Saturday, February 16, 2008

Digital killed the Polaroid star

It's true: I'm posting this because I thought of a clever title. Clever to people who remember the first video ever broadcast on MTV, anyway.

But it's also true that Polaroid has ended production of instant film.

I grew up with film cameras in the 1970s. My father brought back a few Leica rangefinder bodies when he returned from his service in Europe during World War II. He taught me how to expose the film. He let me help with developing the film, and we printed the film in a plywood-walled darkroom he built in the basement of our home.

Oh, the chemicals (and likely carcinogens). But there was also the thrill of nursing an image to life, and the pride taken in the finished product.

So heck, I've looked down down my nose at Instamatics and Polaroids for most of my life!

Other priorities captured my energies in the 80s and 90s. I used a Weathermatic.

In 2000, I decided it was time I go digital. A once-in-a-career trip to Cornell prodded me along. After thorough research, I went with the Epson PhotoPC 3000z. And I was back into photography. Filters, add-on lenses, composition, technique, and digital post-processing--I was back in a game that had changed since I left it. And--what's this? Videoclips?

By 2003, I was ready to take the plunge into the nascent market of affordable digital SLRs. My mother had been shooting Canon and Nikon SLRs since the 70s, and had been producing great images for years. Also by 2003, digital SLRs had dropped in price from $30,000 to under $2000. The groundbreaking camera was the Canon EOS 10D.

The DSLR was more camera than I knew what to do with. I told people that I bought it because I wanted to be intimidated by my own camera. And I was. But the 10D was a forgiving teacher. And I worked at learning how to use it to capture nice images. Time, travel, the addition of lenses and filters, and learning a bit about Photoshop, and I've become a journeyman photographer.

Which brings me to the shiny new Canon EOS 40D that arrived this week. Bells, whistles, usability, and functionality all improved over the 10D. And the price dropped. New things to learn, more travels to trek, more images to record.

Oh and yeah, Polaroid instant film is no more. Hey, it's my blog and I can spin off on tangents if I want to!

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