Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Death Of Photography?

To offer up a little relief to the unending gloom of the title of this post, can I add that I started writing the below about 8 months back . . things have changed a bit for me since then - my creative juices are flowing and I am just trying to factor in some time to go out and make some new negatives and prints. I've tweaked the below a bit and realised that I can't cover all the bases and maybe haven't quite hit the nail on the head with what I wanted to say . . . but anyway, if it provides food for thought then great, and if not, well them's the breaks . . . anyway, here goes the Time Machine!

Hi Folks - it has been a strange time here at Sheephouse Turrets recently - I've done very little photography because I just haven't felt like it and also I've not had the time for it either, but the two have combined into forming this awful stasis of non-activity and a HUGE questioning of things, namely, and to-wit . . what is the point?
Or should I say:
"What The Eff Is The Effing Point?!!"
I don't know about you, but the world has undergone a transformation in the last 10 years - it's not the advancement of digital stuff (though that is the cause), it's not a general malaise with regard to the realisation that if we don't learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it ad infinitum (new Holy War/Crusade anyone?) - these things are big things, and mine seems so trite by comparison, but nevertheless, we have to comment on things that are having a direct effect on our lives, so what is affecting my life is this:
Life is now awash with imagery.
EVERYONE is a photographer.
Yep, no longer the domain of Dads' and Mums' and people who just liked seeing what light did when they pressed a button and Aunty Lou was there looking pretty in her Easter bonnet, nope, no more.
EVERYONE IS A PHOTOGRAPHER.
From your 2 year old with the their first phone (I kid you not - heard just recently) to reporters and shoppers and Neds and school kids and OAPs, bloody everyone has a phone with a camera on it and as such has a handle on my (our) hobby and passion . . .
And you know what?
It really hurts (he said, churlishly throwing his Nikon F2 out of the man-pram . . )

I (like you no doubt) see images every single minute of every single hour of every single day.
And they're not like the olde snapshot thing either, because it's become a piece of piss to make a billion images of your life very very quickly and thus EVERYTHING is now documented to the nth degree and posted online to an audience of 560 trillion excited viewers in milliseconds
No longer do you sit around with Charlie and Sue, grab a glass of wine, and laugh, yawn, look excited, enquire enthusiastically, pay attention when the newly printed envelope of holiday photos gets handed round.
There's no more groans of 
"Oh my God, what were you doing" 
No more
"I couldn't help it if that dog decided to have a pee on that tree trunk (hidden by your head) Darling."
Nope sadly those moments of angst and anticipation have been banished by the dreaded chimping and instant deletion of non-perfection.
You know I'm telling the truth don't you?
Of course you do.
An endless tide of samey/similar imagery swamping a world that really doesn't give a shit any more because it is so commonplace.
Thing is, I'm damn sure some of it would be passable documentary photography too, were it photography, but it isn't.
Why?
Because that isolation of a moment in time is no longer there.
We now have a broad stretch of imagery documenting every single fecking second, it's like watching a finely chopped-up film, and ultimately, though it might well be trying to make a point, it fails because the point is, there's no longer a point.
And I feel that. 
That hopelessness and pointlessness of the struggle.
My struggle.
It makes the spending of 20 minutes of my life setting up a LF camera, endlessly going through correct procedure, waiting for the moment, taking the moment, getting home, unloading the DDS's, and processing the exposed film on a single sheet basis seem so utterly arcane and foolish, that the whole enjoyment factor of the thought that:

I might 
(and yes, bear that in mind, it is a big might) 
somehow project this little moment of time 
(captured by a [big] little man on the East Coast of Scotland) 
forward into the future . . .
so that someone might look at it one day and say "Oh!", 
(rather than what I suspect is waiting for my stuff . . the skip at the end of the road) . . .

But my efforts and skills (sorry, the word 'craft' is now banned around here) are now rendered null and void by a tsunami of endless pixels.

If you were to turn what we all do (us amateurs) into an equation, it would be the worst equation in the history of equations:

Time + Energy + Money + Thought + Love = Skip

Think about it, it's true isn't it, pretty much.
With the ubiquitousness of the mobie and camera there's now a new equation on the block:

Life + All-Encompassing Machine + Thumb + Internet = Instant Immortality 

What's not to like? No wonder everyone is doing it. Like we used to sing at Barrantyne back in the 60's:

Everybody's doing it
Doing it
Doing it
Picking their nose
And Chewing it
Chewing it
Chewing it

