Tales of shooters, gray cards and photo fixer

Remember that knob?
Remember that knob?

The first time I saw a digital camera was in 1994, and I wasn’t terribly impressed.

Mt old warhorse was a Canon AT1, built like a tank and nothing on it was automatic. Adjust the shutter speed, adjust the aperture (we called it the f-stop), focus by hand and shoot.

Using real film, developed by myself in some bathroom somewhere if it was in black and white.

I learned how to turbocharge the film and to cut down my processing time. I could burn a roll of film and get a halftone suitable for newspaper publication within 20 minutes of tearing the film out of the camera. I used to be able to look at a print and tell you what kind of film was used, what the film speed was and what light settings the photographer used.

Which camera produced this photo?
Which camera produced this photo?

So this digital camera, well, it was a nice but expensive toy. The camera looked like one of those you used to get with a subscription to Sports Illustrated, and the quality was almost as good.

What intrigued me, though, was the thought I could come back from a photo shoot and have a print within seconds instead of 20 minutes. Too bad the quality wasn’t there.

Listen, it wasn’t until a few years ago that I finally consented to having my pictures go on disk instead of good ol’ Kodak paper. I do remember I still wanted the negatives, and the person developing the pictures looked at me kinda funny.

Now you can shoot pictures with your phone — what kind of Communist foolery is that? But look at the two photos with this blog and tell me which one came from the old Canon and which one was shot by a phone. I double-dawg dare you.

Film junkie tries to adapt

I’ll admit, although I love all manner of tech toys I’m sometimes slow to adopt. But making the transition was inevitable, I think. You’d have to hunt around in pawnshops or thrift stores to find an old film-burner. I know WalMart doesn’t have those.

Okay, smart guy. Camera phone or film burner?
Okay, smart guy. Camera phone or film burner?

Honestly, I’m amazed there are still places where you can process your film. But that’s by machine. No little guys hanging your wet prints on a clothesline under the glow of a red light. No comforting smell of D-76 developer and fixer.

The only reason these photo-processing places exist today is for us old geezers who refuse to die.

Last I looked, Eastman Kodak was going belly up. Too bad. That was the best company for all your photographic needs. Forget Fuji, Kodak was the real deal.

I used to drive by the old Eastman Kodak plant in Kingsport, Tennessee and I always had to roll the windows down to catch that wonderfully acrid smell of processing chemicals. It really transported me. In a nostalgic way, of course. It’s not like sniffing glue or anything.

Have to admit, there are advantages to going digital. The photo is ready right now and I can paste it into this blog without a lot of extra work.

(Note: No trees were harmed in the making of this publication, but a lot of perfectly good electrons went to waste. But I digress.)

Some glitches with digital photography. My Android phone has about a full-second delay between hitting the shutter release (a.k.a. “pushing the button”) and the camera actually taking the picture. Any good shooter will tell you how useless that is with moving subjects; a lot can happen in one second.

My Android doesn’t take very good pictures. For that I use an old retired phone, one with much faster responses and better color saturation.

Okay. I admit it. I still miss my Canon. Had it for more than 25 years and it still took great pictures.

But now there’s at least two generations of photographers who don’t know what a shooter is. Don’t know what a gray card is for. Wouldn’t know how to load exposed film into a developing tank using just your jacket to protect the film. Never used Ansel Adams’ zone system. Don’t know how to set a camera so you can take pictures of a moving car — while driving.

I miss those things. But I’m getting along pretty well with my camera phone even with the inherent glitches.

Quiz answer: I took the top photo (of the ocean and land mass with my old AT-1. The bottom photo (with the flowers) was with a smartphone camera.

What say you? Are you an old shooter? Do you remember your first time with a digital camera? Where can a guy get a film-burner around here? Please share.


Do you find this photo as disturbing as I do?


(In case I can’t get the photo to work: http://db.tt/PXTLgJEp)

I saw this display in front of a Cricket phone store in North Charleston, SC.

Of course, this shop doubles as a clothing store, which is probably a story in itself.

Come see their Anne Boleyn collection.

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From the trail: Adventure always calls for a few views

Looking out from Springer Mountain. Take note, those of y'all who don't regularly experience fall colors.





I had to do my share of bragging here, and several friends have been bugging me for pictures anyway. But here are some shots from the Appalachian Trail, Georgia version.

The hike really starts here, at the summit of Springer Mountain. So what's in the box?

We’re almost ready to begin, but first there’s a little paperwork. We need to prove we’re there. But once we’re signed in, we’re ready to go.

(All photos by Eric Pulsifer)

For the full story, check out creative & dangerous.


Derek signs the registry, and we're ready to cut trail.
John watches his footing, which can get a little tricky.


The trail beckons.

You can catch a spectacular view from just about anywhere.
Oh, did I mention the terrain isn't always level?







Chick-Fil-A boycott fail: Biggest. Day. Ever.


Yeah, that boycott of Chick-Fil-A sure seems to be working, yes? This photo was shot Wednesday afternoon at the restaurant in North Charleston. Cars wrapped twice around the building, with employees directing traffic flow and helping people back out of parking spots. Inside, the lobby was jammed. Lunch hour was a nightmare. The employees kept it together through it all; they maintained sunny attitudes and high-level service. The customers knew it would take a while to get lunch and expected the food to be assembled in a hurry, but so what? No one made a scene; everybody was cool. Yeah buddy. These folks who don’t like the company or what it stands for, they ought to boycott the place more often. Everybody just stayed away in droves, or something. ###

Why does spring so totally rock down South?

Always a part of spring.

No comment necessary on my part. Just enjoy the view.

Proof positive that, to misquote Tuco Benedicto Pacifico Juan Maria Ramirez (The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly), there are two kinds of people in this world: Those that are from ’round here, and those who wish they were.

Cool, shady ... doesn't get much better.
Check out the Spanish moss, but you'll need to slow down for it.
As seen on the Trident Technical College campus, North Charleston SC.

... and just a few feet away ...