(Re)Discovery / by Nicole

A former scientist colleague, not initially keen on having children, remarked one day how much he enjoyed rediscovering the world through his then three year old son's eyes. Balloons, ants, sand. Seemingly mundane. Instantly wonder-ful. 

The notion of rediscovery is a powerful one - absorbing worn scenes with fresh eyes, listening to a loved one tell the story you've heard countless times to someone for whom it's brand new, hearing an old favorite song. Nostalgia takes its hold in adulthood and vintage becomes attractive - the charm of the old in a modern world. We seem to need the  speed of technology, while idealizing the slow-ness of an earlier time. At the root of it - we want it all. 

I feel this tension between film and digital photography - the ease, convenience, and accessibility of digital photography has allowed for the creation of beautiful images, often without the need for an appreciation of the technical aspects behind it. Because an SD card holds thousands of images, the impetus to carefully compose the image is less - the settings can be suboptimal, and ultimately, imperfections can be cloned in or out, color can be added, details can be sharpened and lighting optimized in the "digital darkroom". We can even edit in a film effect - complete with light leak, grain, and vintage color. We recreate the slowness of film leveraging the speed and mass-production of digital technology.  

People are often surprised that I don't own PhotoShop® or LightRoom®. I definitely edit my images - I sharpen, tweak the color and contrast, and optimize brightness. And I even add grain to black and white images. But one aspect of photography I enjoy most is the puzzle of creating the image in-camera, old school - using exposure, manual focus, white balance, shutter speed, and ISO to brighten, blur, shift color, or add grain to the image.  I find that I'm re-learning film photography - balancing convenience and nostalgia ... rediscovering what I loved so much in the first place, and the frustration of not being able to "get the shot". Even then - errors are fertile ground for future success.

My colleague's three year old is now in his twenties, and I'd guess that what holds wonder for him now is slightly larger and more interactive than sand ... but I hope his insides still smile when he sees a bright balloon finding its way towards an open blue sky. Mine do ...