Kodak Moments: Lasts Forever & Timeless.

I was at the Leica Gallery of New York City this early afternoon. Brought back memories of my first experience of learning Black & White photography in High School, which was still in the 35mm film era.

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I also noticed that B&W photography, in terms of imaging, it’s a lot more powerful when there’s a lot of light. The contrasting is very distinct and it does create a stronger impression than color photography. It’s only when there’s not enough light that the camera requires to enlarge it’s f-stop in order to capture enough light to be embossed on to the negative, where back then – I don’t think, there was ever a film and photo paper that was able to create a ‘high-definition’ effect that causes all prints to be grainy and fuzzy. I also was able to read through a few Leica brochures on how amazing that the digital Leica M-Monochrom was able to capture B&W photography in such-detail. Things certainly have changed since the 90’s.

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As we’ve basically phased out the 35mm film, it even brought to my attention of an old camera that was in my mother’s bedside cabinet. An Instamatic version camera that used the Kodak developed 110 film. It was the camera before I was even born. It was camera that probably my mom used before we had a Canon 35mm point-and-shoot with all the gizmos back then of flash, auto-focus and electronic motor winding mechanism. Since I spent a lot of time on my own when I was young – I’ve just scrounged around and I always took that 110 film camera out and played with it. Of course, there was no film in it – but the rectangular box shape was very cool, I thought; and there was one roll of 110 film left. It just sat there, never developed – I wonder where it went and what was captured in the film… All that aside, it was the winding mechanism that made me always just kept pushing the shutter button and roll the mechanism with that clicking sound – like as if you’re in an old James Bond movie that you were trying to open an old-school safe and that you’re literally 007 with that camera spying on some CIA mission!

Kodak_Logo

I’ve realized that as times have changed, moving everything into digital format. The essence of photography are somewhat lost. When film and photo paper was still necessary in photography, a photographer would think of every frame before he/she presses the shutter – from focal length, aperture, shutter speed, ISO, foreground and background lighting, manual/auto focus that best suits the image that he/she would like to capture. At the end of the day, each frame of film and heading to the store to develop it or doing it yourself in the dark room does cost money, more than you think as the number of shots that you’d like to develop.

As I’m into my 30’s, I’ve noticed that the generation that grew up in the digital world – are clueless, completely clueless of what capturing an image is all about. Simply because that as the Gigabytes of SD cards and flash memory is getting cheaper and cheaper, the finger never releases the shutter button and images of everything to anything is everywhere of complete cluelessness. You may call it candid, everyday photos but to me it’s just a giant scrapbook of nothingness. When everything you capture in images is everything that you do, it becomes just plain old boring – your everything is not anything and not everyone is interested in everything of anything that you do.

What’s more interesting is that when everything digital, everything can be edited pixel by pixel. Hence, the original captured image is actually nothing of what the photographer is intended. The question goes then to why bother using a camera, simply use any image-editing software programs to create an image. Why do you need photographers? This also leads to new photographers, I think, become less thoughtful in any of the aspects that I mentioned. Anyone and everyone are now photographers, you just need to know how to use Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. This leads me to thinking the art of photography will or will not disappear through time?

What’s important here is to think about how photography is capturing one-still frame, a moment in time that reflects not just the photographer him/herself – but also on the subject(s) within the frame. It could bring all types of emotions, thoughts, imagery, memories and then stories to again emotions, thoughts, imagery and memories… it continues on and on for the photographer, the subjects in the frame and to others who one shares that frame of photo with.

Then it goes back to say that when images of photos are nothingness, what sort of emotions, thoughts, imagery, memories and stories are being told, kept and archived?

This leads me to say that as old as it may be, there is a need to continue the legacy of film photography. To probably those who are learning photography, I believe one should always start with film photography, possibly even the 110 film format that brought photography to become mass market with “more than 25 million (Kodak) Pocket Instamatics were produced in under three years and the 110 film format remained popular into the 1990’s” – because it’s the most basic of snapshots with little camera functions offered, which is very similar to what now in-built phone cameras are like with apps such as Instagram of such. If you think about it, what’s best with Instamatics are that it’s not as easily disposable with just a touch of the ‘trash’ key. In all film photography, one gets the chance to develop it, which takes time. This allows any photographer to take a break on the image they captured. They can go back to it and review each frame, each photo. This is what all great to amazing artists do. None of them finish a work of art in a couple of years? In a few months? In a couple of weeks? In a few days? In a couple of minutes? In a few seconds?

