The Big Film vs Digital Test

Update *** The results were inconclusive, some liked the analog scan, others liked the digital version. Unfortunately I didn’t know all the ropes when I took the film in. Apparently you have to order a high res scan at the time the film is turned in so that it can be done as the film is developed. Otherwise high-res scans are $5. Without the high res scan I was unable to pixel peep but oddly when I look at the two web sized images side by side the analog version (left or top) depending on your display appears to be less distorted. The digital version appears to be brighter but that could be changed with a slight curves adjustment which was available to he digital version in Camera Raw and not available to the analog scan.  I won’t be giving up my 90D anytime soon though, out shooting birds I don’t think I could afford $0.75 per click shooting 500 shots per day!

Update *** So it turns out I used my old Canon 70D with the 18-55mm kit lens for the  test. My 90D was in use with the 100-400mm for eagle photography at the moment and I didn’t want to be changing lenses in the field… I forgot about that. Anyway, so far the image on the left is winning as the “most pleasing”. Later today I’ll reveal the identity of the camera used for each picture.

Ok, so I’m finally getting around to my first film vs digital head to head test. So it’s Ilford HP5 ISO 400 film in a 50 year old Canon AE-1 35mm manual camera vs three year old Canon 90D 32mp sensor. I should have used a tripod and taken exactly the same shot but I was standing on a bridge and didn’t want to get run over so this is as close to exactly the same shot as I could get. Both were taken with the same shutter speed, aperture and ISO so they should be pretty close!

South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon

Ilford HP5 400 speed film

Icy South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon Colorado

Digital Image


I’ve printed them both out and I have an idea which print I like better… but I want to get some input before I reveal which is which!

1. Which one do you like better?  … and

2. Which one do you think is the 50 year old AE-1?

This should be interesting πŸ™‚

Winter Storm in Black and White

Eleven Mile Canyon and the South Platte River

I don’t know why, I have always enjoyed going out in winter storms and shooting black and white pictures. The winter is winding down so when I saw the snowflakes yesterday I had to get out in it. I have a roll of Ilford HP5 black and white film in my Canon A-1 film camera and I’ve been wanting to do a video about it for some time now. Incidentally, I received an email from Mike’s Camera yesterday with a link to a batch of low resolution previews from my previous film shoot at Eleven Mile Canyon. The film and high resolution CD still need to be sent down from the main lab in Boulder, but at least I can see that the pictures turned out, something you never know with film until the film is developed πŸ™‚ I’ll do a more extensive post on the images when I get the high resolution versions back.

Snowy Mines

So anyway, I wanted to do a video about shooting black and white film in the snow so yesterday was the day to give it a try. I’m not one of those that likes to put my camera on a tripod in the weather so I decided to just use my phone as a video camera, and I have to say it didn’t do that badly! I also shot a little footage out the window with my Canon 90D and I discovered that if you have the camera set to black and white picture style you are going to get black and white video. I didn’t intend that but in this case with the near monochrome scene anyway,. it worked out ok!

Snowy Mines

By the time I was ready to shoot my first image the snow was coming down hard, which looks pretty cool in the video… nothing makes me happier than snow falling in the mountains πŸ™‚ My first image was captured in Goldfield where all the old historic Cripple Creek / Victor gold mines are located. I don’t necessarily trust the 50 year old meter on my A-1, especially in such harsh conditions, so I brought along my Sekonic incident meter to make sure my exposures were correct, film is too expensive to waste on bad exposures!

Snowy Mines

I continued wandering around mine country getting images in the snow for the rest of the morning, except for a few minutes I spent at the Gold Camp Bakery in Victor having a ham and cheese croissant, one of my favorite things in life πŸ™‚

Well anyway, I didn’t get the entire roll of Ilford done yet so the only images I have were the ones I captured with the 90D, it will be interesting to see how they compare to the film when I eventually get it back!

Snowy Mines

I have always liked the old Ansel Adams prints and the selenium processing that was popular in those days. To me regular monochrome looks too brown and too warm for the snowy scenes I like to capture. It took a lot of fiddling but I eventually came up with a process using the hue and saturation tool to recreate the toned look I like so much. The top image from my Ilford shoot at the canyon is regular monochrome right from the scan at the lab and the others in this post were done using my “selenium” Photoshop process. What do you think? Feel free to leave comments!

