Posts tagged analog
Slowing Down in a Digital/Analog World

There's a romanticism around old things. Film cameras. Record players. Mid-century modern furniture. Things our grandparents owned. Some of the nostalgia comes from a burgeoning digital world built on smart devices, notifications, instant gratification and whatever I want on demand. It's almost too easy.

With the advent of Apple's new Screen Time feature and even a way to track your Instagram habit, in-app of course, there's a growing feeling that maybe all the screen time we currently enjoy isn't good for us. The question is, haven't we been here before?

In his short film "Peripheral," cinematographer Casey Cavanaugh tells a story entirely through the viewfinder of a Hasselblad 500C/M camera. It touches on themes of being present in your life and the time-tested mantra of "pic, or it didn't happen."

I struggle with taking too many photos of big events, especially while traveling. There's a fine line between documenting your life and living it that is hard to straddle most days. Smartphones haven't helped the matter, but they are just another piece in a long line of addictive tech and behavior that can take us out of the world around us.

One of the reasons I like film photography is for its ability to slow down the process and make me think about what is going on around me. With only 36 exposures and the rising price of film and development, each shot seems more precious, thought out. I tend to talk more about what I'm shooting with the people around me since I can't just show them on the screen after the fact.

I’m currently reading Henry David Thoreau’s “Where I Lived, and What I Lived For” (which is an excerpt from his book ‘Walden’ published in the Penguin Great Ideas series) and I’m struck by his tone of indifference to the world around him. In the chapter on the economy, Thoreau lays out his reasons for choosing Walden as his site of retreat from the world and of his mistrust of people and common life. I’ve always wanted to live a simple lifestyle but not at the cost of abandoning those around me.

I believe that the people around us shape who we are and how we live our life. Sure we may have to course correct every once in a while, but I’d rather live with people at the moment.

So whether it's an old hobby or a new-tech experience, remember that we live life with the people around us and that all the other things are meant to enhance that, not take away. When you're traveling or just out to dinner with friends, put that smartphone, old camera or whatever it is, away for a second. Live deeply. That should give you plenty to take photos of later.

The Revenge of Analog

I recently finished reading David Sax's fascinating book The Revenge of Analog and it really got me thinking about the way that I consume. Over the past few years I've come to doubt my constant push into digital culture. I've proudly been an early adopter on many occasions without asking myself, "does this actually make my life better?"

As an almost exclusively digital photographer, sometimes I feel like I skipped a step in the process. Sure I had old film cameras when I was a kid but I never learned anything beyond point and shoot. There's an art in composing an image without knowing what it will look like until the developing process. It forces you to really know the concepts of exposure, film speed, focus and depth of field. Many digital cameras do the work for you. It's certainly helpful, but is it robbing you of the experience, the wonder of not knowing? 

My friend Danny reintroduced me to film photography as we walked the streets of Seattle a few years ago. His Leica was definitely a lavish way to dip my toes into the art form. I was honestly petrified as I looked through the viewfinder because each time I hit that button, I was committed to whatever image I had captured. It was exhilarating. 

A DigiLog Future

Today I carry around a Fujifilm X-T20 with a simple 27mm pancake lens. It's digital but it looks like an old film camera and you can turn off the back screen forcing you to look through the viewfinder and not look at images right after they've been taken. It's a semi-compromise in a ever quickening digital world. The functionality of digital exposures coupled with the slow method of not looking at every picture immediately after it's taken. I have also put every setting to fully manual, forcing me to rely on my eyes and hands to focus, set shutter speed, aperture and ISO. 

There's a satisfaction that comes with analog technology that you don't always get with digital. Take listening to a vinyl record. This past Christmas, my lovely wife bought me my first turntable and included was a copy of Glen Hansard's Didn't He RambleAs I sat and basked in the songs, I realized something. I hadn't listened to one of my favorite albums all the way through, probably since the day it was released. Amazing songs like "Paying My Way" and "Stay The Road" were routinely skipped over in iTunes playlists. The act of listening to the record on vinyl made me slow down and appreciate the complete album as art. 

Does that mean I'm giving up on my iTunes and AppleMusic playlists? Off course not, but maybe I need to work on trying to bridge the digital and analog divide. Why not make album playlists and listen to the content as the artist originally intended. 

There's nothing wrong with digital technology as long as it actually brings value to your life and doesn't serve as a distraction from the world around you. In this fast paced world we live in, slowing down a little bit is probably a good thing. Take the time to appreciate the things in your life that take time, effort and craft. You never know what might actually spark a new interest. 

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