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Thread: Why a Mechanical Film Camera in a Digital Age?

  1. #51
    Senior Member JohnW's Avatar
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    Jun 2009
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    Re: Why a Mechanical Film Camera in a Digital Age?

    By way of showing that the sharpshooter vs. shotgunner debate is an old one that well pre-dates the digital era, here's an amusing paragraph. It's about a newfangled device called the "hand camera" (incidentally, for which you could easily substitute "digital camera."

    "It is amusing to watch the majority of hand camera workers shooting off a ton of plates helter-skelter, taking their chances as to the ultimate result. One in a while these people make a hit, and it is due to this cause that many pictures produced by means of the hand camera have been considered flukes. At the same time, it is interesting to note with what regularity certain men seem to be the favourites of chance -- so that it would lead us to conclude that, perhaps, chance is not everything, after all."

    —Alfred Stieglitz, 1897 (from Bill Jay's Album magazine)


  2. #52
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    Re: Why a Mechanical Film Camera in a Digital Age?

    ...excerpt from "Photography, or the Writing of Light" by Jean Baudrillard

    "The idea is to resist noise, speech, rumors by mobilizing photography's silence; to resist movements, flows, and speed by using its immobility; to resist the explosion of communication and information by brandishing its secrecy; and to resist the moral imperative of meaning by deploying its absence of signification. What above all must be challenged is the automatic overflow of images, their endless succession, which obliterates not only the mark of photography (le trait), the poignant detail of the object (its punctum), but also the very moment of the photo, immediately passed, irreversible, hence always nostalgic. The instantaneity of photography is not to be confused with the simultaneity of real time. The flow of pictures produced and erased in real time is indifferent to the third dimension of the photographic moment. Visual flows only know change. The image is no longer given the time to become an image. To be an image, there has to be a moment of becoming which can only happen when the rowdy proceedings of the world are suspended and dismissed for good. The idea, then, is to replace the triumphant epiphany of meaning with a silent apophany of objects and their appearances."

  3. #53
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    Nov 2007
    Tubac, Arizona
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    Re: Why a Mechanical Film Camera in a Digital Age?

    I learned the basics before I ever got to high school. Rules of composition, pre-visualization, and such.

    What I'm criticizing is the folks who push the button as soon as they walk out the door and hold it down until they return.
    They have no clue what they're doing or why.

    They just hope something interesting will magically appear.

    And if it doesn't... so what?
    Erase the memory card and do it all over again.

    - Leigh[/QUOTE]

    Consider yourself exceptional, Leigh. With today's auto everything cameras and cell phones most camera owners simply point and squirt. I'm guessing most images used by that group are for web usage and everything else is deleted.

    It wasn't too long ago that I'd fly to Oahu with 20 rolls of film to last me three days of shooting epic surf during a big winter swell. If and when Waimea Shorebreak was going off I'd be surrounded by magazine photographers and serious hobbyists who would look at my Leica R7 mounted to a Telyt 560m lens and laugh. They'd be shooting their auto everything Nikons and Canons as fast as the motor would advance the film while I'd shoot 3-4 frames of each wave IF the dynamic was there. I had no auto rewind on my Leica so I'd manually rewind and they'd be rolling on the ground with laughter. Of course... I had two extra bodies that I could mount to the Telyt in case another swell rolled through. Some of these guys could go through an entire roll of film on one wave... since the film was supplied free of charge.

    Some years later I had a full press pass to shoot motorcycle racing at Infineon Raceway and the laughter was palpable when I showed up with my Leica DMR and manual focus 280 APO Elmarit with a 1.4 teleconverter. Comments ranged from "You've got to be kidding me", to: "Give me a break!"

    Light in the early morning hours was flat and the Canon's and Nikons had difficulty auto focusing. I was fully manual and able to shoot at around 1.5 frames per second with a 9 shot buffer. Then I'd wait an interminable amount of time as motorcycles sped by and I missed the action while waiting for images to be written to card.

    I was the brunt of everyone's jokes until the intermission between races when we all returned to the editing room to look at our images. All I heard were groans and expletives. The auto focus cameras were all producing out of focus images.

    I saw this as my chance to educate these "masters" as to the value of a manual focus camera in difficult light... so I approached them with my MacBook Pro and showed them images that revealed the stitching on the leathers of a rider who was dragging his knee puck through a turn. (This was in 2006, and auto focus has improved considerably since then.)

    I wish I had photos of their expressions! First they looked at me in disbelief, then the camera and lens, and the insults and jokes ceased for the rest of the day. Some of these shots were posted in the DMR image thread, page 6, post 292.

    Today we have memory cards that enable thousands of images per card. I can only imagine those same photographers are now shooting eight frames per second, or more, in their attempts to capture that decisive moment that will land them a sale to the sports magazine they shoot for, or hope to be published by. It's all business... and the current sophistication of cameras is just a tool that allows mediocrity to compete with skilled craftsmen by sheer force of numbers.

    Mastery of one's craft has always been the exception and not the rule in any skill. Good that you've worked towards that end, as it will provide many more satisfying images in the long run (as well as save you a lifetime of editing mediocre images!)

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