Saturday, February 9, 2019

Cameras, Englargers, and Strobsy: An Analog Journey

If you have come this way because of a post on the Film Photography Project website, welcome. If you are here because you are looking for typewriter stuff, you are also in the right place. The typewriter stuff is a little deeper in this blog, but it is still here.

What can I say? Mike at the FFP has been a great help by providing the fledgling photography program with cameras and kind thoughts. He kindly let me ramble on about what I need to do to get this program going. A couple of folks have reached out to me after reading the post and made some very kind donation offers and I can tell you that I am blown away with the kindness of others.

If you want to follow along with my classes, you can visit the class site at http://www.strobsy.com The name is interesting, no? I had originally conceived of a series of tutorials designed to help yearbook students use off-camera flash, but I needed a new site and I had the domain. Maybe the tutorials will come in time.

Try as I might, I cannot live a purely digital life. To be sure, there are some really digital things in my daily experience, but I always come back to analog tools. There's some irony for you; I communicate this on one of the most self-conscious forms of digital navel-gazing ever devised. Blogs are the digital id. Or is that Twitter?

Richard Polt effectively describes my sentiment in the manifesto of the Typewriter Insurgency when he calls for an acknowledgement of the "real over representation/ the physical over the digital/ the durable over the the unsustainable."

I think the time for a Photographic Insurgency is in order. The digital image has devalued the photographic image. I know history. I know that photo editing has a long and unsavory past. I have seen the Stalinist palimpsest. However, there is some value and honor in a photograph of real things. Our species has become embroiled in Manichaean debates on truth and lies; reality versus imagination. Photos may not always tell the whole truth, but they tell 1/30 of a second of truth. Photography is the real over representation.

The most disheartening thing is that you can go online to YouTube and watch countless tutorials on how to use Photoshop to make your pictures look just like the pictures of other people. It's hollow and the pride of craftsmanship is as ephemeral as the digital files they create. However, the creation of a print in a darkroom from a negative you alone created is not just a photo; it's my photo. I created it and I have pride of creation of this thing. Photography is the physical over the digital.

A photographic print is a guaranteed (providing good fixing, rinsing, toning, and storage) century of life. Platinum prints will last longer. I have talked about the digital oubliette before and we are living in an age of garbage that will make up the geological strata of the far future. Planned obsolescence and the newest upgrade are the economic orthodoxy. Film photography breaks down the assumptions of modern convenience by saying longevity, value, significance, and meaning are important values. They should not be ignored.

Typewriters and photography are kindred spirits; both are tools of intimate creativity. The products of which add to the world through their permanence.

I've gone on too long, but welcome to Magic Margin.

5 comments:

  1. It's good to read a new posting. I agree we need a film photography insurgency.

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  2. I agree. Two years ago I did not know you were doing photography in class. It would have made a great home for my now gone Omega D2 system complete with both condensers, all lenses, filters, and carriers from 110 to 4 x 5. I hated to leave it behind, but had now method to haul it.

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  3. Welcome *back* to Magic Margin, you mean. changing focus rarely changes the soul. (:

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    1. It's been a while since I posted, but your blog is a great example of divergent topics brought together.

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