Best recent things in photography
Top-Cat wrote in another thread "which to me seems like one of the best things that happened to analog photography in the past ten years." and it got me thinking....
What are the best recent things in photography for us? I started a top ten list, but only got 6 done. Perhaps you can help me finish it by adding some of your own...
Some of these might be a little controversial, but consider me an optimist looking for the lemonade rather than being sour about the change. This is based on my film & digital experience starting in high school in 1989 and going to present. Most of my photo variety and learning has been in the past decade as I've been employed rather than be a student.
10 best things to happen to analog photography in the past decade or so.
1. The Internet. Skills and inspiration are found and nurtured in online communities like apug, lfinfo, flickr. Used photo and darkroom gear is bought and sold in the forums, craigslist, Ebay, and ecommerce merchants like KEH. Consumables like film, paper, and chemicals are efficiently bought via the Internet instead of the now closed local photo store. B&H, Adorama, Freestyle sell these general supplies, and manufacturers like Bostick & Sullivan and Photographers Formulary sell direct to customers. Never before was it possible to see photos of 20 darkroom designs in 20 minutes from all over the world, or with a few keystrokes, see how a certain obscure lens is used for portraits or landscapes.
2. Dead photographers. We'll all be one of them someday. My photo interests center on an era that involves these sorts of owners. Their widows or family pass on some great camera and darkroom equipment to living photographers. Things that were too nice or special to sell while they were alive now beg to be taken to a new home and used. Much of my nicest photo equipment came to me from this situation. I've bought from widows, craigslist sellers who collect from estate sales, online sellers representing a dying friend, etc... It's sad, but if you want 1930's-1960's photo equipment, it's reality. Much of this stuff isn't made new, so re-use is part of the supply.
3. Digital SLRs. For two reasons; first to perpetuate the film-is-dead hyperbole to our benefit, and for something serious to rebel or repent from. It used to be film cameras were the ultimate high end instrument for capturing images conveniently and with respectable quality. For most people, a digital SLR exceeds their requirements for convenient and quality. This first made classic 35mm camera gear dirt cheap. Then, the DSLRs started getting quite good for more professional uses and high end 35mm and medium format gear became dirt cheap. Big film can beat a very expensive DSLR, but it's not as convenient for all uses. Convenience is what is driving the digital camera business for the most part as image quality meets most people's needs. A mobile phone can post photos to facebook very quickly. A DSLR can put digital files into the news business flow very easily. So there's an abundance of previously un-affordable quality gear for all needs, with more supply than demand. This abundant supply keeps prices within reach of a whole new generation of photographers.
4. Digital SLRs; reason two. I use digital cameras and I'm computer savvy and find them to be no challenge; they do everything so well, with clean realistic images of unlimited quantity and instant feedback. The LCD histogram shows your image and a histogram of exposure and there is no reason for a skilled photographer to have something less than technically perfect. Film, especially B&W, lets you depart from squeeky clean perfect realism at every step of the process, if you wish.
5. Scanning; not exactly a past decade thing; I was doing it more than 20 years ago. But it's become better, cheaper, and more useful. I scan B&W negatives to share images online. I sometimes scan images to get output that would be impossible in the darkroom. Other people scan to print because they don't have a darkroom. Other people still scan to make larger negatives for other analog processes.
6. Inkjet photo printers. Giclée if someone's making price tag labels. It's not only a quality way to print photos from your DSLR or film scans, it's become as ubiquitous and conformist as your DSLR. If you see a piece of artwork for sale, it's probably either an inkjet print, a mass produced litho copy, or an original painting. This makes a print from an analog darkroom something special again; just like it was a hundred years ago. Not everyone can do it, and fewer can do it well. What had been a commodity printing method has now become a silver print. You can even make your own printing material with alternative process choices! It's a good time to be working with these alternatives to the inkjet.
7. 8, 9, 10, you fill in.
7. The opportunity for the new generation to "discover" the beauty and artistry of film photography after growing up in a world of all-things digital. That's pretty cool.
8. The DSLR as a learning tool to build confidence and try something out to figure out how to do it before going out to try getting it on film. If it wasn't for the ability to learn how to do things with a DSLR, I might not have gained the confidence to shoot film for many more years, I would at least not be able to do it as well as I do.
Alright, I'm still a lousy photographer, but I'm less afraid of being a lousy photographer.
"Would you like it if someone that painted in oils told you that you were not making portraits because you were using a camera?"
"Shouldn't it be more about the joy of producing and viewing the photo than what you paid for the camera?"
9. Lomography. Some scoff at its lauding of low-tech photos, but it has given many people who dislike the look of digital, especially younger would-be photographers, a foot in the door of more serious photography. Sure the cameras may be a rip-off sometimes, but they're a less intimidating gateway drug to bigger and better things. As these dabblers mature, the increased competition for the film camera market is offset by a greater demand for film, which is helping to keep Kodak, Ilford and Fuji alive and developing new products for film-oriented professionals and enthusiasts alike.
"Embrace the negative with absolution, your final positive reward." --IQ, "The Province," Frequency
Continued advancements in flim/paper/chems ( eg, t grain, Art 300, Liquidol...etc)
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Technical information on the internet. Somebody's been there before you and done the donkey work.
Originally Posted by Sirius Glass
iPhone as lightmeter (not analog but a facilitator).
The internet has certainly made things like ULF much more accessible, allowing people to organize groups to make special purchases of film that previously would have required very large outlays of cash.
The globalization of the analogue photo market and community has made it possible for small camera makers anywhere in the world reach a world market, allowing the resurrection of sheet film formats that haven't existed for decades.
Real world print exchanges made possible by the internet are making it possible for people who don't have access to galleries or museums with photo collections to look at fine prints and to share their work internationally.
+1 for lomography. Sure it's faddish and the cameras are overpriced, but it's introducing the next generation to film photography, and they're taking an active interest in it for reasons other than film being the only option.
eBay. Cameras and lenses I once dreamed of, I can now afford.
Chemical suppliers specially for photographers and the real alternative process renaissance that is going on now.
+1, more so for the philosophy than the brand. Anything that encourages people to get out there and put images onto film instead of navel gazing, pixel peeping or getting hung up on technicalities.
Originally Posted by Ottrdaemmerung