Sunday, May 13, 2012

Jetpack Photography - Kirk Tuck's Take on Film and Digital

Personal Jetpack
Image Source:
Kirk Tuck has written a thought provoking piece about the controversy regarding how digital has affected photography. This is no nostalgic piece about how he longs for the good old days. It uses the analogy of competitive swimmers with jetpacks, and how, once they're allowed in the sport, no one can swim without one any more.
(Click Here) to read Kirk's piece on visualsciencelab.
I like many of the points that Kirk makes. I can admit two things in regard to this piece. First, I have a very hard time making myself slow down and think with a whiz-bang camera in my hands. I'm getting better. The Leica M8 is probably the best thing to happen to help me in that area. With that (wonderful) camera, I have to take my time, because it takes so long to write an image to the card that you better not miss the moment. But, seriously, the manual controls, manual focus probably being the most important, make me feel that I have invested something (if not money for film and processing) into each image.
Second, I do find it hard to wade through the piles of crap images that are posted on the web. I can click on through if I don't see something interesting, so no harm done. But, I find that I have to do that a lot.
One point that Kirk makes is that most of the famous images and successful collections were shot with film. Personally, I don't think that's a fair statement to make. How many years, how many decades of experience, went into making those film images? Sure, there are more images made every day now than then, so we can't compare the absolute numbers of images easily. But, definitely, the bulk of photographic history did not have digital equipment available to it.
I agree with Kirk's point that the equipment affects the photographer. I sure feel different when I'm holding a Lumix G3 than when I'm holding a 4x5 film camera. And, I shoot differently. I also judge other photographers (probably mostly incorrectly) by what they shoot with. Just last night, I met a lady who shoots the same Pentax film SLR that she has used her entire adult life. In my mind, she's a better photographer than her neighbor with an iPhone camera. Again, I'm probably wrong.
I prefer to focus my attention on what I like about each technology. Personally, I love the anticipation of getting film processed, when the images are just for my own enjoyment. It's even better when I have to wait to open an envelope filled with big 2 1/4" color transparencies, which have just returned from mail-in processing at Dwayne's.
(Click Here) for Dwayne's website. They do great work.
With that said, I sure appreciate the ability to experiment with new techniques with digital, see if they're working immediately, and resort to more proven approaches to make sure I get the shot, if not. I love being able to print (either scanned film or digital images) at home. I love having a 32" display, so I can see what a big print would look like, without having to invest in printing it.
And, personally, I'd love to have a jetpack.
Thanks, Kirk, for some stimulating words.