Tidal Waves & Donkey’s Years

From the Darkroom to the Desktop


Peter Pickering

4/26/20242 min read

Blimey! As an old hat who's bobbed along with the tidal waves of photography for donkey's years, I can vouch that one of the most momentous shifts has been our leap from the comfortable lily pad of analogue film to the speedy jet ski of digital photography. And let me tell you, it's been a bumpy, but thrilling ride!

Way back when, in the golden olden days of analogue, we were tethered to the strict parameters of our film choice. Each roll of 120 film was like a compact universe, brimming with a meagre dozen opportunities. A chunky part of this process was picking your film – were you a fan of the sharp, detail-obsessed Panatomic-X or did you lean towards the superior tonal variety of Plus-X? It all came down to the tale you wanted to tell with your lens.

Then, as if out of a sci-fi novel, along came digital photography. Suddenly, the floodgates were flung wide open with endless opportunities for trial and error, and our wallets heaved a sigh of relief as film-related expenses were knocked on the head! The cozy darkroom was swapped for the comfy desktop, and rolls of film started to feel like dusty museum pieces.

But let's not kid ourselves, this shift wasn't all about basking in the sun. Sure, digital photography offered unmatched ease and a free pass to everyone. But along with that, the magical allure of our craft started to wear thin, and the tangible pleasure of film was replaced by the fleeting nature of digital formats.

Remember that giddy anticipation of collecting your prints or slides from the developers? That rewarding thrill when you'd absolutely nailed a shot, or the hard-earned lessons etched in the glaring missteps on your prints? Digital photography, despite its many perks, seems to have nibbled away at these raw, honest moments.

Yet, there's no denying the treasure trove of opportunities that digital photography has flung wide open. The luxury of instant review and adjustments has rocketed our learning to stratospheric heights. Advanced post-processing tricks have paved the way to previously unimaginable creative paths.

So, as we surf this colossal digital wave, it's worth pausing to give a nod to our humble roots in the analogue world. The rigour, patience, and craft of old-school photography still pack a punch and can teach us a thing or two in this era of digital instant gratification.

Are we trading something precious in this swap? Possibly. Is it a worthy trade-off? Absolutely! We're in this extraordinary era where we can fiddle with a vintage film camera one day and a state-of-the-art digital camera the next. It's like having our cake and eating it too!

So, here's to embracing this ground-shaking shift while holding tight to our analogue memories. After all, photography, in all its forms, is about capturing our unique view of the world and sharing those frozen moments with others.

© Peter Pickering 2024. www.peterpickering.com