[lit-ideas] After a rain and other photographic considerations

  • From: "Lawrence Helm" <lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "Lit-Ideas " <Lit-Ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 22 Jan 2012 10:20:28 -0800

http://lawrencehelm.smugmug.com/RiverPhotography

 

We hadn't been to the river since 1-18-12 and Sage was driving me nuts.  By
early afternoon the rain had stopped and I couldn't tell whether it would
rain again, but getting Sage out of my study made it worth getting a bit
wet.  I took my Olympus E3 camera and Zuiko (Olympus) 14-54mm lens, both of
which are water and weather proofed.  The backdrop of white clouds against a
brilliant blue sky with the sun slanting above the levee turning the brush
and leaves burnt umber surprised me.  I took a bunch of photos and uploaded
26 to the above site.  If all my days were like that one I might not have
been interested in dabbling in other forms of photography.

 

"Film is making a comeback," people who love film and aren't drawn to
digital tell each other.  If one reads the film forums one will find people
buying, describing and taking photos with, "classic" film cameras.  I got
caught up in it and almost bought an Agfa "folder," but then I learned that
the bellows on these old folders almost always needs to be replaced, the
lubricating fluid has turned to glue and virtually no one develops 120 film
anymore.  On the other hand a large photo lab in March of 2011 announced
that business increased 8 percent over the previous year.  

 

There are collectors and people interested in the experience of "Medium",
and other large formats, but most film buffs shoot 35 millimeter, and as a
visit to eBay will demonstrate, one can pick up "classic" and "pro" film
cameras for mere pittances.  I resolved to pick up a few and alternate
between film and digital.  I got as far as getting my first 4 rolls of film
developed from the local Walgreens - at a cost of $48.62.  I searched for
discussions of film cost.  There was a lab in Colorado that charged only $7
for a 24-shot roll.  You had to use special envelopes and enclose a check
and it took a couple of weeks to get your developed film back.  I decided to
take down my spinnaker, but up my working jib and sail away from all that
bluster.  It would be fun to use the old film cameras I'd accumulated, but
"one roll a week fun" as opposed to a true alternative to my digital
cameras.  

 

Another consideration is that film buffs, many of them who hate digital
cameras, want to digitize their film photos so they can upload them to the
"film only" forums.  Do they not see the irony?  It is hard to miss.  I
suspect they just don't like thinking about it.

 

Some film buffs have decided to develop their own film, at least the black
and white.  Others want to cut cost by finding a lab that will send them
just the negatives.  They can then use their scanners to make their own
prints, or simply digitize their photos and store them like other digital
photos.  

 

I posted a note on a digital forum inviting a discussion on the extent to
which photography of any sort might be considered "art," but got no
responses.  The typical film and digital buff is a "gear-head" with no
artistic inclinations.   They are more interested in "image quality" and
"pixel peeping" than in producing anything with a pretense of artistic
merit.  Not all, to be sure, but they seem to predominate.  And those who do
want their photos to rise to the level of "art" are very often trying to
follow some artist of the past, or follow some accepted genre, especially
"street photography."  Vivian Maier is the current and perhaps pre-emanate
example of that:  See http://vivianmaier.blogspot.com/ and
http://www.vivianmaier.com/ .

 

"A good street photographer must possess many talents: an eye for detail,
light, and composition; impeccable timing; a populist or humanitarian
outlook; and a tireless ability to constantly shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot and
never miss a moment. It is hard enough to find these qualities in trained
photographers with the benefit of schooling and mentors and a community of
fellow artists and aficionados supporting and rewarding their efforts. It is
incredibly rare to find it in someone with no formal training and no network
of peers."  From http://www.vivianmaier.com/book/   

 

Are these same requirements necessary for doing "landscape" or "nature"
photography?  Perhaps some of them.  I doubt that it is necessary to have a
"populist or humanitarian outlook."  I took some rare photographs of people
at the river yesterday - a group of teen-agers had driven their truck down
and had unloaded some off-road bikes (probably Christmas presents) to roar
up and down on.  A blond girl, probably not a bike rider, showed some
interest in Ginger and Duffy.  I snapped a couple of photos of them, but I
can't recall any populist or humanitarian thoughts during that encounter.  I
normally feel a combination of contempt and annoyance when I see such
people.  They ride their bikes or quads up and down for a few moments and
then pack them up and leave.  Such vehicles don't do well if they are left
unused for long periods of time.  Kids get them for Christmas and ride them
a bit.  Then they leave them in the garage for a few months.  The next time
they try them their fuel systems are gummed up; so they crank, crank, crank
their engines - a common sound in the spring.  Vivian Maier, being more
Populist and humanitarian than I am would probably smile at that.  

 

Lawrence

 

 

 

 

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  • » [lit-ideas] After a rain and other photographic considerations - Lawrence Helm