Summer of Bounty

JC Saddington Park (by StarbuckGuy)

There’s nothing like a bypass operation to put some perspective into your life. You taste mortality and realize the fragility of being alive. With it comes an appreciation of life and all living things. As I’ve recuperated over the summer, I’ve enjoyed the outdoors as never before. In addition it’s been an extraordinary summer.

Record amounts of rainfall have kept lawns green and blossoms in bloom longer than normal. By August our lawns are usually scorched and the late-blooming summer flowers pose against a dry backbround. Not this year. Everything is verdant.

White Coneflower (by StarbuckGuy)

I started the summer with very short walks that taxed the limit of my endurance. As my strength increased, I began carrying extremely lightweight cameras, gradually working up to the Nikon D40 that I bought especially for the rehab period. The length of my walks increased and as I developed more strength I bought a bicycle to add variety to my exercise regimen and to increase the radius of my travels. Both the D40 and the bicycle were great additions and I’ve developed a relatively safe method of packing the D40 into a padded bag that fits on the rack over the back wheel. With this I’ve been able to get shots of new places like the lakeshore view in front of the Adamson Estate and the mouth of the harbour where the Mississauga Sailing Club is located.

Lake Ontario (by StarbuckGuy)

Canoeists (by StarbuckGuy)

One side effect of my recovery surprised me a little. I find I have less interest in owning several types of camera than I did previously. My new impulse is to simplify and thin my gear collection. As a result I sold my Hasselblad kit — probably the nicest bit of gear I’ve ever owned, but gear I wasn’t using much. I used the proceeds to upgrade my Nikon D200 to a Nikon D300. I wasn’t able to carry around a heavy DSLR like the Nikon D300 until recently. Now it’s my main camera for walks on most days. I like using different lenses with it, mainly older Nikon AIS lenses that I also use on my Nikon film bodies. I particularly like using my Nikkor AF 24mm f/2.8 on the D300, as in this photo of early morning sunshine and haze outside our front door.

Streaming Light (by StarbuckGuy)

But most of all, I’m enjoying the summer itself — its sunny days and rainy days, hot days and cool days. And all the creatures, including humankind, enjoying the summer’s bounty.

River Tour (by StarbuckGuy)

Green Critter (by StarbuckGuy)

Goldfinch (by StarbuckGuy)

Monarch Butterfly (by StarbuckGuy)

I’m not a religious person, but I remain in awe of the evolution of life on this planet and I’m thankful to be a conscious being able to appreciate its beauty. A planet that can produce beings who can contemplate, and magnificent birds like ospreys to inspire those beings, is a very special place, and this summer has been a special chapter in its long story.

Osprey (by StarbuckGuy)

Digital looks “plastic”?

Summer Mosaic 2008 (by StarbuckGuy)

Over on RFF ( one of the perennial threads on film vs. digital has started up again. This one is titled “Why film?”. RFF is one of the bastions of film photography, which I like because I like film, but it also tends to have an anti-digital edge at times. Of course with the advent of two digital rangefinder cameras, the Epson R-D1 and the Leica M8, it’s a little more difficult for the film faithful there to take the high ground. And to be fair, an increasing number of RFF members admit to using both film and digital not to mention a few who have gone completely to digital. Nonetheless, anti-digital feeling still runs high among many of its members, though perhaps not as high as on the amazingly Luddite, and inaccurately named, APUG forum.

One comment in the “Why film” thread caught my eye: “Why I prefer film is because ‘digital’ looks plastic to me. Not perfect or precise just ‘all spruced up'”. Plastic? I’ve seen this objection to digital imaging made over and over by film evangelists and I’ve yet to figure out what it’s supposed to mean. It’s also obvious to me that it was a deprecating comment made at some time by one person somewhere and that it has been picked up an parroted by film’s true believers in the way that erroneous objections to evolution are parroted by right-wing fundamentalist Christians.

What is meant by “plastic”? “All spruced up”? What in the world does this mean and how is a digital image any more “spruced up” than a Kodachrome slide? Does it mean that the colours are vibrant? Say like Kodachrome or Velvia? Does it mean that the rendering of the subject is very smooth, in the way of medium format film or 4×5? If by “plastic” it’s meant that digital images don’t look like grainy 35mm images, then I can perhaps see the connection, but I’m not certain that “plastic” is an accurate description.

As I’ve said many times, I use film and digital and enjoy both formats. I agree that they look a little different and that they’re in some ways distinct artistic media, but I cannot agree that digital images are, as often described by film fanatics, “plastic” or “soulless” — another description often parroted by the faithful. I’ve seen too many superb, soulful digital images to think soul can only be defined by a spool of plastic base coated with a suspension of light sensitive emulsion.

It’s time to get past this immature and irrational digital bashing. Film is good, even though its market share is dropping out of sight. Digital is good, and will get even better. Practical photographers will use whichever medium helps them achieve the results they want and whatever makes them excited about the wonders of photography. Film. Digital. Take your pick. Or pick both.

In the end, what matters most are the images, not which mechanical, chemical, or electronic process was used to take them. So pick up your favourite camera, favourite lens(es), favourite recording medium and get out there and take some soulful photos!