Color Photography

A5. Canon. Early winter, New Orleans, Lousiana, 1996. An artist friend and I were scouting out galleries for a foray into the Crescent City; me as a painter, him as a sculptor. He decided to buy a small digital camera to record his work for submissions to galleries, collector contacts, and for a website he kept talking about doing. A camera shop loomed up on the right side of the street and he whipped his truck into a space, and in he went empty-handed. On departure though, he was $1680 lighter, and carrying a well-designed box which multi-folded outward on opening, extolling the virtues and capabilities of the Canon A5 positioned within.

Somewhere at home in Santa Fe, there are a few images taken while trying to crash-learn that A5. One was snapped of me by the late owner of it. It needs to be the lead image on this page!

Now, had I owned $1680 that day, I may have done the same thing. After looking at many brands, the square pixel technology, and three-color processing of the RGB system need to collect the gamut of colors on display in Nature, and Life, sold me on the Canon. For as a former graphic designer, I could easily see the advantages of square pixels to enlarging images. Most camera makers seemed to miss that logic though at the time, for all the old hallowed names, while all scrambling to the field with their version of a digital camera, were similar in one regard: they seemed to feel, very strongly, that developing their own licensable system for processing the world about us was more important than thinking about the basic tenets of digital graphics. Which, of course, was relatively new to them.

But Canon seemed to have put their trajectory-of-vision thinking caps on and got the jump on their competitors. Or so I thought after spending almost three hours in that store speaking to two salespeople, who seemed pretty flummoxed at the questions they were being asked. My friend asked my opinion, and I offered up pretty much what I just said above, and that $1680 dollars changed hands. On returning to Kit Senter’s classic bed and breakfast, the sculptor opened the packing up (revealing the ingenious multi-fold convertible nature of Canon’s instructions. It was a proto-tutorial almost. But, withing less time that it took him to talk to the salesperson, he’d proclaimed it, surrounded by about a hundred colorful epithets, “a piece of crap.” I then discovered I shouldn’t have offered my opinion when asked.

However, I also learned that a strange event was about to occur, for he then said, “Well, since you thought it was so great, you want to buy it?” That was a no, at first, for the reason cited above. Budget woes. “I’ll sell it to you for $1450.” I started playing with the camera. It was small but the controls were relatively intuitive. I did a few test shots, then one of a small painting I’d brought with me on that excursion. Showing the quality of the painted image to it’s owner, he responded again with, “Do you want to buy it?”

I looked up, factored in that not only had I designed my first website, knew that scanning conventional photos was a slow process, plus, you had to wait for your photos to be processed, at least a couple of days at that time. Cataloging my body of work was time consuming for the same reasons, and suddenly, the thought of taking a fast digital image of a painting before consigning it to a gallery, or before a buyer took hold of the art, was a great idea. You see, all of that was new at the time.

I considered my friend’s offer, and bought that camera. It served all the purposes I needed, and except for just forking over $1450 for a point-and-shoot camera, I was well pleased with my unexpected technical windfall, and thus it entered my realm of observing long before I planned to use a camera for anything at all. At that time.

From that point forward, it was a bit of a justification of ownership thing. Canon became my partner in trade, and I eventually, around 1998 I think, realized that I was limiting that little A5’s potential.

First Troll Bridge on the Left” — digital photograph
Smokemont campground, GSMNP NC