This post was originally written last October, but was bumped by breaking news for a post about Kodak. I rescheduled it for this week — just in time for Kodak bankruptcy rumors to hit the world anew. Timing is everything.
I wonder what my grandfather would have made of digital cameras.
Personally, I love digital cameras because they give me much crisper shots than I’ve ever gotten. I never learned to use good film SLRs when I was younger, so my only cameras growing up were cheap point-and-shoots that took mediocre pictures.
Today I can go to Citizens Bank Park, sit in seats so far away they might as well be in Conshohocken, and use (at best) a mid-level digital point-and-shoot to take a picture of a home-plate celebration clear enough to tell one player from another:
My grandfather might have enjoyed the effortlessness of digital photography. As a thrifty sort, he definitely would have enjoyed not having to pay to get his pictures developed.
As a perfectionist, he would have liked the freedom to wipe his less successful shots and keep only the good ones.
And, as a creative type who occasionally painted or manipulated his pictures, he might have done some interesting stuff with Photoshop or other photo-editing software.
But, as a craftsman, he would have still kept and used a film SLR from time to time, I think. I believe the process of thinking through and changing his camera settings would still have appealed to him. He expected more from the photographic experience than just pointing and shooting.
This week’s calendar entry, from 1965, gives a hint of his attachment to the old-school art of photography:
Unfortunately, I do not have a copy of the picture(s) my grandfather took that day. (I’m guessing the church in question was the Methodist church across the street from his house, the one mentioned in the “Loyalty Sunday” entry of last November. It had the smallest of playgrounds, where my brother and I sometimes played as kids.)
But whatever it was, it meant enough to him that he documented his camera settings and the time of the shoot, presumably to help him evaluate the finished shots and give him guidance for future pictures.
Had he taken his “church pic” with a digital camera — particularly a point-and-shoot — it probably wouldn’t have made enough of an impression on him to write on his calendar. With an SLR, though, the thought process resonated enough with him to make him write it down.
As I’ve mentioned, I still have an old film SLR (a Pentax K1000) that my grandfather used. If I lived any closer to Stamford, it would be fun to take it to the church, replicate his settings some early October afternoon, and see what I got.
I still have a couple of recipes from my grandmothers, and enjoy making them from time to time. What I have here is a recipe of sorts from my grandfather — for art, not food. Start with two pinches of f-stop, mix in a dash of shutter speed and blend with 2 p.m. worth of autumnal natural light. Then shoot, develop and serve.
I’m not as comfortable behind the shutter as I am in front of the stove, so I can’t duplicate it. But it’s still kinda cool to have it, and to imagine the knowledge and the craftsman’s care that went into creating it.
Come back tomorrow for a vaguely related bonus post.