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Life Seen Through The Lens of An Actual Camera Is So Beautiful Not Even "Leftards" Can Screw It Up
Take back the joy of God's creation from the demonic bastards who want to digitize it away.
“Scientia sine arte nihilismus est.” - knowledge without art is nihilism
This morning I watched an exhilarating TV interview with Argentina’s candidate for President Javier Milie. To call Milei “fiery” is an insult to fire; Milei burns at a temperature similar to Italy’s Georgio Meloni. Both have tapped into the hoi polloi’s exhaustion of our elite ruling class and their demonic muses hatred of all things scared, good, True and beautiful. Watch Milei, it only take 81 seconds.
He’s right, you know, the demon possessed left is low grade, Grey Poupon tainted crap. If we could unmask Biden et al they’d resemble Bill Paxton’s character in Weird Science.
But enough about them and their satanic ugliness. Just after my best in the business LIVE! radio show, which featured Melei’s rant, and my commentary on said rant, concluded, I was notified that my developed film had arrived at the CVS store nearest me. These were 36 photos I had taken with my old school c. 1971 Pentax Spotmatic 35mm camera while on holiday last month in beautiful NW Georgia and the town of Dahlonega. This was the 3rd roll I had taken since acquiring the camera for $200 on eBay last spring. The first 2 rolls were unimpressive as I had relied principally on the camera’s then very new technology of built in light meter to obtain aperture and shutter speed settings.
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Before this trip I read up on the proper use of the light meter enclosed with the camera and resolved, using it and some renewed shutterbug knowledge to give analogue photography one more go before surrendering to the hideous and calculated cold of the now ubiquitous, tiny, 3 lens “smartphone camera” (which isn’t a “camera” at all). I would be relying on the now discontinued Sekonic Auto Lumi Model 86 Light Meter to give me a. proper light readings in intensity b. the range of apertures i.e. “f-stops” controlled by the c. shutter speed of the camera. I further would need to rehash and have some knowledge of “depth of field” and how I wanted my developed image to appear once printed.
If this sounds like a nearly impossible task that’s because you have no knowledge of how photos used to be taken by hundreds of millions of people all around the world who never gave much thought to what I described above once they learned some semblance of it through trial and error. You see there is real “art” in good photography and art requires patience and substantive deliberation over the physical factors that will ultimately contribute to its completed object, what we will call “the work”. It is “the work” that is hanging in the Louvre, it is the work that is hanging on the wall of your grandmother’s home of that family moment in 2004, taken on an old Canon “Rebel” that you manually, composed, lit and then focused onto 35mm film just in time for Uncle BoBo to say “whippersnappers!”.
“WE CHOOSE TO GO TO THE MOON… AND DO THE OTHER THINGS NOT BECAUSE THEY ARE EASY BUT BECAUSE THEY ARE HARD!” - JFK
YES, taking digital images with smartphones is easy and nearly idiot proof and the results are instantaneous. Screwed up the framing of the shot? Got the lighting wrong? Was your hand shaking while pushing the “snap” icon? No worries, fire the phone backup and take another 6 versions, one is sure to come out as you expect and boy will Uncle BoBo and Aunt Petunia be excited when it arrives as a text message! WooHoo, the nephew’s on a roll, “let’s call him and congratulate him on making it to the deck of our favorite seaside restaurant!”. The moment is there, the world has seen it as it happened, then it’s over and it becomes part of a lifeless slab of silicon on a device that goes in your pocket. Where’s the fun in that? The world and our lives are now whizzing by at 1 GBPS, analogue photography is just one of many ways to slow that train down to the speed of life and at the same time regain an appreciation for the beauty that were blessed by God to have all round us, day and night.
In prepping to write this essay I read 3 pieces comparing digital versus analogue photography, not 1 of them even attempted to address what this essay will address: is there a difference between the two methods of photography as it applies to human flourishing? Does one method contribute to the cultivation of a Christian morality? Yes there is, one method of photography that even helps develop the Cardinal Virtues of Justice, Prudence, Fortitude and Temperance but especially Prudence.
ROSS PEROT WAS RIGHT: “MEASURE TWICE, CUT ONCE, LARRY”
During his appearances on the old Larry King Tonight show, Presidential candidate Ross Perot used so many old pearls of wisdom including this one.
“The old adage our grandfather’s used, Larry, is still correct today but we don’t use it anymore: ‘measure twice cut once’, Larry.”
This would not apply to a digital smart-phone camera or a digital handheld unless the timeliness of the subject’s position/location was a factor. As one of the better articles comparing digital to analogue wrote.
To put it into a bit of perspective, I can shoot roughly 1,300 RAW images at 36.4 megapixels each using my Sony A7R with just one 64GB SD memory card. To achieve that same image-making capacity using 35mm film would require me to carry about 36 rolls of 36 exposure film.
