Reflections

February 20, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

It's another grey and thundery day here in KL, so I decided to stay in and catch up on some more picture editing. They say that every cloud has a silver lining. Well, the upside of the demise of my old Fotopic site was that it gave the the impetus needed to go right back through my old archives and take another look at what I had.

Although (for obvious reasons) I haven't got all my old slides with me. I do have all the digital archive. The past few months in Asia have given me chance to start trawling through it, take a fresh look and decide what to add to this site.

Talk about a trip down memory lane..!

I went digital at the beginning of 2004. Like many photographers, I was hesitant because of the talk about quality issues. Now, with the benefit of hindsight I wish that I'd taken the plunge much earlier. Because one issue that some forgot was that you don't have to worry about the quality of a picture your camera is incapable of taking in the first place!

Looking back over the first few years makes me realise just how many more pictures I could take. There was no more swapping films mid-roll, or the need to carry around two camera bodies with different films in them. You just changed the ISO setting and away you went. The other thing digital allowed me was the freedom to experiment and to preview the image - learning from your mistakes as you made them. No more worries about how much it was costing you to press the shutter, no need to be miserly with your exposures - what freedom it gave us!

Right now I'm editing the pictures taken on my first DSLR - a Nikon D100. The quality of them still impresses me now. What's also interesting to see is the way my photographic skills and techniques developed because of that new found freedom - even if my Photoshop ones lagged behind!

There is another thing that looking through the early archive shows - which is just how much the subject matter was changing. The mid-noughties was a crucial time for the railways as modernisation of the train fleets really took off. In 2005 the old Southern slammers were in their final months of service, as was LHCS on the West Coast. Plus, Cross-Country was going over to an all Voyager fleet.

And it wasn't all about the trains. Building the second part of the Channel tunnel rail link into St Pancras was well under way and I was lucky enough to be commissioned by RAIL magazine to follow the progress - as well as taking a lot of my own archive shots. It was a great time to be a photographer following the railways.

OK, I've talked about the silver lining, but let's not forget about the cloud. Re-editing all these pictures, uploading them to the site and then adding captions is a nightmare in the amount of time it takes. It took me 7 years to get them on-line in the first place. I don't have the luxury of another seven to get them back online. But for me it's a job and it's got to be done. The people I feel sorry for are the photographers who lost their websites when Fotopic pulled the plug and who have neither the time, or in some cases - the pictures to replace. It still makes me angry that a lot of social history has disappeared from the archive through Fotopics actions - and we're all the poorer for it.

Damn you Fotopic!

Paul

 


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