Film a thing of the past
It really shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me, but the photographic film industry is about to join buggy whips and typewriters as obsolete. In less than a decade, film-based photography has become outdated, and it won’t be long until you have to be a senior citizen to remember its use.
I can’t guess how many photos I took in my years in the newspaper business. It seemed that I always had a camera hanging from a strap around my neck and an extra roll of film in my pocket. There was always a camera in my car and, in short, photography was a daily task. Of course, after you took the picture, you returned to the office and went to the dungeon, better known as the dark room, and spent an hour or so converting the gray images on the film to a photograph. Maybe I should add if you were lucky you had a photograph. Many things could go wrong, and one mistake meant you lost your picture. Photography was a real skill, and the more that you practiced it, the better job you were able to do.
To get a photograph you had to have the right settings on the camera. If any light hit the film as you were unloading the camera your image was ruined. It was a very precise process to say the least.
In one short decade all that has changed. When I left the newspaper business in 2000, film was still the basis of photography. Now everything is digital, and many reporters do not even use a camera – they take pictures with their cell phone. I have a very high quality Nikon film camera, lens and flash in a bag collecting dust in my closet. I don’t remember the last time I took a picture, but it was at least seven or eight years ago.
Don’t get me wrong, digital photography is much better than film photography and I wish that it had been as highly developed as it is now when I was in the newspaper business. I really would have liked to have known I had a good picture instantly as they do now. Digital photography has made anyone with a cell phone as skilled as a person with dozens of years of experience. It truly is a modern marvel.
It won’t be long before the red and gold Kodak film sign is a memory.
No matter where I’ve been in the world — from Australia to Europe — the familiar Kodak sign was always there. Now, tourists don’t need to burden themselves with film. With the digital camera you always have plenty of opportunities to take pictures. I know that there are lots of stories about folks running out of film just at the wrong time. When a tornado hit Ottawa in the late ‘50s, a photographer was shooting what would have been award-winning photos. But alas, in the excitement, he forgot to put film in the camera.
I started taking pictures on an old Speed Graphic camera, which was large, cumbersome and heavy. It allowed you to take a couple of photos before changing film, however you had to have a pocketful of golf ball size flash bulbs. The development of .35 mm film allowed smaller cameras. In addition, faster film such as Tri-X made sports action photography easier. There is no doubt that color film converted many to the hobby of photography.
I have no idea how many photos I took during my career, but I am sure that it would be in the thousands. I don’t know how the figure was derived, but I read that it is estimated that more than 12 trillion photos are in existence around the world. That number will certainly increase with the ease and availability of digital photos.
I really don’t know what to do with my faithful, old Nikon. It will soon be eligible for a museum.
I think the best thing for me to do is get with the 21st century and learn a new skill — cell phone photography.