What Slide Film Taught Me

Here is an article I just read on Luminous Landscape that expresses perfectly something I have been feeling since the exhibition. With film, an incredible result is possible, especially slide film that opens worlds of wonder on the light-box. It encourages you to be careful.

Yet good results are so much easier and cheaper to optain with digital, there really is no going back, for most purposes, at least. Which isn’t to take away from the artistry of either medium. As the author says,

This situation makes me think about any artistic medium and the constraints that it imposes on the practitioner. Does a pencil artist feel “constrained” compared to an oil painter? Is someone who walks around with a camera and fixed focal length more “constrained” than one with a zoom lens that covers all possible focal lengths? I think the answer is that as long as you understand and accept the constraints of a medium or a workflow, it actually frees up your mind to focus on the essentials – the art, so to speak.

Looking back even at some of my film scans on my low-resolution monitor, I’m seeing the rich and subtle colour, the lack of efforts to over-saturate and impress, a calm naturalness that I don’t see so often in the bright and flashy world of digital. Digital seems to lose a lot of the texture film has, losing colour gradients and fine textures, dismissing them all too readily as ‘perceptually irrelevant’ the way an MP3 fails to record high notes on the boundaries of conscious hearing, losing some of the airiness and richness that vinyl took for-granted.

The realisation dawning on so many, that the results we are getting with digital are in some way more plastic and elastic than those obtained through film, seems to be one spreading. The new iPad “3’s” screen will open up new vistas in appreciating digital or digitised photos, which should all remind people that for the past decade or so, we’ve been seeing inferior results on monitors than what we could see on our lightboxes. In a sense, the new iPad is a lightbox- the first to make it’s way to digital, ‘for the masses’, who have for so long not really seen what photography is truly capable of, unless they were lucky enough to see a large print, containing all the resolution and colour sublty lost on most monitors. In terms of colour, though, even this won’t be equal, which really does make you think how far digital still has to go.

Please read more here and realise that whilst there is progress in the sciences, what happens in the arts is more aptly called ‘change’…

What Slide Film Taught Me.

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