Sunday, March 10, 2013

Never Look Back

My journey to the dark side began with two photographs taken more than ten years ago.  One, Agave, was taken at San Marino California’s Huntington Garden with a five megapixel Nikon Coolpix 5000 camera and was so startling in its sharpness and tonal range that I began to see my future in photography.  Until that moment I had been a dyed in the wool large format guy but was being seduced by a sweet little image from a pocket camera. 

Still, that fall I bought a spanking new Cambo 4x5 from Calumet Photo in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  I put my beautiful Schneider Symmar 180mm f5.6 on that puppy and spent early winter learning my new gear.  Then in March, if memory serves, Canon introduced its 1DS with whopping 10.1 megapixels of resolution.  As the first truly high resolution digital camera the 1Ds blazed the trail into the megapixel frontier.  The unprecedented resolution was not the only thing outsized about the 1DS.  It listed for , gasp, $7,999 which was some pretty serious cake for 2003.  But then I did have a trip to Provence scheduled and a digital SLR kit would be smaller and lighter and I did already have a couple of Canon lenses I could use.  And I did buy the thing for $7,700 didn’t I? 

Right after getting the camera I took some shots of fresh picked squash at a farm stand in East Conway, New Hampshire.  It had just stopped raining and was still overcast so the light was beautifully diffuse.  Later that evening when I processed the images I was floored by the acuity and the silvery midtones that I saw.  The photographs looked like they were made with a 4x5 and there was no grain whatsoever.  In that moment I knew I was destined for a digital path, a path that led me back into photography with a vengeance. 

I never shot with a large format camera again and sold my whole big camera shebang to Oakland High School in California for a few hundred bucks.  And the rest, as they say, is history.


Daryl A. Black said...

Looking back helps one look forward. I have always loved the squash photograph, Steve, but I don't recall seeing the agave shot, which is quite lovely, particularly given the black and white, light and shadow content.

Well done, Amigo!

Steve Immel said...

Thanks Daryl. As the post expresses, Agave gave me my first inkling that I'd go all digital. Then the squash happened and it was a done deal. Beautiful Ranchos images on your blog today, by the way.