Don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel to see yesterday’s video… I’m starting to get used to Premier Pro after my YouTube video software quit working when I upgraded to Windows 11. Premier has a ton of capability if you can unlock the secret to using the features! Also I am confident that I will never reach the thresholds to monetize my YouTube channel so if you enjoy the content and would like to help out with my work watching over the Colorado wildlife and mountains, please feel free to click the donate button below!

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal! Also, if you would like to see a more complete record of today’s images please follow my Instagram account!

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Between Storms and Monochrome Toning

It finally warmed up a bit this morning, well above zero with mostly clear skies so I thought it was a good day for a hike. As it turns out it was also a pretty good day for pictures! Although it was just partly cloudy here there were thick ominous clouds hanging over the Sangre de Cristo range at sunrise and it was quite a sight!

Stormy Sangre Sunrise

I saw a lot of evidence of recent wildlife activity in the snow but saw no actual animals on my two mile trek through the fresh snow. Still, there’s something therapeutic about a walk in the mountains.Β 

These images looked pretty nice in color, but so early in the morning with a lot of haze from the previous storm there wasn’t much color to work with. I decided that these would look much more dramatic in black & white so I used the channel mixer to create the best monochrome version possible. They looked pretty good but I thought I could do even better with a little bluish toning which I accomplish using the “hue and saturation” tool in the Photoshop adjustments drop down. First I click the colorize check box which adds a horrific color and hue to the image. From that starting point I adjust the saturation, in this case I chose 12 to apply just a bit of color. Then I change the hue to the value most representative of my plan for the image, which was 242 in this case. The lightness value I left alone, at zero.

I actually got the idea for doing this while reading an Ansel Adams book filled with some of his best landscapes. I noticed that the default values for black and white weren’t nearly as dramatic as the ones in the book so I read up a bit and learned about the process of toning from the era of photographic film processing. I wanted to find a way to recreate that look and it was just through experimentation and trial and error that I eventually came up with this method.

And of course no day of hiking would be complete without a quick trip over to historic Victor for some biscuits and gravy and coffee at the Gold Camp Bakery πŸ™‚

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal!

Stormy Sangre Sunrise

Signs of Winter

Once the colorful leaves of autumn hit the ground the mountains look kind of drab… kind of just like big jagged rocks. Lol… hence the name Rocky Mountains I guess. However we have been getting some snow here and there and a couple of days ago walking the dogs in the morning I noticed that the high peaks of the Collegiate Peaks and the Sangre Range have been putting on their winter mantle of snow. As the air cools and the fires of summer the distant peaks can be seen with greater clarity.

Snow Capped Sangre De CristoWinter is my favorite time of year to photograph… you could say I specialize in snow, which is probably a good thing given life at 10,000 feet of elevation! So the sight of the new snow got me motivated to get the camera ready and plan a hike to the good views as soon as possible! Well the day came and I eagerly ventured out in the morning to take the puppies for a short walk before hitting the trails with Big Dog. As I ventured out I was hit with disappointment though, gloomy looking clouds and mist :(

But what the heck, the camera was ready and so was the dog, so off we went. Thought I might get lucky and see some wildlife that might save the day. However as I climbed higher the scene that came into view was magnificent. I couldn’t wait to get to the top before the rising sun had a chance to wash out the scene. Luckily I encountered no problems on the trail and the summit came in time for some great shots. The sun was hitting the distant peaks with just enough light for a beautiful early morning glow and there wasn’t too much haze from the foggy night before.Beautiful Sangre B&W

As I fiddled with the image in Photoshop I finally decided that the one image looked better in black and white. I really like the layers of mountains, the color wasn’t that great to start with and it just all looked more dramatic with a little more contrast that just works better in monochrome.

The hike was great and I had an idea that I wanted to see Phantom Canyon over by Victor so we stopped off at the grocery store in Victor and picked up some water and some Gator Aid for an extended trip. A couple of miles of the washboard dirt road convinced me otherwise though… I don’t need any loose teeth! Maybe another time… maybe another vehicle. Have been wanting a rag top jeep my entire life, maybe now is the time πŸ™‚

Well enough rattling on… these images are now available for sale on my website. Glossy metal and acrylic wall art is available, along with clothing and lots of gift and household items including greeting cards, t-shirts, yoga mats and much much more! Be sure to keep an eye on the website as I get more of these images processed!