We all know that this is the age of technology we are living in.
And we all love the ease with which this new-fangled technology helps us in our daily lives, relieving a certain drudgery we had before it came along.
Want to find out about something? Just type it into a search engine and Kapow! Within seconds a 1001 pages come up with tons of information. Want to buy groceries, or clothes, or cameras, or virtually anything else? Sure, search for the store you want, choose your stuff, click and you’ve bought it, to be delivered to your door.
I remember working in business in the days when there was no such thing as the internet. My work involved commodity trading, such as sugar, cooking oils, etc, and to source both sellers and buyers the world over, I had to trawl through commercial directories, magazines or periodicals in order to find companies or people who also did business in that field. It used to take me days on end, and of course, when I did get around to phoning them, more than half turned out to be time-wasters!
Now, it’s just a matter of a web search, an email and the job is done.
I was talking to a friend of mine recently about the days when digital cameras were not even a pipe-dream. The electronic flash had to be set up separately to the camera (but hang on a minute, before the electronic ones came out….I still remember using my first flash unit…..you opened out the folding metal leaves which formed a perfect reflector when opened, plugged in your flash bulb and connected the unit to your camera via a little lead!). Then there was the camera itself to be set up….exposure speed and apertures, as well as distance to the subject, were all done using experience…no light meters used.
The shots were taken and the film unloaded and either taken to the local chemist shop, or sometimes posted away for processing. Then there was that agonizing wait for the finished prints to arrive, but it wasn’t a big deal, as that suspense was part of the fun.
Some of us were brave enough to do our own film developing and printing and that was the ultimate in pleasure. Those weird chemical smells in my darkroom, the little tasks involved in preparing the fluids, the paper, the enlarger, were kind of ritualistic, rather religious even, like a pseudo japanese tea ceremony! Then there was the absolute silence…..as if you were getting ready for a meditation session or something. And of course the final thing was printing…seeing the print appear in that white plastic tray….that was the closest thing to sheer magic on Earth! And no matter how many years I did it for, every time it was still the same….magic!
Now I sometimes look at my own children and youth in general and wonder what they are missing. They have all been born in the digital age…they are Children of The Digital Age. They will probably never ever experience that magic of the darkroom, or even loading their own film into a classic camera and taking their own carefully composed and exposed shots.
No; alas, their only experience of taking photos will be via their ever-present cellphones that somehow seem glued to their ears all day long. But…all is not lost, I console myself. They will have have the option of “doing up” their photos with software like Instagram, to look like those taken by real film cameras, on real film.
And then they will look at those “Instagrammed” photos that look nothing like the original shot, and laugh….laugh at what kind of photos their dad used to take with his weird, heavy lump of metal he called a camera!
If only they knew.