Why analog?

The first question is why do analogue photography? What is analogue photography and why would you go back to equipment that actually can do only less in an era of ultra-modern, digital cameras? Why use manual lenses when you have blazing-fast lenses that autofocus in less than a second? And even with the smartphone you can take fantastic photos and add unprecedented effects these days.

A classic vintage b/w photo, made on a German Adox Golf 63 camera in the late fifties.

An example of a classic black and white photo with, in this case, my mother, made with a bellow camera. I can look at the photo for hours and see the beauty of vintage photography. Note the shadows, that glow, the manner in which the sand gradually disappears as willingly as in a painting. The unintended blur, not just in the edges that accentuate the subject, the soft contrasts in the sky. Technically speaking, there can much to be said about the technicalities of the photo, but the emotional value is still very high (not just because it concerns my mother), but because the photo evokes warmth, a classic charme that we call vintage and I love it, like many, many photographers as well. Photography is an art, not a strive to make the most perfect photo that withstands all possible critics about aperture, shutter speed and so on.

Vintage is a collective term in photography for an atmosphere evoked by soft (er) colors and a certain blur, characteristic of the cameras and films used in the mid-20th century. It also represents a certain desire for a past where photography was a more intensive activity with deferred reward. You only saw the result later, after the films were developed in the laboratory or own darkroom and printed.

Perhaps because of the many technical possibilities and the pressure to which we are exposed by computers and smartphones, we want to return to a time that was more tangible and could be co-created more with more appeal to one’s own imagination and creativity.

My Granddad (Unknown camera) around the fifties.

In the 1980s I attended photography courses, learning to compose, develop and print. With 35 mm black and white films. On 35 mm cameras. Attached to tripods, using flash units. An intensive hobby where only a few photos of a film could be labeled as good, in which you could not afford to take one shot after another and wait for the best one.

Yet there is also a technical advantage. The is an actual big difference between digital pixels and analogue films. Celluloid has an incredibly high dynamic range that cannot (yet) be filled with megapixels. It is difficult to pinpoint, but an analogue photo looks different, one says it ‘lives’ more, it approaches reality in better ways. It is a matter of taste largely.

But we learned how to use our brain and intuition to look through the lens in advance, to think about the composition, shutter speeds and aperture. A good photo is not made by the device, but whoever controls it. Vintage photography teaches you to take photos again, the technology that lies in them. It teaches you to hold the brush of the painting.

But it does more. You can now deliberately use all imperfections of classic cameras and lenses that give vintage photos that distinctive effect or look. But be warned. Vintage photography is addictive in time (and money). You can purchase an incredible amount of this fun past through sites such as ebay. Very nice and at the time expensive cameras and lenses are there for a sometimes real cheap pick up.

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