Upgrades in photo technology blow the mind

First Posted: 3/18/2009

It never fails to amaze me how much photography has changed over the past 20 years. Who knew, back in 1990 when I graduated with a degree in photography, that things would have come so far.
Back in the day when I was mixing chemicals by hand, I would never have guessed that one day I would just pop a card out of my camera, put it in a port in a computer and voila, instant gratification.
Over the years, after learning that my degree is in photography, people will express their curiosity about how great they think it would be to go into a dark room and mix up all the chemicals and do it old school. But, I am telling the truth when I say, there is no way I would go back to those days. If you didnt get the chemicals mixed just right, or didnt have them at the right temperature, your film just didnt come out. Dont even get me started on how hard it was to load your film on a metal or plastic reel before it in went into the chemical bath. I never could quite figure out how to load those things without getting myself in a bind. Im glad I dont have to worry about that anymore.
I still keep up with one of my fellow students at Randolph Community College. He has a very successful multimedia business in Greensboro, but he still loves the look of old photographs to the extent of buying old cameras and making them work somehow. I have to admit the effect is stunning. But now that he has a new application on his iPhone that makes pictures he takes today have that old look instantly, I dont think hes picked up one of those old cameras since. He took some pictures of me one day with that application and I do have to say that its really pretty cool.
It seems these days that everyone is oohing and aahing over the new line of Nikons. I have the Nikon D-40 and I am really happy with it, with the exception of my 18 to 55 mm lens. It stopped working and of all nights at the Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce dinner. There was 300-plus people in attendance, my publisher and his wife are sitting to my right, my editor and his wife are sitting to my left and my camera has stopped working. I could have just died. John Peters, the editor, later said that he could see the frustration on my face. Thats because inside I was flipping out. Here I had just purchased a very expensive camera, which I have wanted to do my whole life, and four months after I bought it, it stopped working in a room full of people I admire and respect. People who expected me to capture the night in all of its glory. I did get the camera to take a few decent shots, but for the most part, I was extremely unhappy.
I later found out that it was not the camera that was broken, but the lens. It finally dawned on me to try the other lens I had purchased, the 55 to 200 mm lens. The camera works fine now, but I have to get 50 yards back to get a group shot of anything.
I know what you are thinking, why didnt you send it back to get it fixed by now? Well, I havent, but its on my to-do list this week. I called the place I bought it from and they gave me the number to Nikon. I spoke with a technician over the phone and he explained the 18 easy steps I needed to complete before sending the camera back to get it repaired. So once I print out all of the applicable forms in triplicate, fill them out and find all the copies of my receipts and the warranty, then package it up and drive it to the post office and have it insured Nikon should have it back to me within seven to 10 business days. I guess that shouldnt be a big deal since the chamber dinner was in January. So much for instant gratification.
Now that I have totally ragged Nikon out for its faulty lens, let me back up and say that I absolutely love the camera. I have taken some pretty impressive shots, if I do say so myself. I love the fact that you can change your ISO, or film speed, with just a few clicks of the menu button. I can be shooting in bright sunlight one minute with a 200 film speed, then shoot in a dark auditorium with 1600 the next. For the most part, the pictures come out sharp and clear even in the darkest situations.
Even though I never would have pictured in a million years how far photography has come over the past 20 years, Im glad it has and I cant wait to see what new technologies are yet to come.
Mondee Tilley is a staff reporter with The Mount Airy News. She can be reached at [email protected] or at 719-1930.

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