Friday, January 20, 2012

A True Developing Story

This morning I read with a twinge of sadness the news that Eastman Kodak has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Kodak and I go back a long way, to the mid-60s at least, when I was discovering the craft of photography while studying journalism in college. Photojournalism 101 was one of the requirements for my major, and I learned how to develop film and print photographs. In fact, as a graduate student, I taught other students how to do that.

At the time, Kodak was the undisputed leader among film manufacturers. I dabbled with Fuji, Agfa and other films, but Kodak was always my favorite – as it was for most people.

I remember an assignment to take photos that demonstrated mastery of depth of field, in which portions are intentionally in focus and portions are purposely out of focus. That day I went out with my girlfriend, walking around campus and taking pictures I confidently thought would be perfect for the task.

Only one problem: When I developed the film, it was clear. I’d failed to thread the film properly, so it never was exposed. Although the shutter had opened and closed whenever I pressed the button, the film hadn’t been pulled through to capture any images.

From that day on, even after becoming the editor of newspapers and a magazine, when people asked me, “Did you get any good pictures?”, I would respond, “I’ll let you know when I get the film developed.”

Kodak’s announcement was inevitable. And I’m among those indirectly to blame. Several years ago I bought my first digital camera and became an instant convert. I could see immediately whether I’d succeeded in capturing the intended image. No more waiting for film to be developed and photos printed. And the versatility of digital photography was far superior to the limitations of specific film speeds, black and white or color.

So from that day, I never bought another roll of film or shot photos using an “old-fashioned” film camera. Frankly, with the technology where it is today, I’m somewhat surprised anyone shoots with film anymore.

This just proves the truth of Ecclesiastes 3:1, which tells us, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.”

 For instance, in journalism school I learned to write news stories on a manual Remington Rand typewriter; years later I obtained an electric typewriter and thought it was incredible. That is until I received my first computer – my typewriter was discarded days later.

Particularly in the realm of technology, everything has its “season,” and sometimes it’s not very long. We don’t use 8-track tapes or even cassette tapes anymore; TVs don’t have picture tubes. We can even watch films online, bypassing the need for DVDs.

We’re accustomed to things having a given lifespan. Canned and bottled foods show expiration dates. For people who still buy newspapers, the date at the top of the page essentially informs us today it’s just “old news” (compared to broadcast and Internet reports); tomorrow it will become history.

Thankfully, for people of faith, there is one exception to the “time for everything…a season for everything.” Hebrews 13:8 tells us, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” He never changes – and will never go out of date. And that’s good news!

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