Blurb Australia: Learning Digital Photography….Again

Say what you will about digital photography, but I would never have made any of these images if I wasn’t using a digital camera. As you can see, these are not great images, but they are snapshots that reflect a certain place at a certain time and provide my journalistic mind with tidbits of visual memory that I so desire. I’ve only had this little camera for a few days now, haven’t made anything great with it, not sure I ever will, but I already know what this little camera is and what it isn’t. I also realize it was never intended to be more than it is regardless of our expectations, desires or ideals. These images were made on an hour-long walk from my hotel up toward the old parliament building here in Melbourne. I had no plan other than to get out. I was locked in with the hot, midday sun and subsequent harshness that accompanies this time and place.
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This camera isn’t a Leica, nor does it replace a film camera. No digital camera replaces a film camera. This camera doesn’t provide a negative. I can see the images as I make them and I can shoot endless photographs by just adding more and more storage media. A film camera doesn’t provide an instant preview and limits me, in a good way, with limited exposures based on how much film I can carry. My film cameras fire at any time with ZERO hesitation. This little camera does not. My film cameras are built like tanks, have hyper fast autofocus(some) and require no computer time unless I want to use them in tandem with technology. This little camera requires the computer, and in most cases, a significant amount, as do all other digital cameras. My 35mm film camera is indestructible, has the best meter, autofocus and ease of use of any camera I’ve ever had. This little camera doesn’t come close but it is 1/3 the size, weight and girth of my film camera and can be carried for days on end without a thought. This little camera is also inconspicuous, and again provides an entirely different set of parameters because it’s DIGITAL.
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These tools are polar opposites.

This camera will never be an M6, 35mm and TRI-X no matter how much you want it to be. You can’t set this camera on square format and get a Hasselblad no matter how much you want to be able to do this, and no matter how much post processing you provide. These are simply different machines. Having said all this, my new little camera is great, I’m glad I have it, and it will find it’s way into the rotation like a knuckleball pitcher. Did I mention the size, weight and style?
Will I make bold proclamations about “this is finally the camera that kills film?” Why would I even want to do that? Who wants to kill film? What benefit would that serve the photography world?
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If you want a film look but a film camera. If you want to shoot digital this camera is a really good option at a good price and is easy to use. It doesn’t entirely get out of your way when you are working with it, but it’s pretty darn good. I’m already happy I have it and look forward to actually using it when I have time to focus on “real” work, images, places. I’ll take it to New Mexico in June and see what is what. Until then I’ll continue to get used to it and I’ll continue to use it for my little, color sketchbook.

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I think these images are further proof that wandering around attempting to make great images is really damn hard, at least for ME. They remind me why I don’t shoot street much. I need interaction with those I’m photographing. I want to spend TIME with people getting in and out, closer and closer, talking, shooting, talking, shooting attempting to break though mental and physical barriers. It’s time consuming, laborious, challenging but I NEED it. I don’t get that street shooting. It’s a bit random for me, detached and I fall pray to things like window reflections and SHOOTING PICTURES OF MY FEET.
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Melbourne has been great, attendance at our events has been high and our little voyage has only just begun. After my work requirements today I will be back out on the street, learning my little beast and searching for those little things that drive us.

18 Responses to “Blurb Australia: Learning Digital Photography….Again”

  1. Charlene says:

    Dan, if I was ever restricted to a film camera, everything you’ve said here would be exactly my sentiments… in reverse. Angst coming through loud and clear. Have you been seeking medication?

    • Smogranch says:

      Charlene,
      Nah, I like this little thing. I got an email from someone asking all the same things.”Are you going to sell your film cameras?” I’ll find what it does for me and use it for exactly that. It’s nice walking with because you can hardly feel it on your shoulder.

    • Charlene says:

      I guess a lot of people can’t quite understand the point of working with more than one type of gear. Or have this thing about logical sets of gear. To each his own I suppose! Agreed re it being a nice camera to walk around with. I’d love an old x100. One day maybe, when I mysteriously get wealthy enough to throw money around on this stuff (without having sacrificing my favourite Irish medication).

