Scenes such as these are still seen in many tourist places here and abroad. In the past, having a good number of films like Fuji or Kodak was required so you can have a whole day’s worth of photography. You bring your SLR and in a photography bag you will have your rolls of films and maybe even batteries.
If you happen to run out of film, these tourist stores become very convenient as they are located in the places where you should not run out of films. These stores also sell batteries just in case your SLR or flash is low on power.
After your trip, you run to the corner photography store to have your films “developed.” For those of you born in the 1990s, to “develop” a film meant bringing the spent film in a darkroom where the roll of film is then taken out of the canister very carefully so as not to “expose” it.
Once out, the film on which different arrays of light and shadows have been imprinted on by the various lenses in the camera, is treated with some chemicals to keep the image permanently on the film. The film, however, is the “negative” of the actual photo. The lights and shadows are opposite that of the actual, or “positive” image.
After the negative is done, you mount it on a machine that emits light through the “negative” and throws the image onto a photo paper. This is a delicate process as you need to expose the photo paper with just enough light, measured in time, otherwise the image will turn out to be too dark or too light.
As soon as the photo paper has been exposed, you put the paper on a tray with chemicals that will bring out the image from the film. Once the image is clear, you hang the photo on a line to dry.
I may have missed or added a step or two, but as far as I can remember, this was how photos were “developed” in the past. My point here though is not to teach how to develop films but to point out how far different the world is today.
The apps of the past required a far more tedious process.
Whether this is good or bad, no one can say for certain. I can imagine that for the photo enthusiast, he or she can now concentrate more on the art side of photography and would not find any worry on the technical side. For one, the entire film processing is gone. SD cards are now the films of today.
Second, one can always edit the photo taken in the computer. To “photoshop” is to tweak photos – change exposure, ISO, even time of day, and even faces! “Photoshopping” must put a pressure on real photography professionals as they must compete for space with amateurs who may have no qualms tweaking their photos using Photoshop.
A major change from the past though is the fact that today, your phone is your camera!
I used to hate it when I would carry an SLR, a video camera, and the bag with batteries, films, and other paraphernalia. And when cell phone sans the camera were new in the market, it was an additional burden when traveling. I am sure there are thousands of stories of tourists losing their cameras or video cams because their span of attention was so short that they forget one or the other.
Today I carry an iPhone 6+ with 164 G. I just uploaded my photos unto my Photo Library and realized that I had over 3,000 photos and videos. And my phone was not even half full. It also dawned on me that each of these photographs can be blown up into different and bigger sizes. If you travel around Europe, you will see a number of very large billboards with superb photography with one line on the bottom: “Shot with iPhone 6+.”
This phone is also my map. My wife, Joy, and I used to travel by car abroad using Michelin maps or the London A-Z which even cab drivers use. We would stop by a restaurant before driving out and study the maps carefully taking notes on the highways to use and the numbers of the exits we had to take.
Today my iPhone not only shows me the map, it also tells me how to get where I want to go, with options depending on my preferences. Once I am set on my route, I can now share my route to either those who are waiting for me at my destination, or to my family at the other side of the world.
Revisiting past apps should be done often if only to appreciate what we have today. Surely a century from now our descendants will be wondering how we survived using only an iPhone 6+ – talking about this phone a century hence must seem like talking about using the Morse Code today.
In all these, one must be in awe with man’s ability to cope with change and be the driver for change and innovation. The store selling Fuji and Kodak films must have been there for the last 20 to 30 years. In spite of the disappearance of films, these stores are still there. This time they must be selling SD cards, or maybe even pre-paid SIMs. The technologies may have changed, but man’s need to travel, to look at history, and to use gadgets to memorialize the travels and visits, will always be there.
I am excitedly waiting for time travel.