Digital Native or Digital Immigrant

In Glen Rand’s “Capture“, he makes an interesting point that when trying to understand how digital photography works, you’re either a “Digital Native” or a “Digital Immigrant”.  “Digital Natives” used technology as their first “camera”, whether a phone, digital point and shoot, or other types of electronic cameras.  “Digital Immigrants”, on the other hand, migrated from film into digital.  Rand’s biggest point between the two groups is that Digital Immigrants (generally speaking) while bringing with them an understanding of photographic techniques, metering, understanding lighting, etc, needed to make the transition from film to digital.  Digital Natives, having grown up in the digital world intuitively understand digital photography and it’s capabilities “without a history in film-based photography” but are quite successful nonetheless.  While Digital Immigrants are also successful in digital photography they had to first make the transition from film techniques to digital techniques, for, as Rand puts it, the “differences may be profound”.

By Rand’s definition, I’m definitely a “Digital Immigrant” and my son is a “Digital Native” but with a twist.  While he started out in film, it was never his forte but he intuitively grasped digital photography like he had only been in the digital world.  My photographs are more traditional in scope; his are edgy.  I use digital technology (with one major exception) as a digital “darkroom” to bring out the image I see in my mind just as I did in a chemical darkroom.  He uses digital technology to it’s full capability and produces some truly amazing images.  I’m a Photoshop kindergartner while he’s a Photoshop whiz.

The biggest difference between us is how we approach certain shots, especially when using studio lights.

While we approach our photographs with a different mindset at the end of the day, it’s the photograph that counts; we just took different paths to arrive.  When we collaborate on a studio setup, whether for objects or portraits, our approach is radically different.  I tend to meter the lighting, adjusting until I get the balance I’m looking for, while he would rather set the lights up, take test shots, adjust and move out.  We’re both on the same page when it comes to the lighting set up, it’s the metering where we different.

In some ways his method works and I’ll admit I tend to do some of that my self.  On location, however, I still tend to meter to make sure I have the right lighting ratio.

While we approach our photographs with a different mindset, at the end of the day, it’s the photograph that counts; we just took different paths to arrive.  I enjoy working with my son.  It can be frustrating at times but we both learn from each other in what works and what doesn’t.

My first digital foray was with a friend’s point n’ shoot.  Using that camera was an eye opener for me as I immediately realized the possibilities of shooting digital.  The camera had macro capabilities and, as my wife was keeping bees at the time, we pulled some frames out of the hive and I took some close ups – here’s two, one showing bee larva in honeycomb and the other of a queen cell in the honeycomb.  Oh, it was a warm day, we were calm when handling photographing the bees, and we weren’t wearing any protective gear.

In the first image, the bee eggs are visible and as you look from top to bottom you can see the developing eggs from just the egg, the eggs with royal jelly for nutrition, and finally towards the bottom fully developed larva being sealed to continue their growth into the bees they will be.  I find this image quite fascinating.

Honeycomb with Eggs and Larva

Queen cell in a honeycomb

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