Sunday, 8 August 2010
Snap! The Digital Age
We live in a digital age. An age where we demand immediate communication, where we are no longer prepared to wait for things to happen. This Tuesday is my grand-daughter Hannah's third birthday. I can scarcely believe three years have passed since the arrival of the little tyke who has made such a difference to my life. There will, of course, be a party at my daughter Laura's house and the whole family will be there to celebrate. Armed, as we will be, with cameras to record the occasion. Digital cameras, that is.
It's probably a sign of me hurtling towards fifty years of age but I miss the age of anticipation. By this, I mean years ago when things didn't happen immediately and we all had to show a trait that is fast becoming a rare commodity these days - patience. When Laura was three years old, back in 1989, we didn't have a digital camera. Our camera at that time used film. Yes, younger readers f-i-l-m. We had to make sure the complex settings on the contraption were adjusted accordingly. Automatic flash? Yer 'avin a larf. Laura's birthday is in May but when she was three we were living in Aberdeen where it's permanently gloomy so we had to ensure the light was on in the room. Not the present day, energy saving type so beloved of today's tree-hugging hippies. This was a 100 watt bulb that was powerful enough to distract in-coming aircraft from the nearby Aberdeen Airport.
Red-eye removal? Pah! Not only do most of the photographs of my family at the time give the impression they're extras from the film The Living Dead, but the red-eye also applied to the poor sod - usually me -taking the photographs after hours of trying to get the focus right.
Then there were the number of photographs one could take in a single 'spool' (there's another word that's fast disappearing from today's dictionary) No matter what the occasion was - holidays, family birthdays, weddings - the last photograph taken (usually number 24) was nearly always completely pointless. The back of my mother-in-law leaning against her broom (always her best side); the infamous Mrs Smith doing the ironing (admittedly a rarity in itself); or some half drunk family member covering their face pleading not to be 'snapped'. This last photograph was never usually given the precision - although I use that word lightly - afforded to the others. It was always 'to use the last of the spool' Then it was disentangled from the contraption that was the camera, pushed in an envelope and handed into Boots the Chemist. You could get your snaps back within the hour if you were prepared to part with about half a week's wages so I usually left it a few days before going back to find a) half the photographs hadn't turned out, b) a quality assurance label stuck on any 'dodgy' pic or c) most of the photographs looking like they had been taken in a cave in spite of the fact you spent three hours trying to work out how to set the flash.
Things are different in today's world. We'll all be snapping away at Hannah's birthday on Tuesday but the difference now is that today's digital cameras come with automatic this and automatic that - all you have to do is point it in the right direction and press a button. Even if you do mess it up, you simply delete it and try again.
That's progress for you. But I still miss the anticipation of collecting my dark and out of focus photos from Boots...