Transition from film to the digital world

I am an amateur photographer.

Until relatively recently I shot film and was very pleased.

For years I used a basic SLR (Nikon F50) and various Nikon lenses.

© Hugoht

Most of my pictures are from being in the right place at the right time and not so much setting the lighting for my purposes. It doesn’t mean I’m completely lucky or that this is an easy task.

Being in the right place in the right time includes going around the world and doing some inconvenient things I’m sure most of you have found yourself doing.

Things like sticking the camera to your face for 20 minutes without moving until the setting is just right, or finding yourself in an endless tedious mountain climb (just a bit more...) for a better view, or laying down in the mud for that perfect reflection view.

I even found myself walking 50 kilometers in one day, to reach the mountain pass before the clouds get there.

Things were different with film.

© Hugoht
I stood in some of the most beautiful places in the world with my SLR and took one shot.

Rarely did I take even two. Every frame had a price and as an amateur you wouldn’t shoot unless you felt it was necessary.

I took pictures on my trips and got a first glimpse at them after several months.

After taking the pictures you had little control of the result. You could only hope that the technician in lab will do a good job.

All this time I had my photo albums, had my several enlargements hanging at home and the office.

I even sold a few pictures.

I was a happy man.

I was so happy in fact, I couldn’t find a reason to buy a 1000$ DSLR.

A year and a half ago I finally found an excuse to buy my first DSLR (Nikon D40).

DSLR Prices dropped and a trip to Turkey was on the way.

I went trekking with my new camera, came back and boy, did everything change for me.

After downloading those pictures and looking at them on a 22 inch bright LCD, I understood it’s a digital world.

I suddenly looked with contempt at my photo albums with those 5x7, 6x8 and even 8x12 prints.

Looking at my negatives – seeing all the scratches provided by the various photo labs I worked with, and all the yellow dots that started to develop I realized I will probably never load a film again.

Just like 4 years ago I finally threw away all my tape cassettes, and just like 2 years ago I confessed to my mini disk that I love a newer younger music player, I had to admit that it’s time to move on with my camera.

Not that film is done. Just like no musician will record music directly to mp3, artists and professionals will always need the high quality media.

But for the average person – film is history.

Now it’s true, most labs scan the newly developed film but from what I’ve seen so far, in most cases, the quality of a CCD recording the light from an object is just better than a CCD recording light passing through a film.

Believe me, I still receive enough “distorted pixels” and “image is overfiltered” on my scanned images.

That is also when I understood the inevitable.

All those picture I love so much from my trips and climbs, all of them have to go digital.

Not only do I want them preserved and digital can be backed up (sadly negatives deteriorate) but you can show them to everyone over the web.

After digitalizing my old pictures and displaying them on a huge monitor I could suddenly see details I never knew were there.

The old pictures got a new life in them.

I realized, it’s time to scan all my pictures.

And this is where the real adventure begins.

The next part of my story involves money, suspense, disappointment, more disappointment, time, more money, learning, desperation and finally – happiness.

Make sure you read part two – my scanning experience (or should I say trauma)

Photo credits: Hugoht, Alain Lacroix, Janeh15, Petarneychev, William Freeman.

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February 18, 2010


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