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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

What do you miss about film?
Robert Hanashiro, Photographer
Los Angeles | CA | | Posted: 3:23 PM on 07.08.13
->> I've received several emails about my recent Sports Shooter Newsletter column about what I miss about film.

Here's your place to tell your stories about film and what you miss about it.

Mahalo!
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Butch Miller, Photographer
Lock Haven | PA | USA | Posted: 3:45 PM on 07.08.13
->> That moment when you place a few chromes or strips of negative on a light box, peer through your 10x loupe to "edit" and cull a shoot.

Before LCD screens were on the backs of our cameras, we had no instant confirmations and had to be patient to see what we captured. Even now, I use the LCD more for histograms than the image itself it seems.
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Wesley R. Bush, Photographer
Murfreesboro | TN | U.S. | Posted: 3:59 PM on 07.08.13
->> I miss being able to have my picture taken by a friend or family member and not having to worry that everyone I have ever known would see it. A trip to the beach used to only mean having your children laugh at you years later. Now people only take pictures of their children.
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Erik Markov, Photographer, Assistant
Indianapolis | IN | | Posted: 4:25 PM on 07.08.13
->> I not only had a talent for being good with a leader puller. I could use the leader from one roll, wet it, shove it into another roll of film to pull that leader out. Another talent no longer needed. Shame. ;)
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Phil Hawkins, Photographer
Fresno | ca | usa | Posted: 4:28 PM on 07.08.13
->> The smell of stop bath and fixer.
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Geoff Miller, Photographer
Portage | MI | USA | Posted: 4:51 PM on 07.08.13
->> What I miss:
- Prints... holding them and examining them up close. I rarely print actual hard copies of prints anymore.
- The smell of the darkroom (Stop Bath excluded). When that smell hit me when I walked into the darkroom it smelled like a "candy store" to me.
- The feeling of having an unopened box of 100 sheets of Ilford 8x10 paper in my hands and knowing the creativity that you could unleash with it.

What I DON'T miss:
- I admit it, I'm addicted to the LCD on the back of my dSLR. I'm a paranoid worry-wart. I hated the feeling with film of not know if "you got it". I had a bride insist that I use film instead of digital a few years ago, and I hated the butterflies in my stomach until I got the proofs back.

- Leaders and take-up spools. Robert may have fond memories of the F3 w/MD-4, but I didn't like the motor drive's high torque on the spool that seemed to require extra effort to really bury the leader... lest it slip loose. If you were distracted, and didn't notice that the rewind crank wasn't moving, you were screwed. I lost all of the images of the birth of my first child due to this happening.
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John H. Reid III, Photographer
Gates Mills | OH | USA | Posted: 4:58 PM on 07.08.13
->> Kodachrome
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Ben Mackey, Photographer
Columbia | MD | USA | Posted: 6:29 PM on 07.08.13
->> Erik,

What about the talent involved in loading film onto a wire reel by feel? Or just cramming your thumb in to the cassette and bending the metal to get to the leader.

John,

Or the Kodachrome smell when you first opened a box back from the lab.

The NPS 10 fps F3. One 3.6 second burst and it was time to reload.

Most of all, the magic of watching a print appear in the tray.
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Mark Loundy, Photo Editor, Photographer
San Jose | CA | USA | Posted: 6:40 PM on 07.08.13
->> Ditto, the smells of the chemicals and of the film itself.

--Mark
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Robert Caplin, Photographer
New York/Barcelona | Worldwide | | Posted: 7:00 PM on 07.08.13
->> The anticipation waiting to see what develops.
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David Seelig, Photographer
Hailey | ID | USA | Posted: 7:07 PM on 07.08.13
->> I od not miss developing film I really miss seeing a print come alive in dektol, it felt like magic.
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Clark Brooks, Photo Editor, Photographer
Urbana | IL | USA | Posted: 7:13 PM on 07.08.13
->> • I love the smell of a fresh 100' roll of black and white film in the morning. It smells like M-O-N-E-Y!

• I miss having a reason to get really attractive women to spend time in the dark with me ;-) On several occasions, a lot more than film was developed.

• I miss showing off my ability to load stainless steel reels with one hand.

