Why I Shoot Digital Too

The first camera I bought was a Canon AE-1 Program. I chose it because I was always fascinated by the AE-1 my dad had, and the black and white photos it captured that hung in our house. Photography was always a thing that interested me, but was never something I thought about delving into until I was in my late 20s.

When I received my AE-1P, I put a few rolls of film through it and immediately fell in love. The look of the photos, the feel of the camera in my hands, the satifying CLACK it makes when I press the shutter! The whole process of taking photos with a film camera is so sensorially fulfilling and addicting to me! I can be having a terrible day, but after I fire off a couple of frames on that clunky Canon, I instantly feel better.

So why, if I love film so much, did I buy a digital camera a few months later? Short answer? I didn’t want to travel with film. My girlfriend and I had planned a 10 day trip to Europe in April of this year, and we were planning on travelling light. I had no experience travelling with film before and all of the articles and how-tos I read on the subject didn’t make it seem all that appealing. I debated about what I wanted to do photographically on this trip and decided digital was the way to go. I started looking at what I wanted in a digital camera and ended up choosing the Sony a6000. It had all of the features I wanted (electronic viewfinder, interchangeable lenses, articulating screen, compact size, 24.5 MP sensor) and nothing I didn’t need (4k video, full frame, hefty price tag, etc). In my opinion, it’s the perfect digital camera for me at the moment.

Another unintended benefit of buying a digital camera is how much I’ve learned about photography while using it. I use my Canon FD lenses on it with an adapter (the kit lens is pretty bad for photography), and the muscle memory training of manually focusing and adjust the aperture, while seeing immediate results in the viewfinder is awesome! Seeing each variable and its effect on the photo in real time has helped me to understand exposure a lot better. Shooting digital has also freed me up to be more creative and adventurous with my photography, which has made me a lot more confident when I shoot film. I can experiment on digital as proof of concept, then if I like what I see, I’ll shoot a few frames on film. In-camera black and white JPEG treatment also helps me understand what to look for when shooting black and white film. The black and white JPEG helps me to see the contrast and geometry of a scene better than I can see the same scene in color.

This isn’t post isn’t “digital vs. analog” or anything like that. I love shooting photos on both formats and I derive different things from both formats. I like digital for the immediacy of results and because it shortens my learning curve in certain areas of photography. I like film because of the look and feel of the product as well as the sensation shooting brings me.

What the digital vs. analog debate boils down to is a debate over formats, which is silly. Cameras are tools to accomplish a task. I’m not going to take an 8×10 camera to shoot candid photos at a friend’s birthday party, the same way I’m not going to shoot photos I intend to blow up to large prints on a smaller format like 35 or 110. Digital has taught me much about photography, and film reminds me of the importance of slowing down and enjoying the moment.

In short, digital helps me learn and film helps me grow, so there will always room for both formats in my camera bag!

Resisting Temptation

I’ll be honest, I’ve had quite a bad case of GAS lately. Wait, no, that’s not what I mean! Gear Acquistion Syndrome, not the other kind! Sheesh! I’ve been browsing eBay ready to pounce on a new compact or medium format (I’ve had my eye on a Ricoh GR or a Fuji GA645zi), but I haven’t pulled the trigger because of a lack of funds. Delaying gratification is not one of my strong suits, which makes me wonder how I fell into film photography in the first place!

Anyhow, wanting a new camera has made me think about why I want a new camera and what I would do if I got one. Ultimately, a camera is a tool, and like any tool, some are better suited for certain situations. At my skill level, I need something simple, forgiving, and easy to operate and maintain. The Canon AE-1 Program and Olympus XA2 I already own fit this description perfectly. Both are very affordable, both have decent image quality for the price, and both are simple and effective tools for taking pictures. I want a new camera because I think it will jump start my creativity and compel me to shoot more often. I know this is not the case! Both of these cameras are perfect for me (a beginner) to get my feet wet and learn about exposure, composition, and film stocks. Buying a new, fancier camera won’t help me learn about any of those things faster or better. Ultimately, I would be shooting the same things and making the same mistakes, but those mistakes would carry a bit more cost with them! Real motivation to shoot needs to come from within and not from an eBay purchase.

Why am I writing this? Mostly as way to talk mysef out of buying something I don’t need, but also to let you know a bit about my thought process and reason for starting this blog. It’s not about camera porn or finding some crazy cult cameras to write about, but rather it’s about a beginner wanting to get better at film photography and documenting that journey. Being honest about what I’m doing and why I’m doing it must come first in order to have this blog become the product I want it to be. Hopefully, some awesome shots are a happy by-product of that process, but until those happen, I’ll be content to waste a few rolls of film to learn the craft!

 

Fresh Film!

My order from The Film Photography Project arrived! I ordered five rolls of Kodak TMax 100 and five rolls of Kodak Ektar 100 to put through my Olympus XA2 and Canon AE-1 Program. Florida is insanely sunny during the summer, so I wanted to take advantage of that light and play around with some low ISO film.

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Why TMax and Ektar? Short answer, I like the way they look! The low grain and contrast of TMax has fits a style I tend to find more attractive in black and white photography, while the colors in Ektar represent my idealized Floridian color pallette perfectly. I’ve used Ektar in the past (before I really knew anything about film or film photography) and the colors are simply stunning for beachy sunsets and twilight! My plan for these rolls is to send a few away to the Darkroom for processing and develop some at home while documenting the process! I look forward to posting the results!

Finding Inspiration

I’ve launched and relaunched this blog with the best of intentions, but I’ve still failed to generate any meaningful momentum, let alone content! I’ve made far too many excuses about why I can’t shoot on this day or that day, why if I just had this camera, or that camera or a certain film stock or… whatever! Enough!

I started this blog with the idea of learning and documenting the process of learning all I can about film photography, while also improving as a photographer. I still want to accomplish this, but I would rather do it through photo projects on subjects that interest me and that will also allow me to scratch a long-standing creative itch.

I have a ton of ideas for projects, from documentary to abstract. I’ve wiped the slate clean and am ready to start fresh!

There’s fresh film in the mail and I can’t wait to get shooting!

 

Welcome to The Analog Hobbyist!

Hey there!

Thanks for taking time out of your day to stop by The Analog Hobbyist! Through this blog I hope to share my passion for film photography by posting my thoughts and experiences with the medium. I am still very new to photography in general, so I hope that by documenting my experiences, successes, and failures, I can track my progress, help other film shooters, and spread the joy of film photography! I already have a few projects and challenges planned that I’m eager to share, so make sure to check back regularly, and thank you again for stopping by!

Cheers!

Max (The Analog Hobbyist)