For many years I have used digital cameras for my commissioned work and have been relieved at how much easier it has made many aspects and relieved the stress of a lot of time and money riding on a few sheets of fragile film. But for my own projects I have felt digital photography is too easy, surely it should all seem harder and require more thought ? Aesthetically, the digital image which new powerful sensors encourage, squeaky clean with a wide dynamic range and little noise is not something I always admire although I have to admit to the freedom to experiment and monitor the results straight away is hard to overestimate. Even if it does mean endless hours of my life involve computers. But I like film grain, imperfection, surprises, interference just as I love my vast collection of vinyl LPs and you cannot beat the warmth they lend to the human voice and to acoustic instruments; but now and then my CDs come close enough, depending on the music and my mood. Can the same be said of digital imagery ?
I used to photograph fruit and vegetables frequently for my own interest and would use quite a bit of film and many hours on a single piece to try and achieve a satisfactory result. A week ago I bought a bulb of fresh garlic from my market at St Jean d’Angély just because they were so beautiful. It sat around in the kitchen sulking, waiting for its portrait to be taken and this morning, noticing it was extra moody and no longer quite as fresh I decided to make a photograph of it before putting it to a culinary use. Ten minutes with the camera and five minutes on the computer and, voila ! Well, actually I ended up redoing it three further times before I was happy and I used a lens that is as vintage as myself. But the total time spent was still a fraction of my film versions. Is it less worthwhile for the relatively brief period of time expended or for being created digitally ? I still can’t decide.