Pampa’s Day: Spreading Photographer Seeds

Irony: I took this shot of Madeline and her new Leica with my cheap cell phone.

One of my great joys in life is helping a young pup learn a new skill, one that will serve well for years. Thanksgiving Day was a day for me to sow a few photographer seeds.

I presented my grandgirl, Maddie, with a Leica 35mm  SLR, and asked her to go shoot. She was thrilled–which I didn’t know she would be because 13-year-olds heavily depend on their iPhones for photography–and almost everything else. She has a good eye, one I’ve seen on a number of occasions with her phone photos, so I thought it was time.

Did the same thing a few years ago when I noted my daughter’s natural skill at capturing the photographic moment, one in which she had developed a distinctive style–with her phone. I mean, what could she do with a nice Nikon? (Better, I discovered.)

I picked up the Leica a couple of years ago, not because I needed another camera (I definitely didn’t), but because it was a Leica, the legendary camera artists and journalists have preferred for many, many years. The camera has been out of my price range for all those years, but I found this little baby within my range and scooped it up. I have used it very little, except as something to look at and dream over. It is a good camera, though, one that will serve Madeline well.

This looks like something I would have taken in 1880, using a Nikon F1 and Tri-X film. I shot it yesterday with my phone.

Here’s a little background on digital photography:

InfoTrends says people took 1.2 trillion (that’s trillion) photos in 2017, 10.3 percent of them with a traditional camera, 4.7 percent with a tablet, and 85 percent with a smartphone. My friend Anne Sampson and I took most of the 10.3 percent, I suspect. One survey I found says that 90 percent of all people in the world who have taken photos have only used phones for them. Now, I won’t back the veracity of that survey, but it sounds pretty close to me, judging from the eye test.

The first commercial digital camera was available in 1990 (as  Dycam Model 1 and Logitech Fotoman, same camera, different name). Nikon had invented the digital camera in 1986. By 2000, the digital technology had made its way into phones, so phone photography is only 18 years old and my guess is that there have been more photos taken in the last 18 years than ever before, cumulatively. I think that’s a safe bet.

The website lists these reasons you should give a real camera a shot (so to speak): it has a real zoom feature (unless you use fixed lenses and almost nobody–except moi–does any longer); it is far better in low light and it shoots great at night; the iPhone is less adaptable and the battery life is relatively short; the difference in image quality–alone–is enough for me.

I’m old, so I’ll stick with the SLR camera. Maddie’s young. I hope she does, too.




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