It’s a sobering thought when you realise that some of your photographs are moving into the realm of becoming historical. It’s inevitable, I know, when you have been taking photographs for over 30 years but somehow you always see your own images as being contemporary.
I was listening to the radio this evening when an article about the QE2’s last voyage to Dubai, where she will become a floating hotel, began to take me back to the early nineties when she visited Liverpool for only the second occasion. It was a grey day and the Mersey was shrouded in fog. These were the days of film of course, so I had to decide on what film stock I was going to use. One of the greatest advantages of digital photography is the freedom it gives you to change the ISO from shot to shot depending on the conditions. Pre-digital, a decision taken at one moment meant being committed for at least 24, and more likely, 36 images.
I chose HP5+, easily my favourite film, as it can be down or up rated so giving a fine degree of control. I rated it at 3,200 ISO to emphasize the grain and add to the already heavy atmosphere of the day. I took the ferry across the Mersey, which was running trips around the liner. I was working with a Pentax K1000 and had a couple of lenses. Once again, in the digital age, the amount of information obtainable via the Meta Data is of such an advantage. All your shooting information is recorded in the digital file, from the camera settings to the focal length of lens you were using. On a traditional silver halide negative none of this is available and the memory can’t fill in the gaps. You can only make an educated guess at the focal length and the camera settings. I know the ISO rating, as all my films are referenced with film speed and developer used – buts that’s about all.
This particular image now has historical value. The QE2 will never travel up the Mersey again and on another level fewer and fewer images are being shot on film. So both the image and the manner in which it was made are becoming a part of history.
The sobering thought though, is that if the image is in some way historical, then the person who took it must also be a product of history, and that’s not a thought to ponder on for too long!