Monday, August 09, 2010

Size does matter

Tom Hanks, we found your sign
London, ON, July 2010
About this photo: It's orange week all week long. We call it Thematic Photographic. Whatever you choose to call it, we hope you'll give it a shot. The fun starts here.
One of the joys of digital photography lies in your ability to break free of the traditional cost-benefit analysis that used to accompany every exposure on conventional film.

If you've been shooting long enough, you'll remember loading up rolls of 24 or 36 and then doing the math for each shot. Between the cost of film and development, you thought twice about shooting frivolous images that stood a better-than-even chance of not working out. And my dismal success rate shooting light sources like neon bulbs eventually forced me to stop trying altogether. No matter how much I read and practiced, I just couldn't dial in the right exposure for scenes like this.

Digital makes this conundrum delightfully moot. As long as you have enough time, battery and room on your memory card, you can shoot as much as you want and review and adjust as you go along. It gives you significantly more opportunity to build the kind of muscle memory that allows you to subtly navigate these types of challenging scenarios. All of which means I'm now free to take pictures of whatever the heck I want, without worrying about cost.

My wife, on the other hand, may have a somewhat different perspective on this. But that's a story for another time.

Your turn: How has digital photography changed the way you approach the craft?


Mojo said...

No doubt about it, I shoot more now than I did when each shot cost money. I've always approached the craft with the idea that you "never take one shot when two will do the job" because "film is cheap compared to the priceless image you got because you took the second shot". That said, it's extremely unlikely that I would have expended 4 full rolls of film to get one shot of a full moon that I liked. And yet, I did exactly the digital equivalent of that in trying to establish a baseline exposure for said full moon a couple of years ago.

The biggest benefits of digital for me personally are: EXIF data and vastly expanded night-photography capability. I can get away with exposures on digital I wouldn't have even attempted on film. And if they don't work out, I have EXIF to help me figure out why (not).

Heidi said...

The upside? It's so much easier for the average person to grab a camera and capture beautiful things. And they have so many chances to get it right.

The downside? So many people take hundreds or thousands of pictures, only to file them away on their computer hard drive and forget about them. I like holding pictures in my hand or putting them up on my wall where they remind me of the moments and the memories.

Tracie Nall said...

Going digital absolutely raised the amount of pictures that I take. I remember those days of counting the cost of film. When my daughter was first born that is what I did.

I got my first digital camera when she was four months. That first day I think I spent an hour while she was napping shooting pictures of her, at least 50 of her little feet. Getting every angle and bit of cuteness those little toes had. Of course I didn't keep all 50 of those, they weren't all great or perfect, but the ability to look at each one and decide what to keep and what to delete was wonderful. I was hooked!

I still drive my husband crazy by taking multiple shots of everything working on getting just the right one.

Cloudia said...

it has SO opened up my life and my eye!

Aloha from Waikiki :)

Comfort Spiral

Marilyn & Jeff said...

I love your big red shot! I agree with you that in the old film days the cost restricted the freedom of photography as we now know it. When on holidays in the past I carefully used my film by taking only a few great photos only to find when they were developed that very few were great! Now I can take as many as I like in as many different ways and go through them at my leisure, keeping only those that I like and I learn more of what works etc as i go along - although I am very much an amateur!

MissMeliss said...

I'm an amateur photographer at best, and generally forget to even take pictures, but the existence of digital photography has made it easier for non-artistic people like me to snap decent pix.

On the other hand, I kind of miss sitting on a stool in a darkroom watching my uncle, aunt, or grandfather develop their own shots.

Jennifer said...

Oh, you'd laugh...I just took ten pictures of a single carnation beside my bed, in different lighting and with different apertures and ISOs. I am still learning how my camera works, and digital means that I can take limitless pictures until I find one that I like. It has been the BEST way to learn. I know what I like when I see it...but there's no way that I could have afforded to take pictures like I do now with film. And the editing capabilities....ahhh! However, I am a huge fan of trying to get it right the first time. I am a huge lover of amazing natural lighting and wide apertures. I haven't mastered indoor lighting yet (blech) or nighttime lighting (LOVE the sign!) More practice!

Unknown said...

I so so agree about the joy of being able to shoot the same scene endless numbers of time with digital memory. I love it. I can't believe how antequated film seems now.

Catherine said...

With film I mostly took people shots - the children as babies and growing up.
With digital I take far more shots of random things, just because I like the shapes and colours.
As for hiding them away and forgetting about them - I found the best thing to do with my favourite shots is to use them as my computer desktop. I have a file of thirty or so and the display changes every thirty minutes.
I also just ordered a bunch of postcards from so I can share some of my favourites with distant friends.