If you read my previous blog post you know that getting anything done with film is a royal pain in the arse where I live. And probably many other places. I didn’t go out and buy pencils and a sketchbook but I did put my Fuji X-Pro1 around my neck today instead of a film camera. (I got my digital camera ready before I knew that he wouldn’t have the film done because I had a strong feeling that my prints wouldn’t be ready based on past experience and I was feeling frustrated even before I left the house).
The above photo would be much better if the fellow with the mobile phone wasn’t there.
I don’t like most digital photographs because they are too clean and shiny. They are realistic rather than naturalistic, a distinction I picked up from Naturalistic Photography for Students of the Art by Peter Henry Emerson. Realistic is just a copy of reality whereas naturalistic photos include an interpretation of the subject while still remaining true to form. Interpretation or not, I find digital photographs a bit boring because they are so perfect.
So I have been trying to find a way to make my digital photos less pristine and glowing. Many online photos have the contrast, clarity, and saturation ‘up on bust’, as we say in Newfoundland. I prefer more muted and natural colours, like Kodak E100G slide film used to produce. The nice thing about the Fuji X-series cameras is that they make good colours right in the camera. Perhaps all that experience making film carried over to their digital department. After lots of research and trying out this and that, I now set my camera to Standard film simulation (Provia), -2 colour, -2 noise reduction, +1 shadow tone, and +1 highlight tone. Reducing colour gets rid of ‘digital glow’ and produces more natural colour, lowering noise reduction produces photos with less smoothing and more detail (with more noise, which I don’t mind), and changing the tone just means less time adjusting levels in Lightroom later.
One thing I like about film is that once I’ve done my best to get the proper exposure and pressed the shutter release button I don’t have to do anything else. The lab processes the film and then makes prints. That’s why I am taking pains to get everything right before I press the shutter release button on my digital camera. Let the camera do all the work. I don’t want to spend time messing around with post-processing.
On a somewhat unrelated note, the photos above are snapshots I made today. Definitely not works of art. I want to spend several weeks using a wide angle lens but it’s not easy. I understand I have to be more careful with composition because there are a lot more things in the frame but getting lines straight is going to take some practice. I had to adjust angles in all of the photos above because I didn’t get it right when I made the pictures. Practise, practise, practise . . . . .