THE PROCESS – DIGITAL?

by Tim Soter

I literally received this fortune in a cookie on the day that I was deciding whether or not to buy a digital point and shoot camera.  Now honestly, the camera (Panasonic Lumx GF1,) is not really a point and shoot but I was hoping that it would finally be the small, highly portable digital camera that could best replicate the experience of using the Olympus Stylus film camera in creating The Process.  That was a month and a half ago and since then I’ve really enjoyed using this camera.  It has no perceptible shutter lag, is outfitted additionally with an optical viewfinder and makes a very definitive ‘click’ when the shutter is triggered.  The 1.7 40mm equivalent lens is fast and actually provides a good field of view.  I had a really in depth discussion with fellow photographer Brad Paris about what a real difference 5mm’s of view makes.  Olympus Stylus Epic 35mm lens vs. Lumix GF1 40mm.  Again I’m really trying to replicate The Process in a filmless way.

But it hasn’t happened yet.

While I have a great time with this new camera and would (and do) recommend it highly, I end up traveling with both cameras, using the Olympus film camera sparingly.  It’s there to be used exclusively when  something truly reverent presents itself.  All of the above shots were taken with the digital camera and have a beauty in their own right but to my eye still don’t match what they’d look like through The Process.  There is a special part of The Process that is beyond my control.  At the lab and in the printing process, 4×6  prints are color balanced, given contrast (or not) and printed by the specs of the machine and the lab tech.  I can’t interfere.  But I trust The Process so much and have such a good relationship with the lab that things almost always run smoothly.  My previsualization of the image matches what I receive in my hand, in the form of a small print, weeks later.

In a few weeks, when I get back a film print of the above yukka plant, taken in the same spot with the Olympus we can compare the differences and see how subtle or not they truly are.

All above photos taken in my hometown of Schnecksville, PA.