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Duncan Dodd has been within the photographic and imaging industry within Australia for 40+ years. His dedication to represent various photographic companies has provided him with a successful fulfilling career.
I first met Duncan when working in a retail store in the city of Perth, Australia quite some time ago. Throughout the years as I transitioned from retail to wholesale within the industry Duncan was alway there as a friend, photographer and mentor and someone I could look up to. His insight and networks within the photographic / imaging industry in Australia can be described as expansive and knowledgeable. Now retired, I caught up with Duncan the last time he visited Melbourne, Australia as I wanted to feature an interview to capture some of his history and wealth of knowledge he so eagerly shared.
I original trained as a Mechanical Draughtsman and in one of my roles I was appointed to take all the photographs at a nickel refinery plant using a Crown Graphic 4×5 camera. That was 46 years ago. There have been several milestones I’ve witnessed since starting out, some of these include: Aperture, Shutter & Priority modes for metering, Multi Patterned metering, Auto / TTL Flash, Inbuilt Motor drives, Auto Focus and the Advent of Digital.
If you could predict the future based on your experience where do you see photography going in the next 10 years?
Introduction and development of smaller cameras and devices such as Google glasses with more resolution. Everything will be Wi-Fi or maybe a newer faster transfer method.
As a photographer yourself what camera or equipment holds the dearest memories to you?
The Crown Graphic 4×5 which I first used, as you had to control & set everything yourself. Using a hand held meter for exposure settings, you also had to take into consideration your bellows extension etc. to make the settings on your camera. Also using Rolliecord Vb cameras with manual flashguns in the 70’s for weddings was also interesting. In the harsh contrasting light in Western Australia it was essential to use fill in flash to lighten the shadows especially as all the weddings were shot in B&W. The good thing was having leaf shutters so you could sync up to the fastest shutter speed of 1/500 sec. We used to shoot complete weddings using three roll of 120 film (36 photos) and have 8×6 (inches) proof prints at the reception.
The Nikon F is also a favourite as it was the first camera I owned that was smaller, and had interchangeable lenses and viewfinders. Another break through was the Nikon FA – it was the first with a multi pattern metering system.
What camera gear do you currently use?
I currently have a Nikon kit – D800, D7000, 14-24, 24-70, 70-200 all f2.8. 85mm 1.4, 80-400, TC 20III, SB900 & 600. I also have a 90mm Tamron macro.
I have also recently gone into the Fujifilm system for lightness and compactness, which I now use for travelling and I am really impressed with the results. I have the XT-1, X-E2, X100s & XPro-1, 10-24, 18-135, 55-200, 35 1.4, 27mm.
As an imaging industry expert what do you find is key to a successful career?
To be involved in the industry, use the equipment and keep up with all the latest developments whether it is equipment or software, which is now so important.
If someone was wanting to work for a wholesaler like Canon, Nikon, or Maxwell Optical Industries what advice would you give them in order to achieve their dream?
Be realistic that there are not many jobs available and most people already having positions stay in them for reasonably long terms. There is also a decline in the number of positions owing to the changing ways of marketing. The same criteria applies as in Q4 with the addition of marketing & sales skills. These days it is more about managing your customers business and showing how they can make profits from selling the brand(s) you represent.
Do you have a favourite photography quote you like to use or you’ve heard of?
“Pulling a good picture out of a contact sheet (Folder) is like going down to the cellar and bringing back a good bottle to share” – Henri Cartier-Bresson
In a short sentence how would you define photography these days?
The definition of Photography is “Painting with Light.”
Today’s definition should be “Painting with Photoshop” (or some other software). Images today are very rarely a true depiction of the scene or subject as it was. Images are now graphic images which have been altered to enhance features, remove blemishes / objects, or make them more dramatic. This has now become acceptable and there would not be an image out there in competitions or elsewhere that have not been manipulated in some way. The exception to this is of course the reputable newspapers that do not allow any manipulation of any sort.
Has your previous work taken you to any interesting places? Can you tell us what happened?
I have been to the USA, Germany & UK whilst involved in the wholesale industry.
For many years I specialized in underwater photography and was an Underwater Photography instructor for Nikon & Scuba Schools International and one of the most memorable trips was to Monado.
For the readers who we’re around in the time of film, can you explain what a day in the darkroom would involve? Is there something you miss about film?
It usually started by processing film in daylight tanks that had to be loaded in the dark. Funnily enough when working in the dark I usually closed my eyes as it gave you more feel for what you were doing. It was always an anxious time waiting for the film to process and pulling it out of the tank to be able to see that all your exposures were correct and that you had captured the images in the way you wanted. You would then select the images you wanted to print and place the negative/s in the enlarger.
The paper would be placed under the enlarger and until the advent of exposure measuring devices you would have to make a test strip print using different lengths of exposure on the one piece of paper to determine the exposure time to make a print. Once this was processed you could then expose your print and process it. It was always amazing and exciting to see the image appearing on the paper when in the developer.
The developing of the paper was done under a safelight (Yellow/Brown) as the paper was not sensitive to this spectrum and your paper would not become fogged. Once the paper had been fixed room lights could be turned on. It was then important to wash the prints to remove any remaining chemistry to ensure longevity of the print. If the print was to be glossy you then had to put it through a glazer machine. This had a belt on which you placed the print and this took the print face up onto a revolving highly polished heated drum (Chromed) that would dry the paper and leave it with a high gloss finish.
The prints would fall off the drum onto a tray once it had done a revolution of the drum. Dust was your biggest enemy in the darkroom and I suppose you could compare it to dust on a sensor in digital photography. As the darkroom had to be light tight you needed to have an exhaust fan to make sure you had fresh air to breath. Many darkrooms used exhaust fans that extracted air out of the darkroom but that caused dust to be sucked in. It was better to have the exhaust fan to bring filtered air into the darkroom that slightly pressurised the room forcing dust out.
If someone wanted to get in contact with you or see some of your work where could they find you?
I am now retired and I don’t currently have a web site however I can be contacted at marineimages (at) bigpond.com