My exams are lingering on, hence my lack of entries here…however, here is something I wrote for another blog I used to author called ‘Seven Candles.’ I thought i’d import it here so its not lost in the digital annals of time….
I love photography
I love the sound of the shutter on a digital SLR.
I love the portability of a digital Compact.
I love [mostly] the spontaneousness of a disposable camera.
I love lamp.
Recently [when this was originally written, Jan’08], I came back from my first 9 day pilgrimage to Haifa where I decided not to take a SLR. This was to be my journey of the spirit and thus I felt photography wasn’t high on the agenda, especially since i’d previously already taken my SLR to Haifa the year before.
I did, however, pack a my smaller and more compact digital camera, consqeuently taking more meaninful pictures than my last trip to Israel; a sharp reminder that it’s what you do with it, that counts.
Nonetheless, whilst the choice of camera changes over years, the joy of photography remains quite steady.
Each camera is a different vehicle for a different journey. Some the equivalent of a Mini Cooper, others, an SUV…. as long as they get us from A-Z in comfort and are fun to drive, its all good…(n.b. I don’t condone SUV usage)
ICE is not important. Unless your lens’ collection is your ice.
Our creativity is limited only by our mind, eye and trigger finger.
Now before I digress further……..I returned home 9 days later and embarked on a mandatory Photoshop post-production misson… eventually coming to a common dilemna (for me anyway)…whether or not a portrait looked better desaturated to B&W or in its original colour.
Call me a geek, but i enjoyed this. In fact, this dilemna has surely affected many a photographer at some point…. ever since the choice of both colour and b&w film existed, for at least the last 50 years right?
Actually, its closer to 148 years.
The first permanent colour photograph was taken in 1861 by a Scotsman called James Clerk Maxwell.
To put this into context, 1861 was 2 years before Baha’u’llah made His Declaration in the Garden of Ridvan. It was the first year of the American Civil War and it was 10 years before the first incandescent light bulb was invented.
Mr.Maxwell took a photo of a ‘tartan ribbon’, and the photo (1861) is on the right:
Now, whilst this extremely early attempt of colour photo looks it was colourised by a hippie tripping on LSD, this photo was not altered after it was taken.
Later on, new methods were tried whilst old methods were improved;
The photo above was taken in 1877 by Duhauron in France.
However, about a 100 years ago, a Russian gentleman named Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky, truly made colour photography come alive.
Between 1909 to 1915 he decided to document the Russian Empire. The Russia then was a land of much ethnic diversity and home to more than 150 million people–of which only about half were ethnic Russians. Here is a selection of some of his photos….. .they are all original colour photographs. No colour added, no ye olde photoshoppe.
The Emir of Bukhara-taken in 1911
Prisoners in a zindan– taken in 1910
Russian peasant girls- taken in 1909
Jewish Children and teacher-1911
Portrait of Dagestani couple- c.1910
After seeing his photos, we can really appreciate how colour not only makes the photograph more real but rather more relevant and interesting. The people featured become breathing human beings that aren’t so different from us today (apart from silly fancy dress costumes). In fact it becomes surreal because our sight and mind are used to associating 50 year old photos with sepia and black and white but now we have to tell ourselves that these colour images are almost a 100 years old….
Viewing Sergey’s photos is like going for a ride in the DeLorian and arriving back in Russia in 1909……its as vivid as photography today….thats partly down to technology… but more so down to Sergey’s talent as a photographer.
You can view many more of his photos here.
Thus next time you have the choice of permanently removing colour from a photograph, think twice about a time when the choice wasn’t taken for granted and colour photographs were more precious than the fossil record.
They give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world’s a sunny day, Oh yeah
I got a Nikon camera
I love to take a photograph
So mama don’t take my Kodachrome away