Fair warning: If you are a devout and faithful follower of Order of Digital Photography this may shock and offend. Also Language in this post may stray out of the web friendly sRGB space and into the more colourful and saturated ProPhoto RGB realm...
Digital photography sucks. Big ones.
I have been building to this post for a while now, subconsciously perhaps, but today there is no point in further delay. For many a long year I have worshiped at the altar of Fujifilm Velvia, I have sacrificed numerous rolls of FP4+ and E100VS, I have expressed my devotion in dark, fixer smelling rooms, and walked the earth with stained fingers (and a slightly dazed expression) upon exciting the safe-lit spaces of contemplation. I prostrated myself over lightboxes and peered through loops for countless hours. To me thechemical, slightly stale, smell of fresh film is better even than that of grilling bacon on a hungover morning... And pixels just don't do it for me in the same way.
My drug of choice has been Fujifilm RVP100 Velvia, (No, not 50, I never could master the severe reciprocity characteristics of of that one and not 100F, that's just a touch too muted. Also, I know the 100 is a touch too rich in the reds and magentas, and I like it.) and just over two years have now passed since I last exposed a sheet of 4" x 5". Toward the end my output was not as prolific as in years before, since the exchange rate and my ever more modest budget made film and processing a extravagant luxury. But the final nail in the coffin was my local lab (and final local holdout against the digital blitzkrieg), Orms finally, and inevitably accepting that E6 processing was no longer profitable and shutting down their service. At the time my passions weren't running as high, so I accepted it with resignation and a shake of the head, acknowledging the end of an era. I told myself that I'd continue feeding my Ebony, C220, and F5 Tri-X and FP4+ and embrace the darkroom even more. Trouble was, I see in colour. While my passion for the darkroom is nearly limitless, this is not where my vision soars. Vivid colour is where I live, but I never mourned. I didn't rage.
Today I rage.
I want colour, ready to go, straight out of the camera. I want surprise or disgusted disappointment when leaving the lab. I want a physical manifestation of what I pointed the camera at. The material onto which the photons fell, converted to shade and colour and form by miraculous chemical interaction.
Not some shitty, noisy, artificial image, never quite satisfying. Never quite right.
And no, my digital skills are not lacking. I'm bloody proficient. I can dance the Camera RAW tango, I can make Photoshop squeal like a piggy. But the drivel I put through these digital sausage machines has no soul. There is no life or reality to the images, they come from my head, not my heart. Which is fine for commercial work, but not even close to acceptable for my own stuff.
Yes digital cameras are technical marvels, and when used properly the images they produce can be superior to ones made on film in every technical, measurable parameter. You can even apply Velvia, or Provia, or EPP presets to give your work that film look (what a fucking joke, I have yet to see one that does those names justice). But I cannot get past seeing them as mere tools. Dumb hammers to bash light into image.
Films cameras are also just tools. But they engender a mindset that, for me at least, makes creating images a transcendent experience. The discipline the emulsion enforces, the tension of not knowing if you really got it. And the knowledge that, if you did, it'll singe your eyeballs with magnificence.
So I don't really know what to do with myself now that I've finally gotten round to acknowledging this crippling loss. I want to cry. I want to throw things, and scream, and create pandemonium, and make everyone who calls themselves a photographer get a full roll of perfect exposure on Velvia in dim light, just so they can see they've got no idea what they're really doing... But I can't really do any of those things, so instead I'll just spend a few more hours staring at this damn screen, adjusting cleverly programmed sliders, trying to make life out of 1s and 0s.
P.S. In the images above, the right hand image is labelled "Not Kak", however, since the image of the transparancies was made with a digital camera, it is, technically speaking, "kak". The label refers to the subject matter though, which is not kak.