Salt Lake Valley schools and shops adapt to changes in the photo industry

Story and slideshow by RIKKI ALLIE

Digital photography has taken the photo scene by storm and is changing the dynamic of both classrooms and photo shops in the Salt Lake City Valley.

Frank Langheinrich, East High School film photography teacher, talked about how the increase in digital photography has changed the dynamic of his classroom.

Students are coming in to his classes without the knowledge of how to use simple point-and-shoot cameras. Students do not know how to adjust the outcome of a picture from a point-and-shoot, including how to change the shutter-speed for action shots.

Langheinrich learned photography during family road trips. His dad would take him and his brother on weekend trips and would stop the car when he saw a good photo subject. Langheinrich would get tired of sitting in the back seat with his brother, so his dad bought him a small 35mm camera and showed him how to use it.

Langheinrich said he chooses to still teach analog photography because photo galleries prefer silver gelatin prints. They are more archival and last many years. Digital photography can be printed but the ink used is not proven to last for many years; it fades easily and can be smeared.

But it is so expensive to operate the film lab because of  the chemicals used for both developing film and printing the pictures, the school district is remodeling East High photo lab to have more computers. The photo lab would only have three to four enlargers — a projector used to enlarge a negative onto photographic paper — instead of the eight to 10 that the school has now.

According to National Geographic, photography dates back to the early 1800s. The first known photograph was taken with an obscura camera. This camera is different than a 35mm camera because instead of a negative film strip there is a piece of photo paper behind a covered pinhole. When the hole is uncovered the light is let into the box and a picture is imprinted on the photo paper. Once the photo paper is developed in chemicals a picture is revealed.

The first camera was released in 1888. The camera had a strip of film that could take 100 pictures. When a roll of film was full with pictures, photographers would send the entire camera and the film to be developed, according the website. Once the pictures were developed, the camera, along with a whole new roll of film, would be delivered back to the camera owner.

The 35mm camera was developed in 1913-1914. The camera gets its name from its reduced film size. Photographers would then enlarge the photo once the negatives were developed, according to National Geographic.

The first digital camera came out in the mid-1970s once Kodak scientists invented the world’s first megapixel sensor. This meant that light could be converted to digital photography, according to the website.

With all this advancement it isn’t surprising that people are starting to depend on the preprogrammed settings to take care of the technical part of the photo. This includes both the shutter speed and lighting.

Genna Boss-Barney, a student at Salt Lake Community College, took an introduction to photography class in spring of 2011. She said the class covered the basic information about both film and digital photography.

Once the class was over she realized she had known nothing about her digital camera. She hadn’t even known how to change the settings on her camera to make the pictures look better before it was taken.

“We learned about how to work the controls [aperture and shutter speed] on both cameras,” Boss-Barney said.

Unlike East High, which is being remodeled for a smaller wet lab — the workspace that uses chemicals to develop film — SLCC will be moving the wet lab from the Redwood extension to the South Jordan extension to expand the lab space.

“Sadly our wet lab was under construction, so we weren’t able to learn that part of the developing,” Boss-Barney said.

Students were advised to take their film to Inkley’s Camera. It was not recommended to go to Walgreens or Walmart. Boss-Barney said her professor told his students that the quality of those mass-produced prints would not be as good as the prints from Inkley’s.

Like Langheinrich, Boss-Barney’s teacher focused a majority of the term on digital photography.

“I don’t know if it was because we had no wet lab, so it was just a hassle to get the film developed or because he was more passionate about the digital aspect,” Boss-Barney said.

She said that even though the class has been moved to the South Jordan extension, it would be worth the drive to take it again. It was an interesting class and has helped with her digital photography hobby.

Though classes for analog photography are still in Salt Lake Valley, over the past few years it has become less popular. Borge Anderson, local owner of Borge Anderson Photo Digital in Salt Lake City, said on average, they are only using the wet lab about 10 percent of the time.

“We are completely digital,” Anderson said.

Once the film is developed it is digitally scanned to digitize the negatives onto the computer. The prints are then made from those scans. Anderson and his employees do not use enlargers to create photos anymore.

Not only has the developing and printing process changed, but Anderson’s business has changed too. He has gone from 33 employees to only eight in the past five years. Anderson is planning on retiring and the shop will be closing down.

“Unless the employees want to keep it running,” Anderson said. “But that hasn’t been decided at this moment.”

If his shop closes, there will be fewer than 10 shops in the Salt Lake City area that develop film on site.

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