Friday, May 03, 2013

Almost like cheating

Life before digital cameras was a sad time in our lives. When we shot pictures, we had to wait for
DAYS to get them back.
By the time we picked them up from the developer place, the excitement had subsided. When we flipped through the double prints and tossed all the pictures where we had our eyes closed, the ones where we looked fat, drunk, pissed, stupid, or obtuse, we tossed. We were left with only a few precious pictures that documented a significant event of our lives.  It was such an unfortunate time.
Except for those of us who had access to darkrooms where the light was a weird shade of orange (so that undeveloped photographic paper didn't do funny), and smells wafted up from dirty trays of chemicals capable of altering your DNA, and causing offsprings to be born with three eyes, and limbs like a centipede. If you could brave a darkroom, you could produce remarkable photographs.
I never really learned to take pictures until I processed my own crap. "Hmmm. I will never take a photograph of someone in front of an open door or window with lots of light."
Before I learned to print my own photos, I spent a miner's pension on bad photographs.
I bought my first good film camera, a Canon FTb, when I was in the Army in 1971. When I got out in 1973 and started to work for The Community News, I bought a Canon F1 on the installment plan. I still have it, though I rarely take a picture with it.
It was there that my friend Dale Short introduced me to the darkroom. I rocked trays and watched the magic of a photograph materialize through a miracle dance of light and chemicals. It's where I learned my photographic chops.
Nowadays, shooting incredible pictures is as simple as pulling your iPhone out of your pocket, almost as an afterthought, and snapping a few frames. If your eyes are closed DELETE, and you shoot another one. It's almost like cheating.
So, I cheated today and shot this photo. I doctored it up with Photoshop. An effect that would have taken hours in a darkroom, at the expense of ones offsprings :)
Y'all have a great weekend.


  1. Ah yeah, the darkroom, I didn't develop photos, but the process is pretty much the same for X-rays, which is what I developed. And those chemicals were pretty marly, thank God for automatic processors. NOw everything is digital, how did we ever get around without all this technology... :)

  2. That new photo looks like a van Gogh. If you look quickly, lol It's really nice.

  3. The one fun thing about film is finding a roll that got forgotten and then developing them to see what was captured...then being surprised by the prints...other than that, I'm really happy that digital is here and I can delete the ones where I look fat...usually that leaves only pics of other people! Your post reminded me of my Dad because he had a darkroom where he developed his own photos...he loved gadgets and he loved photography. He would be so excited to use a cool digital camera! Gosh, I miss my Dad!

  4. and yet? as a freelance photographer, my favorite part of the work was actually picking up my pictures from developer, sitting in the parking lot and anticipating what I captured and what I missed!! the thrill of the unknown until I had it in my greasy lil hands!! And I actually learned alot from the mistakes I made on the bad ones...for the next shoot. But then, I'm a traditionalist...loved film and the darkroom. Took me a while to change over to digital but as we all know, change is important and must be done in order to compete in this fast paced world we live in. (now I cannot imagine NOT shooting digitally) but man, oh man.....I remember those parking lots rituals with a smile.
    Thanks for taking me back there for just a bit this evening!

  5. I admit that yes it is a little like cheating (the iPhone), and then you have the filters to put it through - which is definitely cheating!!

  6. Yes I agree it's come a long way but think how many jobs were lost on account of it.
    I look at this little iphone and think my God!!
    What doesn't it do and how many factories will close now because of it. I guess that's progress.

  7. Funnily enought digital cameras spoiled photography for me. I was a keen amateur (did some wedding photography for a while) and loved the surprise/creative element. It's all too easy now to take a rubbish picture and fiddle about with it on the internet until it looks great! I still take photos with my little digi-camera but don't have the same interest.

  8. I love PhotoShop. The end.

  9. Sometimes during the pre-digital age I had to take photos for the newspaper. One time I shot a large group of kids. They went home. I hadn't put any film in the damn fricking camera. I just about passed out. I was able to get all the kids back except one, and I lied and said the camera had malfunctioned. Now you know how evil I am.


  10. I love that we can take random pictures of ourselves or whatever when we feel like it, then we can delete them just as quickly and only keep our favorites :)


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