Romancing Velvia

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 4x5

I must admit that I loved the Mamiya 6x7 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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    Chris Simmons on

    I’m 31 years taking pictures with an slr or dslr. When I started I was recording events or places, no Internet, few travel programs, the 6×4’s showed where we had been and what we were doing. For someone like me digital and its processing opened a whole new world. As a professional I am a designer yet I failed technical drawing and really can’t draw freehand or on a drawing board, a computer gave me the freedom to develop my ideas, my vision, to test my theories in a binary world. Digital cameras and the processing offered me the same freedom, it offers me tools that allow me to realise my ideas, certainly without digital I would likely just be shooting holidays and gatherings of friends. I really don’t know why film shooters can’t convert but I do know that digital has allowed thousands into a world that otherwise they may never have found a path to.

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