May 17, 2019
Above are two images. One image was made with my film camera and one was made with my digital camera. Can you guess which is which?
I recently took a black & white film development and printing class and I feel that it has enhanced my sensitivities to the kind of look and feel of what I like, further developing my visual style.
The dynamic range of film is amazing in how much detail is rendered from the brightest highlight to the darkest shadow. This range between them is called a tonal range or dynamic range. Digital cameras today have very good dynamic range and more so for medium format digital sensors, which have just as good dynamic range if not better. However, medium format digital cameras are not as affordable as 35mm dslrs so majority of people, professional and amateur alike, own dslrs.
Learning to develop, process, and print in the dark room has helped me a lot, in tuning my sensibilities when it comes to processing my digital images and achieving a value range that is similar to the film stock I use (Kodak Tri-X 400).
What I’ve benefitted most from my class is learning the importance of dialing in tonal values. Depending on the values in a photograph, the image can look too flat, too contrasty, or it can look harmonious with a steady graduation in tones, though a more neutral or contrasty image, in the right context, can look perfectly fine. Values can help convey the mood in a photograph and learning to understand values helps not just photographers but helps anyone interested in art, to understand why a photograph feels the way it does.
Oh, and by the way, the top image was made using my film camera and the image below it was made using my digital camera.