Magazine article Communication World

The Digital Edge: Three Shots I Never Would Have Made on Film

Magazine article Communication World

The Digital Edge: Three Shots I Never Would Have Made on Film

Article excerpt

Forty years ago, in December 1964, I wrote my first column on photojournalism for the International Council of Industrial Editors' Reporting magazine, going to members of an organization destined to become IABC five years later.

In that column, I observed that 35mm cameras and films were "revolutionizing photo journalism," rapidly replacing the archaic Speed Graphic "press cameras" of that era.

Four decades have now passed, and film, as a journalistic medium, is now dead and buried. Digital imaging, bringing huge advantages in control, cost and sheer creativity, has replaced it.

In my own travel photojournalism, I now make photos that never would have occurred to me if I had a film camera in hand. Digital imaging has changed the way I see, think and work as an expressive photographer, and is changing the way many organizational photographers create their images as well.

In this, my 40th anniversary IABC column, it's only fitting that I share three examples of this "digital edge" with you. I made them with three different digicams in China this past summer. I prefer these smaller digicams to the larger, heavier and more obvious digital single lens reflex cameras, which have become standard tools for working photo journalists.

A camera is only a tool. But sometimes it can make or break a picture opportunity. While standing awestruck in one of the 9,000 rooms in Beijing's 400-year-old Forbidden City, I looked up at a complex network of interlocking beams and posts that have held this building together since the Ming Dynasty. The ceiling's colors were barely visible in the dark recesses of the ceiling. Yet when I looked at the large viewing screen of my Leica Digilux 2 camera, its sensitive auto-exposure system incredibly displayed an array of lushly muted colors--golds, browns and pale blues--the palette of the 15th century. If I had been using film, I would have never made this image because those colors simply were not visible to my eyes without the help of my digicam's LCD viewing screen.

My second example features 2,000-year-old terra cotta figures that once guarded the tomb of China's first emperor in Xian. …

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