Hello again, it's me your not so favourite photographic polemic. OK, so its been quiet, but, I promise to liven things up a little with a couple of posts on which I am currently working. 1) Take-a-view Landscape Photographer of the year, a blog post coming soon on that, and 2) Sharpness and resolution obsession. But, for now, a brief post. Last Saturday I walked Cadair Idris with a couple of good friends. Although I have a few quite satisfying photos from this lovely lump of Welsh rock, I want more. Didn't get them on Saturday though. I used my Contax RTSII and 35mm f2.8 distagon. I used, for the first time, Ilford Delta 100 in 35mm. I have used Delta 100 a couple of times in medium format and found that, overall it is a great film. Nice feel and tone to it. I have used HC-110, dilute Rodinal and Prescysol with this film and always had a pleasing result. Nice grain, good sharpness, nice feel and tone with only one "but". That "but" is what the digital boys call dynamic range. It is not as wide as HP5+ or Tri-X. Using Prescysol or Dilute Rodinal or dilute HC-110 helps a lot. You'll find the highlights or shadows just drop off. That puts me off quite a lot. Still, I managed to shoot about 44 frames. I'll probably develop it in a week or two (when the memory has faded) and probably in Prescysol. I think the result will be OK, and here I am talking about the actual photos and not the quality of the film. Now if Delta had the dynamic range of HP5+, then, WOW, that would be just amazing. So, overall, I had a great day on the rock, as for the photos, I am sure they are going to be so-so.
Yes, I have to confess, they are all mine.
Did you hear about the camera that took up boxing - it was a Welta weight. Or the camera that was a manic depressive, or as they call it now-a-days Bi-polaroid. I have a new camera, bought it from Argus. Or the camera that worked for Microsoft and was on the Windows Wista team. Don't stop, I have some Wray to go and haven't even reached my Zenith. Did you hear about the camera that joined the Navy, he was an Ensign. In the future, cameras will not only take pictures, but make the tea, wash the car, do the house work, they'll be Robots then. Take a Leaf out of my book and give up now. That is Phase One finished, here we go. The camera who went to America and started to make buns for a living, he called it the Nagel Bagel. Then there was Miranda who was a Wirgin and really into The Lord of the Rings, her favourite character was Gandolfi. Do you know Diana who is married to Holga and they live in Ilford? Are you FED up? The Irish once made a camera from stone, it was Petri-fied. Did you hear about the camera that became a mathematician? Wasn't very good at it because they did not know the difference between a sine and a cosina. Remember, a camera in the hand is worth two in the Busch. The government is introducing a tax on writing implements, yes, its a Pen tax. And on that note, I'm off to Weston. Did you know Dracula is based on the Wallachian prince, Hassel Vlad the impaler. I had better shutter my face. And finally, what do you call a camera that cuts the grass really short - a LOMO.
OK, so it has been very quiet from me over the last few weeks, and then BANG! Not one, but TWO posts. For a change I have downed tools and have been enjoying the weather. Relaxing for a change instead of being obsessed by the need to take photos. Besides, clear blue skies make for boring monochromes. There HAS to be 'something' in the sky. I am going to Cadair Idris this coming Saturday so I hope that will be a photo-fest. I have not decided what to take, my Hasselblad or my 35mm RTS. I think the nature of Cadair Idris tends towards 35mm. Looking back at some of my past photos I think I would find it a challenge to compose in the square format upon that noble Welsh mountain.
Very recently another company has entered the film simulation software game with a plug-in for the popular photo editing programmes. Are they worth buying? Should you spend your hard earned cash on them?
The answer is NO!
Let me explain and save you some money. There are too many variables. Do you think that, say Provia looks the same on a Contax 645 with its amazing Carl Zeiss lenses as it does on a Leica M2, pre-war Leica III or an Olympus OM2 SP? No, it won't! There will be slight differences in colour rendition. Also, the processing of each lab will be slightly different again giving slight variations. Another example, Kodak Tri-X looks different in D76, dilute Rodinal, Perceptol, HC-110 and Prescysol. A slightly different result if you push or pull the film or apply zone system technique, under or over develop for contrast control. I get what is considered classic Tri-X tones with D76, but not with Prescysol or Tanol. An inexperienced film photographer will think Tri-X is Tri-X is Tri-X. It's not! Black and white film especially is a very flexible medium. Different developers and developing techniques not only change the tone, albeit slightly, it changes the grain. Rodinal gives sharp gritty grain whilst the solvent in D76 gives a smooth grain. Tri-X in Rodinal is razor sharp and contrasty, Tri-X in D76 isn't. The dynamic range of Tri-X when over exposed and underdeveloped or developed in very dilute Rodinal is huge, in D76 it isn't. Colour film and C-41 black and white isn't quite as flexible. Then, there is the matter of the paper on which the negative or positive is printed! More variation! What enlarger is used? A condensor or diffusion enlarger? More variables! How is the colour processor calibrated? When I used to print colour negatives I had a different result than Boots. Same negative different process different result. If I can remember, I think Boots used Kodak paper and I used Fuji Crystal Archive. The chemistry was probably different as well. So what is accurate? So, you see, how do you make a judgement on what variables you wish to simulate? Where do you benchmark a process? What do you set as 'standard'?
I think all these film simulation plug-ins are a waste of money and don't give a true picture (pardon the pun). The marketing will try to convince you otherwise. If you want to simulate film, why not go one step better and shoot some film. You can get all the kit for well under £100. A decent camera, rolls of film and processing. Do it for real. The medium format Yashica Matt 124G ebays for under £100 and this will give you quality of image that would cost thousands if done digitally. If on a budget, there are hordes of quality film cameras under £50. Check your local charity shops! Often I see autofocus SLRs for under £20. As people are throwing away their film stuff like there is no tomorrow, you can buy film cameras and colour film processors pretty cheap. Have a go! It is fun.
If you want to stay with a purely digital process I would recommend, if you have it, Adobe Lightroom together with a few real life prints from film as a guide and doing it yourself. The grain tool in Lightroom isn't too bad. Certainly as good as these plug-ins. And yes, if you are asking, I have used these film packs. As you know, Lightroom (and Aperture for that matter) will allow you to tweak the colour, contrast, sharpness etc.. and match, or come close to, a film print. If you can't get your hands on a real life film print, look at some classic photos from the ol' net and get going. Its not as easy to do in Photoshop or Elements, but possible with a little effort. You are not afraid of a little effort are you? Then, you can create a preset and apply it to all your photos.
The bottom line...
Film simulation software goes against the grain. Don't waste your money!