I'm sure Mr. Irving Berlin would have loved that variation on his classic from a time of depravation and naivity, but needs must and all that - the transistor radio was just about filtering down to the masses back then, we had to make our own entertainment. You see, back in the day when film, though (comparatively) cheap, wasn't really something you could use willy-nilly simply because of the effort involved in dealing with it, photographs were taken to emphasise a point, the point being the subject and the isolation of it in time as a MEMORY adjunct.
The two went together like that famous Scottish East Coast heart attack in a container Chips and Cheese.
They were natural partners. 
Nowadays the emphasis of a point of time as a special memory has been nailed to a fecking Facebook  (sic . . ad infinitum) wall as an endless parade of utter inanity. You might well enjoy your chips and cheese, but I don't want to know about it.
And we as photographers are under attack. Actually we're not under attack, because the 'enemy' has over-run the barricades already and we're down to the nitty gritty of street fighting to make our skill and effort MEAN ANYTHING AT ALL.
If you can imagine the Planet of the Time Lords over-run by 11-Teen Billion Mr Blobbies, you'll get what I mean.
Jesus, if I see another selfie-stick, I'm going to snap it, and if I see someone 'filming' some pointless activity on a phone I'm gonna wheich their phone off them and smash it. It really feels personal.
Now I've got my gander up and going, if you're a film-maker how do you like the way the world is going? Yeah I thought so - for all the freedom phone filming has brought, it really makes your carefully edited and compiled Super 8 footage seem like a waste of time doesn't it.
I wasn't going to go off on a  tangent, but strangely happenstance works sometimes so here goes:
Last night, Ali and I watched a marvellous little hour of film-making called 'From Scotland With Love', though to these East Coast eyes it was more, 'From The West Of Scotland With Love', but never mind; it was Glasgow-centric, but then they've got all the artistes haven't they?


Anyway, the beauty of it was (and I've had a whole night's decent sleep to mull on this) the music (by Fife musician King Creosote) melded so beautifully with the footage as to make a sort of symphonic love story.
It was really very good and strangely moving in a way I can't quite describe. 
But what I can describe is that all the archive footage, carefully made and cannily shot and edited - because it was expensive to produce - has provided these (often very) short moments in time that emphasise that moment in time.
In the film, there's one tiny clip of a laughing woman being followed into her cottage by a sheep and it has stuck with me all night (and even months later) because it has all the grace of simple genius and beauty.
It's not hours of tracking shots of the sheep following the woman and how she's reacting, nor the consequences of the sheep's action; there's no over-egging the pudding of subject matter, because though the point is a small point, edited to emphasise that point, somehow the point becomes more than the sum of its parts.
Brevity encourages questions:

Where is this crazy place?
Who is the laughing woman and why doesn't she mind being followed by a sheep?
How long ago was this?
Who filmed it and why?
Etc etc etc . . .

See what I mean? And it's like that with photographs, or rather it used to be like that with some photographs.
The object became the memory, or even the portal into memory. 
That's an important thing.
F'rinstance:




OK - once you get over the mass expanse of white sky (it was a foggy day) you'll notice there's a chap with a cat, on a lead, in a lay-by, in what looks like the middle of nowhere.
You see what I mean, the definition of that moment in time as a photograph has already brought up some interesting questions, like:

Why is the cat on the lead?
Who is the man?
Where are they?

Well, that's easy it's my Dad, Sheephouse Senior!
The year?
1974!
How the feck do I know that?
Simple, it's an Ektachome slide - they printed the month and year they were processed on the hairy cardboard mounts!
Who's the cat?
Cookie!
Why is she on a lead?
To stop her running off whilst we stop in a lay-by on the journey from Scotland back to Londinium!
OK - what happened next?
Well, after I'd taken the photo (a precious moment, this was a Kodak Instamatic, it was an honour and a privilege) Cookie wanted to explore further so I let her. She started climbing a bank towards some trees, so naturally I let her have her way . . . . and then she slipped the lead and was off! I gave chase up the bank, but found the going (all loam and leaves) difficult. I struggled up to near where she had settled herself to watch my efforts and then I shouted in horror as the banking gave way underneath me and sent me tumbling back towards the road. Now in memory it was quite a tumble, but it probably wasn't. However what I do know is that the white cricket trousers I was wearing (don't ask alright, just don't ask) were now a reddy-brown-mud colour and soaked.
Dad had checked I was alright and went and fetched Cookie and after (no doubt) some tea from the flask and probably a whole cake, I felt a lot better and we proceeded on our way.

And whilst I'm not saying a photo taken of the same sort of thing on a phone isn't valid, I don't know, the sheer perfection and ease (to my mind) don't really encourage you to enquire further . . . photos shot on phones are almost too perfect.
I've become like the rest of the world; I see one, I glance and I move on.

I have become complacent to something quite remarkable - the freezing of time.

Look at the slide again - my long dead father is frozen in time. I look; I am moved; the hole his death left in my life has never been filled some 40-odd years later.
Cookie the cat too, we were friends from when I was 11 till I left home. She was called Cookie because she'd originally been owned by some American relations of a friend of my Dad who were returning to Ohio. I loved that cat.
And those endless trips from London to Scotland for holidays or maintainence of the cottage before Mum and Dad retired and we moved permanently.

