I love technology but I think we sometimes lose our creativity to it.
I have always taken all the photographs we put in the Tuscan Enterprises catalogue, (and then, later on, the ones used for the websites) since we started our Villa Rental business some 30 years ago. I remember my first camera was a simple Minolta and all settings were by hand – no TTL, no automation except an exposimeter, and all settings written down for use in similar situations. I still have a lot of those photographs and some are among the best ones we have ever used in the catalogue.

I admit that I did get some decent training in photography from my maternal grandfather, who was a professional photographer and had been apprenticed as a young boy to the famous Alinari Photographers in Florence. He had all the camera settings memorized in his brain and knew exactly what to do in whatever situation or condition. Speed and F-stops were his daily bread and we still have some great photos taken by him during the 10 year period when he was the official ship photographer for the Costa Cruise ship lines. We are going back a good 40 years here.

Anyway, as soon as the first semi-automatic Minolta came out, it was mine and then I spent a small fortune in buying flashes, lenses of all kinds and really learning the basics of modern photography. Mind you, nothing to do with portraits, but everything to do with landscapes, houses, interior decorations, and all those things so necessary to a Villa rental catalogue such as we produce.

In the course of the years, I bought three new SLR Minoltas – ending up with the 800SI DYNAX that, together with my trusty METZ flash has done very well by me and continues to hold a warm spot in my heart. But, as time progressed, I kept waiting for Minolta to follow Canon, Sony, Nikon, and the others and come out with its own Digital Camera. It never happened, as the company wound up on the verge of bankruptcy and was bought up by Sony.

I finally decided to buy a Digital Camera this year and was all set on a Canon 50D, and ready to dish out a small fortune for new lenses, but when I walked into the “Fotoamatore” shop in Siena, with a lens in one hand and a forlorn look on my face, the young shop manager told me to cheer up and to buy the Sony 550 Alpha because Sony had made sure that all the Minolta owners could switch to Sony and continue to use their expensive lenses on its models.

I think this was the greatest and nicest surprise of the year for me. So he packed up the little jewel, gave me a new Metz flash as mine was not compatible with the new camera, loaded me up with a couple of boxes of instructions, CD’s, battery packs and a complimentary lens and trundled me on my way, having spent about a third of what I had expected. So I was beaming when I took my new camera out of the box, assembled the pieces according to instructions, charged the battery pack and also the flash’s battery pack. I was ready to rumble.

I then made the mistake of picking up the instruction book. It is a small booklet, but super thick and almost totally incomprehensible. The camera has something like 150 different functions, each dial or wheel does a variety of things and you can practically make fresh coffee with it. But the reasoning behind it is really a bit daunting. So, I set the camera to automatic and took a few shots.

Hey, they were really great!! Then I attached the flash and wondered what settings I would have to put using the manual system, but decided to take a few internal shots just to see what came out and the camera whirred and made funny noises, flashed and the pictures were better than anything I ever did using my manual settings in the past.

So, the art of modern digital photography, apparently, is to put your camera on automatic and just point at stuff and click the button. The camera does the rest. Great for those who use it for work, like myself, and need to do a lot of photos quickly without having to do too much retouching with Photoshop on them afterwards, but….you know, I think it has taken away all the creativity that I remember my grandfather used to put into his work. It wasn’t just a photograph for him – it was the immortalization of a precise moment in time. I think his pictures will go on being appreciated forever; while my more consumeristic ones will last the short time they are really needed and then be forgotten.

The picture of the camera was taken with my Iphone. The other pictures are tests taken with the Sony itself.

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