• I miss dektol and stop bath. I didn't have to pay attention to dirt under my finger nails. Dektol always seem to make my nail grow fast.

• I miss the incredibly low cost to produce an 8x10 BW print.
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David Hungate, Photographer
Roanoke | VA | United States | Posted: 7:36 PM on 07.08.13
->> Great music in a darkroom with nothing but the minimal light from a red bulb and the faint glow of the numbers on a Gralab timer. (I still have my timer in my kitchen. Scares the hell out of friends and guest when it goes off and buzzes!) Some Pink Floyd, trays with the chemistry and watching that magic moment with a print comes up in the developer. It was my youth and it was my passion and it was my way of life.

And while I am grateful for those times, I love digital. Like they say, it ain't about the camera.
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Eric Canha, Photographer
Brockton | MA | United States | Posted: 8:27 PM on 07.08.13
->> Mondays!!! Sending X number of rolls of film from a wedding to the lab and taking the rest of the day off :)
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Yamil Sued, Photographer, Photo Editor
Peoria | AZ | USA | Posted: 8:33 PM on 07.08.13
->> All of the Above.

The fact that Film, especially Slide Film made us better Photographers.

We had to Compose, Expose and Light Correctly, otherwise we had a Box of Table Shims.

I ran my own E-6 Line in my Studio in the late 80's, WOW!! I miss that.

I would shoot Chrome in the Studio and run my 4x5's Immediately, I would have results for the Art Director in 45 Minutes.

Polaroid 54, Those were the days, I thought that having Polaroid in the same ASA I was shooting was such a great thing.

Y
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Michael Troutman, Photographer
Carmel | CA | USA | Posted: 9:01 PM on 07.08.13
->> Cupping and shaping the light with my hands while burning-in 40x60 Type R mural prints. Making perfect prints without a single "ding" (after hand cutting, exposing the page while it was held down with magnets and then loading into the processor). And using a Densilator.

I miss the color darkroom terribly...I thought those days would never end!
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Ting Shen, Student/Intern, Photographer
Chicago | IL | U.S. | Posted: 9:14 PM on 07.08.13
->> having 20 frames from a roll of 220 film in a 6X7 mamiya7
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Dave Prelosky, Photographer
Lower Burrell | Pa | US | Posted: 9:52 PM on 07.08.13
->> Miss? Not having to use that stuff that I ordered from Montana that smelled like cat piss to get fixer spots out of my shirts...
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Geoff Miller, Photographer
Portage | MI | USA | Posted: 10:58 PM on 07.08.13
->> I second missing the ability to load the film on the reels by feel alone (knowing for sure no film was touching) while using the black double-zippered changing bags.

I also agree with Clark... Dektol rocked!
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Phil Hawkins, Photographer
Fresno | ca | usa | Posted: 11:18 PM on 07.08.13
->> Amen David Hungate! Down to the Pink Floyd!!

In all seriousness, I miss successfully putting a roll of film on the roller in complete darkness, developing the roll, then seeing there were no bubbles, creases or touching surfaces in the canister, then rolling it off wet and seeing I timed everything right... Or knowing I had to push the ASA on a roll, and estimating by dead reckoning what I had to do in the way of temperature and time to compensate. I got pretty good at all that.

Plus, I made out with THE hottest girl in high school in the darkroom. Yeeaahh... fun times.
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 11:53 PM on 07.08.13
->> Being able to go to the bathroom while the film is washing. Now with digital there is no time for breaks.

The time spent processing film also gave oneself time to think about what you shot and the frames that will tell the story. Digital mega-gig cards and galleries have turned photography into puppy mill production -- quantity versus quality via solid editing.

And being limited to 36 frames at a time forced shooters to pace themselves and think about what they shot and are about to shoot -- especially when limited to two- or four-reel tanks.
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Richard Uhlhorn, Photographer
Chelan Falls | WA | USA | Posted: 12:50 AM on 07.09.13
->> So much to miss. I still remember the magic of watching my first B&W print emerge in Developer and the satisfaction that came from working n the darkroom.

I still have my enlarger and equipment.

