Thinking retro

Thinking retro

So last week I mentioned a project I’m working on for university.

The image used  some cameras from my collection or more accurately, my random accumulation of photographic ephemera. It’s an odd bunch of hand me downs from friends and relatives that cover a range of camera types and formats. The project gave me a reason to open the box and look at them for the first time in years. I even got a little nostalgic.

In fact I left the ones I used for the image out on display as they nicely illustrate the shift of technology from the 50’s to today, mechanical to digital. It was also interesting that muscle memory kicked in as I handled them. I had not used my 35mm SLR since 1998. That’s 15 years, yet I knew the controls and after playing a whileI think I actually miss making aperture adjustments physically on the lens instead of the back of the camera.

There are some things I don’t miss though.

  • Darkrooms (especially shared ones), along with fumes, managing temperatures, mixing chemicals and the occasional disasters.
  • Finding out a week later that my images were all duds or worse that the film had not loaded properly.
  • Not being able to make an exposure that could capture the full tonal range in a scene.

I did briefly wonder if there was a compromise of using film and getting it processed and scanned but I concluded that like many other photographers, I am addicted to the immediacy of digital and could no longer deal with the uncertainty of not knowing if I got the right result until I saw the proofs. Then there is the backlog of negatives and transparencies from when I did use film that I still need to sort through. Adding to that makes no sense right now…

That said, I really admire those people still working with film for the results they achieve.