I miss the days of the black & white and colour darkroom. An eight hour day would literally fly by while immersing myself in the art of traditional film developing and the darkroom print process. My few experiments with split toning* were always a bit of a hit-or-miss, nonetheless, always a challenge.
When digital photography became the norm, production in the studio went way up, but the “fun” component fell to an all-time low, at least as far as I was concerned.
Eventually, any Tom, Dick, or Sally could become a “professional” photographer by setting their fancy DSLR to auto and rapid firing away.
Post production editing, especially print production, was often passed on to professionals in Pro labs. At one point in time, I was producing approximately 7000 prints a day (over 40,000 per year), many of them enlargements, on a quarter-million-dollar Noritsu.
I felt like a slave to the machine. The fun of professional printing work had left the building with Elvis.
All that was left to look forward to was correcting other people’s mistakes in the lab, invariably made during the production phase of “pro” photography.
To this day, I am shocked how little many working pro photographers know about digital editing, let alone the silver halide print process.
Like many photographers in the 1980’s, I started digital editing with some of the earliest versions of Photoshop. I moved on to Aperture (v. 1 through v. 3) until it’s forced obsolescence by Apple, replacing it with either Lightroom or Capture One. Somewhere along the line, I just lost interest in the entire photography process, selling most of my pricy Nikon DSLR bodies and lenses.
Today, I shoot with a simple Panasonic G6 Micro Four Thirds camera body with a 14-42 kit lens. A lightweight and compact system, capable of decent 1080P video, that I picked up used for a mere $200. Additionally, I have an original Sigma DP1 that I have utilized over the years for wide angle or landscape work – the colours, detail, and sharpness of the little Foveon-based camera often rivalling my Nikon D300 with a 2.8 zoom. I also carry a diminutive Canon point & shoot with me, more often than not, a simple and effective instrument for candid photography.
I still believe that most novice photographers should start out with a simple manual film camera and a 50mm kit lens, shooting black & white film. It teaches individuals the very basic principle of “seeing” light and shadow – the very essence of “light writing” better known as photography. The hard part, today, is finding decent black & white film locally and a lab to develop it.
A novice photographer in a black & white darkroom is like a kid in a candy store. The look in their eyes, upon seeing an image slowly appear on paper immersed in chemical, is one of wonder and amazement, their inevitable smile stretches from ear-to-ear.
*The original digital colour photos were edited in Capture One 10 utilizing a built-in split toning preset. The images of the Tamiya F1 1:10 scale car were shot rather quickly with the Panny for blogging purposes without too much concern for lighting or composition.
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