The Wonders Of Digital Photography. By Someone Who Remembers How Things Used To Be.

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I’m in the middle of a fairly large ‘project’. I’m scanning all of my mum and dad’s old slides. I thought it would be nice to be able to see them on the television rather than having to get the old projector and screen out (which, of course, means that they rarely get looked at). It’s got me to thinking about how much easier photography is nowadays, at least in the techical sense. While I was looking at these images of long ago, thinking to myself rather wistfully how much better we all looked when we were younger, I realised that there is a generation out there who have no idea how much harder it was, not more than a few decades ago. Before the age of digital photography.

My sister and me. A long time ago.

For a start, you couldn’t just take an (almost) unlimited number of photographs in the hope that maybe a few will be worth looking at. Back in the old days, you had to buy a roll of film with 24 or (if you could afford it) 36 exposures available. If you were careful winding it in, you could stretch this to 25 or 37, and it was always a good feeling when you’d managed it. Not only that, you also had to decide what speed film you wanted; basing your decision on whether you wanted quick exposures, or good image quality. Generally, you could only get 100 or 200 ASA (those being the most popular) without visiting a specialist photography shop. Knowing that you had only 24/25 or 36/37 exposures available certainly made you think more carefully when you were about to take a photograph. You couldn’t just delete them, and have another go.

When you’d finished the film, you’d have to send them off to be developed and printed (a few enthusiasts would do this themselves). After a wait of a few days, you’d get them returned in the post. There was even an old joke – ‘Some day my prints will come’ (to the tune from Sleeping Beauty, or was it Cinderella?). Ahem. The results were (at least, for me) usually disappointing. Very often you’d suspect that the developers could have tried a little harder.

To those of you who remember those days – can you imagine what it would be like to have to go back to all that? To those that don’t – you don’t know how lucky you are. You can take as many photographs as you like. You don’t even have to bother to delete the bad ones, although you can if you want to. You dont’ have to buy film, and send it away to get it developed. You can do all this with a telephone that you can carry around with you. All this is something you should surely not take for granted.

Having said all that, I’m not sure how you’d take photographs like these with a mobile phone:

Next week – Albums versus CDs :-)

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