Four & One - An Alexandria QuartetSunday, November 04, 2012
|Alissa & her recorder, Nikon FM-2 35mm lens Fuji 1600 ISO colour negative|
In 1957 I purchased a Pentacon-F single lens reflex with a Tessar F-2.8 lens. At the time there was a burning argument between conservative photographers who favoured the rangefinder cameras (Leicas and the Contax) to the new-fangled clunkers that showed exactly the image you were going to get without suffering what was called parallax.
The SLR won out and rangefinder Leicas are usually found in a pristine state behind a hermetic glass cabinet.
|Nikon FM 35mm lens, Kodak Professional Tri-X|
It only recently that Leica looked at the numbers and stopped making film cameras. They make digital cameras for which you could for the price you can buy half an Audi A-4.
When digital cameras first came out, photographers had heated conversations as to what was better, film or digital. Looking at my London Drugs photo counter today where I bought button batteries for my Nikon F-3, two Nikons FM-2 and one Nikon FM, I noticed 6 rolls of film for sale. If an argument was won, it has to be that digital cameras have vanquished the film camera. Except for a few “artistes” and some real artists (few, since many artists in photography shoot digital) our world of photography is digital.
In many cities of the US and in many parts of the world you will be hard-pressed to find a lab that will process slide film (Kodak E-6 process) or colour negative (Kodak C-41) and various types of b+w film (not counting the chromogenic b+w films like Ilford XP-2 that are processed as C-41).
In Vancouver we have at least five good labs (I go to The Lab) and you can routinely have C-41 (Kodak or Fuji colour negative film) processed in a few hours at London Drugs. There may be others that will perform this service. The reason for this, besides one of having a large population of older people who will not trash their metal-based 35mm film cameras, is that Vancouver(and the Lower Mainland) has quite a few photography schools, institutes and community colleges, plus the Emily Carr University of Art & Design which all feature film photography in their curriculum.
|Nikon FM-2 35mm lens Kodak 3200 ISO rated at 1600.|
This enables Beau Photo (on 6th and Granville) to sell professional photo equipment but also photographic paper and a shelf of film that would make any foreigner from Seattle (as an example) have a glorious solarizing orgasm.
Today I had a pleasant (and most friendly) argument, on the phone, with a photographic colleague (of my generation) who embraced the digital revolution in photography in our city before just about anybody else. He was arguing (pleasantly and friendly) with me. The only digital camera in my possession is an iPhone 3G.
At the end, the argument boiled down to this one argument which I see under the light of heavy duty philosophy, one that would be shunned by most skeptics. My colleague likes to shoot RAW. This means that he covers all his bases (and his rear end) with a method in which a camera will shoot a very big file which you can later modify to your heart’s content. You can convert the image to b+w; you can achieve a pseudo b+w Infrared film effect; you can make it grainy, you can make it look like whatever suits your mood. You an increase the contrast or go in the opposite direction. And if you photographed a penguin in the Antarctic you can place that penguin on Ellesmere Island.
|Mamiya RB-67 Pro SD 50mm lens, Fuji Instant 3200 ISO print film|
My argument, and I do hope that some readers who have gotten this far might understand an even appreciate, is that one picture taken in the RAW format, no matter how you manipulate it, is still that one image. My argument to my colleague’s idea of not making decisions until after is that the four images here were all taken by four different cameras. They may vary (colour, the grain of the film) but they are different pictures taken at different times in which I may have put a camera down and taken out its lens and put it into the next. The squarish one is square as it is a 7x7 cm Fuji Instant 3200 ISO film taken with my medium format camera.
This brings to mind Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet, four novels seen from a different protagonist’s view point. My photos are not that radical but I would hope that somehow four pictures may be in my case better than only one.