I also miss the excitement of putting transparencies on the light table for an edit. There was always something magical about that.
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Al Diaz, Photographer
Miami | Fl | USA | Posted: 12:51 AM on 07.09.13
->> Ditto on what David Hungate said. Gag on the smells... but a wave of nostalgia swept over me when I visited the communal darkroom labs at Miami-Dade College recently. The smells brought on pleasant memories.
I do miss the photo departments massive budgets for film, paper and chemistry.
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Michael Fischer, Photographer
Spencer | Ia | USA | Posted: 1:53 AM on 07.09.13
->> Al, by any chance was that Miami Dade South Campus?

I spent a fair amount of time in that darkroom although, like Phil, only part of it was to develop and print. I was Editor of the paper for about two terms, and that was a interesting place. After I left as Editor I learned that some of the staff that came in after I departed were using it to shoot up the big H. Not exactly what they the school administration had intended.

So what do I miss about film? It took me a a little while to figure out how to load a stainless steel reel properly. Once I did learn how I love running film. Partly the smell, partially the anticipation of seeing if what I had shot had turned out. Then there was making a enlargement. There was no better way to learn how to crop then playing with the possibilities locked within that negative then throwing in Dektol and watching the magic as the print came up. I was lucky to have a seperate, air conditioned room in my parent's garage in Miami that was a darkroom. I would spend many a night in there learning about film and printing.

Doug, I hear you. To this day, there are plenty of times I don't shoot as much as I could and it's a throwback to those days when I would think about it. I didn't want to run out in the middle of a sequence.You learn to pace yourself.

The other thing I remember is when the photo store I worked for decided to go into selling Mini-labs. We shot a test negative on Kodak of the owner's wife. She was fair skinned and blonde - and a good subject to use for a test standard for the printer. We could NOT get the system to balance her out properly on the mini printer. In other words, when we put another negative in to make prints, the colors would be off - way off.

Finally, out of desperation, we reshot her on Fuji. BAM! We got the printer to work the first time with her on Fuji. It wasn't the end of Kodak in the store, but it was the beginning of a shift away from Kodak, which, if nothing else, was a arrogant supplier. Long story short: Our mini-lab ended up making great prints with all sorts of film (anyone remember AGFA?) based on a Fuji standard.

I'm not sure I'd be shooting today if I had to shoot under deadline and run film. Did it for a long time. But that doesn't change the fact, it was fun and exciting and in many ways, I do miss it.
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Shelly Castellano, Photographer, Photo Editor
Huntington Beach | CA | USA | Posted: 1:58 AM on 07.09.13
->> Two things I miss about film..

Setting aside time to work in the darkroom and being in that "creative zone", concentrating on doing only one thing and making it perfect along with a great set of tunes to dance around the dark in! Todays process can be very distracting.
AND
Shooting a brick of film at a game or night event dropping it off at a trust worthy professional lab to have them process the images overnight then going right to bed when I got home. Now a days Im lucky if I am off the computer well after midnight, backing things up, captioning, transmitting and double checking everything. Seems like we had more personal time back then after certain events.....and I miss those relationships with the lab workers.. they could share in our joy or disappointment after looking at all the frames.

Ahh,... the good old days!
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Neil Turner, Photographer
Bournemouth | UK | United Kingdom | Posted: 5:24 AM on 07.09.13
->> Honestly? Almost nothing about the negative processes, colour or mono. I had an intolerance to the chemicals and I grew to dislike the smells. I was never keen on scanning negatives and I always found time spent making prints somewhat tedious. I had a conversation with a very famous photographer whilst I was a student who said that "everyone should learn to make good [black and white] prints so that they can tell their printer when they are getting it wrong". That appealed to me and I haven't made a traditional print myself since January 1994.

I did like shooting transparency film - largely because I was good at getting it right - which always impressed editors.

