Monkeys, dSLR’s & datacards

the long walk

the long walk

We all have heard of the following theory that goes something like this, “Given enough time, a thousand monkeys typing at random would produce one of Shakespeare’s plays (or any other text)“.  I am wondering about the following statement I have heard and am hearing more often  with the advent of digital photography and falling prices of memory chips (data cards) and the previous statement.  Should it now read “Given enough time, a thousand photographers clicking away at random would produce one of Ansel Adams famous photographs (or any other famous photo)?
Has the advent of digital photography made us all very complacent and out photography for the most part boring and lacking thought and vision.

I enjoy photography immensely, just ask my gal or my friends, yes I am fixated to the point where one could say it is an obsession! Don’t let this admission out to my Gal, as she’ll give me grief for more time then I’d like . . anyway the above Idea hit me after I had shot a roll of film last weekend during the “World Wide Photo Walk“.

Last Weekend I started off using my old Gowland 4×5 Pocket View & a 6x9cm Roll Film back.  I like to challenge myself a lot these days, so I thought ok if I use film and a View Camera instead of my dSLR it would be more fun.  So I dug up a couple of my old Horseman Roll Film backs, my 6×9 had a roll already in it with a few shots exposed on some TMX Black & White 120 film.  I know . . shame on me for leaving film in a camera but it happens.

Now where is this leading to involving Monkey’s, dSLR’s, datacards and that theory?  Ohhh Kay!  Have we all become so numb to the wonderful convenience of not having to worry about clicking off a thousand shots filling endless megabytes of data cards, hard drives and other storage devices with useless data that will most likely never see the light of day much less someone else’s monitor or even printed.  Most of those mindless snaps lacking in composition, framing, subject focus, attention to backgrounds or even creativity? (or thought).  The only thought being if enough frames are taken that surely a good shot will be in there, somewhere . . maybe . . . clickity … click . . click!!!   Have we all lost it ? are we out of control ? Back to my initial shoot last weekend using film.  Why you might say, use film.  Well it slows the process down, a whole lot, even more if you try it the way I did using that sort of equipment.  It forces one to think about the shot, the composition, the background and on and on stretching that moment of inspiration (what ever it was that caught your eye) into something like a clip out of the movie “matrix” (you’re on your own if your taking pills).  The setup I chose did not have action in mind, I knew I would be shooting slow and steady . . but mostly . . . . SLOW.
I made a total of 4 shots during the entire 4 hours of the walk.  Yep 4 shots, and one of them I buggered up real good (did an unintentional double exposure of two totally different scenes, didn’t work).  I would have had several more if my roll film back had not decided to jam up (internal problem caused by a screw coming loose and jamming the advance lever, easily fixed later).  Your asking yourself what about those monkey’s aren’t you . . . I haven’t forgotten.  The point is, I had four possible images to work with from the photo walk after I got them processed . . . (I can hear ya … Ol’ Digi is feeling pretty sure of himself . . he didn’t even get to chimp his shots, uh there’s that monkey).
That photo in the opening of this article was one of the last 2 shots I made that day . . and yes I was confident I had at least one shot I could use for the photo walk.  In the end I actually had 3 good shots, one flub (double exposed) and 4 from a previous shoot that I couldn’t use for the walk.  I drove up to the camera store on the following Monday and dropped off my film (TMX) and would pick it up 2 days later from the store.  Let me say Horn photo here in Fresno has great service and people . . . my film was ready, developed and scanned to a CD for me ready to play in post and submit to the WWPW . .
Here is the general process I used for the photo above, open in an editing program (A) (I like Corel PSP 5), (B) add a few layers, effects, textures, tone, combine layers, (C) straighten & crop and finally (D) add a border re-size for the web and post away . .

post processing a negative

post processing a negative to digital

Did I like the results? yes.  I do think we are to caught up in that thought process of “shoot, shoot, shoot, fill the card, memory is cheap” and I agree with that idea up to a point.  1. Memory is cheap,  2. keep shooting work your subject yes, but, change your angle of view, look at how the subject, lighting and background interact (use DOF), how your choice of focal length affects the shot,  3. compose in camera as it will save time and make for a better photo when your done, 4. lastly, slow down and think about your shots, try new angles different ideas or even try to copy a shot you have seen someone else do to learn how your gear works and how light effects the shot.

Here is another photo I made yesterday on the drive home, I stopped and shot 9 frames of which 4 where of this subject just varying the angle of view.

Field No.7803

Field No.7803


I hope this moves some of you to slow down and not just machine gun away thinking somewhere on that data card there is a great photo, not just a bunch of mediocre shots . . . don’t be that monkey, it’s easy to do . . I know.  There are times when you need to shoot at high frame rates and capture many shots because of the subject.  Do not let the idea that just because large memory cards are now cheap that this will forgo the rules of good photography practices . . . with that said, I’ll leave off with a final photo of a good reason to load up the card, at least in 3 – 4 shot bursts . . .

Day 281

Day 281


Please leave a remark if you liked this post, share it . . but most of all .. get up off yer duff and go make a picture

Digipainter . . . (aka . . Tim) out and about, camera at large . . the photo’s afoot my friend


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