    • Smogranch says:

      Charlene,
      You can borrow mine. It’s cool. Works pretty well. I think a lot of people aren’t sure what they are after. I am very sure and I know how to get what I want. But, I’ve taken 25 years to figure it out.

  2. Charlene says:

    Dan, if I was ever restricted to a film camera, everything you’ve said here would be exactly my sentiments… in reverse (except maybe the feet shooting bit. My shoes aren’t half as swanky). Angst coming through loud and clear. Have you been seeking medication?

    • Charlene says:

      Sorry about the double edited comment posting. I’m still getting used to working on: a) a laptop b) without a mouse, and it appears this touchpad has enter-button capability in certain combinations, which I have so far activated only by accident!

  3. Chris says:

    Anyone who questions if you would sell your film cameras just isn’t paying attention ;-)

    • Smogranch says:

      Chris,
      It is a strangely important question. I think a lot of people want there to only be one choice. It’s easier that way. Then there is no doubt, but I’ve never personally understood that mentality of one or the other. I can’t paint to save my life, but if I did I’m guessing I might want to experiment with different options.

  4. LionelB says:

    I have four quite different cameras on the go at the same time right now. Three film, one digital. With lens changes make that five … or six …
    Each is about a quite different kind of image and a different mindset. My uncertainty is around whether it is sensible to juggle so many options together. The never ending tension between cross-fertilisation and specialisation. Cake and eat it.

  5. Still have your lens cap? If you are me, you are on your I think 4th lens cap for the x100. They seem to want to escape me. Can’t imagine why.

  6. Jason Timmis says:

    Dan,

    Keep on, keeping on brother!! I envy those that can do well on the street. I want to be able to as it provides a reason to get out and shoot more often but I don’t typically find any inspiration in doing it so, to no surprise, my attempts = crap.

    @FBJ: onto the lens mount a: fuji hood adapter (or an old 49 filter put on backwards with glass removed) + 49mm filter onto the adapter + 49>52 or 55 step up ring + after market cap onto the step ring. Gives you a quasi hood over the lens and typically a much better gripping cap (that are cheap if lost) and because the cap sticks out past the diameter of the rest of the package the release tabs on the cap are quicker and easier to pinch when taking off. Makes the lens a little longer but the protection & operation work great for me.

  7. Yann says:

    Dan,
    Is this an electronic infatuation? I still believe that true love comes with chemistry and chemicals.
    Yann

    • Smogranch says:

      Yann,
      Not sure “infatuation” would be a word I would use. I don’t say either/or. I’ll try just about anything. I’ve made some images with digital in the past that I love. In fact, a significant portion of my commercial photography was done with digital and it worked great. For my work I prefer film and will continue to use film, but I’m in the minority.

  8. Simone says:

    Will you then sell your other DIGITAL equipment ? ( … just kidding !). The serious question: do you think your experience with the M9 was closer to a film camera or to this digital camera ? By the way I liked a lot these images that you defined snapshots, in particular the one reflecting in the mirror !

    • Smogranch says:

      Simone,
      The reality is that neither an M9 or a x100s is remotely like working with a film camera. They are polar opposites, but instead of trying to make one like the other just think about learning how these things work and what they will do for you. They might work perfectly in certain situations and fail miserably in others but as long as you know those situations you will be golden.

  9. Aguirre says:

    You’re getting some great colors out of the Fuji. For a more film-like workflow and feel, why not limit your shot-count to the equivalent of, say, two rolls of film per day? And/or setting the ISO to a fixed 100 or 400? It’s just an obedient device; you’re the master who calls the shots – no pun here. I’ve seen some killer shots this month done with everything from tintype processing to a digital Pentax Q. Equally good due to the subjects/perspectives. But yes, the tintypes and daguerreotypes were hauntingly unique; and the idea that they are one-offs… priceless.

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