Thursday, 16 September 2010

Past Postcards

Reunion Reflux Redux0074We had a show and tell at the local camera club the other night and I showed a couple of shots from some of my shoots, and I made comment about how photographic technology has changed so much from 30 years ago (for the better). However, I think that many shooters a spoiled by the "automatic" everything on today's cameras.

Back then, film ruled. Everything was chemically processed in a lab called a "darkroom". Here is a shot of me outside the darkroom at the Sun.

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The Sun's darkroom served so many lensmen that it would get crowded inside. To help alleviate congestion, it was designed so that you washed your prints outside the darkroom (prints dropped through the hood vent in the wall after you were done with the fixer). The doorway was a light-sealed revolving door, so you could enter/exit at any time.

I said at the last HPS meeting how much technology has changed for the better. It sure has. However, there is something to be said for simplicity.

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The shot above (like all of these) was shot with a manual focus, manual meter Asahi Pentax Spotmatic with a 50 mm lens. No autofocus. No automatic exposure. No zoom lens. No high speed capture.You really had to know how to expose properly and it was all about pre-visualization. If you wanted a silhouette, like below, you had to know how many stops to underexpose your shot. No histogram on the back of the camera to clue you in.

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There were no "off camera" flashes, either. In some cases you got lucky, such as going into a theatre to do some head shots. A few kind words to the lighting director got you additional light for your work form their hot lights and the client got better shots too.

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When shooting inside, you had to pick your ISO (called ASA back then) and stick to it. Sometime you got luck with the noise (called grain).

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And sometimes you didn't get lucky with the grain, but if you got the moment timed properly you kept the shot no matter what the grain was like. Without a motorwind (whcih were used mostly by sports shooters), you had to pick your time very carefully.

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In the shot above, Shah (with the knife) was demonstrating a martial art move and cut open Zuma's chest. I knew the move was coming and waited for it. Still, I was lucky to get the "decisive moment". BTW, Shah cut open Zuma's chest, but Zuma's shirt was not cut at all. How he did that, I still do not know.


One thing that doesn't change is that you still have to work with the subjects to get a photo of interest that can be used by the photo editor.

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Of course 30 years later, these photos are now out of context.

I give Mike, a shooter at the club a (jokingly) hard time about his Pentax, but Pentax was long a leader in the field. Asahi established much of the form for the 35mm SLR (and hence todays DSLR) with the Pentax when they introduced it.

Besides, it's not what you have that counts, its what you do with it that really matters.

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