The other day I was doing what I always do: I was looking at photographs. Not my own. And in all honesty, it was a drooling exercise, because I was ogling my favourite eyecandy. But what I came across made me gasp out loud – a full-length portrait of said eyecandy. And this time it was not because of eyecandy’s pleasing bone structure, but because for entirely photo-nerdy reasons. The format of the image. I didn’t even have to look at a high-res version of the image to get excited – I knew straight away that it was something special – a LF image.
Or was it? The outward signs were there. The black frame around the image. But then I wondered – it is easy enough to just impose the frame on a digitally taken image in post-production in order to pass it off as LF. Aesthetically, the little black frame has become a bit of an “edgy edge”, I suppose. It adds a certain coolness factor to the image. Hence “frames” like this are now available as options in digital photo enhancement tools or popular filter apps such as instagram etc. How phoney is that? I felt pretty sure, however, that the image I was looking at was the real deal. Not only because the photographer in question is an established photographer who would risk ridicule if he “enhanced” his picture in post-production with a fake frame. But what it clinched it for me was a tiny give-away that convinced me that the image originated on LF film – and that’s what made me gasp as it became apparent to me that this was indeed a genuine LF image: the little clip marks at the side of the frame.
A bit of doubt remains, however. The question is – why do photographers “bother” to shoot LF, and more importantly, *on film* at all, in the day and age of digitally wizardry? Maybe the challenges of it are also the benefits: The process of LF photography is more deliberate, lengthy and technically demanding, but that in itself is something that a lot of photographers enjoy. It is going back to the roots of photography. Shooting on film means that you *need* to execute your shot perfectly. It makes you slow down, look properly, think properly, apply your knowledge of photography. I find it far more technical than digital “snapping” and shows a love for the craft of photography. Yes, I’d say that photographers still do this for love of photography. I think I would.