Good morning All!
A turn of events on the drive in to work this morning (not me driving) caused me to recall an event earlier in life which has put me in the mode to write. Since this is my chosen forum for all things photographic, I hope this is of interest to some and if the muse strikes to reply, I'll be interested in your take on this.
While riding into work today we passed a farm field that had a dozen or so egrets standing around. I was wish that I could stop and take a photo here but as usual, we just drove on, no one else noticing all those beautiful birds.
This caused me to remember an event long ago, at the very beginning of my journey into the world of photography. Around 1994 or so i am thinking, I bought a Canon Rebel XT and and grew a collection of various lenses. One day, as I drove past my work place to fuel up my car, I went buy a small retention pond. In that pond were some full size egrets (hence the connection to today's ride in). They were quite large, and the retention pond had a totally natural look to it, very very beautiful. I made it a point to one day come back there early in the morning with my camera and 300mm telephoto. I did so, coming in on a Saturday morning, just before sunrise and sure enough, there were 2 egrets in the pond, standing amongst the reeds. My extreme enthusiasm immediately scared off one of the birds which was stupid of me. The other one remained and I calmed down and began to work the scene. I did a decent job and left with 36 exposures in the can.
When I got the film back, I was stunned to see an absolutely beautiful image! I caught the egret in a perfect pose, neck bent, and a mirror image reelection in the water. All surrounded by gorgeous green foliage. I immediately ordered a larger print.
Now at the time I had a good friend, a pen pal, whom I had been writing to for several years. She was a student in England and we hooked up on a bulletin board after I learned how to use email. Back then there was no commercial internet access. The words .com werent common and to send emails you had to know a fair amount of UNIX commands. Once I graduated, I scrambled to find a way to keep email access, even stealing unused university accounts until i found a place that was starting to sell internet access. Anyway, my pen pal and I wrote hundreds of letters and emails over the years and I decided to send her a copy of this print. In fact, I went to this pond to make this photograph for this sole purpose.
Needless to say, she LOOOVED this image and still has it today.
After 6 years of writing to each other, I married my penpal and she has been my wife for the past 16 years. After she graduated, she moved to Hong Kong and invited me over to visit. I said yes, and off I was to travel, never having left the US before. We never spoke to each other even once until the day before I left. It was a 100% pen pal relationship. Not even slightly romantic, I dared not dream of such silliness as marrying her. It was too bizarre to contemplate. After that 1st visit, we realized that we were made for each other and so spent the next year working out the best way end the separation.
Getting back to photography, the whole point of this essay is to muse about the state of the print today. If the situation above were to happen today, I'd be emailing her a jpeg file of the egret photograph that I made.
I contemplate, would getting an email of an image have had the same impact as opening up an envelope and pulling out an 11 x 14 print?
I dont think so.
There's something very different about holding a print in your hand and I have always considered my finest images unfinished until I held them in my hand.
While you can certainly print digital images (i have spend enormous money on inkjet ink), most people just dont print anymore. With film you had to print and early on in in digital photography i think a people printed more than they do today. From looking at the available high quality photo printers, the number of options seems to have dropped dramatically.
Right now I have a nebulous existence. I dont want to buy an inkjet printer here in China so rarely see my images in print. My film negatives are being stored up for when I can own and operate my own dark room, so my film images remain unprinted. As a result, I find photography right now distinctly unsatisfying in this area. Screen viewing just doesnt cut it by a long shot and to me, photography has lost something in this modern world.
Again, if you have thoughts on this, I'd love to read them.
Sorry for the length of this post. Hope it is appropriate for the thread.