ALL OF THAT from one fuzzy, stored away, cardboard-edged memory. Shit, its quite something isn't it.

When the iPhone 7 looks as antiquated as a fixed to the wall "Whitehall 210" wind-up phone from the early 20th Century, that piece of hairy cardboard and plastic and dyes could probably still be around.
Will Facebook walls housing years of memories still be there?
Will Instagram exist?
Will JPG's still be readable or more likely, will the hardware they are stored on still be connectable?
Will your digital life be being held to ransom by Mega-Greed Inc. who now run the world's servers and want a monthly fee?
See what I mean. It's hard to imagine isn't it.
It's almost like we're rushing towards the precipice.
Technology for technology's sake has made everyone a photographer and film maker and director and producer. It has made what us amateurs do seem so utterly antiquated in the same way that MIDI technology for keyboards in the early 1980's made everyone chuck their old, unpredictable Moogs into the skip.

So I suppose, as a traditionalist (and thinking about it a bit) using those materials that are still around, well, maybe my efforts haven't been rendered pointless.
What do you think with regard to your own efforts?

Is photography still alive or are we lumped under the massed banner of imagery? To my mind it sort of looks like the latter - as mankind stands at this time, our photographs seem irrelevant to everything save the efforts and love that goes into producing them. But maybe history will prove me wrong. Maybe somewhere down the line, some being will pick a soggy, scratched bit of card and plastic and colour and light from the rubble of the 21st Century and say to themselves "Why is that feline on a leash?"

Sad isn't it - we may not have been rendered pointless just yet, but we've been emasculated. Our collective nadgers (or cojones if you like) have been chopped off and nailed to a Facebook wall.
Don't despair though, all I can do is shout encouragement from this barricade and encourage you all to do the same.
So go on, you over there, behind that wall, shout it loud:

"I'm a photographer! I'm Arcane And I'm Proud."








27 comments:

  1. Have you seen this?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhL7XSHBvAc

    What about this?
    https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/nov/13/elton-john-interview-i-collect-photographs-for-the-beauty-tate-modern-radical-eye

    Does he see any parallel between the golden age of analogue photography and the halcyon days of rock’n’roll? He nods. “I think so. The craft has been lost for a start. I was listening to some stuff in the Mercedes the other day, some Kings of Leon or something, and I thought, rock’n’roll is dead. It’s all the same and it’s not inspiring. And I’m someone who keeps up. I hear great Americana and great country, and lots of inventive electronic music, but no great new bands. It all comes out of a computer now and I hate the deadness of it. You disappear up your own arse with digital technology. That’s why I always record on analogue. I don’t care about the charts, I just do it now. I can’t get on the radio any more and you know what, neither should I. I’ve had my time, I want to make records that I like in the way that I like, so it’s analogue for me.”

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  2. Hi Omar - even though I was never a fan, I suppose you can't say fairer than that!
    One thing I would say though, is he's wrong about rock - it's not dead, it's out there, but not getting heard. There's bland computer-y music coming from everywhere. The problem is, and I'll bring my soapbox in, rock and roll was largely a music of disaffected (and in my generation) frustrated and angry youth . . that's what fed it.

    With photography though, do you think there's many people (and by that I mean enough people) to keep the economics of it going?

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  3. I stopped worrying about the economics of film, Phil. I use it and cherish it while it's available, and I try to do my best to support it. Also, my country thankfully gives me many other options to worry about every single day ;)

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  4. Well me too, but at the end of the day, it's the bean-counters who run things. I saw them move into Virgin Records back in the 80's and decide that scummy, over-stocked, wonderfully eclectic but above all else ALIVE and loved record shops wasn't the way to go, and they shut them down wholesale in the drive to move Virgin into things like airlines . . . it's all about the bottom line

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  5. Hello
    First time comment, but this one is tough. I recognize the nausea in being so overwhelmed by images (and music). Almost to the point that you don't want to add another image to it. I do hope there is still room for photography and all sorts of cultural expressions performed with afterthought, intention and creativity. Like yourself I turn back to analogue processes trying to master the craft, maybe also in order to keep pace and not just whirl away pushing buttons. I'm sure it can be done digitally, but sometimes it's good to be forced.
    Keep up this discussion. We need to think about what we are doing.

    Elvira (https://www.flickr.com/photos/126972938@N05/)

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  6. Hi Elivira - thanks for your comments.

