Film to digital–attitude is important

Increasingly those of us who shot film and were schooled in the darkroom are feeling resentful of their successful present day digital counterparts. And why not?

We slaved for hours fine-tuning our burning, dodging skills and even came up with our very own recipe for pushing Kodak’s Tri-X to ISO 3200. Never mind the grain of the film was huge. Heck it made it easier to focus the enlarger, didn’t it?

It’s human nature to be jealous especially since digital photography isn’t like film. Sure noise in high ISO is similar to grain, but the workflow is so different.

Other than the actual act of taking the picture. Once the shutter is released, that’s precisely when you’ll start to notice the difference.

Those of us who shot film who were reluctant to embrace the new medium are facing a daunting task. Take some photoshop courses or continue to shoot film.

The advantage of digital is obvious. The initial cost of digital camera, computer and photoshop can be recouped in a year easily. What most film photographers will have problems with is the post production. Not understanding the intricacies of the digital workflow can be extremely costly.

To begin with, most newbies don’t get that by buying a higher megapixel camera and not considering if their computer can handle the large image files, they are headed down a major bottleneck in their workflow.

Something I can’t stress enough is “invest in Photoshop Training.” Don’t take the route of my parsimonious former employers when the photo department converted from film to digital. Sure, they saved a ton of money by not providing any sort of basic photoshop training.Their myopic methods will cost them.

I remember cringing when I overheard the photolab manager telling one of my co-workers to select the low setting for jpeg on the Canon 1D Mark II because he reasoned, “by the time the picture ran in the paper the next day the image would be good enough.”

So it was common practise for the staff to discard quality information on jpegs in exchange for speed.

Short-sightedness and hastiness to make the workflow faster so that daily deadlines could be met meant the photographers had to choose lower resolution settings. It’s like buying a Ferrari and using it on Southern California’s freeways instead of the Autobahn.

One of the nicest features of most Canon digital SLRs is the abillity to shoot both RAW and jpeg simultaneously. I suggest setting the jpeg to the small setting if speed was an issue, but have the RAW file available as well.

The day is drawing closer when professional photographers will not have to shoot jpegs. Once you’ve tried shooting RAW, you’ll find it hard to go back to a jpeg.

For the quick and dirty work of newspaper photojournalism, I feel if you care enough about your images, you should do both.