I watched a parade of excellent 35mm transparencies projected on screen. Due to my digital mindset my first thoughts were how I could improve some of the slides given a little Photoshop magic and that got me thinking. Perhaps I should be envious of the slide maker. The slide maker is essentially done with work when he/she drops off film for development. Most digital shooters, on the other hand, have just begun their work when shooting is completed. Digital shooters have assumed the burden of processing and printing. Our involvement in achieving the final print has increased dramatically. The actual amount of time we consume in our processing has been the topic of several lunch conversations with my fellow photographers. We are not in agreement about the exact ratio but it’s a huge chunk of time arguably anywhere from 2 hours for every hour of shooting to 6 hours. And that time is actual photo manipulation and printing. It doesn’t include learning new techniques, installing and fiddling with software, setting up the computer and the host of other non-image making activities necessary to get a print produced. Nor does it include downtime while trying to diagnose software or hardware problems, which seems to be a relentless battle fought by all PC owners.
I will never win an award for my organizational skills and I must admit that PCs have forced me into some semblance of an efficient filing system. Prior to the digital age I was pretty good about filing my slides but prints were another matter. I subscribed to the shoebox filing system. I just stuffed my prints into old shoeboxes. I never threw out a print unless it was horrible. I figured if I left my crummy shots in the shoebox that through some mystical process they would improve with age. Unfortunately my digital images follow suite. I keep a ton of stuff. It wasn’t a serious problem until my recent upgrade to a 12 megapixel camera. Twelve megapixels means 75 megabyte files and 75mb files means hard drives get filled mighty fast. The hard drive storage manufacturers and other media storage manufacturers must be ecstatic over camera manufacturers megapixel wars. Gee, maybe they even subsidize it?
And now the question that begs to be asked is how long can you store a digital file? It depends whom you ask or what you read. The fact is there are only 2 kinds of PC owners – those that have had a hard drive fail and those that will have a hard drive fail. We can now throw CDs and DVDs into that mix. It’s just a matter of time.
In my opinion, it’s control. I have instant feedback from the camera so I can control image output. I can control all the factors that make a good image through computer software and I can control the printed output with the tweak of a finger right in my own home. Of course living in front of a computer monitor is not what I call high quality life but in my opinion the image results are worth the time. Then again, maybe the film folks had the right idea. They could be shooting while I’m home working and continuing to deny that I have become a computer geek.