Geoff Dickinson writes: Downtime and the Compact Challenge Part 1
One of the by-products of the idleness forced on me by my recent accident has been having the time to go through some of my old slides/prints and update my database.
Like many lifelong photographers, my archives stretch back a long way. In my case, to about 1963. That means I was 8 years old when I started to “borrow” my dad’s camera, much to his irritation I recall! We shared the picture taking on our family holidays to Europe and between us amassed a large collection of images many of which have little or no information attached. I set myself the target some time ago of sorting these out but I could never really find the time until now.
I have been using an Epson slide and print scanner. Pre 1980, all the images I have are slides. We used these exclusively because of their colour rendition, longevity and depth when projected. Despite my enthusiasm for all things digital, I have to concede that it is hard to beat a good slide. The slides have been kept in dark, dry storage conditions and the majority look like they could have been taken yesterday. It is wonderful to be able to look back at these and then try to piece together details of where and when they were taken. I have been able, with the help of dad and my friend Mr. Google to piece together information about some of the places I visited, the full significance of which escaped me as a young boy. Have a look at the image aabove. It was taken in West Berlin in July 1971 at the height of the Cold War. It is the famous Checkpoint Charlie, one of the few crossing points between East and West. I remember looking across the Berlin Wall past the machine gun towers and could almost taste the grey bleakness of the East. The desperation people must have felt to risk their lives to leave can only be imagined.
Once scanned, the images were imported to Lightroom and cleaned up. The slide film is mostly the iconic Kodachrome brand. In most cases, all I needed to do was get rid of the odd dust speck, tweak the Shadows/Highlights and add some Clarity and Sharpening. A few scans had significant blue casts but these were easily dealt with in the software.
My favourite module in Lightroom is the Library. This allows me to attach details of where and when images were taken plus Keywords for later search and retrieval. There is even room to add more extensive detail about the subject. All I then needed to do was upload them to Dropbox for retrieval by interested friends/family.
Moving from the digital darkroom and out into the field, my shoulder injury means the chances of using my DSLR any time soon vary from slim to zero. Cue the compact challenge and the use of a lightweight, credit card sized Canon Ixus 115. It is years since I used a digital compact and there is a perception by some people that compacts are somehow inferior. This is of course complete and utter rubbish; it’s never about the camera and always about the photographer. My self imposed challenge is to try to make satisfying images with limited manual control and no lens choice other than the built in zoom. I am looking forward to getting to grips with this. See you around, Geoff (May 2011)