Why Not Fake Film?
The following response was posted on one of my photos on Flickr:
"Johnny, the end justifies the means. If digital can simulate film, what's wrong with that or vice versa? Too much attention theses days are paid to the equipment and less so to the art of photography."
And below is my reply:
Why does the end justify the means? Digital shooters throw this thoughtless "argument" around for what they do all the tyme. Just because that is a catchy phrase doesn't mean it's correct in this instance. It's not even a phrase that was ever intended to have an absolute implication and usually is brought up in order to question if the ends really do justify the means. Which is ironic given your and soo many other peoples' misuse of the phrase.
Digital simulates only the look of film. And film is about much more than a look. Film is about a totally different approach to the subject. Film is about deliberation. Film is about carrying more gear and preparing ahead of tyme or dealing with the consequences. Film is about stockpiling film and understanding chemistry and optics. Film is about knowing what to expect out of a shot without looking at a preview. Film is about being patient and careful both in shooting and processing. Film is about not looking at the last shot taken but looking only to the next shot to be taken--being in the The Now. Film is about erroring for overexposure.
Film is about big exposure and colour latitude. Film is about the excitement and pride of watching your precious image fading up from inside a developer tray or out of a Polaroid for the first tyme. Film is about holding tangible objects not simply viewing computer images. Film is about getting the most out of minimalism.
Digital is about none of these things. It's about entirely different things; whole different way of thinking, looking, doing, making. And there's nothing wrong with that method but it has to be noted, that it in fact, does not and cannot produce identical results as film of any type.
And how important, great or useful is digital if digital photographers and editors are always just using it to copy the superficial trademarks of what they associate with film?
Don't you think it really says something about where peoples' heads are when surrounding us constantly we see digital mimicking film (b&w, sepia, cross processing, vignetting, grain, expired colour, double exposure, Polaroid etc.)? But when do we see film mimicking digital? I can't think of a single technique that film shooters do to make their work look like digital photography. Whereas most digital shooters/editors are applying computerized algorithms to images that create effects that many don't even know got their start in chemicals, such as solarization (all the rage with consumer grade camera effects menus.)
You're 100% correct that too much attention is paid to equipment nowadays and less to the art. Instead of shooting on beat up old minimalist feature 35mm slr's, everyone's buying costly over-featured cameras and lenses that teach them next to nothing about how to create an image. Everyone's spending more and more money, research and tyme learning how to use features that help them avoid the basics of aperture, shutter speed, iso, manual focus, depth of field etc that are essential to being able to survive with a film camera. And there is certainly a place for automation and instant feedback. But don't you dare blame those with pride in using a 100% manual film camera for peoples' obsession with equipment over the art/craft of photography!
My argument is not about equipment, it's about method, technique, belief and values. It's about being honest to your audience and giving them something rich in tradition. Not a cheap, easy falsification that goes well beyond their understanding of what they're looking at and gives them a false understanding of photography. I do not lie to my audience with Photoshop and fakeness and I do not retard the progression of my chosen media or shame it but using it only to mimic its competition as all digital shooters/editors are doing by faking the look of film.