Monday, February 6, 2012

Warfare and photographic equipment

I have known people who collected or liked to use old guns, knives and cameras.  I have a neighbor, for example, who belongs to a black powder club.  Not only do they have shooting competitions, but they periodically dress up in Civil War or Frontier clothing.  A longing for earlier, less complicated times is understandable.  Also, to collect old weapons has always had its appeal, but there is considerable angst in the photographic world in regard to leaving beloved 35mm cameras and moving into the digital world.  There are still some diehards that refuse to move, but their numbers are dwindling.   Others acquire digital cameras and then feel guilty about them.  They long for the times when you had only 24 or 36 shots and needed to concentrate on making everyone count – sort of like the days when a father would send his son out to hunt squirrels with a single-shot 22, a handful of cartridges, and similar instructions.

In the battle at Waterloo, Wellington and Napoleon and many of their officers made serious mistakes. The potentially critical analyst needs to be reminded that they had very little technology back then. Neither side had any way for spying on the enemy.  Wellington said, "All the business of war, and indeed all the business of life, is to endeavour to find out what you don't know by what you do; that's what I call 'guessing what is on the other side of the hill'."

Modern generals, don't need to guess what's on the other side of the hill. They can check satellite or drone images and see. This of course means that no modern general can ever prove himself to be as good as Wellington or Napoleon at guessing what's on the other side of the hill.

Shall we give up our modern technology, go back to film cameras in order to be purists, "guessing what's on the other side of the hill"? Modern military officers still read the details of Waterloo and second guess Wellington and Napoleon, but if there is a war and they are called to fight it they will use modern technology. The same may be true for most of us. It is nice to take down the old 35mm camera from time to time, but for the "business of life" we are going to use modern technology.

1 comment:

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