Pierrine, waiting in the woods
Canon AE1 & Kodak TRI-X 400
(expired film from 1969, found on a flea market)

© Chill
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I’m a fan of Chill’s work. So much so that a bit over a year ago, I interviewed him.

He continues to do breathtaking things with color. (This recent image is not only one of my favorite of his, it’s an exceptional example of color as intrinsic to both composition and legibility of the image.)

But I wanted to take a minute to draw special attention to the above image. Consider the parenthetical note about how this image was made on 46 year old analogue film. Looks good, no? A bit grainy but Tri-X has always been super grainy. (I dig how the focus is ever so slightly behind Pierrine. Lovely.)

Here’s the thing: even expired B&W film renders better results than digital. Yeah, yeah. You can get ‘passable’ B&W if your camera allows you to shoot in monochrome natively–if you are shooting in color and then desturating in post, it’s my humble opinion you have no business anywhere near B&W.

The reason B&W film will always be the only way of shooting monochrome is simply this: digital’s Achilles’ heel is that it lacks the depth of black that analog provides. Film renders a depth of black exceeding what can be read by the human eye. But, operating off what the human eye can interpret, given the existing digital frame work, the math is something on a scale of given 0-255 as a range of black, you’d need a theoretical bit depth of 256 to get you to within spitting distance of what the human eye sees. Digital flat out wont scale to anywhere near that level… (And for the record, I realize I’m playing fast and loose with science here; this example is intended to be descriptive not empirical.)

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