Friday, March 27, 2009

The Concept of a Camera

In this age, most of us have become accustomed to the point-and-click convenience of the digital camera, aided by the generously large and clear screen that displays the image. With so many functions that aid in the process, every photo created looks bright, shiny, and pretty much perfect. All one has to do after that is to upload the photos to a computer to view them immediately, or let a shop develop them.

Increasingly, though, I find myself actually seeking to create imperfections in my digital photos. I like the graininess, noise, haziness, indistinct forms, dreamy quality and soft, murky lighting that are often a result of photos shot using film camera. Using a DSLR (Digital Slow Lens Reflex) camera in art class was an eye-opener for me. It lacks the big screen and automatic functions that usual digital cameras have. Instead, one has to manually adjust the shutter speed and other features, and look through the tiny hole to visualize what sort of image will result. This hands-on approach allows more room to experiment and, though tedious, is fun and fulfilling.

I also had the experience of developing photos in the dark room and boy, it is no easy feat. There are so many steps and processes to follow, and it is very much a science as it is an art. The exciting thing about manually developing your own photos is that you won't know how they'll turn out. What fascinated me the most, perhaps, is the pinhole camera I made. It's simply a sealed box with a tiny hole cut in it to allow light to reach the film placed inside. I couldn't believe that such a simple device can function as a camera. It's photography at the most fundamental level.

Here are some photos that appear to be shot on film:

Film cameras seem more capable of capturing sensitive portraits, a far cry from the cheesy photos people snap of others and themselves using digital cameras.

And of course, another type of film camera is the polaroid camera, which is wonderful because the film develops instantly. Polaroids are really good for capturing a small, interesting section of some scene; hence, they can turn out slightly abstract.

Isn't it funny how we want to return to the basics for many things in life, despite being the techno-age creatures that we are?

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