Friday, August 5, 2011

My First Digital SLR!

I just got a brand new (used) digital SLR camera and I couldn't be more excited. It is a Nikon D70 with a 35mm-70mm zoom lens. So nothing mind blowing, but still an excellent, sturdy, beautiful piece of machinery.

I have shot almost exclusively 35mm film since I began my education in photography many years ago. For a very long time I was anti-digital. I believed (and still do to a certain extent) that digital cameras allow photographers to be lazy. I often see people with incredibly expensive digital cameras set things the auto function and allowing the machine inside the camera to do all the work. Digital cameras allow amateurs with lots of money to be taken more seriously than poor, but educated, photographers because the rich can afford this years newest, most expensive model of digital camera. There are also great photographers with great cameras, but those people aren't my competition.

People who hire photographers always want to know what kind of camera they use and give very little regard to that photographers overall education and understand of the art itself. For me, photography has never been about having expensive gear, it has been about being a perfectionist as well as a little experimental.

I used the same Canon Elan II 35mm traditional SLR for nearly 10 years, so upgrading to a Nikon digital SLR is a huge step for me. The reasoning behind this purchase is the simple fact that people want digital. It's fine for me to shoot 35mm for myself, for my art and for my sanity. But, if I want to market myself as a photographer and filmmaker I need to have what the people want. It is getting to hard to convince people that 35mm negatives, scanned into photoshop is as legit as a digital image. People just don't want film anymore, I blame the technology renaissance.

A lot of the work you see in the slideshow above is 35mm black and white as well as color. My skills in these areas give me a massive advantage over photographers who know very little about traditional processes. I can take apart and put together a color print processor used in color film developing. I can spend hours, upon hours in the darkroom perfecting one aspect of a 3x5 photograph. I know how to manipulate chemicals and times to create subtle but transformative effects. I can sepia tone by hand, I can hand paint a photograph with real paint, not photoshop. I can liquid emulsion just about any object, I can shoot Polaroid and then manipulate that polaroid in a darkroom. On top of all of this I consider myself a bit of a Photoshop guru.

So while I am moving away from traditional processes, my skills in all these other areas will inform my art as I continue my professional transformation.

PS. The images are mine, they are crappy cellphone photos that I lit the best I could.

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