“What happen to the Linhof Technikardan?! “
A couple of days ago, I received the above comment on a photograph I posted on flickr of Castle Stalker, Scotland, during my November trip to Glencoe:
This is the first slightly off-beam comment I’ve seemingly received on flickr since I ramped up my prominence on the site last year, and I think it’s worth critiquing. My original response to the comment was: “Nothing! For this shot, handheld from the side of the road on a drive elsewhere… can’t do that with a Linhof, with all the will in the world.” The shot was, of course, taken on digital, with Nikon D800E and 70-200f4, shot handheld or at least resting on a roadside fencepost, during a brief stop while I was driving elsewhere.
I’m not entirely certain what the comment (and its use of expressive but actually opaque punctuation) was getting at, but what strikes me is that the comment was made about the (non-)use of large-format film for such a shot, and it seems that the original commentator is a film-shooter.
This is somewhat perplexing: I’m all for the continued use of film, and can view my use of the Linhof camera over the last year and a bit in only extremely positive ways, both for the creativity it has allowed me and for the more general affect it has had on my photography. But here’s the rub: at no point have I ever stated that I would ever give up digital entirely, and there are a whole host of shots that I can make digitally – including the image above – that I couldn’t even begin to contemplate with film. Using film has improved my photographic creativity by making me more self-aware of the medium itself, and this is a great thing in general terms. But I’m not in favour of, and do not countenance, the idea that ‘film’ is something akin to a ‘calling’. It may be for some, but not for me: it’s a creative choice, with its own limitations, in the same way, conversely, as digital. A resolution for 2017 was – of course – to expose more film, and I will continue to strive to do so. But I will also continue to shoot digitally alongside it, creatively and complementarily.
For more discussion of this general issue, see the recent videos on Youtube by Matt Day and Eric Wahlstrom: