that roll of film and getting back into that mentality was strange, refreshing and kind of scary. It’s scary because your safety net of being able to chimp is gone. You have to get your exposure based on feel and change it depending on what the lighting is doing. You have to be more selective about what you shoot as you are limited to 36 shots. I turned the camera on to single shot only so I wouldn’t accidentally motordrive threw the roll.

One of the most funny things I have ever done is take a picture with the Nikon F5, then reach for the play button to review the image I just took, oooops. It is a totally different world, shooting a frame and not knowing what you got. Is it in focus, is your exposure close or off by a ton or did you just flat out not capture the moment. This is what happens with film, you shoot your roll and end up waiting days if not weeks to see the final results.

After I finished shooting the roll I loaded I picked up my D4. What a major change, I went from 3200 ISO in film to 8000 ISO with digital. The world opens up fully when you can see your results and tweak on the spot. This brings up the new age question of do you need to learn on film in order to be a good photographer? I think learning on film was great but takes a lot longer then learning on digital. Like I said above, with film you don’t know what everything was shot at and you don’t get instant feedback. Digital has allowed photographers to see their reuslts and learn from them much quicker.

So my answer to “do you need to shoot film first” in order to be a good photographer is no exactly. If you learned on film or decide to learn on film there are great things to take from it. But in this day and age if someone tells you you are not a good photographer because you never shot film then they have a major problem, they are stuck in the past.

Picking up that D4 for the shoot opened my eyes to how creative digital has made me. It allows me to see instant results and capture images I may not have been able to capture with film. Film was a great way to learn but the digital world allows for such creativeness.

After shooting with the D4 for a little I started to see clips in my mind that I thought would make for great video. I switched into video mode and started to see the world as if I was a film maker. What I mean by that is I shoot for how the editor will edit. Knowing how something will be edited allows you to capture the scenes properly. The power of video that is shot well and edited well is unbelievable.

In one sitting I went from shooting Film to digital to HD VIDEO. Film has you thinking one dimensionally in my mind, digital allows you to think broader and Video as an option is an amazing bonus.

I am going to continue this Fro Film Project as you will get to follow me as I process and print the rolls of film I capture. I have to end with me saying, I went from really excited to break out the film camera again to thinking there is a reason film cameras sit on the shelf. Digital just allows you to think different and capture the world around you in amazing ways.