A la recherche du temps perdu

A much belated paean to film.

It’s almost Halloween, with the summer holidays a distant speck away. Faint, though memorable, like a drifting scent on the breeze or the lingering finish of a fine wine.

Holidays are all about a break from the routine, and so it was a fitting opportunity to reawaken a long-lost love affair with film.

Back in the day it was all about 120 medium format. My weapon of choice was a Hasselblad 503CW. Streamlined Swedish design, over engineered manufacturing. Constructed with watch-like precision and the durability of a tank. Made to last, and cost a fortune.

Paired with my Hasselblad were my favourite film flavours – Ektachrome 100G, Portra 160, and APX100/400

Nowadays, it’s the Canikon DSLR hegemony, Lightroom/Capture One workflow, FTP upload. It’s the economy, stupid. No longer do clients want to pay or wait for film and processing, and digital is just so damn convenient, flexible and high quality. What’s not to like?

I guess I’m just showing my age, but I miss all that ‘hassle’, just like vinyl nerds geek out about album sleeves and turntable platters. There’s a ritualistic routine that brings with it a certain tactile joy.

Loading up that first film back, setting aperture and speed, and clunking out those first few frames was definitely Proustian. It was what holidays are meant for.

Is film ‘better’ than digital? Maybe not, just different. But the images certainly have a very different ‘feel’ to them. It’s great to have you back, baby.

Herewith, some random frames from our holiday in Gorran Haven, Cornwall.

D-Day cometh…

Steve McCurryToday, Canon announced the launch of the 5D Mark III, the much-anticipated update to that workhorse camera used by many pros worldwide. So, good news for me as I happen to use Canon digital camera equipment.

But where the good Lord giveth, he also taketh away. It’s the same week that Kodak announced that it was discontinuing three colour tranny films, including my all time favourite for food, landscapes and pretty much anything – Ektachrome E100G 120.

So does that mark the final slide into oblivion for Kodak and film itself? I’d like to think not, although the above caption seems to sum up the overarching sentiment amongst many. And that’s from Steve McCurry, the photojournalist who shot National Geographic‘s iconic ‘Afghan Girl’ cover on Kodachrome. It was taken from McCurry’s retrospective exhibition in London last September at Chris Beetles Fine Photographs on Swallow Street.

Maybe film will just become to photography what vinyl is to music – a nostalgic comfort blanket appreciated by the analog anoraks.

So the big question this weekend is, do I pre-order the 5D Mark III or buy a chest freezer and stockpile all the E100G 120 I can get hold of…?