    Yes it is hard to make sense of the sheer quantity of stuff being flung around every day - everyone wants to make their mark on eternity, but very very few do, and I'll count myself among that vast number. It's a dichotomy because, when something means so much to you, you feel that you have something of worth to say, and you know what, YOU DO. It's your passion and you love it, why wouldn't everyone else? But the modern mass of stuff puts paid to this, and it is something I have resigned myself too, and probably why I started writing this blog in the first place.
    At the end of the day, I do what I do, for me and me alone. If other people like it then fine, but I am not too bothered if they don't - all I know is that to me, at the time of taking the picture, and processing and then the 'Coo!' moment when I see a negative that has turned out particularly pleasingly, through to the printing and handling of the final print, the pleasure involved in stopping a small moment of time and rendering it in two-dimensions for my own pleasure more than outweighs the thoughts of "I wish I could have been Harry Callahan (et al)" . . .

    In the old biblical phraseology, "to thine own self be true" - I couldn't put it any better.

    And in the old 80's poster terminology "Don't hurry, don't worry and don't forget to smell the flowers!"

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  7. OK. It's always difficult when you are in the midst of things to see how it all might look with the benefit of hindsight. However... I don't think digital is going to go away any day soon, but I suspect that some time in the future, people may look back and say that doing everything digitally was a big mistake.

    I wonder what it was like for artists when the camera first came along. Suddenly what had been their exclusive territory was available to anyone with a camera. Portraits, landscapes - provided you had the right equipment. It was, to a certain extent, a dumbing down of image making. Democratisation, if you will. Except that as the photographic greats have proved time and time again, with great skill, images can be created which transcend the mundane mediocrity achieved by most casual snappers.

    And so with digital, the process of democratisation continues. And that's great. When I were a lad I couldn't afford to feed the habit,to buy the materials, to make the necessary mistakes to push the learning curve. Now there is virtually no financial barrier to taking pictures. But just as my casual guitar strummings could never be mistaken for Santana or Segovia, most of what today's phones produce is the same as the output of their Instamatic predecessors. OK, so they have auto focus, auto exposure, anti-shake, face recognition, smile detection, colour balance etc, but the images so obtained are for the main part purely ephemera. Store them on the wrong cloud provider, forget to back them up or erase by accident and they truly are here today and gone tomorrow.

    What you and I, I think, Sheepy, are both doing is to attempt to create real tangible artefacts. Physical manifestations of a single moment. Shadows cast on film which in turn is used to cast shadows on paper. The shadows on that paper then cast shadows on the viewers' retinas. A direct, traceable route back to the original scene / instant. That's why analogue is so powerful and digital is not. All digital offers is a facsimile, an approximation, a bunch of numbers which can be manipulated to look something like. And that's why analogue will survive.

    My efforts may all end up in the skip but I will have had fun making them! And if one picture, just one, survives and I am long dead, and someone looks and someone sees, then that someone will be seeing with me what I saw when I saw it. Wouldn't that be magic?

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  8. Hi Julian - ah food for thought eh and some very perceptive comments.
    I like this one:

    "but I suspect that some time in the future, people may look back and say that doing everything digitally was a big mistake."

    Because, as I'm sure you've read the complete archival digital solution is, erm, film, but again, even if say someone somewhere wants to preserve digital images on film, like I've said, once the bean-counters get involved, there's no guarantees. Business is business, and sad to say, for all the words, I could see even the likes of Harman saying enough is enough.
    Are there the people out there these days?
    I had an interesting chat a couple of years back with a lecturer in digital animation at DOJCA and he said whilst 'the kids' were interested in 'analogue' there weren't the facitilites, nor the knowledge to do it . . now fine if this was a small old style tech college, but nope, it's one of Scotland's great Art colleges. The hunger to learn might be there, but there's no one to pass it on.
    7 months back, I found a pile of junk at the back of the college, ready for the skips - 2 large darkroom sinks, print drawers (cannibalised), old film clips, and just general stuff that could have been used, but, rather like the process that was started back in my day when the Quantel Machine came to town, the process and skill of traditional photography was and is largely considered to be old hat, and that has only got a lot worse in the intervening years.
    Not that I am a member of one, but Camera Clubs from what I have heard seem to rule their print competitions with a digital only ruler - you are frowned upon if you turn up with real prints and granted, you might be able to walk away with head held high thinking that at least your print might well survive the skip of eternity rather than fading like a squirter (ink jet print) will eventually do, but that doesn't really help the now.

