It goes back 20 years to when I wrote an article for a monthly magazine called 'Prepress World"
As you can guess this was a specialist magazine aimed at the prepress industry. In the mid 90's the industry was in the middle of the change from analog to digital. All the old skills and processes were dying and digital was the new kid in town, and I could see photography was going go through the same seismic changes in the near future, and the magazine wanted a working photographers view of the state of the photography industry and the changes that digital was starting to bring.
To put things in context. In 1995 the Apple QuickTake camera was launched as the first camera to be able to connect to a computer. Kodak had the DCS460 a 6 megapixel camera based on a Nikon body costing then £25,250 which is about £34,000 today.
We were still 4 years away from the Nikon D1 which was my first digital camera and the first affordable pro spec digital camera.
Photoshop had been released in 1988 and by 1995 had reached version 3 and had been able to run on Windows for 3 years.
The article I wrote was very much on the limitations of the current digital cameras as they existed at the time but I did look forward to the future at the end of the article, and here I am pleased to see I managed to get a few predictions correct, or nearly correct.
First I predicted that the new technology in photography would have little of the destructive effect on jobs and skills as was being seen by prepress.
Part right, but not in the way I thought and also very wrong in other ways.
The technology has put the ability to create professional images in the hands of almost anyone and there are many more people claiming to be photographers today, but, and its a big but, images are now treated as a commodity and any industry that has over supply has a price crash for stock images.
I also predicted that there would not be a reduction in the number of photographers in the industry as the capturing of the image was only the very last step in the creative process, and everything up to that point would remain the same. Wrong in that that there are many more photographers but right in that the number of full time professional photographers has not gone down greatly.
Second that I would no longer need to carry lots of equipment around.
If I was setting up my business now I would be buying very different equipment to what I bought in 1988. The cost would be the same but it would be different. lighter and more compact.
My final paragraph was :-
"The near future is going to be based on traditional technology, with digital cameras slowly becoming used where applicable, and into the mixture for the futures the tendency to keep alive , rediscover, and adapt processes from the past. Silver halide has a life for years to come."
Well I got my first digital camera in 2001 just over 5 years after I wrote this article. The last roll of film I shot commercially was in 2004 9 years after the article. So that covered the near future.
As for the rediscovery of old processes, there has been a renaissance in old and almost forgotten processes. Only in the last week a first for wet plate collodion. The only process that seems to have died with no hope of resurrection is Kodachrome.
Silver halide is still around and the decline appears to have bottomed out. Lots of choice has been lost as have some of the big names. Prices have gone up, and the choice of places to process have greatly reduced, but for the moment we still have film in an increasingly digital world.
At the moment I am going through my collection of B&W film negs and getting them digitised. This is all being done by camera, so the files while large are not as good as scans. The big advantage is that it is much faster. I am able to copy 5 or 6 rolls per hour.
Lots of the images are not very interesting but occasionally I find something worth working on in photoshop.
One roll I found was of a snowy and foggy day down by the river near home. It must have been about 1976 or 7 but as I never noted any info on these rolls that is just a bit of a guess.
We have been wanting to visit Bletchley Park for some time. V had visited a few years ago and said it was well worth going again. Since her visit, the site has had a large lottery fund grant and has much more to see.
We were there for 4 hours and saw only a small part of what there was to see. So I think we will be back again some time soon.
Well finally managed to shoot a few frames of new images. Down by the Medway and being out of the wind it was almost trying to be warm. The light was not great but with a bit of post processing, got a reasonable image.
Strangely I have shot no new material since Christmas. With the weather not being great with rain and the storms when I have had the time for shooting. Also being ill and now tacking my second course of Amoxicillin for the year. Plus having the hassle of changing the car, and all the other distractions that come along in life I am feeling bad about their being no new images.
But what I have been doing is starting to digitise my collection of old B+W negatives. For years I have scanners that can handle any film. They produce big high quality files but are too slow for large volumes of files.
It had been going through my mind that there is an faster way to produce files that are big enough and high enough quality for my needs. Remember these are mostly 35mm negs shot since about 1973 on all sorts of different films. All home processed and filed carefully but not stored in archival conditions plus I have thousands of them.
Using my digital camera, macro lens that will shoot 1:1, a copy stand, lightbox and the neg holders from one of my scanners, I am able to produce good enough file and record a 24 exposure film in about ten minutes.
It also has the advantage of giving much bigger images of the files than a contact sheet and lets me recover incorrectly exposed or processed images. These images would have been impossible to print in the past but with photoshop the finished files can be adjusted to produce acceptable results.
But what has been an even bigger surprise is the images that I have no memory of tacking.
In the first half dozen rolls I have found pictures of events I had forgotten about, places I don't remember going, and people I can't recall.
Before the fall
Remember the location but can't recall the names of the girls.
Skating on thin ice.
Remember the Knapps freezing and skating many times. But don't recall photographing it.