Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2009/12/15

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Subject: [Leica] The do-it-yourself economy
From: lrzeitlin at (lrzeitlin at
Date: Tue, 15 Dec 2009 11:23:14 -0500

George writes:

In the day's of drawing boards
and 4x5 camera work
such a notion of "teaching" how to do our work
would not have been possible.


- - - - - - - - 

It has happened before, and it will certainly happen again. Devaluing of the 
previous generation's hard won skills is part of the natural order of things.
I am one of those mossbacks who learned photography in the Jurassic age of 
total manual control. As a stringer for the Boston Globe in the early 50s I 
was handed a scruffy well used 4x5 Speed Graphic, six film holders and a 
Heiland flash gun and I was sent out on assignments to sink or swim.

Over the years I learned how to estimate focusing
distances with reasonable accuracy, how to judge the light, the shutter
speeds that were necessary for stopping various kinds of action, what
filters to use to get the effects I wanted, etc. In due time I gained 
sufficient experience in the technology of photographny that it became
second nature and I could concentrate on the esthetics of the picture.

Then the manufacturers encapsulated all my hard won knowledge in a
silicon chip the size of my little fingernail and made cameras
automatic. Now any boob could possess what I had learned by plunking down a 
few bucks at the camera store counter. Like most phiotographers of that era, 
I resisted the change. It negated my years of experience and forced me into 
direct competition with newcomers who would be totally lost if their 
batteries died.

And, of course I was wrong. Photography isn't about technology. It is about 
creating images that others want to see. The neophyte with a mistake proof 
camera is free to concentrate on the scene on front of the lens, not the 
camera settings. Both practical utility and artistic interpretation are 
something totally apart from technical proficiency. The former clients with 
their cheap cameras are part of the new functional age of photography where 
pictures are viewed as enablers of an objective (i.e. selling houses) rather 
than an end in themselves.

Do any among you remember when using a computer meant learning to program in 
machine language?

Larry Z