We have shelves full of them, boxes in the loft; barring a house fire or aircraft crashing onto our roof, a large collection of photograph albums, some inherited, could be passed on into history. Black and white pictures on black pages, sticky pages unpeeling, flip up albums of 6×4 prints. But the days of calling at the chemist to collect a packet of prints, the hoped for best shot out of focus, are a mere memory.
When we joined a camera club over a decade ago, only half the members had converted to digital, now the colour slide show has been replaced by digital images projected from a computer onto a screen. Charity shops are full of old cameras. The real enthusiast used to be someone who had his own dark room, now he has a computer, sophisticated software packages and a good quality printer. Digital photos can be printed out by anyone, a trip to the supermarket machine, put in your memory device and collect.
Unlike a roll of film, digital never runs out. Many computers are full of thousands of unseen images, lost to history as technology changes. From pictures taken on mobile phones of news as it happens, to bumble bees captured with the most expensive macro lens; everyone is a photographer now. I prefer compact cameras that point and shoot. But for the ‘technowhiz’ with the right software and a lot of patience, there is nothing that can’t be done to a digital image; cut down to size, lamp posts erased, colours altered, several snaps melded together or the photograph turned into a painting. My book covers are all created with digital designs using original photographs.
Authors are advised to have a website; you can build your own or find a website provider. I found myself with a template; a digital scrapbook waiting to be filled, not just with words, but with pictures. The means to an end became an end in itself.
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Facebook; social interface, time waster, or something more sinister? It does not need to be filled with family photos and intimate details of your life. Artists and photographers just enjoy sharing pictures and many of us relish seeing places we are never likely to visit ourselves.
I have my camera or my smart phone with me all the time, still recording holidays and family events, but looking out for the unusual and interesting, snapping anything that might be suitable for future blogs or Instagram.
Ironically, despite this revolution and the explosion of digital colour everywhere we look, people love old black and white photographs; most of us are intrigued if we visit an exhibition. We enjoy the iconic images and the best photographers of that era took beautiful pictures. There is a clarity and sharpness in black and white photographs that has never been present in colour images. The other attraction is that past lives are captured, whether it is a crowded city street or an individual’s gaze, every picture tells a story.
It might seem that in modern life onlookers are all too ready to snap or even film disasters with their smart phones, but keen photographers are often reluctant to take photographs of people going about their normal day, fearful they will be seen as terror suspects or unsavoury characters. It would be a shame if the early Twenty First Century was represented by rural scenes and cityscapes devoid of human beings, I enjoy taking natural shots of people.
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