Two weeks ago I mentioned that you would get surprised when you made photographs that required developing. That post got me to reminiscing about the “good old days (which, were highly overrated, I think). I would often postpone developing negatives because developing sheet film negatives was a huge pain in the rear. I was very good at developing sheet film in mass quantities (think twenty sheets at a time) because I just hated developing film. By postponing the inevitable development I had more time to fantasize about how great my photographs would really be. Then when I had to confront the reality of my negatives and prints I was depressed. This type of behavior effectively throttled my photographic output. Dreading the arduous task of film developing kept me from completing work.
We know that the only way to produce more is to do more, so when I converted (evolved?) to digital photography from large format film photography I saw a huge increase in the amount of photography I was completing. I think this is because I no longer have to wait to see results. There are no more surprises. I have done a lot more photography in the past four or five years than I have in the previous thirty five. I also think I have done much better photography in the past five years than in the previous thirty five.
I am not sure if the improvement in photographic quality and quantity can be attributed to the digital domain, the increased number of photographs I have made or the experience I have accumulated in forty years of photography. At this point I don’t think it is possible to experimentally determine which of the three reasons is responsible for improvement, but at least I can have some fun with thought experiments on the topic.