There’s probably about 1435564 webpages about this subject. I’m not here to tell you about the technical advantages and disadvantages. I’d rather talk about how I feel about it spiritually. Sounds lame eh? Dali Lamo.
I will confess, I used to be a somewhat serious amateur photographer. I was even a photographer’s assistant to a very accomplished photographer. Back when I started photography in 2004, digital slr’s were not all the rage yet. They were still pretty expensive and new on the market. Being a poor son of a bitch and a purist I started with an all manual operation Pentax K1000. This was the king of all starter cameras.
To be an even greater purist, I used slide film or transparency film. Using this kind of film meant there was no alteration to the exposure (brightness and darkness) of the pictures you took. See, when you use the regular print film that most people used, the lab would adjust your photos if they were too dark or too bright.
The combination of a manual camera and slide film meant I was in total control. There wasn’t a lot of room for error and I had to be very conscious of my settings and environment. It was like I had to be completely zen. My brain was always calculating exposures and focusing took a steady hand and a sharp eye.
After a day and night of shooting my hopes and dreams were all hanging on to whether or not my shots were correctly exposed and tack sharp. The anticipation was my life’s fuel for purpose. I was a young man with a camera who marched all through his city establishing a collection of the city with his own eye.
Switching on my light table with loupe in hand I would eagerly sprawl all my newly captured slides on the 2 by 4 plexiglass. Liking what I would see from a distance I would get a closer look with my glass eye and pray that it was tack sharp. The colours were so amazingly vibrant I felt like I was tripping on some kind of psychedelic drug.
It felt special or at least it felt special to my ego that I was getting better and probably better than most amateurs. I knew my stuff and I had enough love and determination for the art form that the money spent on film and the time spent trekking was painless.
This was all taken away when I bought my first Canon dslr when most people would probably have gotten their jollies.
Some how the advances in technology took photography down to a whole new level. It introduced an entirely different aspect of something that was so organic for decades.
It’s similar to the many ways of life. Like how it’s not how you got the Mercedes, it’s the fact that you have it. In this world of ours no one cares about genuineness they only care about the surface. No one cares that your photographs were a collection of research, sweat, patience, calculations and mindfulness. It’s all about the final product.
Between digital slr’s and Photoshop there’s not a lot of reason for knowledge and passion. It can still be there but I doubt it’s the same as when you’re winding the film, adjusting your shutter speed, holding the camera steady all the while knowing you can’t fix where you screw up and every shot is costing you 25 cents.
I guess for the masses digital cameras fill the void but for the purist who is out there to be one with his camera nothing beats a fully manual slr cocked and loaded with 35mm slide film, accompanied with an arsenal of filters with a discriminant retina staring carefully through the sight aiming the barrel towards his target.