American Road Trip Journal #23: Valley Of Fire

After a month exploring California, it was time to move on and start heading east. On our drive from Lone Pine to Flagstaff, we decided to stop by the beautiful Valley Of Fire in Nevada where we spent a night.

I didn't take many film photos as I explain on the video, but rather just enjoyed the place and the experience of camping in the desert (just an hour away from Vegas, but it still feels like "the middle of nowhere").

Bye, Acros

Rumors were true, and Fujifilm officially announced it's discontinuing all B&W films and papers.

More specifically, Neopan Acros (both 35mm and 120) will not be shipped anymore after October 2018.

While it's always sad to see yet another film stock go, let's hope this will mean more demand for other companies that are more committed to film as current Fujifilm's customers look for an alternative.

Every film stock you can buy today

I'm not a big fan of using multiple film stocks. After all, that was one of the reasons why I switched from digital to analog: to limit my options. I want to master one or two film stocks and know what I can get from them.

But, if you are looking for a new film stock to try, or if you are just curious about which options we have as film photographers as of today, Emulsive has done a terrific job compiling all the 172 film stocks you can buy today (it's a multi-part series and this is just the first part of it).

Fixer stinks

Putting aside the accusations of using stolen images in his piece for Adorama, my opinion is that Mason Resnick makes good points as he explains why digital works better for him.

And let's face it, fixer stinks.

I was fine with the article until I read this:

So go ahead and indulge your film fantasies. You’ll learn the basis for good photography and this will ultimately make you a better digital photographer. And then, I predict, you’ll return to the convenience of digital.

Here, he stops talking about his personal experience and puts every photographer on the same box. As if you, a film photographer, are someone who is still experimenting and will, eventually, come to his same realization that tool A is better than tool B.

He also makes the mistake of thinking that, in general, convenience is good.

There's a reason why people still use pencil and paper to draw or take notes; why people still walk places instead of driving; why physical books are still being sold; why people still send letters and postcards; and a long list of things that have gotten more convenient with the advent of technology but we humans insist on making more complicated.

One can see why explaining to the general public why film is still relevant nowadays is so hard, when professional photographers still don't get it.

And by the way, please don't think I've missed this gem Mason left in his article:

Dude! I can shoot both color and black and white images at the same time! I simply set JPEG to black and white, and shoot RAW simultaneously. Most digital cameras have this feature. I don’t have to decide which way to go until post-processing.

As a black and white photographer, I have a lot of problems with the last sentence. I made the same mistake when I started shooting black and white, but I wouldn't expect a professional photographer with almost 40 years of experience to be pressing the shutter button without having the final image in mind.

Maybe, that's what digital and taking 25,000 photos a year will do to you.

People don't care about film

Nico's Photography Show is one of my favorite YouTube channels. Nico's passion and love for film photography show on every video.

A couple days ago and thanks to YouTube's auto-play feature, I found myself watching his 6-month-old video "No one cares if you shoot film".

I do like going through the darkroom making my own prints. But that doesn't mean, because I make a print in the darkroom, I think it's going to be better than if you make a print from a digital scanned negative or from a digital picture.

He's right. Mostly. People care about the final result, the print or online image, and not about the medium you used.

But while I agree on the medium of choice being irrelevant, I think that people also care (a lot) about stories. They care about how you took it, the struggle you had to go through to make that image.

Take Ansel Adams, for example. This might sound like heresy, but I don't think his images would stand out from the work of other photographers nowadays. They were technically perfect at a time when that wasn't easy to achieve, but modern cameras have (mostly) closed the gap between amateur and professional photographers when it comes to sheer image quality.

I still find great inspiration on how he made those images, especially the early ones. Carrying pounds and pounds of camera gear and having just a few shots available certainly adds a lot of drama to the story behind some, otherwise, just decent photos by today's standards.

"Moonrise over Hernandez" is one of his most famous photographs, but at this point, the story of how he made it has changed so much and has become so dramatic (compared to the original explanation), that one has to wonder how much of its current popularity is due to the photo itself or the story behind it.

The photo is all that matters when viewers don't have any context; if it was made on film or using a digital camera doesn't really matter. But providing a (good) story can add a lot of value to an image.

About the Holga

About the Holga

Why and how this little toy camera, made entirely of plastic and worth almost nothing, can make better images than optically perfect lenses attached to high resolution cameras.

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American Road Trip Journal #22: Mono Lake (and the White Mountains)

Episode 22 of the American Road Trip Journal.

Still in the Eastern Sierra, I drove more than 2 hours from Lone Pine to Mono Lake to photograph the sunrise at one of kind lake.

I took some long exposures of the tufas, but it was so cold that I couldn't focus on the photos too much.

On my way back, I stopped by June Lake and the White Mountains, where I visited and photographed some of the oldest trees on Earth.

Back in Oregon, Day 5

Last video from Oregon! On the last day, I only had a few hours left with the rental car so I decided to visit the Japanese Gardens. An episode a bit different this time, I know, but the place is beautiful.

Back in Oregon, Day 3

Back in Oregon, Day 3

Third day of my trip in Oregon. This time I drive to Wasco County and the Cottonwood Canyon in the high desert, stopping first by some spots in the Columbia Gorge like the Vista House and Multnomah Falls.

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