We are digital creatures, undoubtedly consumers of a socially connected world, eyes glues to pixels. Ones and zeroes fly through cyberspace at an unprecedented rate and we make sure we don't miss a single one. Or a single moment. Phones, really cameras that happen to call and text, are fixed in our palms. Point. Click. Share.
In this world of instant gratification, I find myself wanting to slow down, to take time to breathe in the fresh air, to enjoy the emotion of an image and not just consume, pixel peep, and discard it for the next.
Except those breaths I have been taking are not exactly fresh air. They are chemical. Harsh. Stinging. Cellulose and silver halide reacting. In darkness. Exposing light..
Film photography is not for everyone, and is not realistic on many commercial shoots. It is slow. It is imperfect. It requires a patience that many do not have. And in a world where many learned and honed their craft in megapixels and not in D76, it is foreign.
Yet it is where I have been drawn.
Armed with a 40 year old Hasselblad (and even older lens), and with a 4x5 view camera, I have embraced a world of slowness. No auto mode. No autofocus. No auto anything. Using a light meter to get the proper exposure. Focusing on ground glass. Tilting. Shifting. Cocking shutters. Removing dark slides. All the while hoping the subject does not move out of focus. Click. Now to review the image...in a few hours. Or days.
The results. Imperfectly incredible. There is a look that, simply put, only film can give, no matter how many megapixels an image contains. A character that is impossible to define. And though the process is slow and the images less refined, there is something to be said for the smell of fixer on your fingers, knowing that it is your image, start to finish. No algorithm decided the outcome. There was only you.
And until you have view an image (upside down) on ground glass, you have never really taken a picture.