One roll of film on a digital camera

I wonder if I would have gotten into photography when film was the only option.

Digital cameras make everything so easy for an amateur photographer. You can shoot as much as you want — “spray and pray,” so to speak — and you’ll probably get a few good shots and no one has to see the rest. Your exposure settings are saved in EXIF data for later study. You don’t have to change film, or pay to develop it, or wait for prints. And so on.

But maybe there are drawbacks to this. I can easily shoot a few hundred images in a weekend, and then find myself sifting through two dozen shots of the same subject, with many similar shots and many failures. Maybe digital ease has spoiled me. Maybe I’d learn more if I were forced to think about every shot and had to worry about wasting film. Maybe I could learn something if I approached my digital camera as though it were shooting film.

The plan: I chose my roll of “film” to be color, 24 exposure, 400 ISO. In other words, I put my camera’s settings to 400 ISO and color and didn’t change it for 24 exposures or delete any exposures. To mimic getting prints back from the lab, I didn’t do any post-processing. I kept these limitations while walking around DC yesterday afternoon. The 24 results are in gallery format below.

The results: I’m not sure I was any faster at photographing in “film” versus digital. I can often spend ten minutes or more shooting something from a variety of angles, trying every possibility so I have good choices later. This time, I spent almost that much time in a few places trying to visualize and get exactly the right shot — and often, deciding not even to take the shot because it just didn’t seem interesting enough to be worthy of one of the precious 24 exposures. In addition, I tried to refrain from photographing the same subject twice in most cases.

Despite the forethought put into most of these photos, several didn’t work (though some of these could benefit from editing). I like many of the results, however, and realized that most of the shots I didn’t take didn’t need to be taken — what I got was mostly what I would have liked to get.

Overall, this was a good exercise in thinking before shooting — and one that made me appreciate digital camera technology even more.

1000 things: 12/1000


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One thought on “One roll of film on a digital camera

  1. Mmmm…a good range of images from your efforts. I have no trouble with taking more than one pic of a subject…it gets to be about differing viewpoints, closeness, distance, lighting. I try and get as much from something I want to photograph, for later editing. It’s about options, I guess! In case I don’t get another opportunity.

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