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Romancing Velvia

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Having started photography in the film era and to be more specific, the era of the beautiful Velvia film, I have used a number of different camera formats from 35mm all the way to 4×5

I must admit that I loved the Mamiya 6×7 pro II camera and this image was captured with it. Sunrise and sunset colours are amazingly vibrant when Velvia film is used and, not surprisingly, it was the favourite film stock of most landscape photographers.

Eventually, I found myself moving away from film and using digital for most of my work but often asked myself why. There is no simple answer to this question so I will try to be as brief and specific as I can. Film is not as easy to work with as digital, although some purists, who still use film, say they prefer capturing an image on location instead of spending their time at a computer processing in software.

The time needed to process properly a correctly exposed film transparency after it has been scanned into the computer is unbelievably lengthy. I find that files from the Canon EOS 5D Mk II are cleaner and more detailed than from scanned film. I fail to see why the film purists cannot use digital; the procedure is exactly the same and the amount of time spent actually making an image is equal.

Another observation is that people tend to comment negatively about a digital image with vibrant colours but they love Velvia film with its vibrant palette. Once, I showed two images to a group of people and asked them in which of the two images they thought the colours looked the most pleasing, the one taken digitally or the one on Velvia film. The reply was unanimous: the one shot on Velvia film.

I must admit that I tricked them, as both images were taken digitally and both displayed similar vibrancy; they were merely processed in a slightly different way. I believe that people are still in love with Velvia film and are still romanticising over it. They are willing to accept its vibrant colour palette but yet are unwilling to do the same when it comes to digital imaging.

I am still in love with Velvia film, but the ease of digital and the immediate feedback I have at my disposal, make my life much easier. Besides, I still do all the work in the field and time spent processing is kept to a minimum.

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