Hello all. I know, it's been a while - but I've concentrated in the last couple of months on the graphic design, and a lot less on the photography.
But early in 2008 that may be about to change, in a way that I hadn't quite envisaged. In the not too distant future, I may try my hand at medium format film again, with a Pentax 67.
What's sparked this sudden interest in medium format? Well, a couple of things really. First, it's 'calendar time' again at work, where we are sifting through thousands of 35mm and medium format slides - as well as the odd digital CD submission (even one from yours truly).
What I've noticed during this exercise (apart from the fact that hunching over a light table for 8 hours a day does nothing for your posture or your eyesight), is how fantastic a great medium format slide looks compared to 35mm. And this doesn't really go away once it's scanned (there's the digital part) for the calendars. In fact, this year I told the boss not to pick any 35mm if possible and stick to either medium format or digital submissions. And while he hasn't quite stuck with this advice, I think it remains sound for reproduction terms nonetheless.
There's just something about a large 6x7 film image viewed on a light table that still takes my breath away. In my previous life as an art director/fashion photographer I used the 6x7 format all the time with a Mamiya RZ67 - a beast of a camera and very temperamental, but I loved the images that came from it. Long story short, I left that job, moved into digital, and haven't shot medium format 120 film since. But I know where I can get my hands on one, so that may be about to change soon.
The other thing that's sparked my renewed interest in using 120 film is coming across the work of Chris Willson.
Chris is a travel writer/photographer living and working in Japan - working exclusively with the Pentax 67II medium format camera. His images are stunning - as you can see from the photos reproduced above and below. Check out more of his beautiful imagery at www.travel67.com. You'll be blown away. Chris shows exactly what you can achieve with dedication, careful planning and a great eye - using medium format film in this increasingly digital age.
I don't want to turn this into a 'digital v film' posting - that's not the point at all. BOTH are valid formats, both have their pros and cons, and both are different experiences worth having in photography. It saddens me that the 'new breed' of photographers will probably never shoot with film, will never know the difference between Fuji or Kodak emulsions, and won't experience the fun of developing and printing their own black and white prints in a darkroom. But then again, I did just turn 40! I suppose that just about makes me a photography dinosaur?
I love my Apple Mac set up, using Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, working on my digital files in the full light of day, to create prints exactly how I want them to look. But I can do this with film too - I just need to add another step in the process and scan the large format slides.
Some may ask 'why bother'? Fair enough. But as I said earlier, it doesn't have to be about one over the other. You are allowed to like BOTH. I love digital, and will use it every day. But I also love the 'craft' of shooting with medium format film. It slows me down, makes me really think hard about the images I am making, and places me back in the creative process in a way that I don't feel as much with digital capture.
Maybe that's just me. Maybe I've developed a romantic vision of the 'good old days' of film? Maybe. Either way, I'm about to find out. I can hear the Pentax 67 calling my name. And for my own sake, I'm not about to ignore it. I'll let you know how I get on.
*Images reproduced by kind permission and are copyright of Chris Willson @ Travel67