This is the introduction to a short series of articles discussing my ideas about the developments of photographic tools in the last fifteen years.
I’m pretty much “Yay digital!” all the time.
I’ve been shooting pics for almost twenty years, and teaching others how to do it for the last nine. I learnt photography the traditional way; a 35mm film camera and a black & white darkroom. Then colour, medium and large format, lighting etc. Once I had a pretty good grasp (I thought at the time) of film photography in 2002, digital cameras came along and I learnt all over again. Tens of thousands of frames on digital cameras of all shapes and sizes later. I have no doubt that the best images I’ve ever made are these I’m making now with these new tools. Shooting digital has taught me more about light, tone and colour than I ever understood with film.
The technical specification, reliability and usability of these cameras is astonishing: as small and light as a 35mm film camera, more frames per second than almost any film based stills camera, image quality better than medium format film, low light sensitivity is 3 stops or more greater than the fastest colour film, full-auto if you want it, never run out of film, hell you can even shoot movies on them (not clips, actual frickin’ feature films).
The modern D-SLR camera really is all things to all men.
These cameras are awesome, yes. And all this power is moving photography in new and unexpected ways? maybe.
The speed and flexibility of these cameras is making every genre of photography better?
Well, and here’s my point, I don’t think it is.
From my own shooting, assisting and teaching I have a developed a few ideas about what modern cameras do to the process of making photographs and what this means for Photography. I’m not going to be exclaiming that we all should go back to mixing our own chemicals and coating glass, but with technology developing so fast we need to consider what this has done to how we make photographs, and in a wider sense how the tool that we use directs and to some extent defines our creativity.