Friday, December 20, 2013

Then and Now

I was recently asked by a student (from last year) why I love film so much? She then told me that she wanted to stick with film as well? That surprised me. I would've thought in a technology saturated life that a grade 7 student would be all over the technology, I was wrong. She was far more interested in the experience of analog photography. 
What got me thinking was that such a young mind was so open to an old thought? Maybe thats why i still love it? Maybe it keeps me thinking/feeling young? 

In my humble opinion, many of the changes in cameras and technology have made photography more enjoyable and, in some cases, less onerous. 
That being said, a film photographer can fairly easily transition into digital with a small learning curve, but a digital photographer will have a very difficult transition into film. They're more different, than they are similar. it's a different way of thinking coupled with a different set of behaviours. 

Here's the short version of my personal "Then and Now.”

Then: Wet darkroom
Now: Digital
Huge learning curve to learn darkroom these days.

Then: Film and film cameras
Now: Memory cards, in combination with digital camera technology
Where to begin? 
True confessions? I'm probably a little bit more lax now that I have the luxury of so many images on a single memory card. The tension of needing to make it work with many fewer film frames did wonders for keeping me sharp. Conversely, I take more chances with unusual angles/ideas now that I can take so many more images per memory card.

Then: Manual focus
Now: Auto focus
I love auto focus...but still continue to practice manual focus on a daily basis, old habits?

Then: Slower camera motors
Now: Faster camera motors
Just the sound of a clunky motor in a film camera still drives me with inspiration. 

Then: Very few camera controls to set
Now: Zillions of camera controls to contemplate setting
Years ago we had few controls on the SLR's, ISO, shutter speed, aperture, maybe an on/off switch for the camera and/or the film winder.

Then: Having the sunny day f/16 rule committed to memory and/or using a hand-held exposure meter.
Now: Chimping: The practice of reviewing an image on the rear display of the camera to confirm exposure.
I can't believe we used to have that period of suspense between taking the shot and developing the film before we knew we had a frame with good enough exposure and sharp focus, let alone an interesting moment.

Then: Enlargers, easels, filters and printing paper
Now: Computers and Photoshop
Even though I'm still actively shooting film and working/teaching darkroom basics, I wouldn't be able to make a sustainable living without digital. Fact. 

Then: Video? What could video possibly have to do with my job?
Now: Learn it, or be left behind.
Video is an area that NEVER used to cross over into photography, now it seems to be the norm. I still don't do any professional video work, but mostly because I don't like it, Im a photographer, and being behind each frame, one frame at a time, is where I'm most comfortable. 

To this day, my most comfortable place to be is with a roll or sheet of film, an analog camera, maybe a light meter, and in the darkroom making it happen. 

Never forget the basics.