Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Impulsiveness of Digital

When you compare something old-fashioned to something new and modern, an entire mentality goes with each. And normally, the new and modern tends to be faster or easier than the old fashioned.

When you take pen and paper and write, you're going to have a different process than if you were to type - I've said this before. It's a different mind process as well as a different physical one. Typing (if you know how to) is easily faster, and deleting prose on a screen is likewise.

What I intend to focus on is film photography versus digital.

Film photography still exists. I think it's become more niche, but not nearly as niche as some of the original ways and methods still used today by extreme minorities. For instance, there are archaic methods - like glass plate tinting - to develop film that was practiced in the 1850s that some small hobby groups still use today. Polaroid cameras probably still enjoy a popularity among some people.

You can't take someone who has grown up almost entirely with digital cameras, give them a point and shoot film camera, and expect them to get great, clear, composed shots. Not when they are singularly used to smartphone cameras and tiny digital point and shoots. I know this thanks to an experience with my grandfather's film SLR. He had it out at one family dinner, and anyone could freely pick it up and take photos with it. Anyone from uncles to cousins. When I saw the developed results weeks later, 98% of the images in the pamphlet had turned out blurry or useless.

I remember my cousin playing with it, snapping shots of me one after the other, quickly. I kind of felt unsure about that as the shutter snapped. The camera didn't use a 64-gig memory card. It used a twenty-four image film roll.

There are obvious reasons why digital photography has ruined the style and mentality of film photography (for young amateurs in the digital age, anyway):

- Space. You can put a tiny 15 gigabyte MiniSD inside a cell phone and take hundreds of photos. Therefore you have virtually free reign to how you take your photos; you don't have to worry about using up all your space with bad images because you have so much of it, and you can delete the crappy photos.

-Instant images. You can immediately view what you've taken, eliminating the need for patience as well as the concern for quality. For film, you have to wait for it to be developed, which is going to cause you to take more care of what you're snapping, because who wants to wait an hour or more only to receive a blurry, careless image?

-Advanced camera functions. By this point, digital technology has advanced in such a helpful way for us. You can set a camera to evaluate every point of basis for capturing an image, from appropriate shutter speed to ISO, and you can set it to avoid issues such as motion-blur or low light with in-camera settings or automatic detection. Furthermore, if you're good on the computer, you can use Adobe Photoshop to fix an image's exposure, white balance, dirtiness, etc. etc. You can't really scan a film print into the computer and fix its exposure - you're not able to gain anymore information from the clipped pixels that the scanner didn't already expose/create. Try brightening a dark image with mostly blacks from a 4x6 film print. All you'll do is turn it a murky grey without revealing anything.

Digital cameras are set up to do the majority of the hard work for you, they have the space for thousands of images that can be deleted, and you can see the image first-hand right away. That creates an information-hungry mentality that's impatient, impulsive, and invulnerable considering you can retake an image and have the result right away. So when my younger cousins pick up the film SLR and carelessly snap a picture at a subject impulsively, they aren't taking into account the exposure, ISO, f/stop, or whether the flash is on or off, and they get a motion-blurry image of a careless subject they could have deleted on a digital camera in an instant after seeing the result - in an instant. And they run out of film fast.

The only images that turned out in the package were ones that happened to be taken by me; I looked through the viewfinder and saw an extreme clarity when the lens focused, more than what I was used to with my digital SLR. It was beautiful. I took my shots with care, and they turned out very nice. Film photography is often undervalued - it has great density and depth to it, and often an interesting colour cast. And it has a detail that reveals an essence to the clarity and look of the image that you just don't see in a shiny, processed digital image. I see some character.

This impulsive, instantaneous way of information-sharing doesn't just apply to photography but to virtually any modern thing. I think it's why people can't focus on anything at once for very long anymore - they need more, they can't wait, hurry, rush, we need information, we need the webpage to load, the video to buffer, the feed to update, the image to appear on our screens. Where's the good old anticipation and excitement?

Red Cloud

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Wild Horses

As per is the custom for me these days, I heard a song I liked on the radio while driving home from the college today. I've never counted how many songs Boom 99.7 has given me to listen to. I really should. That list I put out in June is hopelessly out of date now. I should really update it.

The song had a yearning, forlorn-sounding fretless bass part that I liked, and the drums were a constant brush-stricken rhythm. While I at first decided it was an alright song that was good but not enough for me to want to look it up, the tune stuck with me until I finally looked it up a few minutes ago.

It took me a few tries to get something close to resembling the actual lyrics when I Googled them, giving me songs ranging from Taylor Swift to Johnny Cash and the Rolling Stones, but when I saw the name 'Gino Vanelli,' I almost knew for certain that that would be the song - after all, Boom is virtually loyal to broadcasting Canadian content, and I of course turned out to be right. Who else would it be?

The sound of the song definitely made sense to me because I saw a good similarity to his other song 'Just a Motion Away,' which has a similar yearning to it. That song makes me think of good memories, or seeing memories of a certain time in a nostalgic light. The three distinct piano notes - A-B-C - as well as the general procession of the chorus really communicate that feeling to me. The only other song I know of his - and don't like very much - is 'Black Cars.' I like the lyrics. I just think its keyboards and riffs sound silly and way too over-the-top. It sounds awesome during the summer when I've just gotten inside my own black car after having it parked in the sun for hours. But that's just the lyrics.

I think this current song will go on to be something I habitually listen to for awhile. I like the music video quite a bit, for its monochrome, scenes, and lady. The musicians sometimes switch around - I was surprised by an obese guy on the drums a few times, out of nowhere - but the lighting and place just looks nice to me. It seems forlorn like the song, and the direction of light (in my orienting the direction of the camera and placement of people) matches the afternoon light I synesthetically view the music in.

There's one other large aspect, and it's Gino Vanelli himself. You'll have to excuse me for this, but for some reason, if I felt that I looked like anyone, it was him. Had my hair been a bit more curly, my glasses off my face, and my jawline clear of any beard (and moustache) I could pass off as this guy.

I normally never think anyone could look much like me. I've never seen any example. The only people who have ever claimed I look like anyone else they knew was my "ex" from Calgary (who I heartily disagreed with as the person she showed me had a ridiculous moon face, no beard, and had virtually no similarities in eyes or hair) and that girl I had that short-lived friendship with last year, who had "The Look." That was an unusual experience because while I was busy comparing her to all the other lookalikes, I was already a lookalike of - or that other person - to her.

Gino Vanelli is the closest to come to looking like me from my eyes. Largely thanks to how his eyes look. And as a result, I kind of like watching the video because I get the false, superficial feeling that I'm watching someone like myself.

I'll stop going on about that for now. It's a very selfish, egotistical reason to like a song or music video - "hey, he looks like me!" - and doesn't provide very cordial reading material. I like the song. Gino Vanelli has a nice voice, and an obviously kind temperament in how he performs. He comes from Montreal.

It's a nice song. I hope I can do that sometime in my future. Would be neat to look cool in a video performing a song. I cannot sing though.

[Update]: In watching it again, the girl who plays harmonica also has a passing resemblance to that 'look' I find attractive with the eyes. Add in what sounds like a very quiet background keyboard melody towards the end, and the way I see myself in terms of face when I look at Vanelli, and from my perspective it's a perfect diorama of me with my 'type' including the beautiful, loving synesthetic reaction I get from that background keyboard in the end. Wow. Gee.

Red Cloud