© Mark LaMonica. All Rights Reserved.
Looking back to the 80's
Going back to a time when I was doing assignment work for a wildlife magazine that used Black and White for the inside and color for the cover, things were done in a traditional manner. I had 1 camera
loaded with color reversal film (known as slide film) and 1 camera loaded with Black and White negative film. The color shots would be mostly verticals since it was for the cover and that film would be
sent to Kodalux for processing overnight. I would develop the Black and Whites myself and make contact sheets. Usually within 24 hours after returning from a location, I would take the slides and
contact sheets to the graphics department of the magazine and we would pick a cover shot to be sent out for a drum scan. The Black and White shots that were picked would be made into 8x10
glossies at my place. When you think about it, I was able to deliver transparencies/slides and contact sheets within 24 hours of completing an assignment that was shot with film. The difference between
then and now is that, I still deliver the images within 24 hours (or less), but those images are digital right from the camera and I make them print ready when I convert the RAW data to either TIFF or
JPEG files in RGB and CMYK color profiles. They don't need any additional "processing" like a drum scan. Archiving slides and negatives is still simple and stable with no risk of bit rot or sudden disk
failure where all of the images on that disk become unrecoverable. People will argue that film deteriorates over time and is subjected to color shift and or fading. If stored properly, film will outlast a
digital file, because you don't have to keep migrating it to newer storage technologies in order to be able to read and use those image files. I have slides from the 50's and 60's that were stored in a
closet, moved around from house to house and stored in additional "bad" places like an attic and garage. Those slides and remember this is old film technology, are still usable today (circa 2010). I
know plenty of people with digital files from the early days when digital was experimental and those images are unrecoverable because of the file format, storage media or disk failure. Nobody is going
to tell you that film is alive and well in these modern days, you need to look beyond the marketing that drives photography and you'll see some interesting facts. Camera manufacturers and the people
who make the conversion software make their money selling you newer cameras and newer software. This doesn't mean you should go back to using film, it just means you need to look at your specific
needs and whether or not it's cost effective to keep upgrading or stick with a digital system and software that was popular between 2003 and 2006.
All of the above images started out as color. The 2 to the left are digital and the 2 to the right are color reversal film. As time went on and clients started to shift towards having print ready images, I
would photograph everything as color with a reversal film, then convert them in a post production software to Black and White. During the first wave of digital it was common for clients to ask for
transparencies and no digital files. As time went on and everyone started to understand more about working with digital files, I saw a transition to where clients now prefer digital files.