The Digital Transition

Until recently I have been  totally captivated and absorbed  by the production of images on slide film on a large format panoramic camera.  There is  nothing  quite like seeing a perfectly exposed image on the  lightbox. However times seem to be changing, based on the cost of acquiring slide film (R100 a film) coupled with the costs of  devlopment and processing (R50 a film).  Though film will always remain my  first love as a medium because of its granularity and the  ability to shoot in one shot, only having the ability to  make 4 panoramic exposures on a  roll of  120 film, makes the costs seem to stack up.  I have therefore  been experimenting with a transition to digital panoramic photograpy. Whilst this  is  quite a learning  curve  from a single shot of  film and requires stitching of multiple images (up to 15 at times) I belieeve it is the   more immediate and cost effective route to take.  Having both  options available is great but I seem to be leaning in favour of digital though the  jury is out as to option which produces the higher resolution image.  a 6 x 17 cm image shot on a Fotoman Camera with a 90mm Rodenstock F6.8 lens scanned at 3200dpi on an Imacon Scanner is legendary.  But then so is a multiple stitched image shot on a 35mm f2, 50mm 1.4 or 85mm 1.4 lens on a 10 megapixel sony camera.  However there are  a  number of dificulties in shooting film.  Accurately metering and predicting the use of  ND Grad  filters to avoid  burning out skies can be tricky particularly when one  needs to manually use a light meter and compensate for  center filters and polarizers and warm up filters and the like.  Using  digital I can instead  create a  preview of the first images in the series taken from the  brightest part of the photograph, set manual white balance and exposure and shoot  images with a  20% overlap.  Shoud the images both  film and digital not turn out as hoped or expected they can be enhanced  via Lightroom 2.0 and Photoshop CS3.  Most notably the addition of ND Grad filters of any colour on Lightroom 2.0 is most welcme and has enhanced many of my photographs and eliminated the need  on occasion to set up ND filters on the camera itself.  Is film dead ? defintely  not, however I think the  places where you can get it developed, certainly in South Africa are  more limited.

One problem I currently see is that I  need more hard drive space to cater for images in the regions of 100MB-1GB!  Yes, those are massive images and I am waiting for that opportunity to produce a  7m  billboard and  or set up a  gallery to display them…Time will tell.  More musings on digital v film panormaic photography will follow in future posts





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