Film versus Digital: Living the Past in the Present

A couple of years ago, my friend said that she wanted a PDA for Christmas. I thought she was joking. I laughed and said, "PDA? You want PDA for Christmas?" She said incredulously, "No, it's aPDA! I can't believe you don't know what it is!" There are so many technological buzz-terms today, like "BlackBerry," "PDA," "iPod," add what you will. And while it seems our society is eager to embrace the next 21 st century toy, I am obstinately clinging to the eroding practices of the past.

Although I haven't sought therapy to understand my aversion to our new technology, I am trying to get to the heart of the matter. I certainly understand the main benefits of going digital: instantaneous results – a perfect solution for our I-want-it-now culture. In addition, one can manipulate as much as one wants – delete this, change that, bridge this, divide that. I get it. But remember the good ole days?...shooting that roll of Agfa 200, stepping into the dark closet, feeling your way to the tools, clunking the freshly rolled film into its canister, stinging your hands with the chemistry, cutting those perfectly developed negatives, creating your winning contact sheet, finding solace in those many hours under the red light, with the whirring fan, the bitter air of developer, stop, fix, the burning, the dodging, the detail, the meticulous detail – then voilà, a perfectly printed work of art, ready for framing, ready for selling, ready for study – and most importantly, a reminder of photography's gritty, authentic beauty of what came before. Call me old fashioned, but this is my photography.

About The Author: Everest Knobel graduated in 2003 with a BA in Art from Furman University. She is an intern at Aperture Foundation in New York City.

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Penn Foster

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