When I first became interested in photography, it was at a time when D76, Stop Bath, and Fixer were still the watch words of the common man’s process. Kodak and Ilford rounded out the print mediums of choice. Polycontrast filters and dodge / burn masks were our Photoshop tools of the era.
It was at a time when you watched with awe the photographers who had actually mastered the ability to shoot and print with artistic control, in color, realizing that the cost of playing at that level was so much higher. You rejoiced when you finally achieved the ability to shoot and develop your own Ektachrome Pro slide film, and were left unrequited when you couldn’t quite bring that color saturation to the final print.
I fought the introduction of autofocus, and didn’t quite believe that digital photography might ever reach the quality level of a film based image. It was easy at the time to discount the abilities of what you couldn’t afford, with the catchy phrase…”that’s not art”.
I marveled at the pace at which these advancements matured, and when my faith in the quality was achieved, and the budget allowed, became an avid consumer of all the technical capture, editing, and output tools that became available. Never quite mastering the most recently purchased tool, when the next, newest replacement became available.
With that history in mind, one thing has remained constant throughout; the struggle over mastery of composition and light never ends. No matter the quality of the equipment being applied, you can’t fake the compelling image; and you can’t edit a bad capture into submission. You can get close, you can Photoshop an image for hours, you can make everyone else happy with the result, but you can’t replace when you know the shot was great to start with.
No matter the technology I am using, or the subject matter I am shooting, I still get that same thrill today, as I did in the beginning…I know it when I see the right shot in the viewfinder…this could be art.
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