Tristan Parker Photography


The grain of my existence


This is going to be a really quick post about something that literally just crossed my mind. Its all about the grain. Its a little about the digital vs film debate for me. And its a lot about the fact that I just sat at my desk, had a fleeting thought, and decided that I felt like writing about it. Grain is such an interesting thing, and to be honest, the two images that I am going to use to make this point do so in a manner than is just a little oxymoronic (is that even a word?). The reason for the last statement is that I am going to give a bit of a shout out to film grain, and how nice I think that it looks in images at the moment, but I am going to use two recent images that are both scans from negatives. There is probably a post in there somewhere about the whole digitising film thing and what that gives us as far as a hybrid film/digital image goes. Would love to hear peoples thoughts on that actually... Comment away.

So the first image is at the head of the post. Both of the images were shot on Tri-X 400 iso film, but the film was pushed to 1600 iso and over developed in Rodinal (not real rondinal, but I cant be bothered explaining that). Rodinal is a high actuance developer and it creates really sharp images, but it does so in a lot of cases with really sharp and well defined grain structure. I must say, that right this minute, its something that I am enjoying using in my work. This may be a passing trend, but will see what happens.

The grain structure I find, is actually further enhanced through the scanning process. I find that when I print images in the darkroom that the grain is much less apparent than when I use the scanner, and scan in from the negatives.

I think that the thoughts that was going through my head at the start of this haphazard coming together of words was around the whole "high iso performance" thing that is so ever present in the marketing campaigns for digital cameras. When talking about the performance in this aspect of their marketing, the thing that I find is the disconnect for me is the fact that they are talking about their sensors. In days gone, the performace in low light, when you would need high iso was only down to the lens that you had and how well it performed wide open. The film performance (and limitations) were just that, they were the same no matter what camera you were using. Well, there is a argument about format, or the size of the film, but in general, this side of the marketing was not the domain of the camera producer.

You didnt see Nikon saying, the F3, beats the hell out of Cannon when shooting in low light, with Delta 3200.

Digital cameras, and the new modern standard of lenses for that matter as well, are all about sharpness. Showing off that perfect digital image. I will say it again as well, I own and use a digital camera, and I know a lot of people whos work I admire greatly who only shoot digital. I have nothing against them. I just like the film process. I like the film results. And I have decided that I like gritty grainy photos.

So, I made a deal with myself. I am going to continue to persist with film. I am learning to love it in ways that I would not be able to love my digital camera. Film can just do some things that digital cant for me. Its harder to do, but I find its more rewarding when things work out.