I’ve been messing about with film cameras again for about a year or so. The first time for about 15 years.

I had embraced digital photography as soon as I could afford a decent dSLR and, with my results-driven design hat on, the final output ‘quality’ had always been my primary goal.

Even in the days of film photography, when I worked as an art director for magazines, I had always strived for as ‘smooth’  and noise-free photographic reproduction as was possible. This generally involved transparencies, scanned on high-end drum scanners and reproduced at the highest optical resolution for the available line-screen. Nothing wrong with this, of course.

But with my artists/photographer/whatever the heck it is that I am now hat on, my priorities have changed somewhat. Hence my dabbling with film photography, and the contradictions that come with it.

Working in a hybrid photographic workflow (I shoot film, but scan the negatives, post-process them in Photoshop and have them printed digitally), I had  somewhat distanced myself from the various qualities of different film emulsions.

I have experimented with different Kodak, Fujifilm and Ilford films, as well as different ISO speeds. I’ve even noticed some differences. But I’ve not been particularly good at keeping track of what works best for me on a consistent basis and I had been on the point of giving film a long term break – despite my growing fondness for the therapeutic ‘slowness’ of film photography.

Partially this was due my lack of patience with the whole process (scanning time and post processing requirements). But also because I felt myself hitting a creative block, similar to that which led me to take up film again in the first place. A change is as good as a rest, and all that…

But I’ve just shot a roll of Eastman Double-X. To me, it has a classic look. Somewhere in-between Ilford HP5+ (less grainy) and Kodak Tri-X. Beautiful tones and range. It’s hard to describe exactly why. It also works very well within my –  somewhat random – post-processing workflow. I find that I can play with it a fair amount, without destroying the essential look of the film. That said, I like the look of it so much, that I’ve not felt the need to do too much to it in post.

Perhaps it’s just a question of keeping things fresh, but I’m hooked again – for the moment. Now then, only another ten negatives to scan…