My father was an avid amateur photographer. He owned a 35mm camera for as long as I can remember. He preferred taking slides and had box after box of them in his office. After he died, they inadvertently got disposed of before I had a chance to salvage them. I mourn the loss of that record of my childhood.
Being a photographer back then required a lot more effort than it does today. There were Polaroids and Kodak Instamatic cameras that made it easier to take pictures but even so, you had to wait for the shot to be developed to see if you got the picture you wanted. In the case of the Polaroid, the feedback was fairly fast, but with more conventional cameras it usually took days or weeks to get your prints back to see what you got.
In the case of the 35mm camera, my dad’s camera of choice, you had to decide what film stock you were going to use; color or black and white; what sensitivity to light (expressed in ISO number); what color balance. You had to measure the light illuminating your subject using a light meter. You had to balance the factors of exposure time (shutter speed), aperture size (f-stop), and the focal length of the lens. An amateur photographer had to be fairly well versed in the mechanics and chemistry of photography in order to be able to hope to capture his vision in a photograph.
Then there was the artistic side of things. Once you knew the details of how to take a picture, you had to learn how to compose a photograph. My college photography professor advised taking a lot of pictures. He said that you had to pay attention to what you did and the results that you got from doing it. This turned out to be hard to do, given the lag between taking the pictures and getting them developed. It was also fairly expensive even when you bulk loaded your own film cartridges and developed your own film. Then there was the print stock that you printed your pictures on and the enlarger you had to learn to manipulate. That goes a long way toward explaining my dad’s preference for slides. There, the film that came out of the camera was the final product. No printing involved. Of course that meant that what you shot was what you got.
Contrast this with the state of photography today. We have at this point exceeded the quality of 35mm film with the current line of SLR cameras. We can immediately look at the shot to see if we got what we wanted. And with the cost and size of memory cards, we can take thousands of shots without having to worry about changing media. We can even take HD video with many current SLRs.
I wonder how this affects our attitude toward photography? There are still plenty of artists that express themselves through photography. This is evident even after just a few minutes browsing photo.net or flickr. The mental processes are still as hard to develop though. Even with all the automation available in the current cameras you still have to be able to see what you are looking at and select the image that you want to capture.
Of course now, with Photoshop and Gimp and the other photo manipulation tools available to us, what you shoot is not necessarily what you get. You have an even greater latitude for creative expression than the darkroom ever provided. Will this raise the standard of excellence for photography in the future? I hope so. And I hope to have more time to make pictures in that future.
I’ve got to make this quick but I just had to make a post, both because I want to keep my resolution to post a couple of times a week and because I’m so excited. The check was in the mail yesterday and I ordered Erin’s Coolpix S10 and my Canon Elura 100 last night. I got the email that they shipped today. I expect they will arrive either Friday or Monday. I am so excited I can barely stand it.
Pam and I talked about making videos this morning. She seems pretty excited about making some videos of her own. We were talking about producing some video podcasts as well as making videos to post to YouTube and/or LiveVideo.
I hope YouTube gets its act together. I think LiveVideo has a definite jump on them right now. Competition is a good thing though and I hope that YouTube doesn’t fall apart as a result of all their problems.
First an apology. To whom, I’m not sure. I turned off commenting on all the posts on this blog. I got tired of moderating spam comments. And, the fact of the matter is, I have never gotten anything but spam comments. So, I guess I’m apologizing to the non-existent group of non-spam commenters to this blog. That’s a weird concept.
Anyway, it’s New Year’s Eve today. I’m almost over the virus that has consumed the majority of the winter break. I have gotten next to nothing I planned to do over break done. I’ve spent the time with folks I love, feeling pretty bad. But I am hereby putting this behind me and leaving it in 2006!
Some of the neat things that happened this week:
- Pam won me a BOEbot for approximately half price on ebay!
- We found a Javelin Stamp Starter Kit on ebay. We’re still waiting to see if it will go for a price I can afford.
- I got Kurt his Christmas present from me and Pam, a cell phone. He and Erin can stay in touch easier now.
- I figured out which video camera I was going to buy in a couple of weeks. The Canon Elura 100 Digital Camcorder.
- I figured out which digital camera I’m going to get for Erin (about the same time). The Nikon Coolpix S10.
- I found a copy of Roger Zelazny’s The Great Book of Amber: The Complete Amber Chronicles, 1-10 (Chronicles of Amber) which allows me to read the second half of the story! Great story by the way.
- I subscribed to a bunch more channels on YouTube (65 at the time I write this).
- I finally relaxed (2 days before I have to go back to the tension inducing grind but at least I did relax).
Enough for now. Happy New Year everybody!
My digital camera is broken. I thought at first that I just had a bad CF memory card but I just bought two more (they were only $20 a piece) and I’m still having the same problem. It is so frustrating. I use my camera a good bit. It is one of my creative outlets. It is also the way I was making videos to post on YouTube.
We’re going to my in-laws for Christmas Eve dinner. We usually open presents on Christmas Eve with my in-laws but my sister-in-law has decreed that Christmas will be at her house tomorrow (oh, and did I mention, we’re not invited). Oh well.
We are putting off our big Christmas presents until January to try to ease the burden on the December budget. It also gives us a chance to take advantage of the post-Christmas sales. I’m still looking for Erin’s camera. The one I found sold out. Throw me into that briar patch (I love to shop for camera equipment).
Enough trivia for now.
Max and Ricky
Originally uploaded by javajini.
Ricky seems entranced by the game of Super Mario Brothers that Max is playing on Pammy’s Nintendo DS. I’m posting this from Flickr so I’ll be excited to see how this works out.
I got back on the photography kick this weekend. I took a number of pictures, mostly of my in-laws new house. I have been accumulating quite a collection of contacts on Flickr. Many of them are extremely talented artists. They inspired me to actively pursue photography as art again.
While I was in the bookstore the other day I discovered that Tom Ang’s book Digital Photographer’s Handbook was out in trade paperback for a good bit less than the hard cover edition. It covers the spectrum from a brief explanation of how digital imaging technology works, through a catalog of the different photographic genres, a section describing common photographic challenges and tips for how to use image manipulation software to overcome them, and an extensive section on output options.
I joined a Flickr group called Utata. They publish a web zine that links to their images and discussions on Flickr as well as hosting original content. According to the about page,
Utata is a collective of photographers, writers, and like-minded people who share a compelling interest in the arts. We began (and continue to exist) as a salon-style gathering of photographers who came together on flickr. As a group we are continuously evolving; Utata is more of a process than a final product.
I hope this group helps me get into the swing of things.