DPP Home Profiles Eric Meola - Last Places On Earth

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Eric Meola - Last Places On Earth

Eric Meola's highly personal book project is the result of a photographic odyssey that began long before digital cameras came on the scene.

Since he was shooting film, one of the ongoing questions to be answered during the project was deciding how much of it to take to any given locale.

“Some countries demanded 10 times as much film as others,” says Meola. “It was a guessing game, but I tended to travel with 200 rolls. I'd get to a city, leave the bulk of the film there and take a certain amount with me everyday. I brought the film back with me rather than shipping it, as there was no reliable airfreight. The sheer bulk of traveling with film that required an additional hand-carried suitcase to avoid X-ray security checks, combined with the ongoing hassle of explaining why I was carrying all that film to customs officials would make using digital preferable to film—it wasn't unusual to get into some country at three o'clock in the morning to be greeted by a guy with a big smile asking me for $700 to clear customs.”

It's freedom from film and the ability to photograph without having to take scores of pictures that has made Meola a digital convert.

“Editing on the LCD saves time and energy,” says Meola. “I can carry one or two CompactFlash cards and shoot for an entire day, taking the equivalent of 10, 20 or 30 rolls of film, but because I'm editing out the rejects, 20 rolls is really what 80 rolls would have been. I still tend not to edit on the spot because it interferes with the connection between my subject and me. I prefer reviewing images an hour or so later back in the hotel. The LCD is a terrific tool, not so much for the editing as the opportunity to see the images and get instant feedback. I used to be against even the instant feedback, but now that I've become used to it, doing anything else seems archaic.

“Part of what I'm testing now is the viability of taking a laptop with me to backup and download on location. Ideally, I'd bring a laptop, but then the delicacies of battery issues would necessitate my being near a hotel to plug it in. Just a couple of months ago, I took my Canon EOS-1Ds, a couple of lenses and a couple of CompactFlash cards and was very happy with what I got.”

The digital side to The Last Places On Earth is really in the output. Meola has scanned the film and created digital master files from which the book was printed and from which his gallery prints are being generated.

“All of my prints going forward will be digital because modern printers such as the Epson 7600 make archival prints,” he says. “With accelerated light testing—exposing a print to 100 times the amount of light that would ordinarily fall on it during the course of a year—it has been concluded that today's digital prints will last for up to 100 years, which certainly parallels the longevity of paper.”


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