Thursday, October 01, 2009


I acquired two more nice examples of the Voigtländer Vito II.  I have some film in one of the Vitos now and hope to have some new photos to show from it soon. Meanwhile, it has been interesting for me to look back on my previous experience with the camera. I was impressed from the beginning with the extraordinary qualities which the Color Skopar lens could impart to the images from the camera. The Vito II also seemed to me to embody the best qualities of German craftsmanship refined from the past.

Most of the pictures I made with the Vito II date from May 2005 when Margaret and I traveled to Greece. That was a marvelous experience, and I liked the pictures I made there, but that is largely a reflection of my feelings for the adventure, rather than any objective evaluation of the resulting photography. I mounted a small show of the photos on our return at the Las Cruces Library. It was fun to lurk in the background and listen to comments; I was pleased to find that viewers were able to perceive some of the sense of discovery that Margaret and I enjoyed on the trip. Looking at the photos from a greater distance now, I have rather more mixed feelings about them, as I often do when going through past work.

I see now that I had a lot yet to learn about the craft of photography then, particularly in regard to translating the images from their analog to digital forms. The cameras, films, computers, scanners and software I used also evolved quite quickly during the time since our trip to Greece. It is a little tempting to try to retrieve the negatives from rather haphazard storage and do them over. I'm sure I could make some technically better images in the process, but I doubt that I could recapture the original impressions and feelings that went into creating the photos. Better, perhaps, to move on, taking what I can from the past without trying to recreate it.


Julio F said...

That's a dilemma, but it may be worth going through a small set of your Greece series - maybe half a dozen- and redo them with current technology.

Travel photography is, to me, about impressions and discovery, and those are what you captured in Greece. It's all about what the images mean to you. Good photography takes time, which is scarce in travels.

Mike said...

I actually do find some opportunities to revisit my past photos and try to improve them with better technique than what was originally employed. I often find that I can enhance tonal range, and I also have to admit that my earlier efforts often involved jacking up color saturation beyond what was really needed.

With the 2005 photos from NYC and Greece, the situation is a bit more complicated. My purpose with those photos was to incorporate them in a loose story or essay about the trip which used words along with the photos. I put it all together in presentations, because that was the tool I was familiar with at the time.

While I could certainly improve some of the photos as well as some of the writing, I wouldn't do it on again. I also might not want to rely so much on drugstore scans, though I no longer have a dedicated 35mm scanner.

So, doing anything very substantial could get complicated. Of course, something would be gained in the way of experience by just working on a few pictures, but I'm thinking I might just as well use the time on new pictures for new stories.

Luckily, I don't depend on my photography for income, so there are not really big stakes involved.