Friday, March 16, 2012

The Weekly Photo (week12)


You may have noticed my signature on the photo above. When I edit, manipulate, or other wise transform a photo beyond a self-imposed limit, I consider it “art” and sign it.

Since the inception of photography, photos have been retouched, dodged, burned and cropped. Indeed, much of the creative process was accomplished in the darkroom. Master photographers were proud of their printing skills.

Then came Kodachrome and slides. Everything changed. When you clicked the shutter the photo was finished, there was no cropping, no correcting the exposure. You either got it all right, or there was nothing worth showing. Not only did you have to get the composition and exposure right, the cost was such that shooting a whole role of 36 photos was a luxury. I have said it before: Kodachrome was a stern taskmaster – you learned your craft or else!

Digital photography brought another revolution, even more so in recent years as the cameras have became increasingly powerful and sophisticated. We are almost at the point where the camera points itself – indeed some already record images before you press the shutter release. If the exposure is not right on, post-processing can take care of it. If the composition is off, just crop it. If you missed part of the subject, stitch some frames together. It is easy for anyone, even newbies, to fit a part of one photo seamlessly into another.

Yes, quickly I have become sloppy. Just point the camera in the general direction of an interesting subject and let the camera take care of the details. With a little bit of post-processing we can all achieve images that match our minds eye and our memory.

Here are a couple of images as actually recorded:



And here the are they way I thought I saw them.



Isn’t technology marvelous?


© 2011 Ludwig Keck


  1. Kodachrome was a difficult medium for several reasons. Being a transparency film, it had high contrast, so it could only record scenes of limited tonal range. Full sunlit scenes were often beyond the range of the film. It was also very slow, with an ISO speed of 25, which required a tripod if you wanted the subject to be sharp. If you were shooting a closeup outdoors, the slightest breeze made it impossible to get a sharp picture.Built-light meters only averaged the light over the whole subject, so exposure bracketing was required (that was expensive). One of the previous writers pointed that out. If the color temperature of the scene was different from sunlight you had to use the appropriate conversion filter. A lot of the younger photographers have never used film, and that makes me wonder how they learn t5he craft of photography.

  2. Thank you Anonymous, you point out the difficulties photographers faced in the "old days". Indeed, as I said, Kodachrome was a stern taskmaster, but once you mastered it, you mastered photography - at least the technical side of it. I have often lamented the passing of Kodachrome. As you point out, how can young photographers learn the craft when the camera and the post-processing software make such an easy task of it. Only when they run into difficulties can they appreciate the craft and the skills required.

  3. I can comment now in my own name. I posted as "anonymous" yesterday.

  4. Yes, Ludwig, I agree that the post processing possible in digital work is so much easier, but perhaps because it is then far more time is spent manipulating images. But then I too can recall the hours spent in a darkroom both as a student and later when I was developing and printing B&W photos for either classwork assignments or use in a local weekly newspaper that I worked for at the time. Those were the days and there's nothing quite like the "aroma" or dektol and other developers!

  5. Forgot to add that the dandelion is one of my favorite lawn wildflowers, both in its bloom phase and later the puffball.