Film pho­tog­ra­phy

Tech Advisor - - FEATURE -

Film pho­tog­ra­phy still has a healthy ex­is­tence, with some ex­pert pho­tog­ra­phers re­fus­ing to use any­thing else. And those throw­away card­board ana­logue cam­eras are still around, prov­ing an es­pe­cially re­silient hit on the wed­ding cir­cuit. Plus, of course, there are plenty of film mak­ers who would never use any­thing other than 35mm film cam­era, be­liev­ing it sim­ply looks bet­ter.

But the move from ana­logue to dig­i­tal in the world of still and video pho­tog­ra­phy has been quick and al­most to­tal. And when you con­sider that the first mod­ern dig­i­tal cam­era widely avail­able was the Ca­sio QV-10 in 1995, and the first cam­era to use Com­pact­Flash was the Ko­dak DC-25 in 1996, the speed of change be­comes ap­par­ent. The con­cept of Jpeg didn’t even ex­ist un­til the late 1980s.

For the vast ma­jor­ity of peo­ple at the time PC Ad­vi­sor first ap­peared, pho­tog­ra­phy was strictly an ana­logue pur­suit, and movie mak­ing the pre­serve of the one friend or rel­a­tive who had ev­ery­thing. Go­ing to the chemist to pick up your hol­i­day snaps was as much a part of the trip as won­der­ing what would ar­rive home first: you or the post­card.

You had no preview, so the chances that all 24 or 32 snaps would be good or even us­able were very low. (Un­like the chance that the as­sis­tant in your lo­cal Boots was likely to take his or her own copy of your most em­bar­rass­ing snap for un­der the counter pos­ter­ity.) Chang­ing the film on many cam­eras was strictly mum- or dad’s pre­serve, as clumsy hands could easily ex­pose a whole roll of film to nat­u­ral light and ruin a week or two’s hard pho­to­graphic work. And even though film lim­ited the amount of photos you could take, shoot­ing a few shots of the wardrobe in or­der to fin­ish the roll was an honourable tra­di­tion.

I re­mem­ber be­ing stu­pen­dously im­pressed by one of my un­cles when he showed up to a fam­ily gath­er­ing with a hand­held VHS cam­corder. It was about as big as a small fam­ily car, took aw­ful footage and had next to no bat­tery life. But still. Me, on the telly. It was like magic.

To­day this seems im­pos­si­bly quaint. To take photos and video you don’t even need a stand­alone cam­era, as ev­ery Tom, Dick and Har­ry­hausen car­ries a ver­i­ta­ble dig­i­tal stu­dio ev­ery­where they go in the shape of their phone. As is of­ten the case with dig­i­tal media, the sanc­tity of the in­di­vid­ual shot has dis­ap­peared as it’s pos­si­ble to take and re­take an in­fi­nite num­ber of photos un­til you have that per­fect shot of ev­ery­one gurn­ing around a pint pot.

Home movies are posted online in sec­onds, for all the world to see (of­ten be­fore their sub­jects know the footage has been cap­tured). And edit­ing both photo and video is within the grasp of ev­ery­one who has ac­cess to a PC and some ba­sic soft­ware.

There’s still no sub­sti­tute for pho­to­graphic skill. There never will be. But the world of dig­i­tal puts the abil­ity to take de­cent photos in the hands of ev­ery­one, all the time. And that has to be a good thing. Try to re­mem­ber that the next time an em­bar­rass­ing pic­ture of you ap­pears on Face­book.

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