A Value of Film-A Digital Photographic Lesson.

Back in the day, when I set out to make photographs, I had a finite number of images that I could make on any given adventure based on the amount of film in the camera bag.

It might be one roll, or ten, but the number of exposures was a distinct number. Not only that, but certainly in my younger days, there was a definite cost to each and every photo exposed.

When I was in college I could afford just 74-76 frames of Kodachrome per week and still eat. (Sometimes I cheated and starved). On the morning of January 14, 1989, I put this New York, Susquehanna & Western SD45 on film carefully placing the the old upper quadrant semaphore in the frame. I had my two rolls of Kodachrome, and probably some black & white, but a lot of ground to cover.
When I was in college I could afford just 74-76 frames of Kodachrome per week and still eat. (Sometimes I cheated and just starved). On the morning of January 14, 1989, I put this New York, Susquehanna & Western SD45 on film—carefully placing the the old upper quadrant semaphore in the frame. I had my two rolls of Kodachrome, and probably some black & white, but a lot of ground to cover that day. I knew that the old Union Switch & Signal Style S signals were on borrowed time, and I might not have another chance to make this  photograph.

This was a limitation, but like many handicaps it encouraged discipline. Every time I released the shutter I wanted to make the photo count. At times I’d experiment with exposure, lighting, and angles, but I avoided gratuitously wasting film.

Running out of film before the end of a trip could be a disaster.

Yet, I found that my photography was at its best at the very beginning of a trip (when I still had plenty of exposures left) and toward the end (when I was making the absolute most of each photo, and really concentrating the mechanics of making photos having benefitted from days of being in the field).

In the 1950s, my dad would set off on a two week trip with just 6-10 rolls of Kodachrome. He’d carefully budget each day’s photography. Just imagine visiting Chicago in 1958 with its vast array of classic railroads but only allowing yourself to make 15 photos during the whole day.

By comparison today, digital photography doesn’t impose such limitations. You can buy storage cards that will hold hundreds (if not thousands of images). Even if you run out, you can go back and erase select images to free up space.

True, digital-photography allows great freedom to experiment, there’s no cost associated with each and every frame, nor the level of concern that you might run out. In retrospect, it was that strict limitation of film that often helped me craft better photos.

Think about it.

Tracking the Light Posts each and Every Day.

 

 

 

 

One thought on “A Value of Film-A Digital Photographic Lesson.”

  1. Anyone over about 40 can identify with all of that. For the over 60s, we can also identify with your Pop’s budget.

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