Monday, July 31, 2006

Into the digital age


Hampstead Lane locks, Regents Canal, about 2.30 pm today ...

I posted a couple of weeks ago about my trusty Practika SLR camera which I bought in the early 80s when I was about seventeen, and have been using happily ever since ...well, how quickly things change! For my birthday last week (thanks Jim!) I received a Canon Powershot A700 (needless to say) digital camera. Jim's latest engine pictures, and yesterday's stove one, were taken with it. It certainly is a boon to the blogger to be able to point and shoot, upload and post, all within minutes.

But I suspect that the shift from film to digital will also have wider ramifications; it is already affecting the way I think about both taking and keeping photos. Digital images are at every stage more ephemeral, easy to take and easy to delete, and somehow that makes them seem less sacrosanct. Having been a fairly keen photographer, on and off, since my teens, I have many large boxes of prints. I've always felt it would be wrong, somehow, to destroy any of them. But at the weekend, leafing through some prints of Andante in Huddersfield, I found myself throwing half a dozen in the bin, because they were out of focus, or shaky, or simply near duplicates of better pictures. I still have the negatives though ...

More importantly, what about the digital images we do want to keep? Apart from the danger of (someone else) accidentally deleting them, will we have the right software to look at them in ten years' time? Will the hardware be compatible? Will the CDs deteriorate? Do we have to back up our most precious pictures with prints - an expensive process for decent ones. Or do we develop a new attitude to photographs, no longer seeing them as a moment frozen in time and captured forever, but as passing elusive glimpses that will themselves disappear?

Oh yes, and what was I doing at Camden Lock this afternoon? I went up to London for a meeting related to the new job I'm starting in September, and took a half-hour stroll for a little waterways refreshment. Had to fight my way through a lot of tat, but I did get to see the canal in the end.

1 comment:

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