Lightroom alternative for a film shooter?


Several months ago I’ve subscribed to Adobe’s photography package with Lightroom and Photoshop included. At the time the idea of having both magnificent photo tools for only $9.99 a month seemed quite legitimate, but after some time using or should I rather say NOT using this software I faced a dilemma.

As I’m shooting mostly film and hardly ever edit my photos, say nothing about post-processing in Ps, the question I came up with is quite simple: do I really need this software? When I mentioned not using Lightroom and Photoshop I meant not using them to their full potential or at least to some reasonable extent. To be honest, I didn’t care about Photoshop from the beginning, I just accepted the fact it came as a bundle with the tool I really needed or thought I did. Lightroom was my main focus and it is a great product without a doubt.

After working with it for some time I realised that the most useful features for me were cataloging and direct export to my blog or Flickr. All those amazing editing capabilities and stuff most of the time were left aside unless I was working with my rare digital pictures.

To add more fuel to my Lightroom controversy were several articles and blogs on the topic with some alternative suggestions. And while most of the blogs were full of rightful criticism towards Adobe and their products, almost none of them were by film shooters and the alternatives mentioned played into digital yard anyway leaving me wondering.

The last nail in this coffin was Adobe’s announcement of Lightroom CC and Classic CC. I’m sure they have their own sane reasons to do it but for me, it became really hard to justify why I need Lightroom at all as I’m definitely out of Adobe’s focus audience.

For the meantime, it seems I’ll continue using it as I don’t have any alternative in mind and I’m on a one-year commitment plan.

But I’m really curious about what tools film photographers use instead of Lr and Ps. If you’ve got any advice or ideas please do share them in the comments.





My 3 cents in defense of film simulation

Recently I’ve read a post by Frank Lehnen in which he points out a phenomenon of film simulation in digital photography. As he claims his loyalty to film he also asks an obvious question: “Why trying to imitate film when there’s the real thing?”

For the record, I completely agree with Frank on what he says about film and its simulation in digital. It really seems ridiculous and somewhat ironic that having run away from film in the early 2000s the photo industry now tackles the look and feel of it.  However, I am as guilty as anyone who does this, in my digital photography I use film simulation. Why?

Obviously, I don’t speak for anyone but me, so these are my reasons for #fakefilm heresy.

The look

I just love the way film photos look and I want my digital pictures to be the same. I’m also quite a sucker for that film grain and colour reproduction. Or black and white reproduction if you will. As I’m not shooting commercial photography I don’t care too much about how realistic skin tones are or things like that. By trying different film presets I’m free to experiment and make even boring real-life looking digital files more exciting. Which brings me to my next point…


Post-processing pictures by applying this or that film preset can be fun. As I mentioned, photos from a DSLR may look too real. Unless I’m lucky with some amazing light, most of the time I want to liven up my pictures with a film effect. And it’s fun to see how different settings for film and ISO change your photo. I would even try some presets on that frame with amazing light just to see how they go together, and if I like what I see, I leave it.


Digital photography plays a minor role in my photo work. I’m a film guy, so most of my photos are “the real thing”, but why my digital pictures should be a black sheep? At some point, I just decided that I want some sort of consistency in terms of the look, and that consistency is film. I’m not trying to fool anyone here, you can still easily detect a digital photo in disguise, but I believe it looks more in place among film pictures in a slideshow, for example.


As I’ve already mentioned somewhere else, my ideal digital camera would be the one that gives me the aesthetics of film and the security of digital. Oh, wait, there is one. It’s Fuji X100 series. Though again one can identify a digital file in a film simulation skin most of the time, those Classic Chrome and Acros settings are really good. And maybe some day I’ll get me one of those, but till then I’ll keep messing around with some film presets applied to my digital pictures.


The Camera That’s Always with Me

At the swimming pool. Nikon F3, expired Fujifilm 800

Like many photographers out there I have several cameras. As I shoot film the majority is vintage cameras of the yesteryear. Once in a while I decide to take one of them and shoot for some time, then I choose another one and so on. But there is one camera that’s always with me.

This camera has literally seen all my photos, the good and the bad ones. It is with me all the time and most importantly it is always ready to shoot. No matter where I am and what is going on, if I see a picture, bam! goes my camera and the photo is taken.

I love this camera. It has never let me down and the pictures I get from it are always technically perfect. But it has one major disadvantage compared to other cameras: I can’t transfer photos to my computer. In fact, I can’t get them out anywhere. The reason?

It’s simple, and you must have already guessed why. If not, here’s the truth. That camera of a lifetime is not of the gear world of bodies, shutters etc.

It is my eye.

Even when I don’t have any camera with me I can still see photographically and capture those potential photos. Actually, they are not very much potential if you saw them. It’s just that you can’t show them to anybody. But this doesn’t bother me much because the photos I made with my eyes left some impact on my vision, and hopefully made me a better photographer.

So I’m actually very glad I can take pictures with my eyes. The only thing that upsets me is that I tend to forget those great shots.


Identity Crisis

Am I an artist?

This is the question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately. When reading other photographers’ blogs and listening to podcasts, for example. The authors are all acclaimed photographers whose work is recognized and praised and whose passion for photography helps them earn a living this way or another. I look at their work and see the vision, the emotion and the hard work put behind it. I see that they really thought everything through before pushing the button, and because of all that, they have the full right to call themselves artists. And I?

Am I an artist?

I’m asking this while revamping my website to look more like a portfolio. I know if I were to do this properly I should have looked through all my pictures first, choosing the best of the best and being my own cruelest curator. In my defense, I want to say that I’ve done some of that but haven’t boiled it down to the creme de la creme. Being your own critic and curator is hard and takes time to learn, which I never did and that’s why my portfolio looks like a mess.

Am I an artist?

Looking back at all the time I’ve been shooting photos, I ask myself this. Since day 1 of my photography adventure, I saw myself as more of a Gary Winogrand type of street photographer, if you excuse me for such a comparison. As I learned later he used to roam the streets shooting almost everything and oftentimes not caring about composition or whatever photography rule can apply. “I photograph to find out what something will look like photographed”, it’s the quote usually ascribed to him. So I tried to do exactly that, shooting everything of interest without any projects or assignments, or any agenda whatsoever. But as I started sharing my photos more and the more I was involved in watching others’ work, the clearer I saw the need to reevaluate my principles. What is my message and should there be one? What is my style and vision, and how do I develop them? Am I just a person who takes pictures of what’s in front of him or…

Am I an artist?


The answer’s still eluding me.