Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Bobby Chitrakar - 5 (+2) things I love about Film

Remember some interesting portraits of photographer Bobby Chitrakar with his film cameras? Chitrakar is a true analogue enthusiast based-in Portland/Oregon. He self develops his films at home, and we once featured his beautiful work here.
"I shoot film not because I have some romantic notion and attachment to film and chemicals.
 Actually, for me, film and chemicals are a pain. Film equipment is cumbersome to use. A lot of the chemicals are toxic and not environmentally-friendly. Storing and transporting film is challenging. The whole process is slow. It’s not fun to be cooped up in a darkroom and fumbling around in the dark. It’s always time consuming and usually technically hard to make a good print (silver gelatin, platinum, salt, carbon etc) from a negative." Chitrakar says about his film photography.
"I do occasionally print my photographs digitally from scanned film. I do this simply for convenience. I still find a well printed silver gelatin print superior to a digital print. And some day, I might do some "alternative photography" too, in order to satisfy my curiosity," he adds. 
And the reason he shoots film is because:

1. When I started photographing, there was no such thing as digital photography. I learned everything on film. Now I am quite competent and comfortable with it. Why fix it, if it ain’t broke.

2. With film photography, I don’t have to keep up with the technology. This cuts my cost (I don’t have to keep upgrading my cameras, computers, softwares, printers etc) and also frees me to focus more on actually photographing.

3. I have yet to see an “alternative” or a digital photography portfolio that has impressed me as much as countless film photography portfolios.

4. I do mostly black and white photography. From what I have seen in black and white photography, the tonal range of photographs taken with digital cameras fall short when compared to those taken with film. With “alternative photography”, in most cases, contrast and brightness are compromised. IMO, between “alternative”, film and digital photography, film has the most Dmax.

5. Apart from 35 mm and Medium Format, I also shoot 4 x 5 and 8 x 10. There is no way I can afford digital backs for Medium Format, let alone 4 x 5 and 8 x 10 (I’m not even sure that there are dig backs for 8 x 10). Even if I could afford the dig backs, I will probably not like the look it produces as opposed to film (refer to my point about tonality).

6. "Alternative photography" such as wet-plate, while can be highly aesthetic, are no where near as versatile and practical as film photography.

7. Silver gelatin prints are physically much more resilient and less prone to damage then digital prints or wet-plate prints such as tintypes and ambrotypes.

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