15 March 2011

Sing A Different Tune

Even when traveling to speak, I want to carry an image recorder. And if I’m going to spend the time to make the images, I want the result to be worth printing and keeping. Of course, to carry the good quality digital means a mule-load of equipment, batteries, drives, chargers, zoom lenses with vibration control, and other such indulgences. Our impulse these days seems to be for the “does-it-all” solution, which of course speaks for the HD video camera that shoots the nice panorama still (if you remember to bring the screw-on wide-angle adaptor). But ultimately, it does not satisfy. If you shoot video, the audio doesn’t make it because there is no sound man, and the stills are too low-res for large applications. The answer is so obvious as to require an apology with its revelation: shoot on some of the film in the fridge. Which, of course, is all about pulling out the M6.

I’m someone who loves things well-made. Anything. Even if I don’t like that category of object. And I’m a photographer, who ultimately still loves the mystery of a photon hitting a light sensitive surface. I will admit I still sometimes pull the old Leicas out of the safe and run through the shutter speeds, several times on each one. That’s what I was taught to do to spread the grease in the shutter. The Leica M series is a wonderful, well-designed, lovingly-made celebration of the human’s ability to craft something that is both machine and artwork.

I hate the contemporary practice, inevitable with technology, of taking the picture and looking at it immediately to decide if that was what you wanted. Confession: I do it too. But how craven.

So to have the result of the evolution of knowledge of camera-making in hand again, and respond to the rigor it demands, is quite a joy. Of course, for the big jobs, it’s not possible not to digitize... between cost and schedule.

And let’s not forget, film has a tremendous footprint.

My hope is that Leica will someday produce a digital reflex camera that uses the wonderful lenses I have kept in pristine condition. Hard to slow the march of progress.