Every January when the Australian Open Tennis is on, I fondly remember back to 1992 when, working for XPress Group, I was lucky enough to be handed a Press Pass and a Nikon F2 camera fitted with a new Kodak DCS-1 back. The camera, in turn, was connected to a ‘luggable’ hard disk with (B+W CRT!) preview function that stored, from memory, about 120 images at 2048px along the longest edge. The hard disk could also accept a keyboard and voiceband modem that allowed images to be sent to news photo repositories and syndicated worldwide within … well, within an hour or so! It was amazing technology for the time – bear in mind that the Mosaic browser wasn’t released for another 15 months!
If you look at this photo, you’ll see some pretty massive compression artefacts as well as a wild colour balance issue (that purple is supposed to be royal blue!), but the product was aimed at the fast turnaround press environment (believe me, you couldn’t afford this kit at home!), and given the low resolutions involved and the fact that no newspapers were printed in colour, these technical issues were not big obstacles.
My task was to get the ‘real’ press photographers interested in it and teach them how to use it if they were interested. It was a great tool, probably the biggest issue was the shutter delay. You really had to fire in anticipation – about half a second ahead, otherwise you missed your moment.
In the end, a photo I took of Jim Courier holding aloft the cup was posted on the ‘wire’ and was picked up by the Canberra Times, appearing on the back page the next day – the first digital photograph to appear in any Australian Newspaper.
My highilight, though, was Monica Seles – one of the most fiercely determined women I’ve ever seen. Great fun.