Recent 'Old' Work (2008, 2009) - lawrencebraunstein

Okay, I’ll admit it. I haven’t been photographing very much of late (January, 2015). Familial obligations which are important to me plus a profusion of grey and rainy days have kept me from getting out and about with the camera. Lest I give the impression I’ve been totally abstinent from all things photographic, I have been using the time editing (or re-editing...) photos in my archive. I recently read an essay by Brooks Jensen, photographer and publisher of ‘LensWork’ (www.lenswork.com), in which he suggests, among other things, searching through older work as a means of attaining inspiration for newer projects. The idea intrigued me, not necessarily as a bridge to something new, much more as a kind of personal treasure hunt through the photographic annals of my then budding transition from film to digital capture. What we see of a photographer’s work is usually just the crest of a massive conglomeration of attempts, near misses, total duds, and a plethora of other dubious artistic ventures which, ostensibly, shall never see the light of day. Particularly the digital camera enables one to accrue exorbitant amounts of data every time a photographic opportunity presents itself. Sifting through all this information, however, is undoubtedly the downside of the digital equation and quite often photographers, faced with hundreds or even thousands of photographs to edit, quickly scan through these files in their search for ‘keepers’. Inevitably, some potentially interesting photos get overlooked, being left to dwell in the dungeons of archival oblivion. There is, however, another factor which should be taken into consideration. We all change. How I see today (photographically speaking) is indubitably different from how I saw back in 2008. How can it not be? My hope was to find material from my past which speaks to me now in a way I was unable to respond to seven years ago.

Before I began my review of older work, I decided to limit the search to the first two years after my conversion to digital photography (2008 and 2009). After perusing literally thousands of photos, I initially whittled my choice down to several dozen. These photos were then edited anew and once again subjected to critical assessment, resulting in their number dwindling to the 18 photographs you find in this gallery. Quite truthfully, I can’t say if I find these photos any better or worse than those in later galleries. A ‘before/after’ comparison wasn’t really my intention. However, what I learned from this experiment was a.) that the fundamental concept of ‘impermanence’ - namely, that all things are in a constant state of change - most certainly can be applied to one’s own artistic development, and that concomitantly b.) it was well worth the effort of wading through past work, something I hope to remember in the years to come.

For those interested in the more technical aspects of photography, this review of older work can be seen as, if nothing else, an impassioned plea for the use of RAW data! Though I certainly don’t want to rehash the wearisome RAW vs. JPEG debate, one fact remains undeniably true; software has improved substantially within the last seven years! When I began my transition to digital capture (2008), Adobe Systems Inc. (of ‘Photoshop’ fame) had introduced, one year earlier, version 1 of its newest image processor, ‘Lightroom’. At present, we Lightroom users are waiting with bated breath for the release of Lightroom 6. Within these seven years, Lightroom has developed tremendously in quality, competency, and diversity. Even its basic image pipeline (what Lightroom calls their ‘process versions’) has gone through three generational improvements. Everything one could do with version 1 can be done better with the present version (v5.7.1), and much which is now doable wasn’t even possible with Lightroom 1. And the same can be said about virtually every post processing editor available today! I never could have processed these 7 year old photographs as you see them here if I hadn’t had access to all the RAW data which was recorded at the moment of capture! Whatever advantages JPEGs offer (and there certainly are some), every photographer should seriously consider the consequences involved in denying oneself of the RAW data generated by every exposure one makes (even if one's camera is set to produce JPEGs). If need be, any RAW converter can produce, with the ease of a mouse click, a JPEG in size and quality of your choice. All the photographs you find in my galleries are JPEGs, produced however after editing and processing, and uploaded to my website at SmugMug directly from Lightroom. A word to the wise; be able to take advantage of future software developments by shooting RAW and safely archiving your RAW data.

And as always, enjoy the photographs!