Film Grain

A note about my fondness for film grain.

In my experience, one of the most common goals of many photographers is to produce photographs than when enlarged show little to no grain, or noise. How often I have heard that you can make acceptable prints only up to a certain size using such and such film, lens, or camera, which is taken to mean acceptably low grain and high detail.

Not me. I like grain. I typically shoot medium format, in order to have plenty of detail to work with, and use Kodak Tri-X film, which I choose for its classic grain look and tonal range. I then push it up to three stops in development. Not only am I not trying to hide the medium, I’m embracing it. I love the additional level of abstraction and the atmosphere that grain can bring to a photograph when artfully used. As an example of my aesthetic leanings, one of my favourite motion pictures is Double Indemnity, which I believe to be the preeminent grainy film noir production.

I look at grain as one of the possible creative tools that can be utilized to further the photographer’s expression.

Now, let’s talk about resolving power…

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