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