I also liked messing around with colour temperatures and I even went through a period of using tripods for almost everything. Shooting almost everything at 100 ISO made me learn about portable lighting which made my transition to digital a very pleasurable experience.
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Steven E. Frischling, Photographer
New England | | | Posted: 7:56 AM on 07.09.13
->> I miss the very satisfying sound of a Nikon F3hp and Nikon FA. I miss the look of a print from HP-5+. I miss people needing real skill to shoot photos and knowing how to create those images.
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Steven E. Frischling, Photographer
New England | | | Posted: 7:59 AM on 07.09.13
->> Erik

I taught my daughter to lick one piece of film to be a leader retriever for another roll of film. She still can't believe people used to do that ... but I am hell bent on teaching her how to be a film shooter while she goes about her usual day toting a 20D around town.
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Rich Pilling, Photographer
Jackson | NJ | U.S.A. | Posted: 9:12 AM on 07.09.13
->> Bert: Loved your article. Brought back SO MANY great memories. And JR3, Kodachrome... without a doubt.
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Jan Langsner, Photographer
Edmonton | AB | Canada | Posted: 9:59 AM on 07.09.13
->> I miss the smell of the chemistry.

I miss the excitement of seeing a great image come to life in the dev tray.
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Gene Boyars, Photographer
Matawan | NJ | United States | Posted: 11:30 AM on 07.09.13
->> Yes, Rich Pilling and JR3, Kodachrome 64....and doing all of the jobs they said you could not do at ASA 64. It was a real challenge to shoot chromes and work at the slow speed kodachrome gave us.
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Chris Peterson, Photographer, Photo Editor
Columbia Falls | MT | USA | Posted: 11:30 AM on 07.09.13
->> I did some Man Ray inspired stuff layering images. That was fun.
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Chuong Doan, Photographer
Kansas City | MO | USA | Posted: 1:25 PM on 07.09.13
->> The bokeh on my Contax G1 + 45mm Planar and the silky smoothness of pulling XP2 Super.
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Nic Coury, Photographer
Monterey | CA | | Posted: 2:10 PM on 07.09.13
->> Shooting high school football games (when I was in HS) with my dad's full manual Minolta XG-M and 28mm and 50mm. That camera was so cool to me!

Sadly it got stolen from my camera one night in college.

I miss dragging that damn thing around campus.

I still shoot Tri-X on occasion, still my favorite film ever.
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Doug Holleman, Photographer
Belton | TX | USA | Posted: 7:41 PM on 07.09.13
->> The look of slides through a good quality loop.
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Ed Ruping, Photographer
Orlando | Fl | usa | Posted: 7:52 PM on 07.09.13
->> Going through the "orgasmatron",(as one reporter called it), into the print room.
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Wally Nell, Photographer
SAN DIEGO | CA | USA | Posted: 8:06 PM on 07.09.13
->> I miss the fact we had to get it right in the camera. No faffing with white balance, histograms, etc. You had to use your light meter, get the right exposure, use the right film with the right filter on (if you used filters) to get the look you wanted. You did not have the luxury of shooting on auto and fixing it afterwards. It had to be spot on. Right now, the only reason I use the 'chimping' window, is to see if the ball is in the frame and how close it is, and how I need to adjust myself.
And, I miss how Velvia looked through a loop on a light box. Something about transparency film.... Oh, not to mention HP5, ... no Photoshop sliders to use, just the dark room, hard or soft paper, or multigrade filters, in the dark room, just good old grey tones of HP5! Favorite paper was Agfa grade 3. Just an amazing paper...
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Al Diaz, Photographer
Miami | Fl | USA | Posted: 9:33 PM on 07.09.13
->> Michael Fischer, you worked at the Catalyst! I was there in the late 70's. Phil Hawkins, you reminded me that my dad expanded the backyard utility room as a darkroom/bedroom while I was a sophomore in High School. Separated from the main house I had my on bed, bath, front door and photo lab. a great excuse to invite the young ladies over. That darkroom rocked!
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Joe Ahlquist, Photographer
Emporia | KS | USA | Posted: 10:38 PM on 07.09.13
->> I'm too young to have ever shot film in a professional setting. I did, however, spend the better part of one of my semesters shooting black and white film, and watching a print appear on a piece of photo paper is truly a magical experience.
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Sam Morris, Photographer
Henderson (Las Vegas) | NV | USA | Posted: 11:27 PM on 07.10.13
->> Being under 30 when shooting it regularly.
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Eric Dituri, Photographer
Clovis | CA | USA | Posted: 2:51 PM on 07.11.13
->> I miss being able to make a living owning a photo lab!! All of the skills I honed in the old days are now years out of date and of not much use any more. But, the upside to modern day photography is (from the photographer's perspective) the ability to shoot almost endlessly and not worry about the processing costs. Make no mistake, sometimes intensive lab work could be dreary (working in a hot darkroom trying to salvage a decent print from a lousy negative), but there was often a sense of great accomplishment to make it worthwhile. I grew up around darkrooms (my dad always had one...even today) and made a living processing/printing film so I definitely have a sense of nostalgia when it comes to film.
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Michael McNamara, Photographer, Photo Editor
Phoenix | AZ | USA | Posted: 5:34 PM on 07.11.13
->> I'm with Caplin...the anticipation of what you were going to see when you pulled the roll of film out of the dryer.