Those who then see that they have an interest in photography and see that they like to go further can move on to the more advanced 35mm film with cameras that what was the past, an ancient dinosaur to some, to explore the functionalities of focal length, aperture, shutter speed, ISO, foreground and background lighting, manual/auto focus. Once these elements is like a whisk over softened slab of butter; then the selection of 35mm SLR and/or D-SLR comes naturally, effortlessly – like Herb Ritts… (Sorry, but he’s the only one that I recalled who spans a career with various forms of photography and even to some motion photography/videography in the 90’s that knows both film and digital formats.)

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Photo Credits:

http://www.brightsideofnews.com/news/2012/1/23/the-fall-of-kodak-lessons-learned.aspx

References:

http://www.wikipedia.com, Article: Kodak, Instamatics.

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A Moment to Think of Our Future (Part 2)

To tie the ends together this morning, I’ve mentioned in previous blog post “A Moment to Think of Our Future” on how Charles Darwin’s theory in evolution plays an important role to the future of the human species.

I’ve personally have seen Darwin’s theory of evolution at work – when I was locked up in Hong Kong.  During that time, it wasn’t living in the utmost luxury and roaches were abundant everywhere, especially it was the hot and humid summer.  Having been living in mostly urban areas and cities for most of my life, I’ve seen roaches.  They ‘were’ very dark brown, almost pitch black color at the size of about my pinky finger (at the largest I’ve seen) in longitude oval shape with quite an extended antennae.  However, being locked up and literally had nothing more interesting to do but using my slippers to try smacking at roaches whenever one passes by my bedside: I’ve noticed something different.  It seems to me that there are a new species of roaches and/or that the ones mentioned have evolved.  There are ones that I’ve noticed that are much smaller at the size of my pinky nail in half with a much lighter brown color and it seems that they are not in one single color but a patched work blended with beige.  These little ones are much rounder in shape and you should see how alert and quick they are!  The old version were easy to smack in one blow of my slippers; these mini rounded ones seems like their peripheral vision is wider and further – before you can lay your slippers a little more than a feet away from them, they halt for a second and when you begin the motion of whacking – they literally ‘split the ^&*%’ out of your sight.

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Given that roaches is a species that have lived for the longest ever on planet Earth, it’s about time they have evolved according to Darwin’s survival of the fittest and adaptation, eh?  Absolutely – and this has to thanks to the possible over use of pesticides in Hong Kong.  For any given species to evolve, it’s the survival of the fittest during the struggle of existence of their environments to adapt to the ultra extreme or difficult surroundings to survive.  In the roaches world, the overuse of pesticides in Hong Kong has lead to the large version of roaches to adapt into a more compact exoskeleton that has camouflage capabilities to the lighter colors because living underground has proved to be tougher as constant gallon sized LPG containers pesticides pump being sprayed into city drainage more than enough that they have to surface to sunlight.  Scrapping the long antennae because who needs to smell and taste the pesticide that only leads to death; but the added benefit of an extended sensing capabilities to their surroundings to be zooming back and forth to escape death.

Now, I’ve gave instances of how viruses are merely even considered as a living organism but parts of a DNA/RNA genetic information but they are already evolving rapidly with the examples of a new flu virus every year; it’s stronger every year if you do catch one by having to be staying in bed for a few days and it seems that the regular strength Tylenol/Panadol just doesn’t do it to stop the symptoms.  To the ever changing HIV virus, which is a running silent epidemic that has no effective cure yet but only suppressing the process of their replication.  To what’s now an issue that China needs to address as soon as they can where the Avian flu virus that clips the wings of birds instantly like dropping dead flies that are quickly adapting to environments to be able to transfer from birds to humans, to now a possible case or two of human to human.

Most of us have seen Jurassic Park.  Most of us have seen dinosaur skeletons in museums.  They’re quite impressive, isn’t it?  Archeologists have dug up so many dinosaur skeletons that they flourished on planet Earth that ranges from being herbivores to carnivores to scavengers – to be on land and in the air.  From what I learned through documentaries of Discovery and National Geographic channels are that there have been a few theories of why and how did dinosaurs became extinct.  A large meteor crashed into Earth and caused fragments to disperse far enough to all parts that created volcanic like fires that consumed most living things. Then there was how food sources became extremely scarce that again survival of the fittest, first the herbivores are gone, then the carnivores and left with scavengers pecking on corpses and when corpses decayed to a point where bacteria and other micro-organisms were even too overwhelming for scavengers that killed them too.  And the last one is some sort of communicable disease had wiped them all out, which it is very similar to the second theory that ties them hand in hand.

