“The film stops me, slows me down and makes me reflect on what I am photographing, helping me to capture the essence of the reality that I find myself documenting.
Analog photography has a soul.
It is light, glass and mind.
There’s really nothing else. “
From the greatest photographers (Gianni Berengo Gardin, Sha Ribeiro, Michael Kenna) to the most famous directors of today’s cinema (Paolo Sorrentino, Wen Anderson, Quentin Tarantino), film is still the medium that comes closest to their ideal of photography .
In this article we will try to understand the qualities of Photography in Film , focusing on the aspects that distinguish Analog Photography today:
One of the most important things about analog photography is the negative .
So let’s see why this surface is so important and differs so much from the digital world.
The film is something physical, three-dimensional , it is composed of a layer (emulsion) of silver halide powder spread over the entire surface of the negative.
These tiny grains of silver are then covered with a special gelatin which has the purpose of fixing them on the surface of the negative ready to be exposed to light .
Each silver halide represents, in the physical space of the negative, an exact unit of the entire scene framed by the camera.
We can therefore speak of surface units because the negative does not only capture light , but also the single points in space from which it comes.
It is precisely this characteristic that determines the three- dimensionality that the film possesses.
Film is the best medium to be enlarged and printed because what we are seeing faithfully represents the scene we shot and we will always maintain the ratio between the surface units.
In the digital sensor, on the other hand, there is no information on space and the image is captured by points, thus delegating the positioning of those points in space to the editing programs.
So we no longer talk about photography .
But of a digital invention of reality.
One of the great advantages of using film is its exposure latitude .
Each image is made up of bright and dark areas.
To define the difference in brightness between the light and dark parts we use the term contrast and to indicate the amplitude in photographic terms the term dynamic range .
Exposure latitude is the ability of a film (or sensor), measured in f / stops, to record the lightest and darkest parts of the image at the same time.
Film has the ability, for example, to record infinitely better contrasts of direct light, backlighting or all situations in which these extreme conditions are present, while maintaining details and the naturalness of highlights.
Digital with the use of very high ISO is trying to approach this characteristic of film , but digital technology is still a long way from the ability to capture all the details and intensities of light typical of analog photography.
Analog photography is light , so analog photography means looking for light.
This concept applies to any photographic medium, but for analogue photography it is something essential .
To shoot in film I have to pre-visualize my photograph and know the light characteristic of the scene I am photographing.
This allows me to choose for example the aperture, the time, the filter (if I’m shooting in black and white), or simply the best position to take that shot based on the direction of the light .
To find the best light I look for different positions, moving around the scene and reading and interpreting the light from several points.
After finding the best position , I check all the aspects that allow me to capture all the characteristics of the moment I want to film.
Only after checking everything then I shoot.
I believe that one of the biggest differences between digital photography and analogue photography, as an approach to shooting, is that with digital you first “shoot” and then you look for photography (among the hundreds of photos taken), with film first . you “look” for the photograph and then shoot.
The human eye perceives reflected light in a range of the light spectrum called the visible spectrum.
Photographic emulsion has a much higher spectral sensitivity (the wavelength of light itself).
The film combines this characteristic with the ability to return wide tonal variations (in black and white as in color), and thanks to the properties of its dynamic range , it allows me to obtain a result that is impossible with digital, especially in large format photography . .
This advantage is evident, for example, in the natural rendering of colors and in the infinite shades and tones typical of the characteristics of analog photography .
The grain of the film manifests itself in the form of microscopic silver halide crystals suspended in the photosensitive emulsion of the film.
Fine-grained films (slow films) give practically grain-free prints, while in the case of high enlargements and / or coarse-grained films (ultra-fast films) the granular structure becomes very evident in the printing of the image.
Grain is the very substance of light and each film has its own.
Many think that the grain is an undesirable quality, but for me it is a fundamental form of expression and it is always the one who carves the light that falls on objects in all its forms.
In recent times, many editing programs have filters that attempt to simulate the grain effect , typical of film, on digital photos.
Entering the dark room and printing with your own hands is a unique and unforgettable experience .
The photos printed in this way have a quality that only a negative print can give us.
A negative print made in a dark room is something physical, sculpted, real and unique .
The Fine Art prints made with the enlarger produce a real rendering of the photo taken , a very high three-dimensionality and an unsurpassed rendering of colors and blacks and whites .
Fine Art prints are also made for exhibitions or museums .
In the dark room you are the one who interprets your photography and creates a print that will be something truly unique.
A print that will last up to a hundred years and that you will always have available.
It will never be an abandoned image on a hard drive.
Analog photography fits perfectly with my conception of fine art or fine art photography .
The film stops me, slows me down and makes me reflect on what I am photographing, helping me to capture the essence of the moment .
Shooting on film, in order for the photographic story to work , I need to first elaborate my vision, starting with your story, and then to work with great concentration , controlling composition and light.
By choosing analogue photography, this forces me to deepen, to choose, to try, to experiment with developing films and printing papers.
An infinite and exciting journey.
Taking a photograph without seeing it immediately afterwards fuels the imagination, previsualization, attention to the smallest details .
When I work in film I realize that I pay a lot of attention to everything that happens around me.
To all the shades of light of those moments and places, which will be fixed forever on the silver jelly of my negative .
Far from the anxiety of compulsive shooting, I can regain possession of the observation and above all of the space granted by the time between the shot and the birth of photography in the darkroom .
A real meditation .