    It's a very sad situation - I used the last of my Fuji Neopan 400 a while back (article coming up) and it deeply saddened me that such a wonderful emulsion had become extinct. It could happen at any time, and what would we do then - when economics become involved in anything art-based, it's not long before things don't start to stack up.
    So, maybe Omar is right - enjoy it for the now whilst it is still there.
    In the words of the bard (Kenneth Williams) Ramblin' Syd Rumpo:

    "Come plight your swogles while ye may . .
    they don't stay fresh for long"

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HvCRM2xjjY

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  9. I've used mostly film during my photographic life but it's now too expensive and too inconvenient in Korea to do it. And I don't have any room in my small dwelling for doing black and white myself. I've kept a Zeiss Ikon rangefinder (their last) to use Tri-X in but I'm in the process of getting rid of my other film cameras. Some sold, some donated. A few days ago a Nikon D810 showed up at my door. It'll take a few weeks to become familiar with it (lots of buttons and menus) but eventually I'll be at the point where I can stick it on a tripod and get on with the business of making photographs. I won't have the pleasure of seeing those photos on a lightbox but properly developed in Lightroom and printed at a professional lab on good paper they will look fine and have a greater chance of surviving the Digital Apocalypse. For me, the print is the final product and the medium (film or digital) is less important. I do like film but it's not practical here so I'm doing mostly digital now. I had an exhibition of photos a couple of years ago of traditional Korean subjects taken by an application on my iPhone 4. I printed the photos on photographic Asian paper and I never once looked at the prints in their frames and thought, "I wish these had been done on film." Just my 2 Won/Pence/Cents.

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  10. Powerful stuff, Phil. I think you'll go mad, though, if you treat it too seriously. I look at my photography as something I do to while away my spare time. We've all got some whether working or retired and we all have to do something to fill it. Photography is what I do best so that's what occupies me. As for being outlived by our photographs, there's probably a better chance of that happening if we make them into books or mount and frame our favourite pics in a nice way so that they have "added value" for people.

    I spent a couple of hours at a table tonight trying to draw one of my landscape pics. It's something I've fancied doing for months. It left me in a strange mood. Cath asked me what was wrong and I said that I can take very good photographs but I sketch like a complete amateur. I had some spare time and decided to fill it with something other than what I'm good at. Think I'll stick to photography.

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  11. Hi Marcus - you have a very valid point and I fully understand - is South Korea not the most digital nation on earth? I don't know, I've never been there, though I must admit to having a love of Nongshim ramen!.

    I suppose (re-reading the article) I do sound a bit curmudgeonly, but what has happened to you as far as I can see is a total result of the 'digital revolution' which has had the bean counters replacing fine machinery with the disposable upgrade - I really don't like the way photography has gone on that front, because, although the convenience is there and for a lot of experienced photographers this has been a forced change, it has also opened to the door to the whole dreaded pixel peeping stuff where the nature of the art-form is being rendered null and void by "how sharp is this?", "check the bokeh on that".
    Yes, that used to happen, but ease and convenience and the home 'lightroom' has amplified it to astonishing proportions. I will admit, reading AP 30 years back, the same sort of photographs existed, no two ways about it, but they weren't nearly as easy to make. I remember someone trying to get some artwork scanned for reproduction back in the early 80's and being quoted £1000+ for the privilege, so from that point of view it has changed for the better. But at least the people who submitted their pictures for perusal then were people struggling with the medium, trying to get to those lofty heights where the masters dwelled. The struggle encouraged creativity, or at least it did for me. It made me as passionate about this as I could be; it is something that has lasted since those early darkroom sessions with Joe McKenzie.
    I personally find the making of images has been sooo simplified and homegenised that it is really hard to equate it with the struggle and learning of skills that photography should be, just to hone that passion. Well that's maybe an old-fashioned thought, but for me the records I love most are the ones I struggled with when I first heard them. A little bit of creative hardship really sharpens the senses and especially with film at a ridiculoud £6+ a pop now.
    Personal creativity has become over-simplified, so that anyone with a phone and a few apps can make something that looks like it was taken on say an un-coated Leitz lens with Ektachrome. The things we (as old school photographers) struggled to learn and produce are now as simple as a prod of a finger on a screen and a swipe to your printer. And for me, I'm afraid it doesn't sit easy.

    Ah, don't you wish you could sit down and have a good long chat with all these disassociated voices from over the web? I do. Much easier than typing. And good luck with the Nikon at least you can still use your old lenses on it.

    Once again, thanks for your food for thought, and if I come across as a bit of a snooty git, please ignore it.

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  12. Hi Bruce - you are doing yourself a disservice there.

    " I look at my photography as something I do to while away my spare time."

    What, you mean like Sudoku???

    'Scuse this, but I couldn't resist:

    "What's that you're doing darling?"

    (this next bit needs to be said in a strong Yorkshire accent)

    "Oh nothing really, just whiling away my time till I pop me clogs . . ."

    Honest Bruce if more photographers did what you have done so far for this small passion of ours I doubt we'd be in such a state. You are a good photographer, and more than that, you write about it very well, which is more than I can say for a lot of the stuff that passes as photographic comment these days.
    It is definitely more than just something to while away your free time - if you believe that, then I'm a martian.

