Natural?

landscape
Pentax 645 Fuji Velvia 50

Back in 1990 Fuji introduced Velvia 50 transparency film. This proved very popular, particularly with landscape photographers. It  had a combination of very fine grain, warm colour saturation and high contrast.  Many photographers thought it the perfect film, that finally gave them the punchy results that they were lacking with other films. Others however disliked it, and felt that it exaggerated certain colours and added an unnatural warmth to images.


It became the film of choice for landscape photographers like Charlie Waite and Joe Cornish, and was very much associated with the coffee table book landscape photography of the 1990's.


Whether people thought it was natural or not, nobody could deny that pictures taken with it had an impact on the printed page. I was a long time user of the film & the various magazine covers and double page spreads that I shot with it, usually on medium-format cameras, still look impressive to this day.


landscape
Pentax 645 Fuji Velvia 50


landscape
Pentax 645 Fuji Velvia 50


To those of us used to results like that, digital was a bit of a shock. The results were much more sedate and while appreciating characteristics like more shadow detail, always difficult with Velvia, the overall lack of impact straight out of the camera was disappointing to many of us. Of course there was always Photoshop to the rescue, to add that touch of drama that many of us love.


There's still a debate between photographers over a natural v processed look, though neither of these terms are strictly accurate. I decided a long time ago that no film, or digital sensor could ever be relied upon to provide 100% accuracy in either colour or contrast. I also decided that wasn't really important to me. 


landscape
Pentax 645 Fuji Velvia 50


I know that I prefer shooting landscape images on a Leica rather than a Canon DSLR. I prefer the look, the colour and the overall impression that that the M9 or X1 give. For portraits, I'll go with the Canons every time, as the look from those cameras strikes me as much more flattering. 


So natural or not, the decision as to how a photographer chooses to handle colour, contrast etc. is just another of those creative decisions available to us. Some may like our choices, some may not, whats important surely is that we have them.


Leica M9
Leica M9


Leica X1
Leica X1


Leica M9
Leica M9


Leica X1
Leica X1


Words - D
Images D & A