Digital Photography & ‘Special Effects’ However, some prefer to use film

I recently spoke to a young man who I discovered was very interested in photography (he knew nothing about my own ‘special effects’ photography), and after telling me that this was his main hobby, I was intrigued and very surprised when he explained that he vastly preferred to use film over digital imaging. Even if it is so difficult and expensive to buy movies these days. I mistakenly assumed he was referring to black and white photography, but soon realized he was buying color film.

All new cameras, even cell phones, are digital. In addition, there are only a few small laboratories that develop color film, and processing at home, while possible, is not easy. However, he told me that there are groups of photographers like him who prefer to use film, and their numbers are growing.

I’ve looked on the internet and there is actually a lot of discussion about the pros or cons of using film versus digital.

The majority contends that there is a need to be much more selective in the use of film due to necessity (photograph much less because of the high cost)trained them to be far better photographers.

Another claim was that good digital cameras are expensive and need to be replaced every four or five years because they are upgraded so frequently. Still, buying a used film camera is cheaper, lasts a lifetime, and retains its value, even though film cameras are much bulkier and heavier.

After all, old slides and negatives can and always will be easily viewed, but with digital technology changing so rapidly, who knows if it will be possible to view digital images in the future.

I was amazed to learn this because of the incredible possibilities of digital photography that are now available. The cameras not only make it easier to control the image and exposure in many ways that were previously much more complicated with film. The advantage is to see the digital result immediately. But even after taking them with the help of software, the possibilities of manipulating digital photos are just fantastic!

This got me thinking about why I had preferred to use color reversal film (for my own creative slides) rather than negative film in the 1960s, before anyone had computers. I most enjoyed viewing the large projected image, far more than a print, although there was no way to alter the image once captured, but I used it for my own ‘special effects’. But having to wait at least a week to see the slides was frustrating.

I chose slides over negatives because, as an amateur, I found mastering color printing extremely difficult, so I’ve always relied on professional development labs to make my prints.

My “special effects” pictures were imaginative (nothing like the usual photos) and I soon found that when they were making prints from my negatives it was almost impossible that they knew how to achieve the color balance I really wanted. The benefit of transparencies was that I could easily tell them to adjust the color balance of whatever transparency they could see.

My favorite film was the Kodak “Kodachrome 25”, which unfortunately is no longer available. Foils were so much more vibrant than any print, so I focused on what I could do with Kodachrome. By always using this film, I soon learned how best to control it, even with my own ‘special effects’.

These days I’m more excited about the digital option than the film. However, with my own invented “painting with light” technique, which involves photographing projected images, I can create some effects that would be extremely difficult to achieve with digital software.

My own view has always been that the most important aspect of photography is the resulting image, the composition, the quality and the choice of subject. Not the questions of technique, camera manufacturer, lens used, film, etc. It’s only the resulting image that really counts; however, it was created!

After so many years with film I am now personally very enthusiastic about the digital system but should readers be interested in the special effects I have achieved using my own ‘Painting with Light’ technique please see my website https://

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