THE DIGITAL QUESTION
I’m often asked whether I prefer digital over film. For the type of pictures I take, there is only one answer.
Digital. No contest.
I’m nostalgic for the long meditative hours of printing black and white. The radio playing classical music, the safe lights glowing orange-yellow, the gentle gurgle of water. Yes, I’m nostalgic for my youth, like all of a certain age.
But once the newspaper demanded colour on all assignments, the darkroom time went from joy to drudgery. The craftsmanship was overwhelmed by the mechanics of the print processor and the demands of colour reproduction on an ancient press.
Young digital-native photographers, staring into their laptop screens, work in isolation. They’ve never had the mentoring that went on in a wet darkroom. Colleagues were there to offer a second opinion on picture selection, crop and printing style. I learned a great deal from them all.
But today, the quality, versatility and the high ISO performance of digital cameras rules. This picture of the Northern Lights, taken from the rolling deck of a cruise ship somewhere in the Labrador Sea between Greenland and Newfoundland, just wouldn’t be possible without digital.
That said, every now and then I feel the nostalgic pull of the black and white darkroom. Perhaps I’ll follow that dream some day.