I still shoot film occasionally with a Rolleiflex and a Crown Graphic. I'm setting up my Jobo processor this weekend, and I can't wait to see what I've done. I've got some black and white 4x5's from my pinhole and my Crown Graphic, as well as some expired Provia that I'm going to process C41. I've been looking forward to this weekend for about a month.
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Doug Holleman, Photographer
Belton | TX | USA | Posted: 6:19 PM on 07.11.13
->> I miss not being chastized by the sportsshooter community for chimping.
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Nik Habicht, Photographer
Levittown | PA | USA | Posted: 8:15 PM on 07.11.13
->> Joe Ahlquist nailed my number one pretty well:
"...watching a print appear on a piece of photo paper is truly a magical experience."

After that:
Shooting with an affordable Leica kit -- 2 M4-2 bodies, 21, 35, and 90 mm lenses.

Canon T-90 and 300TL circa 1990. They were great cameras -- I miss their size and weight.

Briefly shooting with a Nikon kit professionally when my bodies were one each of F4S, and motorized F, F2AS, and F3HP.
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Rafael Agustin Delgado, Photographer, Assistant
Pasadena | Ca | USA | Posted: 8:25 PM on 07.11.13
->> Processing film well after mid night was a common occurrence during my PCC tenure. Best part was having a personal lab at the student paper's inactive wet lab.

This was the time I developed the most as photographer pulling all nighters. Learning from my fellow paper co workers was much more useful than most of our course work.

Fellow peer competition and assistance made for rewarding long hours, while my fp4 was in the fix.

Film drying time was usually when we enjoyed a lucky boy breakfast burrito paired with an orange bang, before contact prints.

Leaving the wet lab, we could always find our cars with ease. They were always the last cars in the lot.
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Michael Granse, Photographer
Urbana | IL | USA | Posted: 11:27 PM on 07.11.13
->> I had a light table that could have provided seating for six if people had decided to gather around it for a meal, and I also had a really great gadget made by Fuji that would display negatives in color on a TV or video monitor.

I do not miss the chemical smells that I never liked in the first place, but I do miss moment of seeing a piece of paper submerged in liquid begin to form an image. There was something completely supernatural about that, and I have yet to find an equivalent "magic" in the digital realm.
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Chuck Steenburgh, Photographer
Lexington | VA | USA | Posted: 7:38 AM on 07.13.13
->> I miss the range of choices we had...from my all-time favorite, Fuji Astia, to Kodak's Portra line, Ilford Delta, and so many others. Each with its own qualities and "feel." Yes, we have even more choices now, but it's just not the same.
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Phil Hawkins, Photographer
Fresno | ca | usa | Posted: 11:05 AM on 07.13.13
->> I wonder how many people reading this have no idea what we're talking about? They cannot relate. Sad.
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Ian Halperin, Photographer
Plano(Dallas) | TX | USA | Posted: 3:41 PM on 07.13.13
->> Anyone else brave enough to load TWO rolls of film, back to back (emulsion side out of course) on each reel to get more processed in a hurry? That became my specialty.

That and using a piece of TMAX as a leader puller.
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Phil Hawkins, Photographer
Fresno | ca | usa | Posted: 5:48 PM on 07.13.13
->> Ian, you're my hero... Never thought about that!!
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