I have finally uploaded some photos to flickr, which I have taken with my new digital camera in the course of the last few months. I had been reluctant to switch to digital, as I love my old mirror reflex Canon, but this summer I went ahead and bought a cheap no name digital camera. It took me much longer to get used to it than I ever anticipated and I still have my problems with it. But the strange thing is, that with this change came many other changes, among them new subjects, a new photographic style and new social practices around photos.
For most of my life my most favoured photo subjects were people and for years I used to take portraits of friends and their children and have two or three sets of prints made, so I could give them away as presents. I bought the digital camera with blogging in mind, which would make it easy to post and share images, and this also to some extent changed the choice of subjects: I am not satisfied with the quality of digital images I made of people so far. Because of the time delay it seems impossible to catch the right fraction of a moment when I feel the composition and expression are just right. Also it is hard to see details on the LCD screen and judge the contrast of light and shade, especially in broad daylight. And in any case for privacy reasons I would not want to post images of people in my blog. So my focus has shifted to inanimate objects and to a different way of composing pictures.
Uploading the dozen or so images, which I like, taken in the last few months, and seeing them aligned next to each other was actually quite a surprise. More often than not with my old camera I knew exactly when I had taken a great shot, even if the outcome became only visible a long time later after taking the film to the shop. With the digital camera I still have not figured out basics such as when the light or the colors are right, or the picture is in focus, so I am often disappointed or surprised at the outcome. Sometimes I notice interesting details on the photos, which I did not notice when I was taking the picture. I am still figuring out the affordances of my new toy.
While of course an expensive digital mirror reflex camera would save some of my problems (for example the time delay and having a decent viewfinder) on the other hand I am now also quite pleased with this experience, as it has brought some new aspects to my photography practices. Now I carry my little camera in my bag where ever I go, and this of course creates new opportunites, especially in capturing the ordinary. Because of the costs involved with 35 mill film and prints, I used to carefully choose my subjects and photo opportunites. This summer holiday, frustrated with the new digital camera, I made a point of taking “crappy holiday snaps” on purpose which could also just be deleted, with some unexpected results. While I preferred to take pictures of people making the most of sunlight, especially of the golden light of the late afternoon, now the typical Viennese overcast winter sky works just fine for urban impressions.