Archive for February 24th, 2023

It’s not always bad news…

Reason #19- Photographs

The word “photography” comes from the Greek phrase “Drawing the Light.”  We all know that photography in the 19th century was cumbersome and time-consuming, and required technicians trained in the art form.  But the photograms and photographs taken in those decades have provided an incredible and invaluable window into life back then.  Color photos began to be produced by the mid-1880s and the first widely used color process hit the market in 1907.

When cameras were developed that used roll film, photography became more widespread and amateurs were able to experience the joy of the hobby.  Some were good enough or wealthy enough to go pro, which required more elaborate and expensive equipment.  That’s still somewhat true today, with the biggest difference between talented amateurs and professional photojournalists being the cost of their camera ensemble.  Of course, today nobody uses film.  For the younger readers, film was a medium, usually on a roll, that was placed inside of the camera, which was subjected to the light through the camera lens to produce either a film negative or slide positive image.  Film then had to be developed by being taken to a film lab or, for a fortunate few, handled in their own lab, to produce paper photographs.  Now, digital photography is the sole media everywhere — cameras, phones, watches, tablets, even dashboards in cars and trucks.

Photographs, whether paper or digital, are both useful and delightful for documenting family history and events, but also for capturing memorable times and places and documenting a person’s life from birth to death.  It is also quite valuable in capturing moments in nature, often providing views few individuals would ever otherwise see.  Landscapes, cityscapes, oceanscapes, and skyscapes make up an incredible library of earth-based galleries, and for the past 50 years, outer space has provided a plethora of planet shots and other scenes from the universe.

I once wrote a blog piece called, “In many ways, photos can offer more than video,” about why I prefer still photos over video.  In that article, I explain my opinion that video is spoon-fed to viewers, always making them focus on the movement and thinking about what the videographer intends.  Photographs give a viewer time to think, time to explore the picture, time to remember similar sights, time to see what they can see and, more importantly, time to feel. 

Even though I’ve been recording video lately, I continue to feel it’s true.  A photographer also has more leeway to exclude and frame a shot.  If you have ever seen a photo of a place you are familiar with, you might have had the feeling that the photo seemed more startling, colorful, insightful, clean or unusual than you remember.  You experienced the photographer’s eye.

My favorite photos?  I love historic photography and magnificent landscapes, and I love to shoot abandoned buildings, birds, wildflowers, sunrises, sunsets and vivid shots of nature.  I like family photos for their nostalgia, but still prefer nature.


There is no one better to quote about photography than the ultimate landscape photographer and environmentalist, Ansel Adams:  “To photograph truthfully and effectively is to see beneath the surfaces and record the qualities of nature and humanity which live or are latent in all things.


Jack’s note: Regarding my comment that nobody is using film any longer, I saw a news report this week that said that there has been a new resurgence in cameras using black-and-white and color film by both pro and amateur photographers. Evidently, they prefer the softer hues and quality of film medium compared to digital photos.

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