Monthly Archives: March 2013

On Film Photography

HS501-0040-KODAK EKTAR 100-05

Photo by Chris Howard (页 景 on flickr, photo above links to same photo on flickr) – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

Lately, I’ve been thinking about getting back into shooting on film again.  I’ve looked through people’s film photos on flickr, and I’ve enjoyed what I have seen.  I’m particularly keen on Kodak film.  There are two main types of film Kodak makes that I’m interested in using, that being Ektar and Portra. (You’ll see an example above of a shot I found on flickr from some Ektar film. It’s not my photo, by the way.)

The last time I shot with film was around 2010 or so.  I think the film might have been left over from my photography class, in which I may have used some film (I can’t remember for sure).  It was some Kodak T-Max, and I used a bunch of it in my beginning photography class.  We had to develop and make prints from the film ourselves.  Considering all the film I used, I could probably get back into processing the T-Max without too much trouble.  Major downside: no monetary compensation on buying the film and paper.  It doesn’t come cheap either, with the film around $5, and paper priced higher, I’m just glad I didn’t have the extra cost of hiring out a lab to process everything (mo’ money, mo’ problems).

One point of the class was to teach darkroom process, which was cool.  One thing about processing my film was that I probably wasn’t doing it as well as I could, because I suspect the film wasn’t turning out as ideally as it should.  For instance, the temperature of the water wasn’t as easily controlled.  It’s affected mostly by whether or not the sun was out to warm the pipes, how the weather was that day, and what season it was.  Fortunately there were thermometers handy to check it out.  Nowadays I’m fine not handling film myself, sending it off to some lab to get it processed.  I’m more inclined to scan the film and work on it digitally than I would if I were making a print directly from the film.  It’s just more chemistry I’d rather not deal with.

One of the big reasons why I want to get back into shooting film is because it’s a good way for me to be more of a technical photographer.  It gets me back to thinking about what settings I should use, and all that kind of thing.  I find it works especially well when using a manual only camera.  I think it’s good, on occasion, to shoot film to remind me of what came before, to remind me that people had to shoot on film all the time, and so couldn’t check right away to see if what they just shot was wrong, like we do with digital.  Basically, film is one of my exercises so that I’m more careful and thoughtful when photographing.  Although one way to make sure I have a good photo is bracketing; exposure bracketing, focus bracketing, aperture bracketing, so on.  Then again, that’s only if you have a bunch of film to use, and often, we only have a couple rolls to work with.  Basically, you should know your exposure is good before you pull the shutter.

I merely see film as something I’ll use on occasion to help my photography.  Digital is far better than film by now, and has been for some time.  The lenses are better than they were 30 years ago, the sensors can pick up as much or more detail than film, we can shoot in lower light than we could with film.  Everything about digital is better.  There’s no reason not to shoot digital anymore.  I could go on a long rant about this, but I’ll save us all the trouble by not doing so.  But I will say this one thing: I’m not one of those pretentious snobs who thinks film is better.  This post has gotten too long as it is, so I’ll end right here.

Your photography friend,


Do You Have Any Suggestions?

Since posting on how I process certain formats of photos (raw and jpeg), and posting on how I’m now using Photoshop CS6, I feel like I’ve had some good response to those posts, mainly in regard to getting likes on those posts and some new followers to the blog.  So here’s where you come in.  I would like to open things up to you, and use this post as a springboard for any of your suggestions or ideas for topics that I should write about on this blog.  I do have a post in mind, but I would like to have some reader participation, so I know what you would like to read from this blog, so I can better write for all of you.

Also, I’m curious what you would like to see, not only what kind of posts, but also what kind of pages you would like to see here.  By pages, I mean the various tabs you click on in the upper part of the site, just below the banner.  Would you like to see something like a contact page?  Maybe something else, something fun?  I’m open to any suggestions you have.

Your photography friend,

Raw vs. Jpeg Comparison

After posting on the processing of a raw photo, and processing of a jpeg, let’s compare the raw and jpeg photos straight out of camera, and how each look at the end of each editing cycle.

First comparison, I think you can tell an immediate difference between these two.  The second of these is the jpeg.  Same image, it’s just that the jpeg out of camera was adjusted to how the camera thinks the photo should look.  The jpeg looks like the white balance is a little closer to “white” than the raw.  Also, the highlights, shadows, contrast, etc was adjusted in the camera’s processing of the jpeg.  You can tell how much highlight detail was held in the raw by comparing the two images, paying attention to that center column.  You can see that near the top of that column, it doesn’t fall off to white as much as it does in the jpeg.  And now, moving along…

lens corrections

JPEG curves

As for these two, in the jpeg the shadows (particularly those on the shirt) are getting crushed, and the white balance is still too warm for my liking.  Also, the raw holds more dynamic range and details generally.  Also, the jpeg looks like it has too much contrast for my liking.

While it took me a bit of getting used to handling raw photos, I find myself better able to work with the raw photos than I could with jpeg.  I actually find it harder to get my photos looking the way I want with jpeg than I do with raw.  I’ve noticed I’m now able to get my photo looking the way I want it quicker if I have a raw photo.  Also, the main reason I like the raw photo is that it holds more information.  The photo has 14 bits in raw capture, compared to only 8 bits in jpeg.  Basically, I’m not willing to throw away that much data.  Those 14 bits hold more data on color info, shadow and highlight detail, and other things.  In these comparisons, I hope you’re able to see the difference between these two.  I think it best I end here, and I’ll end on this note: if you care about how your photo looks, shoot raw.  That’s not a suggestion.  You really should shoot raw.

Your photography friend,

On the Processing of a JPEG

In my post on processing a raw photo, I covered how I process one photo in particular, showing how certain steps affect the photo towards how I want it to look.  I also covered in another post how I like shooting raw better than jpeg, and now shoot exclusively raw.  Today, we’ll cover how I’ll process a jpeg, trying to get the photo to look the way it ended up in the last post.

This jpeg is straight from the camera.  The difference between this jpeg and the raw version, is that in the raw version I started with no adjustments directly from the camera, with the jpeg version, the camera processes the photo before it becomes a jpeg (you’ll find the comparison between these photos in my next post). The camera makes adjustments to the photo to how it would think it will look best, adjusting highlights, shadows, contrast, sharpness, etc.  Basically, even when right off the camera, the photo comes out a little different between raw and jpeg.

And for my first edit, I adjusted the color balance (white balance) to get it looking more towards white, since it was warm out of camera. Cyan/Red -10; Magenta/Green -5; Yellow/Blue +10. I only adjusted the midtones, since adjusting highlights and shadows would make the photo look worse.

For my second and final edit, I adjusted curves, lifting up on the right and pulling down on the left.

Stay tuned for the next post wherein I compare the raw and jpeg photos straight out of the camera, and the final edits of these photos.