Monday, July 28, 2008

Digital Madness

I prefer to shoot film.

Yes, digital is nice to look at the screen and see my images, and all that stuff, but when it comes down to the very end---after the shoot---I would rather take my film to the lab, wait a few days, pick up the contacts and start my edit. I am currently swamped with somewhere around 30 gigs of RAW files (from the Canon line, not from medium format mind you) that I must edit now and archive and adjust levels and contrast--and it's my least favorite thing about photography. Honestly, give me 40 contact sheets and I can edit them in no time--I'll have it narrowed down to 25 frames of my top picks with ease. On the other hand, if I've got 400 digital frames, I wind up staring at spinning beach balls, magenta skin tones, pixelated jpeg previews, and images that I really have to wait for endless amounts of time in order to check sharpness. Digital just takes way longer than film to edit. And when there's no real post production budget, it's up to yours truly to edit, process, color correct, and post... In these cases, I am the lab. At this level that seems to be the way photography is going. I am happy to be shooting though, I love that part!

I had a couple shoots in the last few days that went pretty well. Now I'm staring at spinning beach balls though... I would like a real budget job again very soon...

One other exciting thing: I made a holga lens for a digital body. That was fun.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Back in Venice

Ah, back to Westside and to a bunch of new work that I am busy going through editing, retouching, and all that good stuff. After a few flights and trains and taxi rides lugging my gear around Illinois for 10 days I've got a few new takes on the logistics of traveling around for a shoot.

First of all, shooting 100% digitally will probably save a lot of carry on space. I tend to carry film cameras and, perhaps, have a bit of camera ADD -- meaning that I am constantly switching cameras. I do this mostly because I like the different effects of different film formats, lenses, looks of film, etc. Some, if not all of those effects can be re-created in the photoshop, but the amount of work required to each image to recreate those effects can cancel out any cost savings digital may create (depending on just how far you want to take your digital image to emulate certain film cameras and film stocks.) However, having one body or two and several lenses and a laptop would certainly be much lighter than an entire bag devoted to multiple cameras, lenses, polaroid backs, film backs, plus the laptop and digital body as well.

Secondly, with the airlines now charging for baggage under the plane, it's pretty important to factor that into the cost of plane ticket. On this last trip I flew United and traveled with a 7B, a bleached white muslin, a c-stand, a light stand, tripod, several softboxes, and some miscellaneous grip---just about the minimal kit I like to travel with into an uncertain shooting situation (except for the muslin, that was for a specific shoot that I wound up doing in Champaign.) United gives you one free bag under the plane, the second bag is $25, and the third is $100. And each bag has to be 50 lbs. or under--no more media rates for bags up to 100 lbs. No more negotiating. In the end, it turned out that shipping back my body bag with the stands and tripods and grip saved quite a bit and kept me from having to lug 5 bags around Chicago.

I guess if you really want to keep costs down, go digital and shoot it all natural light. Unfortunately, that can be a bit limiting, so if you have to bring lighting, look into shipping options for your gear, and also the baggage policies and costs specific to your airline.

The heartland at 70 mph on my Lomo