We’re off to Bridgnorth in a weeks time on a house hunting trip. The image below was made on my last visit while we were visiting the local schools with our children.
I find it interesting how poor digital cameras are at capturing this sort of thing compared to film and especially Large Format. Old, decaying, flaky buildings have become some of my favourite subject matter in recent years and that is in no small part down to the fine detail that I can render with film. No matter what digital camera I have tried ( it’s not many but there have been a few) I always fail to capture the subtly and detail. The results tend to end up looking hard, brittle, dry and lacking emotion.
As an example this image of frosted kelp made at Ganavan beach a few years ago has so much rich and subtle detail in the print and a natural sharpness that digital would struggle to match. Sharpness incidentally that is not the result of movement of a LF camera, nor LF lenses (LF lenses have a smaller dof at any given aperture that smaller formats and therefore have to be stopped down further to match their digital equivalents). The sharpness that I prefer is natural looking, with biting, three dimensional detail but without the brittle ‘digital’ look. It’s the same warmth and richness to be found in vinyl rather than CD, analogue rather than digital recording, a valve amplifier, real ale, I could go on. In other area of course digital excels; it is a match for film in the wider landscape, particularly in strongly lit situations and of course film cannot compete where instant feedback is now necessary (reportage, action, wildlife etc).
It interests me to know how much my visual style has been moulded by the equipment choices I have chosen in the past. I regularly ponder the conundrum as to whether it would be worth my while switching to digital and to date I continue to come up with a resounding no. I still feel as though I have only just started down my chosen path and have so much to learn, develop and improve that I simply cannot entertain the thought of change at this point.
I’m taking my 45su next week so expect to see my large format version of this in the next few weeks and pray that I might have cloud to make this image work. Once I have returned I will write more fully on the subject and luckily having made digital back ups of many of my past images will do some comparisons from my library. You never know, some expensive digital back manufacturer may start throwing gear at me in an attempt to prove otherwise! Anyway, I’m just heading outside to collect up some of that rocking horse s#*t for my flower beds while I wait for their call ;o)