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|We owe it to future generations to save a record of today|
OTHP's stock photo library covers four continents and over 30 countries.
also features a section of fine prints.
I was having dinner at Mamma Mariaís in the Sydney suburb of Newtown celebrating the arrival of a new grand daughter with several members of my family recently and noticed a number of people with digital cameras and camera phones taking lots of photographs.
It was a busy night at the restaurant and there were several large groups of people so the place was humming. But one table in particular was the main action for photography (apart from my own of course) and I watched with interest as people clicked away and then showed the results on their camera or mobile phone screen. They were having a great time.
Not so long ago people would have used point and shoot film cameras and would have dropped the film in for processing the next day at a one-hour lab, a chemist or camera shop in the shopping mall.
The result would have been one or maybe two sets of prints, one for the album and one set for giving to friends and there would have been a permanent record of the happy occasion.
As I took photographs at our table, including the new baby, I knew that I would load them onto my computer, put them in the file reserved for family photographs, would e-mail some of the best and make some prints as well. After all, I have photographs going back to the early 1900s of family members and I want the tradition to continue.
But getting back to the happy group on the next table, it was great to see them crowding round the camera, looking at the screen and enjoying the experience, even marvelling at the technology. But, I wondered what would happen to the photographs they were taking. Those taken on what looked to be a fairly sophisticated digital camera would no doubt be of good quality. Those taken on various camera phones would be fun but of less quality.
So how many of the photographs taken that night would end up as prints and would be preserved for future generations? Not many I suggest. This is one of the drawbacks with digital but the advent of do-it-yourself machines at the chemist, photo stores and even major electrical outlets that also sell digital cameras, means itís become easier to get prints made at a very reasonable cost, so maybe the situation will be saved.
How long these prints will last is another matter. If weíre printing them at home using archival techniques, we can expect them to last at least as long as the prints from one-hour labs Ė probably a lot longer. Placed in an album away from bright lights, they will certainly have a good chance of survival. Enlargements made on archival paper with good quality inks in a decent printer will last well even on display provided they are behind glass and are not bleached by direct sunlight.
Itís important that these memories and events be preserved for future generations. We are lucky to have available in the public domain and in our own family albums wonderful documentary photographs that show how we lived in the 20th century. Many of these are in black and white and show Australians going about their business, enjoying holidays, major political and sporting events. The same applies to other countries that have similar collections.
So itís up to us to ensure that those generations which will follow ours will have access to photographs documenting our lifestyle so they can look and marvel at our activities as we have enjoyed seeing those involving our grandparents and parents.
I have cameras in my collection that are more than 100 years old that still work perfectly, although I confess I donít actually use them any more. But the point is, these cameras still work. How many of todayís digital cameras will be land fill in a few years and how many will still be working in 100 years?
Donít get me wrong, I am totally converted to digital photography and have been for several years. I donít miss the darkroom and more particularly the chemicals required to process film and prints. I just wish improvements to the technology wouldnít keep occurring and making my current digital SLR out of date when itís barely two years old.
Over The Horizon Publications - Tony Miller
I am a journalist and photographer with more than 45 years experience in newspapers and radio and as a public affairs officer with Australiaís overseas information service. I worked on newspapers and BBC Radio in the UK, on the China Mail in Hong Kong, on the Mount Isa Mail and then the North-West Star in Mount Isa and on The Canberra Times before joining Australiaís overseas information service. During the next 24 years I served in postings at Bangkok, Wellington, Brussels and New York where I was responsible for planning and maintaining Australia's public affairs programs in those countries. I have operated Over The Horizon Publications since I retired from DFAT in January 1997 when the department's public affairs unit was disbanded.
Today my major interests revolve around digital photography and I recorded events in and around Weston Creek for three years since 18 January 2003 Ė the day the bush fires devastated the region. I stopped after the Bush Fire Memorial was opened. The site contains a number of my photographs from this continuing event. This web site contains many of the photographs I took over the three years..
I have been using digital cameras for the past 12 years or so Ė initially a Nikon Coolpix 990 followed by the Canon EOS D60 and then the 40D. I am now using the Canon 5D Mark II with its full frame censor, which is an amazing camera.
The majority of the bush fire photos were taken with the Canon D60, although a number were taken on the Nikon. The photographs were processed using Photoshop 7 and later, Photoshop CS. I am currently using Photoshop CS5. My point-and-shoot camera today is the Panasonic TZ3, which goes everywhere with me.
Part of the OTHP web site featuring the bush fires has been down-loaded by the Australian National Library to be part of its PANDORA permanent collection of electronic material and the Library has bought a number of the photographs for its permanent collection. The National Library of Australia aims to build a comprehensive collection of Australian publications to ensure that Australians have access to their documentary heritage now and in the future. The Library has traditionally collected items in print, but it is also committed to preserving electronic publications of lasting cultural value.
The PANDORA (Preserving and Accessing Networked Documentary Resources of Australia) Archive was set up by the Library in 1996 to enable the archiving and provision of long-term access to online Australian publications. Since then it has been identifying online publications and archiving those that it considers to have national significance. Additional information about PANDORA can be found on the Library's server at: http://pandora.nla.gov.au/index.html
Over The Horizon Publications has provided public relations advice to a number of clients, gaining valuable publicity for their organisation. It has also produced articles and photographs for various government departments including the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Department of Veteran's Affairs, the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, the Australian Bureau of Statistics and has written scripts for videos and radio programs produced for DFAT, the Canberra Hospice and others.
OTHP has produced and published two books, Guide to Locating Missing Persons in Asia and the Sub-Continent, produced to help the many family and friends of people who go missing each year, written by a father who has searched for his daughter missing in India for more than eight years, and The Boy from Benlidi, the autobiography of Bob Williamson, which covered his boyhood days in outback Queensland, his army service in World War II, both in Australia and New Guinea, and his life in Mount Isa, where he built his own house, making all the bricks himself.
OTHP has also produced and published various manuals for Canberra Visual Media Consultants courses including Script to Screen, Learn How to Communicate Effectively in 60 Minutes a Week, and Stage Management for Speakers.