30 September, 2013

Film vs Digital, Part 1

[There is now a more detailed, head-to-head comparison in Part 2 of Film vs Digital.]

There are more than a few fans of film still out there.

I was reminded of this by the recent offer of a free download of DXO’s Film Pack 3. The “Film Pack” is a program designed give your digital photos the look of one or another of the of the classic films stocks. I suppose that it’s particularly useful for those times when you’re nostalgic for the “good ol’ days” of Tri-X, D76, squinting at contact sheets, dodging and burning, and variable-contrast papers.

And, yes, there’s quite a bit of nostalgia going around. One of my favourite photographers, Steve McCurry, asked for the last roll of Kodachrome that rolled off Kodak's line in 2009. As you can see in the video above, McCurry travelled the world to to take those last 36 shots. McCurry probably used more Kodachrome – and put it to better purpose – than any other photographer. He was a good choice for the honour of the last roll.

Photographer Jeff Jacobson’s also memorialised Kodachrome in his book, The Last Roll, published by Daylight Books. Paul Simon even wrote a song about Kodachrome.

But it's not just colour that being missed. In a post on The Online Photographer, Kevin Purcell talked about the Film Pack and the work of Sebastião Salgado. Salgado photographs in digital, processes his black and white images in DXO's Film Pack, and then creates an inter-negative, from which he prints – using the tools of the traditional darkroom.

Everyone is entitled to go with what they know. If you like film, stick with it.

An image captured on film is different to a digitally captured image. Film is still better at capturing areas in the highlights of a picture. At the brightest levels, film 'rolls off' more slowly. That's just a fancy way to say that the highlights move to completely white more quickly with digital. The manufacturers know this, so in many cameras the built-in exposure is set conservatively in regard to highlights – they underexpose a bit just to be on the safe side. The result is that some of the detail at the other end, in the shadows, is lost. It's not a perfect world.

Kodachrome was around for 74 years. It's debatable exactly how long digital photography has been around; but it's pretty clear that from its rough beginnings to now it's been about 25 years. It took digital about 21 years to not just pass Kodachrome by, but to kill it.

Me? I'm not weepy about the loss of these films. The control that we get from digital more than makes up for its other failings, particularly when working in colour. With the latest cameras, the new printing inks, the current papers – the results are already magic.

My NEX-6 leaves my last film SLR (Olympus) in the dust. And my Epson 3880 printer blows the doors off every darkroom I ever used.

But, just you wait.

22 September, 2013

The Look Remains

This will be my last post on New Orleans. There are exceptions, but the city has done a good job in maintaining the character of the French Quarter. Even the "newer" buildings look like they go back to the antebellum South. A lot can change, but the look remains. This building is typical:

Corner of Bourbon and St Peter

19 September, 2013

New Orleans – Music

Music is almost everywhere in New Orleans.There wasn't enough time, unfortunately, to do justice to all the jazz. So, we made do with some of the music on the street, and (we couldn't resist) a visit to the piano bar at Pat O'Brien's.

At the Market Cafe on Decatur Street
The Band  – Jackson Square
Piano Bar (with mirror behind) at Pat O'Brien's
Almost half the population of New Orleans left the city because of Hurricane Katrina; and almost 1000 of the 1800 deaths caused by Katrina were in Louisiana. There have been a number of efforts to keep the musicians (and the music) in New Orleans. One of those projects is the Musicians' Village, conceived by Harry Connick, Jr. and Branford Marsalis – both natives.

We're just coming up to the 8th anniversary of Katrina, but it's still hard to talk about New Orleans without talking about the storm. (What a sad showing it was by George Bush and his administration.)

18 September, 2013

New Orleans

My Bride and I were in New Orleans last month. It was our first time back in many years – our previous visit was well before Katrina.

We visited the 9th Ward and the terrible damage was still evident wherever we looked. The French Quarter, on the other hand, seems unchanged.

We stayed where we used to stay, The Dauphine Orleans, and it seemed unchanged as well. It's a modest hotel, in the Quarter, on Dauphine Street – parallel to, and one block over from Bourbon Street.Our room looked out over the Quarter, toward the Mississippi River.

window view
I used to come down from Chicago regularly for work, and used it as a jumping off point for Mexico, Belize, Honduras and Guatemala. New Orleans is one of the first cites that my Bride and I visited together before we were married. And, my friends brought me down for my bachelors party. The city holds a lot of memories for me.

It's quite another thing to visit New Orleans from Australia, however, so I don't think there are too many more visits in my future. That's very sad.

My Bride

04 September, 2013

Lush Life

I've been a fan of Billy Strayhorn's, "Lush Life" for a long time. Some of the classics from the 30s and 40s haven't held up well, but Lush Life just keeps rolling on and on.

Many singers have tried to do it, and quite a number have failed. And, up until today, one of my favourites was a Sinagoprean jazz and bossa nova singer, Jacintha  Abisheganaden's, rendition – from her 2002, "Lush Life" album.

Today, however, I tripped over a Queen Latifah version from the movie, "Living Out Loud," which movie I haven't seen. I think I have a new favourite Lush Life: