13 July 2009

Artifacts and sentimentality

I love photographs. A moment in time preserved. Each image stimulates my mind’s eye to instantly recall associated feelings, touch, surroundings and light, representing an artifact of my lifetime. For many years I used the Agfa 35mm camera my late father purchased in the 1950s while he was in the service. It was not a simple point and shoot SLR. In order to limit film waste I learned to pay attention to framing, focal length and exposure. I bracketed in an optimistic attempt to yield at least one interesting image per dozen frames. Over the years, I was fortunate to capture a few lovely photographs, but the (pricey) assistance of the development lab was always required to produce a true finished print I could enjoy.

Digital photography did not capture my attention; my technophobic skepticism held it at arm’s length for years. But a couple of years ago, my stepdad showed me how to enhance and improve digital photographs with simple software utilities that I could download for free. Then earlier this year, at the encouragement of my significant other, I purchased a compact digital camera.

I read the manual and understand how to capture images, view them and transfer them to a computer for editing and storage. I realize my camera has significantly more features for capturing and stylizing images, but I would need to refer to the manual again to take advantage of these features—the icons don’t particularly help technophobes like me figure these things out on the fly. My real enjoyment starts after downloading the pics. Manipulating the digital image and organizing the results into a pleasing viewable montage is truly my idea of fun.

If I was more sentimental, I would assemble elaborate scrapbooks. I can envision colorful pages of photos trimmed with rickrack, ticket stubs, greeting cards and invitations tied down with ribbon, and all embellished thematically with hand lettering and drawings. Scrapbooking is an artform that truly pays homage to the artifacts of our lives. But, as much as I would like to be that sentimental, I recognize that I am not.

I have, however, enthusiastically embraced the digital equivalent of photo scrapbooks via
www.smilebox.com. Perhaps this is a promising sign. While I will undoubtedly never be an early adopter of current technologies, the winds of change may be blowing in my direction.

No comments:

Post a Comment