Time to use proved and possible theories and apply them.  The human population of Earth is constantly rising. The questions of where to find natural resources such as energy, food, potable water have been never been more apparent when some nations have moved from fresh produce to everything chemically engineered with emulsifiers, additives, coloring and preservatives.  Simply go to a grocery store in Hong Kong and pickup a range of items and you’ll see on the ingredients label that comes in the form of codes E500, 150d, 338 etc.  Not to mention that I’ve did a taste test of Coca-Cola bottled in Hong Kong, Japan and in the United States that noticing significant taste differences that are due to the amount of oxygen in the water itself that affects the carbonation; and whatever that the local water department adds in ‘small or large’ amounts of: chlorine, salt, sulfur, algae, rust, manganese, calcium, magnesium to ‘balance’ so-called ‘potable water’.  My experiment and findings are that the one bottled in Hong Kong is almost disgusting when compared to Japan and United States with the carbonation literally fizzles in thin air in the matter of 15-minutes in an aluminum can package.  With the United States following that matches what i’ve known since a little kid to the most crisp and clean taste from the one from Japan.  Sorry to make Coca-Cola sound like a bottle of wine – but it’s a beverage that I’ve grown up with and nothing beats a hot sizzling day or over a spicy meal with an ice cold Coca-Cola – listening to the carbonation like rain drops on a spring day – gulp, gulp, gulp… ahhhhh!  To me, it’s ‘always’ Coca-Cola; ‘it’s the best or nothing’ because it’s simple pleasures that I can afford that ‘opens happiness’.

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While Coca-Cola opens happiness for me from time to time, the famous sort of ‘mascot’ Cola Bear is a Polar Bear that lives in the Arctic.  For those who’ve seen To the Arctic 3D, only released in IMAX format had a few scenes of Polar Bears.  The snowy white fur coat is simply amazing, especially when they are swimming and it’s like waves of glowing translucent threads waving in a monochromatic color scheme of blues that compares to the view of flying on a Boeing 747 at 38,000-ft with fluffy white clouds over the sky.  As much as Meryl Streep tries to narrate as eloquently as possible to lessen the concerns over the Arctic, again – it’s never been more apparent that melting of the polar caps not only causing the Polar Bears unable to jump from icebergs to icebergs, but their constant swimming hunting for food has made them impossible to store enough fat that makes nurturing the next generation a challenge; that aside, biologists would probably agree that the melting of polar caps unleashes an array of new forms of micro-organisms that humans have never been in touch with.  Pros and cons to this with possible pharmaceuticals to develop new medication to cure the aches and pains of us humans or it can work the other way, that it may be possible to be the one that wipes out an entire species?

Polar-Bear_to_the_arctic

On a side note, it probably means that before you know about it, Venice will be an underground water city that wipes away part of Italian history and we’d probably have to go through extensive cosmetic surgery to have webbings casted on our hands and feet to be just like Kevin Costner in Waterworld.

It seems like I’m all over the place in things that I’m talking about here.  Connect the dots.  The above mentioned that a possible communicable disease – plus the ever growing human population and the search for natural resources may or may not wipe out the human species just like the dinosaurs.  In the biology classification of species, the phylum of Chordata is all species with a hollow dorsal cord.  They are the more complex species, especially with those that has a vertebrae and a central nervous system.  When it’s easy for viruses to mutate and micro-organisms to evolve and even insects have caught on the bandwagon, but it is very highly unlikely that complex species can catch on due to complexity.  If the entire phylum of Chordata is much harder to evolve and there are signs that birds are threatened by new viruses, it’s only the matter of time that it will stop the ever growing population of humans as we as humans are on the top of the food chain.  When the rest of the Chordata phylum disappears, humans will be the only ones left to be face with survival of the fittest and the horrible imagery of James Bond’s Skyfall with the notion from villain, Raoul Silva of having mice/rats trapped in a confined space and due to starvation, they turn to each other – eating themselves and only two remain…

It will be beyond my lifetime and there’s still generations to come before this may or may not happen?  However, if we do not set the stage for what can or cannot be changed, the future of the human species are at risk?  For those of you who’ve heard Morgan Freeman in a narrative of how humans can protect other species on Earth – we should ask ourselves if we can or cannot protect other species, but also ourselves.

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Photo Credits:

http://pestmd.net/outdoor-pest-control/outdoor-roach-control/ (Original Image from Ecolab)

http://www.savebiogems.org/polar-bear-sos/ (Photographer: Martha Holmes)

http://movieline.com/2012/04/20/review-to-the-arctic-3d-highlights-enviro-woes-polar-bear-cubs-in-dazzling-imax/ (To the Artic: IMAX 3D)

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Empowering Young Americans for the Future of our Nation, United States.

