True Grit

The analog craft of photography was historically beholden to the immutable truth that quality and film speed were linked.

Quality, as defined by a grainless and clear result, resulted from using a “slow” film speed.

These slow film speeds required lots of light, such as a bright sunny day or a studio rigged with many strobe or cinema fixtures. In place of bright lights, a camera can use a slow shutter speed. This, however, means a sturdy tripod is required.

Those constraints are what separated the hobbyists from the pros.

When a photographer couldn’t deploy those tools in low-light situations, the only way out was to use higher speed film or manipulate the film in processing. The downside to this was that the pictures would begin to look grainy.

The digital sensors of today can practically see in the dark. There’s no such thing as a grainy picture anymore.

Unless that’s the intention of the artist.

This portrait from Hollywood, Florida had everything that I was looking for in a street session. The final photograph was perfectly exposed and digitally perfect. Actually, it was too perfect.

The disconnect for me was that her worldliness and the street smarts of a mother with teens wasn’t on display.

Once I added in some grain, the look and feel of the portrait matched the subject.

About the author: I am Stephen Kennedy, an experienced photographer with more than 2500 completed sessions in all 50 US states.

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