Don on dig­i­tal

NPhoto - - Close-up -

Af­ter a life­time of shoot­ing film and do­ing his own print­ing in the dark­room, Don McCullin be­gan us­ing dig­i­tal cam­eras se­ri­ously in 2012. Here he re­flects on his ex­pe­ri­ences with the new tech­nol­ogy…

How are you get­ting on with dig­i­tal SLRs? In some re­spects I’m strug­gling. If I’d had dig­i­tal cam­eras years ago I could have taken them to places where you couldn’t pos­si­bly have used film, and taken some good pic­tures. Be­ing able to shoot at ISO1600, 3200, is amaz­ing. The AF sys­tems are fan­tas­tic too – once you get the AF right there is noth­ing you can’t shoot on the move. On the other hand, I will have an ev­er­last­ing love af­fair with film. You can con­tam­i­nate dig­i­tal im­ages with Pho­to­shop­ping, and I won­der if a lot of things we see now are not al­ways truth­ful. Dig­i­tal cam­eras are a dif­fer­ent kind of ap­pli­ca­tion, and re­quire a dif­fer­ent mind­set. So I can do nice things with them, but it’s dif­fi­cult for a man of my age, who has been us­ing film for 60 years, to fall in love with some­thing else. There is no deny­ing they are re­mark­able, though.

Do you use dig­i­tal cam­eras for land­scapes? I do, but I pre­fer film. I read The Times ev­ery day, and I keep see­ing these early morn­ing land­scapes they pub­lish with ex­tra­or­di­nary dawns – it looks like some­thing from the Amer­i­can West. Dig­i­tal can do this for you, but it tends to ex­ag­ger­ate, and gives you choco­late­box scenes with very ac­cen­tu­ated colours. I like to use black and white in my land­scapes, as I can cre­ate drama with Wag­ne­r­ian skies, metal­lic, dark and threat­en­ing…

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