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Embracing the Grain of Life in Film Photographs

In many instances I love film grain. There I said it. I’m with Henri Cartier-Bresson on his assertion that sharpness is a bourgeois concept. Grain, even heavy grain, can offer a defining characteristic to some photographs.

A good example of this is in a roll of Kodak 200 that I shot on a Konica Big Mini SR BM-100 at the Australian Wooden Boat Festival. In cross-processing as black and white I gave the film negatives an extra hour (with a dash too much Rodinal developer). The result made for dramatically blown out highlights and large, often unflattering, grain.

However, some of these pictures have a grittiness that seems to embrace the grain. A good photograph is much more than crisp and clear imagery – for example, the 1960s-70s Japanese are-buri-boke (rough-shake-no-focus) technique evident in the earlier work of Daido Moriyama. All I’m saying is not to throw this type of picture away solely on the basis of severe grain.

You might compare this severe grain to kneeling by the roadside and taking a handful of dirt to run through your fingers. What isn’t important is whether you own the land, or if it’s even the best land to be owned. What is important is the experience of running that land through the fingers. To me, at least.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark (aka nortypig) and I live in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a photographer making pictures with film. A web developer for money. A business consultant for fun. A journalist on paper. Dreams of owning the World. Idea champion. Paradox. Life partner to Megan.

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