WordPress 3.5 was released a fortnight ago, and along with it a new gallery system. The new system works significantly better with tablets than the old Fancybox system that I was using. Fantastic! Check out this new gallery for a demonstration (click on images to view them in the new full-screen gallery view).
A couple of weeks ago, after a day spent revisiting old negatives and fawning over prints, it struck me that I was becoming a little disillusioned with digital.
When you shoot and print colour film, you’re remarkably limited in the degree to which you can affect the tonality of the final image. You might choose to ‘pull’ your film for a saturation boost, or ‘push’ it for a stop or two of extra speed at the cost of some contrast and colour accuracy, but, realistically speaking, the only real choice you have is the film you choose to shoot on.
Even the choice of film is severely limited. Kodak film will soon be unavailable, bringing the wonderful age of the beautiful and popular Portra (and the less popular Ektar) to an end. The time when you could choose from Neutral and Vivid versions of popular emulsions has already passed, with both Kodak and Fuji opting for single versions of their pro films that are optimised for scanning, not printing.
And yet, despite this lack of choice, this lack of control over the final output, I find ‘analogue’ prints from film much more satisfying than digital prints. This isn’t be being a film snob; it goes against everything I usually value in my gear. Adobe Lightroom (and Adobe’s ACR engine that powers it) is an incredible tool, and it’s indispensable for the sort of optimisation needed for paid jobs, but for everyday photographs I take for my own enjoyment I find myself obsessing over getting the most out of the file. It can take the joy out of editing. Scanning in negatives doesn’t provide a satisfying middle ground. There’s a difference between obsessing over the colour balance of a print in the darkroom, and pulling details out of the shadows in Lightroom.
2013 will be a year of printing colour film, whilst it’s still around. It will also be a year of simplified editing; all the images at the top of this image are untouched spare for – gasp – preset filters based on Kodak Portra. Maybe all those filter apps for smartphones are on to something.