Maybe I’m really stuck in the 90’s; or I’m simply considered to be ‘old school’ when I’m only in my 30’s…

For a bit more than 2-months being back in the U.S. for good, being able to have a variety of media from RSS feeds to major television networks to cable channels; I’ve noticed that we might like to have discussions over adding to the existing comprehensive education syllabus/curriculum for future generations.

I’m considered as one of the “me, me, me and more of me please…” generation.  I personally think that this syndrome has moved its severity over time.  I’m born at the end of 70’s, so it’s 30+ odd years of breeding young adults into monsters of self-indulgence to extremists of narcissism.

Nothing wrong with focusing on one-self to dream big things in life.  Nothing wrong with pampering one-self with things that he/she enjoys.  Who doesn’t want the finer things in life?  It’s in most people’s nature to be better.  In whichever criteria you’d like quantify in to be better…

Having the above two paragraphs in mind, a few things I’d like to ask all of us to think deeper into the underlying meaning through recent media:

  • The Jodi Arias case.  Well, those who are old enough to remember the O.J. Simpson case.  Back then, having your wife/spouse assaulted with a few blows maybe to take her life away has morphed into slaughtering your partner with 30+ slashes.
  • For argument sake, from Hannibal Lecter with psycho fetishes that has morphed into abducting young women, holding them in captive for a decade, treating them as sex slaves and abuse them violently when they’re pregnant.
  • From my adolescent days of maybe violating a few school rules of smoking within school campus to a bit of pushing and picking of freshman’s to morphing into slipping sedatives in drinks and gang rape, plus a amateur video to document it as a fun experience.

These came to mind as I wrote.  I’m sure those who are at my age or older can think of more things that are ‘outrageous’ to us, but it’s ‘kinda’ acceptable to young adults.  When I say ‘kinda’, I’m not promoting or advertising such behaviors and/or actions are moral and/or ethical at all – since the above mentioned are being penalized or under trial for their actions.

The main focus here now are morals and ethics.  I think that how our generations of ‘me, me, me and more of me’ has grown to develop extreme selfish behavior while morals and ethics are completely neglected.  I think if we don’t try to shift it back to some sort of balance of ‘me, me, me’ with some education of morals and ethics – the snowball will only get bigger and bigger and possibly bulldoze everything that comes across their way to the extreme of an avalanche!

Some may say that I’m generalizing.  Some may say that I’m over pessimistic.  You may be correct.  However, there’s nothing wrong with promoting critical thinking in young adults either.  Some sort of moral and ethics education during Junior High to High School students will only help young adults to build on a foundation to think before they act, making wise decisions on their abundant choices that they somewhat take for granted which may lead to undesired consequences.  Neither am I trying to promote the ‘dictatorship’ style of teachings in our education system because as young adults, they are ‘semi’ adults that has their mind of their own, seeking for answers, as their path move toward independence and be self-sufficient.  They have the brain power to make choices and decisions of their own to a certain extent and it’s the perfect timing for young adults to brainstorm themselves on what are considered moral and ethical.

Just my thoughts that education on morals and ethics should start very light and easy to understand.  It should start of with questions that raises the spark of lightbulbs in young adults’ brains.  It probably progresses into deeper understanding of theories as they become seniors in High School and for those who are interested can then pick as a major of Arts & Sciences in college.

This makes me think of my High School that did offer a such a course on ethics with a great textbook that I kept till today:

McInerney, Peter K. and George W. Rainbolt. Ethics. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 1994. PRINT.

It was in-depth enough yet easy to understand for levels of Junior/Senior students in High School.

Ethics_Peter-K-McInerney

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While I’m on the subject of education, for some reason, I think that a few Hollywood films that teachers of US History in High School should consider as part of their syllabus:

Far and Away (1992)

Forrest Gump (1994)

Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Lincoln (2012)

There may be more, these are the four that came to mind that portrays the essence of United States in different ways.  It doesn’t necessarily give the actual facts like a documentary but it allows students to ‘feel’ how United States history has an effect on Americans ‘back in those days’.  I think that it will help students to get a better understanding of facts in history, not to mention it’s a great way to strike interesting discussions, projects, essays, presentations etc…

Forrest-Gump

Last thought on this blog today is when the world is moving in lightning speed, many of us seem to forget lots of things that happen in the past that makes us who we are.  Especially for those who never went through a war (including myself).  When we are so focused on how fast we move in lightning speeds, the past seems to be boring and less important.  Not true.  It is more an important aspect to learn about the past as time passes.

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Photo Credits:

http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/forrest-gump/images/2210815/title/forrest-gump-screencap

http://www.amazon.com/