    As for drawing - well what did you expect for a first attempt? Drawing takes hours of practice and noodling, it isn't accomplished overnight or even in a lifetime, it's a learning skill - you can always improve, but it is the enjoyment of learning that makes you want to carry on. You already have an eye for tonality from your photography; rendering the world into recognisable chunks is the next step, and if not, render it dark and gloomy (it usually works!).
    Keep at it if you enjoy it

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  13. Once upon a time only a chosen few could write. The process of writing involved calf skin, feathers and the grinding up of minerals together with mysterious ingredients to create ink. Then there was years of study of letters, language and literature. Now almost everyone can write. There are pens everywhere. And paper! Look at those piles of paper in poundshops up and down the country.

    It's not just ball-points either. There are felt tips, pencils, gel pens, glitter pens, pens of every shape hue and colour known to man. Permanent markers, wipe off markers, pens for writing on glass, paper and plastic - if there's a surface to be written on there's a pen for it. And don't get me started on the chinagraph tendency. There's even a pencil museum in Cumbria, for heaven's sake.

    Look, it's getting even worse. People can write things without being able to even form physical letters. Using SMS, emails, emojis, they type, text and twitter their way through cyberspace leaving barely an ink blot behind. Handwriting, paper, ink, who needs it?

    But, the great mass of these cyber-scribes: do they really pose an existential threat to the pantheon of great authors personified in such luminaries as Shakespeare and Jeffrey Archer? Can their output be compared to the best from the likes of Cervantes and Barbara Cartland?

    Yes? I thought so. The outlook is really pretty grim isn't it. I'll get me coat. It's the one with the L***a, plenty of FP4, HP5, Delta 100 and a light meter in the pockets. You'll see me on the skyline, tilting.

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  14. You're not half right there Julian - even tootling through the published works in say Waterstones (please don't use Amazon - they're killing everything - go to a real shop, even a charity shop and buy secondhand) or the luxurious surroundings of the best bookshops in the world, Topping And Co., there's a dearth of decent fiction; there's plenty of it, but I suppose I have read too many books and am too set in my ways (probably the latter) - there's not a whole lot gets me going. You might find things will change, at least I have to hope things will, and for the better, but yeah, it doesn't look too hopeful does it. Oh and buy a large chest freezer and start stocking up on film now . . . .

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  15. (Slow reply) Yes, it would be nice to sit down and have a proper chat with a cup of tea and some biscuits instead of typing away at a keyboard. I'm not an awful writer but sometimes it's difficult to convey tone using just letters.
    Although I'm using a digital camera now for my 'serious' work (oh, pretentious . . . ), I tend to use it like a film camera. I don't like developing photos on computer so I try to get it perfect in-camera. There is a good photo printer in my city and he orders special papers if you have a project in mind.
    As I write this, my Zeiss Ikon M sits on the desk next to me. Digital is fine and convenient but it's really nice to have a rangefinder loaded with Tri-X around your neck when you're walking about.

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  16. Hi Epictetus - thanks for the comments - you have the right idea about using the didg. like a normal camera - I am the same myself and rather why I quite like the Sony A6000 - it lets you take photos rather than getting in the way.
    You're lucky having a good printer available though - I think this is probably way different for the rest of the world and that's one of the things that gets my goat. In Dundee there used to be 3 proper 'wet' labs and numerous supermarket-type holiday snaps places, now there are just a couple of the latter. It feels like the hobby has been forced into a bottleneck, and of course with the fact that few people bother to print their phone photos these days, the use of materials is getting less and consequently I am damn sure questions will start getting asked about it.
    One can only hope there's enough people out there to keep the traditional companies going, but to be honest, from the look of it from my own generation (early 60's apres-boomers) when we hang up our lenses, who's going to follow?
    It's more worrying than I dare to think about!

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  17. And a very good morning to all.
    Take heart Admiral Goatheart. Things are not as they seem. Well, perhaps they are, which is just as well. TANATS would make crossing the road difficult.
    But...
    ...and but again.
    There are 3D printers and ready-meals, ball-point pens and Segways. You can make your own extended list.
    Somehow, people still chip away at marble and cut and cook raw ingredients (some even grow them). People still write with quill pens and walk on their own feet. (Some ride bicycles on the pavement, but that's simply evil and will stop when I'm President).
    Once upon a time, if you wanted to write, you had first to find your goose. (and only one side of the goose too). Then you had to find your calf. I think we might agree that this is a great deal of trouble. You can construct your own scenarios for the other examples.
    Writing on vellum is now used for very specialised things but writing is used by all, for everyday things. We are not saying this is bad, surely?
    People still carve stone, model clay, cook dinners, write poems. There are more means available for making things and the maker (I am avoiding the words"artist" and "create") can choose the most suitable, or convenient, or congenial method. So, shopping list? Pencil pinched from Ikea. Act of Parliament? Vellum, every time. Food in a rush? Sandwich from Pret or an M&S ready-meal in the microwave. Good friends round to dinner? Chop, slice, sear, bake, simmer. Shiny glasses, tablecloth perhaps...
    Why should photography be different? There are Ikea pencil moments and vellum moments. You takes yer pick and uses the tool that you need. Not just physical tools but mental ones too. Hen-night in Blackpool? Do we really suggest the tripod and Sinar? Only if you're Nicolas Nixon.
    We can choose the vellum or the Ikea pencil. But the choice is ours.
    All this new stuff frees us to do what we want and not be diverted into using the wrong hammer to knock in the wrong nail.
    And now we've mentioned tripods, they were the anti-shamke devices of their day. The great, and still underestimated, WHFT simply rested his mouse traps on some convenient wall. Tripods were the future.

