Photo by Edward F. Palm)

About Me

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Forest, Virginia, United States
A long time ago, my sophomore English teacher, Father William Campbell, saw something in my writing and predicted that I would someday become a newspaper columnist. He suggested the perfect title for my column--"Leaves of the Palm." Now that I have a little extra time on my hands I've decided to put Father Campbell's prediction to the test. I'm going to start using this blog site not just to reprint opinion pieces I've published elsewhere but to try to get more of my ideas and opinions out there. Feedback is welcome. To find out more about me, please check out my Web site: www.EdwardFPalm.com (Click on any of the photos below for an enlarged view.)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Palm's Progress

[Cottage Industry, Khe Sanh, Vietnam, July, 2002]
I've been remiss.  For the past few days, I've been so busy keeping up with my teaching that I never got around to posting my P.T. progress.  
      On Tuesday, weighed in at 185.7 and ran 3.33 miles, covering 4.5 in all.       
      Yesterday, I weighed in at 184.4 and ran one mile, covering 4.2 in all.  
       I weighed in today at 185.6 and decided to have a down-day in order to rebuild a bit.  I'll hit hard again tomorrow.  
       One of the things I had to do this week was to write a five-paragraph essay as an example for my students.  I assigned them to write one, and I always try to rebut the stereotype of the teacher who teaches what he or she can't do.  Hence, I wrote a little essay on digital versus film photography and my conversion to the former.  It's certainly not the best thing I ever wrote, but it does explain why anyone serious about photography has to go digital.  Just for grin, I'm posting it below.  --EFP
      I was a reluctant convert to digital photography.  My wife, however, finally forced my hand.  She had seen a demonstration of digital photography, and she immediately recognized a way of turning my photo addiction to her advantage.  She had long wanted to be able to email photos home to friends and family who live on the other side of the country.  So, in December, 2001, she denounced my Leica and my Nikon as “antiquated” and presented me with a digital camera for Christmas.  It was a simple point –and-shoot Pentax Optio, but I was so impressed with what it could do that, within three months, I had upgraded to a Nikon digital single-lens reflex.  And I haven’t turned back.  I now know that digital photography is superior to film photography in terms of cost, convenience, and creative controls.           
       “Film is cheap; your reputation is priceless!”  That is the advice professional photojournalists used to give to aspiring amateurs hoping to turn professional.  And good advice it was as long as someone else was paying for the film and processing.  A National Geographic  photographer , for instance, will typically shoot hundreds of photos in order to get the five or six best that the editor will choose to illustrate an article.  But a 36-exposure roll of Kodachrome slide film was going for about $7.00 before Kodak decided to phase it out, and processing ran another $6.00 or $7.00.  At those prices, the average cash-strapped amateur of old could hardly shoot with reckless abandon.  Digital photography has changed all that.  Today’s memory cards will hold hundreds of photos, allowing anyone to shoot to his or her heart’s content.   And the cards themselves are getting cheaper as the manufacturers keep coming up with bigger and faster versions.   Admittedly, the initial outlay for a good digital camera may seem high.  Digital single-lens reflex cameras start at $500, with good fixed-lens digitals going for about $200.  But the digital quest for stunning images will prove far cheaper than film photography in the long run.  A serious photographer cannot afford not go digital.     
         In addition to saving money, digital photography pays undeniable dividends in convenience.   One-hour processing seemed to be a great boon when it became available about 20 years ago, but today’s digital photographer does not have to wait even an hour.   The results can be viewed immediately, offering not just instant gratification but the ability to check on composition and exposure before a photo opportunity is lost.  The digital photographer also does not to have to carry as much as a Luddite stubbornly committed to film.   The 2 GB memory card I have in my Nikon D-2H will hold 888 exposures.  I would have to carry 25 36-exposure rolls of 35mm film in order to equal the capacity of my digital memory card, which is smaller than a matchbook.  Today’s digital point and shoot models can easily fit in a pocket and be carried anywhere.  And no longer do photos have to be printed or projected in order to be enjoyed.  Nor do they have to take up storage space in albums or drawers.  Digital images can be stored in and viewed with a computer, and they can easily be shared with friends and family through email.   
         But the greatest advantage to going digital—bar none—is the creative control I have over the image itself.  Digital cameras typically come with photo editing programs that offer all the features the average photographer will ever need.  With a few clicks of a mouse, I can adjust the exposure, the contrast, the color balance, the composition, and even the size of an image.  I can crop out, and even erase, distracting background elements.  I can sharpen or blur the image, and I can eliminate red-eye.  I can even turn off the color channels and see if the image looks better in black and white.   Dust spots and scratches were always a discouraging facet of film photography.  No matter how careful I tried to be in drying and dusting my negatives, it seemed that a few spots always showed up on the final print.  I became good at covering these with “spotting dyes,” but it was tedious and time-consuming.  Now, with the cloning tool of my editing program, I can cover up spots and scratches in a matter of minutes.  More importantly, all these adjustments and fixes are undetectable, resulting in a completely professional looking finished product. 
         Of course, anyone who has spent a lot of time in the darkroom--watching images magically appear on blank sheets of paper immersed in the developer solution--cannot help but feel a bit nostalgic.  Every now and then, I wish I hadn’t sold my Leica M3 or my Contax G1 outfit.  They were fine cameras.  But then I remember that darkroom work is tedious, time-consuming, and expensive.  And, if I still had those film cameras, what would I do with them?  The slides, prints, and negatives I have produced over the years take up too much space already, and I would just end up scanning the best images, converting them to digital files.  But that takes a lot of time.  I could put that time to better use.  I could be out shooting pictures, lots of pictures, in order to try to get a few really memorable images.  And that, finally, is what photography is all about.   --EFP

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