Geeky Stuff Photography Tech/Web

Film in a Digital Age. Yay Lomo!

On top of Moscone Centre, San Francisco
(On top of Moscone Centre, San Francisco)

This was my first Holga lomo picture to actually come out. I took it the day after the madness that was WWDC 2008. My first roll, I accidentally exposed to light while taking it out of the camera. My second roll, I shot mostly at night in San Francisco (which looked so so cool) but I forgot to set the camera to “bulb” and all the shots were underexposed. Gah!

Film is intense. After having the immediacy of digital shots, waiting for film developing drives me bananas, but you can’t deny the coolness of the medium format. The graininess, the subtle vignetting, the saturation of colour, the sweet 70s feel it gives photos. I’m really excited about exploring the lomo now!

Check out or the flickr Lomo group for inspiration. And if you are experimenting with lomography link me up to your flickr photos.

I love my digital SLR, and I don’t see myself ever using film as my main format, but there is something almost too perfect and unnatural about digital images, especially those that have been photoshopped. You lose all the unexpected surprises in the process of using film cameras that can produce seriously beautiful shots. After seeing my lomo shots, I realize that it is still important for photographers to experiment with film and develop a style that is independent of digital automation.

What do you think? Is there still a place for film in today’s digital photography age?

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  • Reply
    July 6, 2008 at 4:35 AM

    I love the look of Lomo photos… I wanna hook myself up with a Holga asap! :D

  • Reply
    Mathew Ballard
    July 6, 2008 at 7:06 AM

    I think film will always be around and there will be people who love it. And there are still things you can get with film that you can’t get with digital.

  • Reply
    July 6, 2008 at 7:16 AM

    Not to be completely picky but that should be “roll”.

    To answer your question though, I believe that film will be around for a long while yet especially for those of us who are “purists”. As Mathew commented, there is a look and feel that just can’t yet be reproduced with digital.

    Certainly the one thing about digital is that it’s the great equalizer. That’s not necessarily a good thing though as it takes the thought and care out of producing a good shot. It’s just too easy to shoot away like crazy and then delete the ones you don’t want.

    Also, as someone who shoots a lot of medium format, the costs of switching to digital are just too cost prohibitive when just a digital back costs tens of thousands of dollars.

  • Reply
    Christopher Blunck
    July 6, 2008 at 7:19 AM

    I checked out the lomo group on Flickr to see what lomo is all about. I agree that there is a a nostalgic retro affect that you get from the grainy images. Can’t that be achieved through post-processing?

    I wonder how close you can get to your film based shot by starting with a sharp DSLR shot and then running it through some blurs and noise filters.

    The 4×5 format shots are pretty cool but I wonder if you could get pretty close to it using a full frame sensor and a wide lens (but not a fisheye). Sounds like an interesting science project to me…

    If you shoot lomo again bring your DSLR along and take a f/8 picture from near the same place where you take your lomo. Post it up on Flickr and I’ll try to lomo it in lightroom. You might need to back up from your scene a little since you have a cropped sensor on your Rebel.

  • Reply
    July 6, 2008 at 7:19 AM

    I was actually rather indifferent to still photography for a long time because all I saw were people with point and shoot digital cameras running around taking too many boring snapshots. Everything changed when I inherited an old Nikon and started shooting black and white. It was so expensive to get it developed that I took time with each shot making sure that everything was just right. This taught me to appreciate the art of photography and not just see cameras as a “okay now everyone smile” device. I have since switched to a digital SLR and I love the freedom it provides, but it can never match the nervous energy of taking film shots that actually cost you money and time to recover. Not to mention the couple of rolls I lost because I tried to stretch one too many shots out of a roll and ended up snapping the film so I couldn’t rewind it and it then got ruined when I tried to take it out.

  • Reply
    Mathew Ballard
    July 6, 2008 at 7:31 AM

    @ Christopher Blunck

    Sure you may be able to that with photoshop or something. But come on! Its so much more fun to do with the camera instead. Its not about the effect, its about how you get it.

    Don’t take all the fun out of it.

  • Reply
    Ed Lau
    July 6, 2008 at 8:30 AM

    Don’t forget you can replicate “film looks” with certain software. I know of one that lets you select settings for various types of popular film like Fuji Velvia 50, etc.

    There’s something to shooting with film though. The idea that you don’t get an unlimited number of shots and that you can’t preview them right away makes it feel like more of an accomplishment in the end.

  • Reply
    July 6, 2008 at 9:06 AM

    Film definitely has it’s place. It forces you to pay more attention and apply more care to your shots. Past shooting, it gives you this amazingly restless high as you await/develop your negatives, hoping and praying that perfect shot comes out, only to find something amazing in another shot. Of course, the process isn’t all a gamble, film does give you a bunch of natural creative controls that just aren’t the same in Photoshop.

    In the end, even if you can more easily assess and re-communicate your expression in the digital age, film is all about the journey and the inspiration it provides.

  • Reply
    July 6, 2008 at 3:09 PM

    I remember chatting with a fellow photographer while waiting for sunrise at Maroon Bells in Aspen several years ago. He was shooting with an 8×10 large-format view camera, and he told me how it enforced discipline. Not just because of the time it took to unload and reload a sheet of film, but because every shot cost $25 in film and processing. I try to remember that conversation when I catch myself just blasting away with my DSLR and force myself to slow down and think.

  • Reply
    July 6, 2008 at 3:23 PM

    To me, shooting with film is a romantic pastime with photography, and one that I will never let slip away. There is something so powerful in shooting with film and waiting to see what the end result is once the film is developed. Even better yet is developing the film yourself. I always felt more in tune with my subject shooting with film.

    I don’t see film going anywhere. The result often are photographs that cannot even be touched by digital format. There just is no comparison, in my opinion.

    Saying that, I am happy shooting with either….as long as I am shooting, learning and enjoying.

  • Reply
    July 6, 2008 at 4:36 PM

    I love my holga, wish i used it a lot more, but have had great results ( those that came out ) and will keep playing with it … hell I even popped my PW’s ontop while on a shoot a while back …


    just because i could ! :D

  • Reply
    July 6, 2008 at 6:46 PM

    SOME film still has more resolution/contrast/etc. then the most of the best digital camera chips out there. And then theres the stuff that everybody above mentioned :)

  • Reply
    July 6, 2008 at 11:50 PM

    Absolutely, there’s still a place for film. I wish people would recognise that digital photography and film photography are different practices.

    I hate it when purists tell me how much they love film and about all their old school cameras, because they always say it with a “film is traditional, more difficult and therefore better” attitude.
    I love film too. I have a sweet old school camera too. Then I lost access to a darkroom and it became boring. Processing the photo is half the fun. I loved playing with the contrast with filters, and dodging and burning, and cropping, and blowing up to ridiculously large prints.

    Taking it to K-mart just isn’t the same. Thus, digital photography became more accessible to me.

    Just as there was boring photography happening with film P&S, there’s boring photography with digital too. It still takes practice and learning to be a great digital photographer.

    Oops, didn’t mean to get so ranty. That was the first time I’ve said/written any of that stuff. I’m glad it’s off my chest. :P

  • Reply
    July 8, 2008 at 10:24 PM

    where do you go to develop your 120 film?

  • Reply
    July 9, 2008 at 5:05 PM

    love the fact that every photo you take with a LOMO looks like you’ve taken it 30 years ago. Think the whol LOMO movement itself is a bit overrated though…

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