The perceptive ones among will have noticed by now one or two things, maybe three, about the pictures I have used in this series on photojournalism.
One, most of the pictures are black and white. That’s because black and white photography is my personal choice for artistic expression. I’m not really good in choosing colors or color combinations. What I do know about colors is that I really like green, brown and blue.
Two, as you mouse over the pictures, you will see certain data about the pictures – when and where the pictures were taken; the specific topic the picture is being used to illustrate, and the person who took the picture (ehem! ehem!)
Three, the pictures were taken many, many years ago, and thus, to the perceptive and technically minded persons among you, they appear to have diminished somewhat in terms of quality. Some of the pictures (primarily taken on Kodak Tri-X, my favorite monochrome film) I have managed to have digitally scanned into CDs. For most of the pictures in this series, however, I have been processing them in this way:
(1) Using Microtek Scanmaker 3800, I scan the black and white pictures with the options – true color, 150 dpi, BMP file format;
(2) Using Adobe Photo Home Deluxe Edition, I convert the BMP pictures into black and white pictures in JPEG format; and
(3) Using Macromedia Fireworks MX, I edit and optimize the pictures – cropping, sharpening, and fiddling with the auto levels or brightness and contrast controls.
Photography and technology
“From today, painting is dead!” This was the cry of doom and despair by French painter Laroche way back in 1839 when photography was introduced to the world. History has proven him wrong, however; painting is still very much a flourishing art form. With the advent of personal computers and their revolutionary impact on almost all aspects of life, it seems it’s now the turn of photographers to exclaim, “From today, photography is dead!”
Photography is a technology based art form. Since 1839, it has always been a silver halide based art form, meaning we’ve got to have film in order to have pictures, until today that is. Now, computers and cameras have been combined to produce film-less digital cameras.
As I told you, it’s now very, very, very difficult to find here in the Philippines black and white photography materials - film, photo paper, darkroom chemicals like developer and fixer. Two years ago my cute nephew JR, who looks a lot like me, took up photography in DLSU. He told me that his batch was the last to use film-based photography. The next year, he said, DLSU was turning to digital photography.
An advertising executive told me that several years ago Kodak was planning to phase out film and replace it with digital technology. But one photo magazine I scanned in SM Megamall said that Kodak’s digital photography business grew by only about one percent and that film has made a comeback. Hoo-ya! I love the smell of developer and acid fixer in the morning!
The picture below (circa 1992) shows you some of my former journalism students and our makeshift, no ventilation, dinky darkroom where we developed our black and white films, and printed out our pictures using Oriental glossy photo paper and Atlas developer and fixer.
Anyway, please let me tell you a story about a movie that centered on a roll of film.
Chances are that you have seen the movie “Chances Are” starring Cybill Shepherd, Ryan O’Neal, Robert Downey Jr and Molly Ringwald. It has been shown on Channel 9 several times already. It’s a feel good movie which tells the story of a journalist who took a picture of a corrupt judge accepting a bribe from an accused whom he had set free earlier. The man who dies quite unexpectedly leaving a lonely widow played by Cybill Shepherd, manages to convince the angels at heaven’s gate that it wasn’t his time yet, and he is given a chance to go back to earth in the body of Robert Downey Jr. The angel however fails to erase all the memories of the man’s past life from Downey’s psyche.
Twenty three years later - after the pictures were taken, after the man died, after the character played by Downey was born, after the birth of Cybill’s daughter played by Mary Stuart Masterson - well, she falls in love with Downey. But since Downey’s character had all the memories and mannerisms of Cybill’s husband, guess what happens when daughter brings the young man home to mama?
You guessed it - Downey falls in love with Cybill, much to Mary’s bewilderment, Cybill begins to care for Downey, and to add to the fun and confusion, Ryan O’Neal, who plays Cybill’s best friend, has been waiting patiently for 23 years to win Cybill’s affections.
Well, all things end well. Downey falls in love with Mary after the angel finally catches up with him and erases all memories of Cybill’s former husband from his psyche, and Ryan finally weds Cybill, their longtime friendship finally blooming into love!
Oh, and the corrupt judge also gets to be finally exposed for what he was; Cybill finds the roll of film taken by her husband 23 years earlier, has it processed, and the picture of the judge accepting a bribe gets published in all the newspapers.
You might ask, what’s the point of this mini movie review? Well, the roll of film gets processed after 23 years. It is highly improbable for that roll of film to still retain the latent images after that long period of time!
Well, it’s just a movie of course, and technical things like these should not get in the way of love, friendship and second chances. We’re all suckers for sappy love stories and wonderful endings! Besides, what did poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge say about fiction? He said, “Fiction is the willing suspension of disbelief.”