My “keeper” rate is definitely higher when I shoot film. I’ve noticed that I have a sort of a last match mentality. Last weekend I took my Canon EOS M3 digital camera with me and… don’t laugh — I got slightly depressed after spending the day with it. (I had a hangover too. It could have contributed as well.) I shot a lot, but got practically not a single keeper. Is it some kind of Star Wars effect? When you have to make due with limited resources, you might end up with the original trilogy. And when you’re given a multi million budget and a horde of 3D-animators, you get Jar Jar Binks.

Having the luxury of wasting frames (i.e. digital) or not, it doesn’t increase the amount of good photo opportunities you’ll encounter. You might just as well not to shoot in vain, and hold back the urge to press the shutter, unless you need to.

Having only one match left though — it definitely counts what you do with it. If I’d get lost in the woods and my survival would depend on only one match, I’d prepare darn well before lighting it. I’d gather enough fuel wood, kindling and tinder and think about what kind of fire-lay I’d make et cetera. Film makes me think more about when and why I press the shutter. It also encourages to think, prepare and concentrate on what you’re doing. If there isn’t good enough reason to take the shot, it will probably suck. When you need to take the photo, it most likely will not suck.

When you put the steel into the forge, your mind will go there with it.

Some time ago, when I was just getting back into film, I learned to evaluate each shot. I learned the hard way. I tried to incorporate my half-assed machine gun tactics to film shooting, relying on having some good shots in between, if I just shot a lot. But little did I know. The utter disappointment after getting the photos back from the lab was a horrible feeling. Horrible but humbling. I felt bad about wasting film, time and money.

Grabbing a digital camera makes me shoot away on a burst mode and out of 100 photos there’s maybe only one decent, because I don’t think and evaluate. Also, if a photo is good by accident, I don’t find it satisfying. I’d prefer it to be good, because I tried it and put my mind into it. When I take my film SLR, I physically can’t force myself even to advance the film without a good reason. Not to mention pressing the shutter. My hand simply won’t even do it. But then again — when I’m really on it, it feels like the camera becomes an extension of my hand and it presses the shutter without even thinking, exactly when the right moment presents itself. That is satisfying (even if the photo sucks).

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