Friday, June 27, 2014

Rowland Scherman Affirms Digital Photography


Grandson Leander With Bubbles    DMC-LX5, DxO Optics Pro

The famous Life Magazine photographer Rowland Scherman gave a huge thumbs-up to Digital Photography in this PBS Production about his life and work. Scherman, whose career really took off in the early 1960's makes mention of the new media during the final third portion of the show, when he says "If Ansel Adams were still alive, he would almost certainly be using Digital... maybe 8"x10" Digital..."

Interspersed throughout the program, he is shown in the present day walking around Cape Cod with, of all that there is to choose from, a Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX Series camera! I'm not sure of the exact model - could've been a new LX7, but notably, it wasn't even equipped with the optional Electronic Viewfinder - he was composing with the rear LCD.

At the peak of his career, he was taking iconic photographs of Bob Dylan, JFK, The Beatles, and the March on Washington, using mostly a Nikon Rangefinder (the Contax copy). He emphasized simply how lucky he was to have "been there with a camera" as the biggest factor of his success, also mentioning the fact that in his younger days, he was athletic and nimble, making him very able to move around, jumping over everything so as to get the best shots. He also said several times how he would simply walk right by any security at these events without a Press Pass, because he always carried two cameras, and therefore really looked like he knew what he was doing, and therefore, must've been a professional Photographer, even before he actually became one. When challenged, he simply wouldn't take "no" for an answer. Finally, near the beginning of the show, he mentions the one thing whereby he knew when to press the shutter - but I'm not going to spoil this for you - watch the show!

Although he certainly used good equipment, that's not what made him successful. The most important thing is obviously - you've got to "be there with a camera". This still holds true today. Secondly, if you want to pull pictures off the way he did, you've got to have "stones" instead of necessarily a good camera... all the more important today, because if you take somebody's picture, especially up close and personal these days, it's almost as if you've raped them. People today are far more paranoid about their privacy now than they were in the 1960's. Still, I manage to rip off a few good people pics, and I find the best way to do this is to use an old film camera that looks so silly, nobody would take it seriously, and this way, they'll let their guard down, thinking "well, at least with that camera, he will never put me on the Internet", that is if they're thinking at all. I think the most "dangerous" piece of gear that turns on everybody's paranoia alarm right now has to be the Smartphone Camera!

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