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Excuse me, your lens cap is on!

August 2, 2012 - Michael Palmer
I have been watching the olympics and from a photographer's stand point it is very interesting. While the athletes and coaches are under the lights of the world media, I have been watching the “professionals” in the photo boxes as they snap away with their $5000 cameras in burst mode.

The one incident that stands out is a man decked out in the whole photo guru outfit with the khaki multi pocketed vest who looked puzzled as his camera produced no images. He would depress his button expecting 18 frames per second of reaction photos during the men's gymnastics events then look puzzled as nothing came up on his viewer.

After, I will say conservatively 45 seconds of this charade, he finally realized what the worldwide television audience should have already been aware of, the lens cap was still on. Can we all chant together, “ROOKIE!”

Have we really dropped to that new low?

I know that the advancement of technology and automatic exposure and focus has made the former skill position of photographer obsolete, but come on!

It was embarrassing enough to see a 12 year old with a Nikon D4 with a AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II sporting press credentials at an Ohio State football game.

This guy is getting credentials for sideline seats to the olympics as a professional photo-journalist and he is puzzled by a lens cap? Unbelievable.

This was once a proud profession where men and women armed with light meters and flash bulbs went out into the world with no automatic functions, no burst mode, no instant images on a view screen and struggled to manually focus on the action in their eyepiece or viewfinder.

Then it was off to the darkroom where through the magic of chemistry, it would finally be revealed, the photo you hoped you had was indeed there on the negative, properly exposed and in focus.

I hope I don't seem bitter. It is a wonderful thing that so many people can now share in my passion and enjoy the thrill of capturing a still image.

The reality is that these same advances in photography have made the former breed of professional photographer as relevant as elevator operators and type setters. The new breed of professional photographer is sometimes less skilled - but just as much in danger of disappearing.

Like those professions, this one will eventually go extinct as video technology advances. There are a few devices that currently allow single frames of video to be captured and reproduced as photos. As the quality of these captured frames goes up, the Still Photographer will join the ranks of milkmen, switchboard operators and ice men.

So what now?

I need to work on my video skills. I really have a hard time holding the camera still while I record video.


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