A few days ago I attended a concert at a small venue. It was part of a small music festival that was taking place at a small village. It was filled with musicians who would play and teach in almost every place, tavern or coffee shop and it was a real good thing to be there.
Together with two friends, we took photos and shot video of a specific gig that took place inside a small old school. Our gear included the Nikon D800E, Sony NEX 5N, Panasonic GF1, a Sony CX730E video camera and two heavy artillery 6×7 cameras, the Mamiya 7 and Plaubel Makina 67.
I shot four rolls of Ilford Delta 3200 since I needed the speed of at least 1600 ISO to compensate for the slow f/2.8 aperture of the Plaubel (slow compared to my 35mm lenses, since for a medium format camera f/2.8 is really fast).
The lighting conditions at a gig are tricky since you deal with strong lights and dark areas, and doing this with a rangefinder film camera requires some experience about the way the meter works. With the exception of a two images, all came out pretty good, so in terms of exposure I was pretty much satisfied. The place was overcrowded, so I didn’t have the luxury of moving around to get some better looking images, but it was a team job, so each one of use had a specific place to shoot from.
I am still at the process of choosing from hundreds of digital images, but as far as I can tell, the MF film photos are more atmospheric. Also the smoother transition from shadows to highlights and the tonality are much more to my taste than the digital images (converted to b&w). There is grain of course (due to fast film I used), but i think it adds more to a certain look that I wanted to capture. At ISO 3200, the digital cameras will show noise which I have to reduce with software, since noise is nothing like grain, you just don’t want it present.
Working with film can be very rewarding (especially MF film) but it can also be very frustrating at times. For some reason, my negatives came out full with spots beyond anything I have ever confronted at the past. It may be my tanks that were not cleaned properly, or some dust in my changing bag, or the water or I don’t know what else, but I don’t really remember the last time I had so dirty negatives.
Due the specific subject of shooting, these spots were evident all over the place. It took me hours to remove them at post processing and that really messed up my mood. Don’t forget that a 6×7 negative will be transformed to a multi megapixels digital scan, so every frame required at least half an hour for cleaning.
This is one of the situations when your faith in shooting film is compromised. I really don’t want to go through this process again ever, since if I have to spend that much time, I can take a file from the D800E and practically transform it to anything I want to (it won’t be the same as a film image, but you can do wonders with a whole hour of post process in a 36mp digital image).
Anyway, I have thoroughly cleaned every piece of my film developing gear and I hope that this was just an unlucky incident. We’ll see how it goes on my next film development.
(c)2012 Konstantinos Besios. All rights reserved.