Thus, there is no “harm no foul” (and little development of the Cardinal virtues) to shooting a digital landscape or portrait shot when you can i.e. digitally remove camera movement, have aperture & shutterspeed chosen y the computer and check the results instantaneously; whereas with the analogue shot, if you’re striving for artistry i.e. beautiful results (Justice) , you must patiently & carefully compose the shot through the lensfinder (fortitude), factor in the light source and angle of approach, gauge the available light and adjust the shutterspeed to the focal distance setting (f-stop) you are aiming for (Temperance); if the shot requires a long exposure you’ll want to tripod the camera and use a remote trigger to minimize camera movement. (Prudence)You’ll want to take at least 2 additional shots from the same location one with slower and one with faster shutter and f-stop settings. While waiting for your film to be developed there is the virtue of Hope i.e. the “hope” that we were successful in executing all of the above; the hope in seeing the beauty captured in all its full color, grainy glory.
This is all part of the “measure twice, cut once, Larry”, Perot Rule. There is also a built in appreciation of the photographic process especially when you factor in the waiting time to receive the printed photos back from the developer. The entire process is immersive of the beauty of God’s creation and if you have the time to let it unfold naturally, contemplative of that creation.
The world is too much with us, late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers,
Little we see in nature which is ours,
We have given our hearts away; a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn; - William Wordsworth
In the end of this analysis of photographic methods it should be apparent that the efficient cause of digital photography is utilitarian i.e. it compresses then equalizes the imagination, talent and skill good photography requires down to one denominator: convenience.
i.e. “I snap because I can”. When everyone is a “photographer” then no one is a photographer and the art of photography becomes as hideous as the “art” of most tattoos but at least the tattoo requires physical human actions, use of 2 senses (sight an touch), and an organic substrate i.e. skin, whereas the digital photograph requires only lifeless silicon and the same 2 senses, yet, what cultivation is there of the sense of sight that analogue photography is constantly cultivating by the artist being forced to view his subject through a lens the size of a thimble while framing his subject through the lens of magnificent reality as seen through the most complex optical devices ever created, human eyes? Considered photography as patient art versus the utilitarian nature of "digital “pics” and the following stats that bear that out.
1.81 trillion photos are taken per year
143 billion photos are taken per month
32.9 billion photos are taken per week
4.7 billion photos are taken per day
196 million photos are taken per hour
54,000 photos are taken every second
Compare that to the growth of analogue photography over the post war period.
By 1930, about a billion photos were taken a year.
By 1960, about 3 billion photos were taken a year (approximately 1,650,000,000 of babies)1
By 1970, about 10 billion photos were taken a year.
By 1980, about 25 billion photos were taken a year. (electronic light metering in SLR cameras introduced)
By 1990, about 57 billion photos were taken a year.
By 2000, about 86 billion photos were taken a year. (last year for analogue as king)
Note that the rate of increase is not exponential which suggests that there must have been a factor to the activity that limited it growth, naturally that limit is artistic talent, creativity and fortitude; fortitude because to become a better photographer required humiliating, sometimes expensive failures and lessons that can only be learned by trial and error. That is now happening, ever so slowly, with the resurgence of all analogue media including hand painted signs, vinyl recordings and film photography. But the sheer number of “photographs” today suggests that they are driven by pedestrian and vulgar impulses as opposed to the photography of old primarily driven by beauty and the passion to create it.
Folks love to complain about the evil epidemic of online porn addictions but they say nothing about the equally addicted and numerically superior social media consumer who is consuming primarily the utilitarian “photographs” mentioned above. We love to talk about a “Restoration of Christian Culture” but aren’t willing to part with the vampire like, habitual consumption of other people’s lives that social media makes possible. I have worked on this issue myself and now have my social media consumption down to checking the feedback I get here on Substack, publishing infrequent written works (here), promoting my Podcast The New Christendom Daily and now my passions to share more traditional fare with you, fair reader, like the analogue photos published with this essay.
These digital slave cages that modernity has designed for us were foreseen by one of the primary promoters of mass, commercialized everything, Henry Luce when he described his creation of Life Magazine, the original social software, back in 1936.
To see life; to see the world; to eyewitness great events; to watch the faces of the poor and the gestures of the proud; to see strange things — machines, armies, multitudes, shadows in the jungle and on the moon; to see man’s work — his paintings, towers and discoveries; to see things thousands of miles away, things hidden behind walls and within rooms, things dangerous to come to; the women men love and many children; to see and to take pleasure in seeing; to see and be amazed; to see and be instructed...
Note the statistic above that by 1960, 65% of all photos taken were of babies because parents, aunts, uncles and the family, loved seeing the world through the joy their children saw in it. Media like LIFE told those people to lose their child-like innocence seen in baby photos and instead embrace what the world and its prince, instructed it to do with increasing hostility toward art and artisans; toward the blunt force trauma inflicted upon the soul that is life measured by numbers of “likes” and “hearts”, those ersatz treasures that addict but never satisfy rather than those humble acts of following Christ and storing up “treasure in heaven”. Film photography is just the sort of antidote a social media infected world needs. It will slow life down and give you a real chance to see and contemplate. We are after all created imago Dei and we learn of the Dei, in Genesis, as He created this beauty all around us, north, south, east, west, down and yes up to and through the heavens
And the earth brought forth the green herb, and such as yieldeth seed according to its kind, and the tree that beareth fruit, having seed each one according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
We are blessed to share that goodness with others through art and the beauty that can be captured through the discipline of film and the love and contemplation of God.
Our Lady of Prompt Succor, ora pro nobis!