On Digital Photography

8x10I have been a strong advocate of digital photography for quite some time.  It certainly helped me to learn both the technical, and artistic ropes of photography.  Being able to take “free” pictures really helped shape my own photographic vision.

The more I thought about it though, the less enchanted I became with the concept of digital photography.  It seems cheapened, as though we are producing images without real value. Instead of producing something that is tangible, we are merely producing unique strings of ones and zeros. Cameras have become computers, and we have been locked into a peer pressure fueled upgrade cycle with dismal returns.

Even though I produced many images that I was very happy with, I was never very confident marketing the images.  Since it did not cost me much of anything to produce the image, it seemed like a tough sell trying to convince someone else to pay top dollar for it.

On a trip to Arizona and Utah earlier this year,  I decided to take both my large format gear, as well as a Canon 1Ds3 on a hike to The Wave.  That day, my 1Ds3 simply became a big and heavy point and shoot camera.  Although I shot far fewer images  with film than I would have with digital, I walked away with far more keepers. The images were well composed, and technically polished.  I was at ease working with a view camera.

I had several of my transparencies from that trip drum scanned, then printed at 40×50 (a size that was unimaginable with my digital equipment).  I can still remember sitting in front of that print, and gazing at the color, detail, and overall feel of it.  It was at that moment that I knew I needed to sell my digital equipment, and return to film.  I did not need to spend outrageous amounts of time in photoshop trying to get that perfect look.  I simply had to snap the shutter, and be done with it.

I now use both a 4×5 and a 8×10 camera for my landscape photography.  I enjoy the simplicity of having just two lenses for each camera, a wide and a telephoto. There is no more lens envy, or camera envy. If a new camera is released, I really don’t care.  Working with the large format cameras is a zen experience for me.

Goodbye Digital.  Maybe we will meet again someday.

or Maybe not…

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