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American Society of Landscape Architects


February 2005 Issue

The End of an Era
As a familiar technology becomes obsolete, an academic considers the relative advantages of digital photos.

By Stephen Ervin

The End of an Era
Jean Hin/, symbol added by staff

Slides are going the way of vinyl records. I have been aware of this trend for some time, but it really came home to me this summer when I carried my roll of 35 mm film to the nearby photo finishing shop and the young man behind the counter said, "Sorry, we donít process E6 (color slides) anymore—not enough demand."

This shop had, two years ago, added a service whereby it would return a Photocd and contact sheet, along with the actual slides, for a small extra charge. And I had used this service—I like having digital images for various purposes, including posting on the web. This process was always easier and usually higher fidelity than scanning the slides myself on a Nikon CoolScan scanner. But I had considered the digital images as useful side effects, not the main attraction. I have always highly valued my 35 mm slide collection, which I started as a mere hobby, then developed while earning my MLA at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. But it became a professional necessity when I started teaching landscape architecture design and technology. Even though Iíve been immersed in digital image technology for just about as long as it has been around, Iíve never been convinced that the state of the art was (yet) a sufficient substitute for good old celluloid and silver.

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