Are These the Good Old Days?

In the December ’16 issue of Shutterbug, my Geared Up column took a look at imaging trends for 2107. Several of my comments prompted responses from readers that I wanted to address today: The first was the overwhelming influence of technology and the other is the resurgence of film photography, especially among younger shooters, all of which runs headlong into one of the most important Farace’s Laws of photography.

Up until the dot-com bust of 2001 I used to write for computer magazines as well as Shutterbug and other magazines about photography. I’ve always been somewhat of a geek; my degree is in Electrical Engineering and have worked with all kinds of computers since 1964. Tech stuff still fascinates me, especially in the many ways it intersects digital photography.

In the film days, a lot of stuff was done for us by others. Commercial photo labs would process our film then make proofs or proof sheets. We would make selections based on those proofs then the lab would make prints. If we didn’t like the prints we’d complain and the lab would re-make them at no charge. Now we have to do all of that ourselves. And that means we now have to have to know about stuff like color space, paper profiles and archivability.

To be sure, there are digital photo lab—and even Costco—out there that will help with all of this and if any readers have a lab they could recommend I would like to mention them in a future post. But the one thing I’ve seen in the few digital labs that I have used, with the exception of Artisan State, is that the process of uploading image files is not all that simple. Why can’t we just dump files into a Dropbox folder and direct the lab to it. If any lab has done this, please let me know about it.

Camera controls for film cameras are simple: You set the shutter speed and aperture and maybe the film itself sets the ISO for you. Cameras like my Olympus and Panasonic mirrorless camera have deep menus with what seems like hundreds of settings; I tend to ignore most of them and just take pictures. But I’ll acknowledge I may be missing something and inspired by my friends Mark Toal and Cliff Lawson, I  continue trying to learn something new. That’s because there is no rest for the committed digital photographer because as soon as you feel you’ve got it under control along comes new technology that you need to get up to speed on.

It’s no wonder some people find the whole digital photography experience too complicated and this may be the real and unsaid reason why so many people make snapshots using their cell phones. Another reason for this is because of one of Farace’s Laws most important tenants: “Every change in image making has been one of convenience, not image quality.”

IR.bookMy book, “The Complete Guide to Digital Infrared Photography,” is out-of-print but used copies are available from Amazon at affordable prices. Creative Digital Monochrome Effects has a chapter on IR photography and is available from Amazon at an affordable price with used copies available at a giveaway—less than a buck— price. Pick up inexpensive copies of these books for your favorite photographer or yourself.

Author: Joe Farace

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