February 25, 2010

Photographers Michael Zide, John Reuter and Pam Viola Talk about Film and Digital

In a post two weeks ago I proclaimed how shooting film makes me more a deliberate photographer, how I weigh each frame carefully in present moment awareness. It can take a month for me to go through a roll.

I also noted how on a recent digital shoot, I burned 56 frames in 5 minutes. I asked the email subscribers of Create Look Enjoy about their views on film and digital.

An excerpt from landscape photographer Michael Zide's reply:

Truthfully, there's two kinds of photography for me. My landscape photography approach, which I have always felt was satisfying partly because it was such a slow, contemplative engagement with the world around me, and all the rest. I am a lover of medium to large format cameras and the steadiness of the tripod. Whether sensor or film doesn't seem to matter regarding the quality of the experience, but I can appreciate the distinction you are making. Is it more than simply the number of possible "encounters" with the roll vs. the CF card, or is it something to do with the physical and substantial nature of the film medium?

Below is frame 13 of the 56 frames.

Trees and Sky in Scroll Painting Style

John Reuter left this comment on the digital/film post:

Well, it's hard to say that you couldn't have gotten similar results with newer film. I think sometimes just the notion that it is older material makes it special to shoot but the bottom line is always the image. In a Holga we expect surprises so it fits in nicely with that.

His response was to some odd looking tones that came from film I used that had expired 13 years ago. Mr. Reuter, a 20x24 Polaroid expert and fine art photographer, spoke several years at Hallmark, where I teach. His work and words at the time inspired me to create beyond my up-until-then creative mindset.

Below is frame 37 of the 56 frames.

Frozen Lake and Bare Trees in a Wave Style

I ended the film/digital post with this question: Is this art, or the rationalization of poor image quality?

I recently connected on Facebook with high school photo friend Pam Viola. Here is the D.C. based fine art photographer's answer:

Well there's definitely rationalization happening, but I love the top image - definitely art!

This is the aged film image she refers to, complete with a hunter's orange light leak.

I love these discussions on creativity and photographic technique.

On a different note, I encourage you to watch the video my monkey alter ego Chuck Darwin put together on The Theory of The Evolution of Color Management. He needs views in his efforts to take first place in the February round of the ColorMunki video contest.

As a hybrid marketing experiment and art project, Chuck Darwin is on Twitter. Please follow him!