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  18. Point taken David, however, whilst the Cumberland was just a more refined variation on the charcoal stick, which was in turn a variant on the charred bit of firewood, and whilst linseed oil and earth pigments were far more favourable than all those messy eggs, film is the end of the line. It's the final stop - there've been variants on it, but it was still film and had permanence. You just need to read some of the horrendous digital archiving stories to realise that all those 1's and 0's might look good on a screen, but when they're gone they're really gone, unless (and that is a big ask) they've been saved on something of permanence. People are using the tools of the day to capture achingly important parts of their lives without really thinking that should say Apple really decide that 5GB of icloud storage for free is a bit of a piss take and start charging for it, and that charging increases exponentially year on year . .
    Do you get my drift, using the tools of today to capture the birth of your first born in glorious and endless perfection and relying on a 'benevolent' organisation to store it for you is a fool's game. Not only that, but can you imagine say a nation taking objection to Mr.Zuckerberg's jewish roots and saying FaceBook is a tool of satan and taking the whole lot down? Madness, I know, but that is the world we live in. And all your memories oh neue Photographist? Gone. Oh no, wait a minute, you've saved them on your phone, oh shit, you've just dropped it in a urinal in your triumphant realisation . . do you see my point, digital is handy and quick and everything convenient, but it is a fragile, very fragile medium, but this is another argument for another day.
    Might take the Sinar to Blackpool on my hen night actually . . .

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  19. Yes indeed.
    But I still think I keep my memories in my head. Sooner or later, they will suffer from the obsolescence of the storage medium. It might be quite soon if Donald gets in a tiz.
    And what of all these treasured moments and achingly important stuff anyway? We live comfortably without snaps of the Death of Nelson or even of Socrates. No proto-Capa at Thermopylae, and yet we still remember them. If there were no picture, either digital or paper, of Joe Bloggs' little daughter with her face charmingly smeared with ice cream, I don't really care at all.

    Do you remember those dear dead days when people kept family albums? If those memories were important to anyone, it would be to the children and grandchildren depicted in them, but typically, they are first in the skip after the originator dies.

    You may guess that I'm suggesting that almost all of the photographs taken are not worth keeping at all and best of all, digital photographs don't even need a skip. No worrying about putting cones in the road and waiting for the skip-lorry (is there a special name for them?). No chucking out the prunings and old mattresses that your neighbours bung in at dead of night. A simple click and the worthless snaps have given way to useful storage space. What could be nicer?

    I do think that there a photographs that are worth keeping, but not because of the sentimental value imposed on them by the people who took them. There are other values. I'm sure you know about that.

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  20. Well, yes indeed.
    Some media are longer-lasting than others. Wax to receive and marble to retain.
    Paper needs careful storage too. We ourselves are fortunate, living in warm and waterproof houses where paper can survive quite well. But the enemy of paper storage is the next generation.
    I think my thinking started off with the idea that almost all the images recorded have no value at all outside a very small circle. Who else wants to see the birth of your child? No doubt, a remarkable child in every way, but why should I, or my next door neighbour, or the man in an orange hard hat who is pruning my neighbour's trees as I write, care at all. Or even the man in a blue hard hat who is doing something mysterious on the ground?
    So, when you are gone, and perhaps when your excellent child is gone, who will care? Perhaps, if the birth was unusual in some way it might be worth preserving a record for future gynaecologists, but that is no longer a personal memory.
    The ease with which digital images can be discarded seems to me, in almost every case, to be an advantage. The ease with which they may be transmitted seems to me to be a great advantage.
    If I may suggest, with great respect, that you are using the word memory wrongly. The memory resides in your head and the photograph is a trigger to the memory. A diary entry would serve the same purpose (and would not include that expanse of white sky). Worthwhile memories endure; I can't believe that you would forget your child, photograph or not.
    Thank you for triggering some interesting thought.

