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"Is Film Photography Making a Comeback in the Age of Digital?"

Sharing My experiences with film photography

Revisiting film photography through current YouTube videos has been a captivating journey. My photographic career began in 1994 and was film-based before I transitioned to digital. Initially, I was perplexed by the resurgence of film photography, a curiosity that led me to explore it more deeply.

My years in film photography were a constant struggle for perfection. There were countless ways for things to go awry. A light leak in your camera or processing system could obliterate your painstakingly crafted image. Moreover, the exposure latitude of most films I used for optimal color saturation was severely limited. We had a saying back then: “Expose for the highlights and let the shadows fall.”  Then, because of the exposure, as mentioned earlier, limitations, unless your exposure was spot on, your image could be unusable if it was just two stops off. Grain! It was always there and sometimes made a clear blue sky look like it had freckles and other unwanted blemishes. Finally, you never really knew what you had for a picture until you processed the film. This was a big one for me as I felt that I have been living in a sort of “Renaissance” for photography because of the modern ability to check my images in the field and know I had “it” and, if not, the ability to adjust and photograph again. This ability also allows me to take more chances and experiment with different compositions.

Upon exploring the new film movement, I was taken aback by a few surprising observations. Firstly, most people advocating for this style of photography had never had access to a film camera before, implying that a significant proportion of them were below 30 and film photography was something new and exciting. I also discovered that the very aspects of film photography that I disliked were the very ones that motivated them! The old style and appearance of film photography offered more "character" and a unique "look" to those who had only seen digital images their entire lives. They would discuss film's "grain characteristics" and imperfections as signs of individuality while regarding digital photography as "too sterile."

As a fine art photographer, I began transitioning to digital photography in 2008. However, I still wanted to achieve the same color that I was getting with the slide films I had been using. To achieve this, I carried two cameras in the field. I used my medium format film camera to create a reference and compared the same image taken by both cameras. This allowed me to see the differences between the two firsthand. After a few years of doing this, I developed a process to give my digital images the same look and feel of the films I had grown to admire over the years. By 2010, I had perfected this process and was able to shoot digital full-time.

This is one of my reference images photographed with my medium format film camera with Fuji Velvia slide film.

This second image was taken with my digital camera at the time. It shows how I matched the film image with color but with a better exposure latitude.

"People often ask me, even today, when they see my photography work on display about the unique color and look in my photos. The time I spent creating this color film reference is just a small part of the bigger process of creating the distinct "Eric Reese" look in my images.

Speaking of the "Eric Reese" look, Mother's Day is just around the corner, and artwork makes a great gift idea!

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