Photography – stepping back in time

I was blessed to be able to know my great-great grandmother. She lived to be 105 years old. She was born before the inventions of toilet paper or Coca-Cola; the radio, telephone, and television; the automobile or the plane.  She was born before George Eastman invented the roll of film.  I wish I was a bit older and had really taken notes on her stories – she was in her 40’s when Henry Ford invented mass production and made the automobile ubiquitous.  I think she had children who were old enough to fight in both World Wars.  Born before the Centennial and seeing the Bicentennial celebration of the USA, imagine everything she saw as the United States found its place in the world as an economic power.  Which reminds me – I should probably spend some time recording the stories of my wife’s 95 year-old grandfather this year.  But that’s another topic – back to photography.

As my travel has increased, so has my picture-taking. In 2013 I shot over 2000 pictures on my iPad mini.  As a child, I always remember wanting an SLR camera. I eventually got a camera or two, but they weren’t the SLRs with interchangeable zoom lenses and manual controls to allow you to be really creative. Maybe I wasn’t an effective communicator, but the reality is the Pentax or Canon cameras I wanted were just too expensive, so I had point-and-shoot cameras. So as I’m working on a passage for my next book I realized I haven’t really explored my passion for photography lately, and perhaps never at more than a superficial level. And so begins my journey down yet another rabbit hole….

In the process of seeing what my options might be, I somehow discovered that 35mm film is much higher resolution than even the best digital cameras. They also have the ability to do really good night shots since the contrast levels are excellent. (Night pictures on my digital cameras have always been grainy and rarely get the result I desire.) Better yet, old 35mm film cameras are dirt cheap! So I can shoot film, have my creative control to find my inner artist, have the images scanned during processing to still have digital files, and not spend thousands of dollars on a camera! After two weeks of exploration and borderline obsessive reading I’m looking forward to trying out my “new” Canon AE-1 Program. I’m sure many canisters of various films are in my future, along with filters, lenses, etc. as I start “chasing the light”, but for now I just want to run a few rolls of Fuji 200 for some delayed gratification of finally owning, and shooting, the camera of my childhood desires.

If you think about it, those of us alive today have seen amazing change as well, including the near extinction of film cameras, so I better gain an appreciation for the art of film photography now. I’ll probably spend more on film and developing during one trip this summer than I spent on all the gear, but will the results be worth it? I guess it’s pay now or pay later, but there’s just something that borders on romanticism with film versus the sterile feeling of digital photos.

Expect updates in the future, but for now I’ll share some of my favorite photos I’ve taken over the last few years using either my 6MP Panasonic digital camera (thank you Krissie) or the iPad mini (thanks again, Krissie!).  Clicking on each picture should provide a larger image.


Hidden Lake – Glacier National Park


“Narrow Street” in Cheng Du, China


The next four images are from the area around North Swan Beach, NC:

July 30 2010 127

2.12.11 235

July 30 2010 145

July 30 2010 048

Great café in Florence, Italy:

4.23.14 713

These are all digital photos.  Will they be accessible in 50 years?  Think of your digital files from 20 years ago – how can you access them today?  I can’t even find my pre-2009 files right now!  But I know where all of my printed pictures are.  By moving back to film, I hope to have negatives, CD’s, and digital versions for most of my important images and develop better skill and artistic vision as a photographer.  I’ll have the best photos printed as well for quick access and sharing.  I’m looking forward to future advancements in technology and our world, but sometimes taking a look at the past is worthwhile too.


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