Wednesday, October 10, 2012

No more prints?

There seems to be no more room for film photographers today. At least not for those who cannot afford to have a personal lab where to stay put in a dim light for hours, developing and printing negatives. I've had the opportunity to use an old German camera from the 50's last summer and took some 120mm rolls while walking through Milan and Tivoli. Then, having sent Franka to the 591 Blog member next in the queue (see more about Franka Journey on its dedicated blog), I decided to test different labs by giving one roll per photo shop available in town (Saronno). I figured out it would have taken some time in order to have them developed and scanned (as I couldn't imagine what would be the results, I decided it was better giving a look to the negatives, before). To my surprise I discovered it actually takes more than two weeks to have the digital scans back.
This happens as none of these shops is anymore able to make their own B&W film processing. In one case only I was told that I would have been different if I had used color films.
In the past time I've used several times B&W films that could be processed with the same machinery commonly used for color films. The results, indeed, where not really exciting - for what I remember mainly for contrast and a little but disturbing color drift - but I can't tell today if it was due to my little experience or to the physical medium limitations. I'd better make new attempts and see if the years have changed the way I shoot.
Well, more surprisingly I learned that scanning the negatives will cost something like one euro per frame. That in the end will constitute a considerable amount of money, provided that I won't have the printed copies in my hands yet. So, I started thinking about how the latest technology changes have modified the way we consume pictures today. In the last  fifteen years the easiness of taking and storing pictures has dramatically grown, whereas the printing services offer has only slightly improved. As a matter of fact our PCs are filled up with images that we never will be able to see printed. If we're lucky and far-sighted they will be recorded and ordered in a smart way on a backed-up hard-disk for ... just better days. ... yep.
I'd better stop myself here. The stone is thrown.