When nothing was digital
I recall all my years of backpacking to the far flung corners of the globe when electronics were something you looked forward to using when you returned home. Packing was easier in those days, fewer cords to untangle from discarded socks, you could be as rough as you needed with your backpack, and if things got wet then so what, you just relaxed for a few more days at the other end whilst your hermit shell dried. Yes, things were much easier.
These days I travel weighed down with iPad plus charger, camera plus charger, phone plus charger and don’t think I have stepped foot in an internet cafe in about 10 years.
I have always been a big fan of the DSLR cameras, which is mainly attributed to college photography (dark room as opposed to Photoshop – yes I am really that old). I recall winding on reels of film and guessing the number of images I could take, carefully composing photos and the expectation when developing with care. It was always a minefield whether the reel had been damaged, not wound on correctly and whether the photos were worthy of committing to photographic paper.
The world welcomes digital photography
I recall when I saw my first digital camera 12 years ago. I was exploring the wilds of Patagonia having teamed up with a Spanish/Swedish couple. We were walking the 7 day Torres del Paine hike which for the record is one of the most spectacular hikes I have ever had the pleasure of enjoying. Our heavy hiking boots carried us to the top of a mountain and weighed down by heavy packs, day’s worth of cooking and camping equipment we stopped to bask in the magnificent views beneath us, and rest. The lake was a brilliant hue of blue/green. That type of glacial hue that looks like god has gone crazy with Photoshop; so splendid it looks superimposed and takes your breath away.
We all composed our images and the clicking of shutters ensued. A rapid flash of image passed by in the corner of my eyes, just long enough for my brain to register that the photo my travel buddy had just taken, had almost like black magic, appeared on the back of his camera and then disappeared. Let me just say readers, at this time, I didn’t even know digital cameras existed. I also didn’t even know Gore-Tex was available so just wore two jumpers if I got cold. This may help you understand my delay in adapting to new things, anyway, I digress. So I had no godly idea that digital cameras existed at this time; and to see the photograph pop up for immediate viewing blew me away. What happened to the darkroom, saving money for photographic paper and the red glow whilst pouring developing liquids? This was clearly the devils work!
Of course, with this awareness of photographic divine intervention I was plagued for the remainder of my trip with digital cameras everywhere I looked. This was further compounded when the gears in my lens sheared in Buenos Aires and involved meticulous and steady tuning before taking each photo.
Having carefully stored each roll once full with another at the ready for immediate response, I finished my four month tour of South America with 16 rolls of film to convert to paper. Upon my return, I resisted for a short time only, making the move across the digital photography and too be honest, have never looked back. I admit I do miss the red hum of the dark room bulb, the smell of the chemicals as I wait with bated breath for the image to etch itself onto paper, and the hanging out to dry, but I am a hardened convert now.
If digital photography is the work of the devil, I am happy to sell my soul for the latest Leica DSLR!