Friday, January 9, 2009

Photography -- a shifting ritual

Who among us has not held a color photograph and wept?

Ahh, the premeditated moment captured on paper that lovingly draws you in. Can you say the same about the jpegs crowding your cell phone? Handling a cell phone, do you fret about fingerprints smudging both the image and the memory? Be careful to hold it on the edges.

We of a certain age appreciate the art that Kodak made available to everyone with their little box camera. I love the anticipation of opening the packet of pictures.

I'm a good photographer. But I have never taken a digital photo that I really like. I want to. I try. But I am much, much more comfortable looking through a viewfinder right next to my eyeball than squinting at some damn LED screen in bright sunlight. Oh, the new digital cameras are progress all right. But not a happy progress. Not for me.

If you love cameras and photos, even Polaroids, you will relish “Twilight of the Color Photograph” in the Boston Globe. Click here.

8 comments:

Jeff Hebert said...

Three thoughts.

First, the post made me think of this current sappy country song (which of course means I like it) called "You should have seen it in color", where the singer's grandfather is talking about black and white photos from his stint in WWII. It goes:

"If it looks like we were scared to death,/
Just a couple of kids,/
Tryin' to save each other,/
You should have seen it in color."

Neat song.

Second, I bet the same sentiments as expressed in the Globe article were felt by Sumerians in 3500BC when the first papyrus rolls were starting to be used, lamenting the loss of clay tablets and cuneiform.

Finally, when you get out of the hospital and recovered next time, I'm getting you an SLR digital camera. Functions just like a look-through-a-viewfinder, attach-a-real-lens 35mm camera, but it takes digital images instead of putting them on film. They're great, it feels like real photography.

George Phenix said...

this is a family blog. in the future, please don’t use words like cuneiform on this site.

and don’t buy a camera. the Mystery Woman has a digital she paid a thousand bucks for but neither of us knows how to use it. maybe you could take a look and show us how. in fairness, she did master the camera for copy stand work.

Max Fischer said...

check your nostalgia at the door and snag a better digital camera, George. Develop (and pay for) only the shots you choose and see a world that is turbo pixelized beyond our own sight and imagination.

George Phenix said...

I know. I know. I'm working on it. But what the hell am I supposed to do with this shoebox full of pictures?

Leave them in my will?

The South Plainsman said...

I can still remember how good those old color photos were that I made with an old Brownie Box camera. Still have a bunch.

Polaroid was just a gimmick. I could never make decent pics with one.

My digital makes pretty good photos, but I have a cheap one that is not too complicated. I just hope that both my hard drives don't crater at the same time.

I got a cheap digital because it takes a teenager to operate a fancier one. Tell the Mystery Woman to get a teenager to show her how the darn thing works.

Max Fischer said...

good suggestion, SP. Let me know if anybody knows a teenager that is willing to stop text messaging her/his BFF long enough to look up and offer to help.

Ken Martin said...

George, you've got a point when it comes to personal photos, perhaps, but I can tell you when the freelancers who shoot photos for us for The Good Life magazine switched to digital cameras the difference in the printed product was amazing. The clarity was just ever so much better. Of course they're pros.

As for those old photos in a shoebox, scan 'em and make them digital, too, with lots of backup copies of the digital files for posterity. Once scanned you can touch 'em up and print them to make for a better-than-original viewing.

As for not knowing how to use your camera that costs a thousand bucks, I quite understand. But, geeze, George, youse guys are retired and have time to take lessons. Right? Or are you like the guy who's retired and says, "When I got up this morning I didn't have anything to do, but when I went to bed I wasn't half finished"?

Anonymous said...

George, you will love the SLR digital camera. Like you, I still use my film camera. My film SLR is the only camera fast enough to catch my granddaughter's expressions. She's too quick for digital and I'm too old! I'm teaching photojournalism to teens now, and when I show them the now-ancient darkroom and explain how film cameras work, they shake their heads in disbelief. "Ancient," they mutter. I will agree that there's nothing better than sitting next to a family member, photo album in your laps, and talking about "the good old days," especially if it's a black-felt photo album with the corners on the edges of the pictures to keep them in place. -- Denise

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