“All this digital isn’t real photography”        

I talked to a confused young photographer that wondered if he should do as a friend that was using a 1970’s film camera and discard his DSLR for a film camera. His friend told him, “all this digital isn’t real photography”,

I doubt his opinionated pal even thought about or was aware that it has only been a bit over a century ago that photographers needed large glass plates, hazardous chemicals, bulky cameras and wagons to carry everything. And I wonder if there were some photographers that, when roll film first became available, said about the same thing when they saw people hand-holding their little box cameras.

The medium of photography has become very accessible for everyone. The days when a photographer had to be an engineer and chemist are long gone. With modern technology, today’s supercharged cameras with their machine-gun-like shutters and seemingly speed of light focusing allow many photographers to get great pictures on their first try. Photographers once had to understand the combinations of shutter and aperture for a properly exposed image, and worried about camera shake and film choice. Gosh, it’s only around 20 years ago that photographers carried more than one camera if they wanted black & white as well as colour prints of some subject.

I am not sure that the photographers of the late 1800’s or early 1900’s were really interested in photography as a creative medium as much as they were striving to document reality. No doubt they struggled to convince their subjects to sit as still as possible for long time periods while they set up unwieldy photographic equipment. And I am convinced that many people that tried photography “pre-digital” would not be shooting if it had remained like that.

There are those that are intent on complaining that with the end of film came the end of photography. Personally, I don’t think film is going away any time soon. I expect most outlets may not carry film or offer processing much longer, but there are lots of distributers that still supply film. I’d like to see the return of film to larger camera shops, along with people capable of giving the correct advice to users.

I rarely shoot with film these days, but I still have a film camera and I did put a roll thru it this past year and had fun. Nevertheless, I will admit to being frustrated at all the work it took to get to the final images. Digital is easier.

I am afraid I couldn’t give that photographer any advice. Although I disagreed with his friend’s comment, I told him I’d look forward to seeing his photographs and be there to help what ever his choice.

Photography has always been about technology. I hope that photographer works at producing images (digital or film) that are good visual statements about what he feels or wants to say. Most people viewing his photography will only be interested in the resulting photos and won’t really care how his images were produced as long as the final photograph has something to say, shows control over the technology used, and is visually exciting.






Searching For that First DSLR 

Film then Digital

Digital technology has been around long enough that I occasionally overlook that there still are people who have never used anything but film cameras. I recently talked to a photographer who is finally ready to discard his old film camera and wondered which DSLR he should select.

He even sent me an email saying that regarding a camera; he would “need the whole meal deal.” I admit that I am not sure what he actually meant by that. I said to him that today’s modern technology cameras offer choices that are very different from his old film camera. As readers know, he is about to take a huge, creative step as he moves to digital.

He told me he has enjoyed photographing local rodeos. So what should be my advice to an aspiring rodeo photographer? Manufacturers like Nikon, Canon, Pentax, Sony, Fuji, and many more, all make cameras that will probably work fine for sports like rodeos.

I could start by suggesting he to go online and search out sport photographer sites for recommendations. Photographing sports is very technology driven and manufacturers are aggressively marketing to those photographers. He should begin by choosing a camera that is durable, and capable of taking some abuse, sturdy enough to be bumped around, because I think that’s a pretty rough and tumble (and dusty) world he’s participating in.

Both Canon and Nikon make professional cameras specifically designed for sports and the accompanying high ISO needed for low light, interior locations, that will focus almost any lens extremely fast, and are easily capable of high quality, excellent enlargements.

For fun I read up on professional rodeo photographer, Rick Madsen, who wrote, “Remember the camera is just a tool. When a hammer is used, it is the operator who makes it strike the nail. The same concept applies to a camera. It is just a tool and it’s what the photographer does with that tool that makes the difference between a good and a mediocre image. You must take the time to learn the camera’s operation and then utilize that acquired knowledge through practice to become proficient. You have to pay your dues.”

I personally would save my money on the camera and spend it on the lens, as my real concern would be to get a quality lens. A saying I have heard over and over in the many years I have been in this medium is that, “it’s all about the glass,” referring to the lens. And from my readings, most rodeo photographers recommend 70-200mm lenses, and I also think a 70-300mmm would fit the job also.

I hope he can find a good, well priced, used camera and a couple of quality lenses for it. He will be faced with so many choices and will receive many, many well meaning recommendations from other photographers that he’ll stay awake nights wondering what he’s got himself into. Nevertheless, I know he will be excited when he finally gets that first DSLR and embarks on the exciting journey as he learns how to use it.