Photography has come a long way in the last 20 years. When I used film, both slide and print, B&W and colour, in the 70’s and 80’s, I thought how convenient the silver based 35mm film process was compared with the glass plate technique used by the great photographers such as Ponting, Cartier-Bresson and Adams, and earlier techniques such as Calotype etc. I was in awe of the silver based dark room process where one could dodge, burn and crop etc, exercising what I thought was a great degree of control over the final output, which was a paper print. I thought that using Ilford Multigrade paper, with different filters to give the image high or low contrast was the ultimate control for the home darkroom. I could and would take a roll of 36 B&W images (on XP1 film), go home and develop the film and print a contact sheet, and perhaps have the best image printed from the roll within a few hours. If I took a roll of colour transparencies, I would mail off the film, and rejoice if the slides came back within a week. Colour negative film was in the same league, the results being variable, either from the local pharmacy, or the professional laboratory.
Digital photography has given us many gifts, making us all hopefully better photographers. We can take as many pictures as we want, without having to count the cost per frame; we can see a result immediately, so can retake the shot if the subject’s eyes are shut, or their mouth is open; we can see if we have inadvertently used wrong camera settings, and that is just by looking at the back of the camera. We can shoot continuously for long sequences, up to 100+ frames, without changing film, hoping for just the moment when the wild animal does something interesting (yawns??). We can set the cameras up so they will take pictures when something comes into focal, and each picture will be sharp, and exposed properly, even if the light conditions are changing all the time. Similarly, we can set the camera to take one frame every 10 seconds, or every minute, and then roll them all into a time lapse movie! Back home, we can do innumerable things to make the image look as we saw it, or wanted to see it, or even something that would be impossible to see. We can change the speed of the “film”, the colour balance, we can convert to B&W, we can even make the image look as if it were taken on old colour or B&W film, complete with ‘grain’. Often, the final result looks nothing like the original subject.
My first digital camera in 2001 was a Nikon Coolpix 885, with a massive 3 megapixels per shot. There was a time delay between pressing the release and the exposure; my first digital Antarctic pictures all had sloping horizons! The improvement in digital camera technology has been rapid and prodigious. We now have “35mm” size = full-frame cameras with up to 60 megapixels in that 36x24mm frame. There is a huge variety of programs available to process our images; most of the functions in those programs, most of us will never use. I have been fortunate enough to be able to take my digital cameras to some fantastic places on this planet, as well as just at home, and I am sharing some of the resulting images here. I hope that viewers will enjoy the images, and hopefully be inspired to do better, and take more. We now have no excuse for not producing beautiful images, to please ourselves and others.
The picture on the right will lead you to my latest efforts, just click on it!