Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Matter of Size

Earlier in the week, I was getting ready to take the 4x5 camera out. This involves cleaning it up, making sure the batteries in the handheld light meters still work, and loading film holders.

A film holder, for those that don't know, is a two sided contraption. It holds two pieces of film, one in each side. Loading these is a somewhat slow process for me. It involves getting the canned air out and making sure the dust is blown clear. The dark slides have indicators on them that remind you if the film has been exposed or not, and I have to find a dark room to actually put the film in. This process can take, depending on the number I do, up to an hour or so. It can be a mite tedious, but there is a tactile feedback from doing all this. The can of air getting cold, handling the holder itself and the plasticky feeling of the film in the dark. Trying to find the notches on the edges of the film, so you can tell if it is in the holder the correct way. A feedback loop that merely inserting a memory card in a digital camera lacks.

As I was finishing loading the 20 film holders I was going to take on my outing, I thought about scale. Even though they are double sided, a film holder to me is a single photo. I expose both sides with the same scene to ensure I get the photo. So for a days outing with the large format camera, the most I would photograph is 20 scenes. Now I know that I would probably not get anywhere near 20, if I was lucky, I would get 10 or 12. And that is a good part of a whole days output.

Thinking about it, I realized that with a large format camera, I could get 20 shots in a days sesson. When I take the medium format camera out, I usually go through 2 or 3 rolls of film, which is anywhere from 30 to 90 shots, depending on what film I buy. Yet when I get the digital camera out, I can take several hundred shots or more.

The strange part of it is, I get a higher percentage of "keepers" from the film cameras than I do the digital. Something I'm still pondering.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

probably because you actually think about the photo you are going to take before you actually use the film so to speak, with digital you already know you can take hundreds and just point & shoot...hence the name...LOL...missing you and my aunt!