Digital Photography

Although I said I am glad I was glad for my experiences working in the darkroom with black and white photography, that made me appreciate digital photography all the more. The technical aspects of film and paper developing are so exacting (maintaining constant temperature during the process, keeping everything free from dust) that the process made it difficult to get quality results. The whole process is also very time consuming.

Removing those technical challenges with digital photography was truly revolutionary. It is really freeing to be able to take any number of exposures of a subject, not to be limited by the number of spaces for photos on physical film. Then the film development process is basically eliminated. You can see the photos right away, on the camera itself, and then if/when the images are transferred to a computer.

Digital cameras have improved tremendously over the years. The first one I had experience with was the Sony camera we gave to my parents for their 50th wedding anniversary in the fall of 2000. It was a 3 megapixel camera but took surprisingly good images, such as this one in Rocky Mountain National Park. One problem was the memory sticks were 8 megabytes, so we had to transfer the pictures off the stick after about a dozen photos were taken. I remember going down Trail Ridge Road, transferring the photos to a laptop computer several times in the course of the trip.

mom dad 3 megapixel

Editing the images with computer software apps usually greatly improves the images. It is easy to straighten and crop the images. Then there are a myriad of controls to adjust brightness, contrast, color, and sharpness. You learn so much as you make trial and error adjustments and see the results on screen immediately.

At that point I think most photos are viewed on screen. If you do want paper copies of images, color photo printers are relatively inexpensive and very easy to use, eliminating the photo paper process with wet chemicals. Or you can send them to a local digital printing service, like a drug store.

Being able to take many photos with different camera settings in a short time allows you to explore photographing subjects extensively, learning all along the way. For example, I eventually took over 900 photos over the course of a couple of years, of the “Open Eyes” sculpture near my work at the Indiana University Medical Center in Indianapolis. The building behind the sculpture with the glass face is the Department of Ophthalmology, and the sculpture is an abstraction of eyes.

In the first photos you could barely see the color glass in the aluminum rings. Then as I began to get them to show up, they tended to all look black. Then I learned how to make the colors in the glass show up. After that I worked to find so many different angles of the sculpture, including from inside it. And taking photos in all types of light and weather.

The Glick Eye Institute (Department of Ophthalmology) became aware of the photos I was taking, and used some of the photos on their website and in publications.

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