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  21. Morning - this is the stuff of fireplace and beer and wine isn't it, or long rambles along night-time streets with earnest companions!
    I agree that the memory is in your head, but the stimulus to memory is the photograph and the two seem to walk together hand in hand like said companions. I can look at a large majority of photos taken (by me and often of me) and summon up how I felt, or rather how I thought I felt at the time - it's stronger where I've been involved in the making process.

    Old photos are funny - I have a large quantity from various relations, though curiously very few from my immediate family (they're all in a suitcase at my brothers) and I like looking at them, just because . . .
    There's a cracker of my old Aunty Jane and a friend on top of a snowy peak beside a road in of all things court shoes, and you think, why and how?! It is meaningless to everyone except me. I have one of AJ and my sister and my sister has a supremely large parrot on her shoulder, and again you think why?
    It's all food for thought - some of it inspires my fictional writing, and others just make me laugh - the photo in a very early FB with my wife's family around a table all smoking . . hilarious to me.

    As for paper - buy acid free - lasts for yonkels.

    As always David, thanks for the comments - they're always interesting.

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  22. Back to the virtual fireside and the imaginary glass of wine...
    I'm remembering the parrot already.
    Court shoes and a road suggest to me that they didn't walk there and were on the way to somewhere else, but why did they stop? Did the driver need easement? Perhaps someone was car-sick (much more common in the good old days). Did they stop to admire the view and this is their aide memoire – not the view, but the occasion. If so, the intended memory has evaporated. No doubt the women would remember where they got those shoes and if they were bargain or an extravagance. They might well have been both, poised in a monetary quantum state. To a husband, they might have been a necessity and very cheap, while among sisters they may have been a delightfully wicked extravagance. Depending on who observes the monetary quantum state, the cash function collapses. Not Schrödinger's, but Freeman, Hardy & Willis's box. Or Jimmy Choo's box. Dunno.
    Keen observers will have noticed some gender stereotyping here, but it is period stereotyping and appropriate to the age of the photographs.
    And what happened to the parrot?
    I was going to say something else, but it, too has evaporated. And what am I doing upstairs anyway?

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  23. Actually, I think it was 'just' a snap.

    And is that a physical upstairs or a mental upstairs?

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  24. Mental.
    I'm actually at the kitchen table, watching the frost being evicted by the sun.

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  25. "...watching the frost being evicted by the sun". I'm going to use that in a novel one day and claim it as my own. Cue maniacal laughter.

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  26. Hi David - for some reason your comment hasn't gone to the comments moderation page, so I've had to copy and paste it!

    "DavidM has left a new comment on your post "The Death Of Photography?":

    Yes indeed.
    But I still think I keep my memories in my head. Sooner or later, they will suffer from the obsolescence of the storage medium. It might be quite soon if Donald gets in a tiz.
    And what of all these treasured moments and achingly important stuff anyway? We live comfortably without snaps of the Death of Nelson or even of Socrates. No proto-Capa at Thermopylae, and yet we still remember them. If there were no picture, either digital or paper, of Joe Bloggs' little daughter with her face charmingly smeared with ice cream, I don't really care at all.

    Do you remember those dear dead days when people kept family albums? If those memories were important to anyone, it would be to the children and grandchildren depicted in them, but typically, they are first in the skip after the originator dies.

    You may guess that I'm suggesting that almost all of the photographs taken are not worth keeping at all and best of all, digital photographs don't even need a skip. No worrying about putting cones in the road and waiting for the skip-lorry (is there a special name for them?). No chucking out the prunings and old mattresses that your neighbours bung in at dead of night. A simple click and the worthless snaps have given way to useful storage space. What could be nicer?

    I do think that there a photographs that are worth keeping, but not because of the sentimental value imposed on them by the people who took them. There are other values. I'm sure you know about that.



    Posted by DavidM to FogBlog at November 27, 2016 at 3:55 AM"

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  27. I actually love them for their sentimental value and their ability to correct memory - yes, there's a lot of crap, but even the crap can sort out the neurons misfiring - that's what I like about old snaps, and at the end of the day wouldn't photography be an utterly pointless exercise if there were nothing to show for it? It sort of has become that - everything is viewed on screens . . .and in an uncertain future for power, whilst the planet crumbles around you, at least, if you've got a snap of Aunty Jane in your hands, you can comfort yourself with a memory of how good her cakes were and how welcoming her kitchen was and how much she loved having you round for tea, and that pain of what has been lost will ache like nothing else, but it'll remind you that you're just a simple human; 50,000 generations "in the caves" - we're not as sophisticated as we think, that snap is a totem, a key to the past and as important as anything else.
    It might well end up in the skip, but for myself, being able to see a stupid picture of my Dad with a cat, gives me a link to a memory that might well have got lost along the way, and that's enough of a justification for their existence to me.

    Soapbox removed - - -pretty vague stuff eh!

    ReplyDelete

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