From Film to Digital

From Film to Digital

Aaron, my eldest son, and I took a trip to Mono Lake in August, 2004.  That was my last big shoot until 2010.  I shot some photos during the intervening years, but never got them developed.  From that trip until August, 2010 I dropped photography because I was too ill, too tight for money, or too busy doing other things.

By 2010 when I was ready to get back in I was unsure of who was left to properly develop my film.  Both of my favorite processors had left the business.  Over that period of time there had been a revolution in photo equipment.  Film had become almost passé while most cameras had become digital.  Photographers weren’t using film, they were using electronic equipment with sensors, and lots of memory.

Digital to computer photo transfer has one benefit that is so great it is a game changer.  It puts a relatively inexpensive first generation image on your computer.  An image on film is a first generation photo.   A print from film is a second generation.  Something is always lost.  Who controls the quality of that print?  If you send it out commercially it is not you, but the lab.

To control the quality you have to scan the film into the computer.  The scan becomes a second generation.  Now you print the photo, but the print is now a third generation.  Contrast and color are often subtly changed from generation to generation.  That is one reason why Photoshop exists, to make 3rd generation scans look like 1st generation prints.  With digital data and computer software you have the potential to make your print look like it just came out of the camera.

That is the exact problem I faced in my first workshop so many years ago.  My transparencies were bright and sharp, but the commercial prints had muddy colors and sometimes the focus was fuzzy.  I began to scan my own transparencies and print from them.  The printing quality improved, but something was still lost.

I changed over to digital because a digital camera offers direct 1st generation transfer to your computer.  The control of your print quality may not be total, but it becomes potentially total.

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