Still the Value of a Picture?
By Jeff Salter
Topic: Looking at the photos on your phone (or camera, if you still use one), what place or type of event do you tend to photograph most often?
Some background / context before I attempt to respond to the actual topic:
In my household (as I was growing up), the only camera we had was one of those 1940s box cameras with the parallax mirror — you looked DOWN into the camera to see what the lens was going to depict in FRONT of you. Usually the framing was whacked and the pre-set focus was typically awful. Furthermore, we never had a flash attachment (so indoor pix were kaput)!
Consequently, when I was between my sophomore & junior years (high school), I bought a cheap – all I could afford – Kodak Hawkeye camera, so I could take my OWN pix and actually SEE what I was filming (through the viewfinder). Since it had a built-in flash (which required me to insert a small bulb before I used it), I was able to take far better photos, with much more detail, than had ever been possible (by me) with that old, clunky box camera. However, it still did NOT have any adjustable focus or variable shutter speed.
I was a real shutterbug that summer (1966) – and thereafter – because it was MY camera and I could take it anywhere I wanted. These were the days when you used actual FILM, had to leave the exposed film at the drug store, they shipped it – by bus, I think – to New Orleans (where it was developed and printed), it was bussed back, and the drug store called you to say your pix were in. It was costly, time-consuming, and you never knew if your photos “came out” until you opened the envelope and flipped through the prints. [Often there would be a print of an empty frame, or a double exposure, or something completely out of focus because somebody’s hand jerked when snapping the shutter.]
I used that camera for a year or so. Not sure exactly why, but during my senior year, I don’t recall taking any / many photos with it. Hmmm. At any rate, it did not accompany me out of state for my freshman college year.
Step up to 35mm
Fast-forward to the summer of 1969 (after my first college year), when I got a job with a local daily newspaper in Hammond LA. They taught me how to use their Honeywell Pentax Spotmatic SLR 35mm… and I also learned how to develop the B&W film in their darkroom, and print only the frames we needed. With the enlarger, I also had the ability to crop the print to fit what the editor wanted.
I took lots of photos for that paper – and a few for personal use – and for the weekly paper I moved to the following year. Then, in the military, I worked on three different base publications, where I also was a photo-journalist and editor. In all, at least 100 of my bylined photos were published, in addition to many that went to press without my byline.
Along the way, I finally purchased my own 35mm camera (at the base exchange) — Mamiya-Sekor 1000 DTL. Used that for both work (Air Force) and family photos. Sold that camera before I shipped overseas, knowing I could purchase a discounted upgrade when I reached my new duty station. There (in Greenland) I purchased an Asahi Pentax Spotmatic II in 35 mm… and eventually collected a few additional lenses.
For a few years after my military hitch, I’d take occasional pix of the kids, but eventually, I just lost interest in camera work. For one thing, those were very LEAN years (economically) and the cost of film, processing, and prints was just one luxury we had to do without. One additional problem was that I didn’t have a reliable flash attachment for indoor work.
The Age of Digital Photoraphy
It wasn’t long afterward that FILM-based cameras were obviously on the way out. The other HUGE development (over my Pentax) was the ability to let the camera AUTOMATICALLY adjust both the focus and the shutter speed (vis-à-vis light conditions). Our daughter had the first digital camera, I think… and my wife soon followed with one of her own. From that point forward, there were enough digital photos being snapped that my trusty (manually-adjustable) Pentax was basically obsolete and completely neglected. Shortly before I retired and relocated (2006) I finally sold my Pentax, the extra lenses, and whatever else I had in that camera bag to a friend whose daughter was interested in “old-timey” photography.
Now, my actual response to this week’s topic
All that was simply to bring y’all up to speed — how my photographic interests started, what it went through, and how it waned.
Now the issue is: what have I recently taken pictures of?
The short answer is “not much.”
Usually whenever family shots are to be taken, there are at least two other people with fancy phones snapping pix. Rarely is there a need for me to get involved.
Furthermore, until last autumn, I had an older model phone (3G) which COULD take photos… but I had difficulty working it. And it was a hassle to transfer images from that old phone to my email… where I could make use of them.
[Before last autumn – and the 3G /4G switchover – I had a little cheapo Canon digital rig that stored images on a SIM card. To make use of them, I’d have to remove the card, insert it into my PC tower drive, then upload the images, etc. I had little control over the resolution… or much of anything else.]
New Horizon — phone camera
It’s only been a few months since I’ve finally joined the rest of youse guys… in shooting pix with my cell phone. Things changed a lot when our phone carrier forced me to “upgrade” to 4G and I received my wife’s “old” phone. Now I can snap my own images, easily send them to my email addy, and quickly upload them to my PC hard-drive.
But what do I photograph now?
A lot of it has been pieces of my fairly extensive collection of military gear, uniforms, and miscellaneous. Over the past couple of years, I’ve been downsizing that collection… selling items here and there. Anything I try to sell must have enough pictures to show its features and condition.
I also shoot photos of Bojangles and Mister – our pets – and various scenes around the farm.
Other than those – unless I’m somewhere without my wife (and her phone camera) – I don’t typically have much need to take my own pix.
Seems a shame to turn my back on all those previous years – professional, amateur, and personal – as a photographer… but these days I’m far more occupied using those THOUSAND WORDS that each picture would otherwise convey.
What about YOU? Do you snap a lot of photos? On your cell phone, presumably… but what do you shoot?
[JLS # 603]