Reality is Born in Our Imagination

All reality is given birth in the imagination.

I got my first digital SLR in 2002, became a regular digital shooter in 2004, and exposed my last roll of film in early 2006. Sometime in 2010 I threw away my final two rolls of film, one 35mm and one 120 medium format. They would have likely still been good today as they were in my freezer.

I honestly thought that film, all but 35mm movie and 4×5 for still cameras, was discontinued at or about 2012. Then on Facebook I see that one of my friends still shoots film. I believe it is 35mm slides. He owns a digital and uses it on rare occasions. I know not where his processing is done. At times in the 2,000s I did miss film, but mostly I was happy with digital. It is easier and less expensive. Those two facts of course mean that pretty much everyone is now a photographer. That did bother me at the time, but now when my life is often about viewing the work of others, that just gives me more great images to look at.

I use to spend as much as $1,000 at a time for all of the various films I used. Once a year, I would spend another $1,000 for archival plastics for storage, and medium format film mounts. I will admit, there is nothing in digital to compare with those colorful red and yellow, or green boxes of Kodak and Fuji films, or white with black boxes for my occasional Ilford b&w purchase. It meant that for at least a while, I had film on hand, and nothing would stop me from making pictures. Those colorful packages foretold all of the great subjects and wonder that I and my cameras would behold.

In my digital life, I tried to bring the same discipline to my image making that was absolutely necessary with film. You knew not your results for days after you made a film picture, and there was no way to fix (or enhance) your result after the moment of clicking the shutter. In some ways I failed to continue at that level. Every photographer who made the switch, failed to some degree. The human animal will not take the long winding and difficult road if they (we) can get away with a less resistant path. The easier road. That’s a part of the human condition.

In the long run, I do believe that I made the switch at the perfect time. I used film until the digital SLR was somewhat perfected.

Perception is reality, so for several years, my reality has been that film no longer exists in the form I used it.

Occasionally I like to share a page from the past here on Earth Images. This one is a bit unique because it deals with perceptions within photography, but contains no photographs.

This is from 2/3/13.

Back to film.

One of the reasons my mind has wandered to the days of old so to speak, is because within the past week I had become aware that one the best nature photographers, and biggest names of the 1980s and 90s, Tim Fitzharris has recently joined Facebook. Tim was one of the most prolific nature photography “how to” book writers of that era. A few years back I Googled him only to find a half completed website with a few very old pictures on it. As I said, Facebook suggested I submit a friend request to Tim, and after a few days he, or somebody working on his behalf, accepted. He only has a few friends and seemed to be a forgotten hero, but a new website seems to suggest that he is back at it. Never forget those that paved the way for what you do.

Back to film again.

I had a friend who used to go to my website and tell me that he could tell which pictures I posted were film, and which were digital. I told him that they were all digital files, even those that I made in the 1980s with the aid of Kodak or Fuji. While some had their origins as film, and some as digital files, everything on the internet are in fact digital images. Some were born on film, but once they were scanned, or copied with a digital camera, they were all now digital files. He had never thought of it that way.

There is only one location that I have ever been to, that I have worked in 35mm, medium format (6x7cm) and digital. All that was in one day in 2006. I have shown these pictures many times including only a few weeks ago, but digitally copied film images, and digital originals can be pretty similar in quality.

35mm1Slides8 35mm

6×7 cm1tdsc_25736x7

Digital original.3dsc_2528b

Bird photography was fun in 35mm, but it was a delight with digital because of the ability to crop. The bar of how much you can crop in the digital format, goes up almost every day with new equipment. They make my older crops, look like child’s play.

Bald Eagles



Male Red-winged BlackbirdDSC_8979bc

Bank SwallowDSC_5770

SoraSoraHor 070

I (not so boldly) proclaimed about ten years ago, that digital imagery will become obsolete eventually, in deference to a newer, less “old fashioned” type of image making. I use the phrase “not so boldly”, because everything becomes outdated eventually. You can bet on it. I would imagine cameras will change. Maybe to something that can be implanted in our eyes. Maybe in our brains? The literal (you can pick it up and feel it) thing called film, was replaced (not yet entirely) by a series of codes that when they are viewed on a computer, become a photograph that you cannot pick up and feel. Maybe next we will have something that is so conceptual in its nature, that only our brains, not our eyes, can conceive it. Maybe those without sight, will truly become the creators and viewers of imagery.

Our imagination will become our reality.

Our only limits are self-imposed,                                                                                                    Wayne

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