I know that film photography and Emacs are completely unrelated, but I have been thinking about both of them quite a lot recently.
Since moving back to shooting film in 2003, I have regular thoughts of switching to all-digital again. It’s just easier. I have rooms full of “stuff” in support of film photography, and things would become so much faster and easier without all of that. A nice digital camera, a good RAW editor, an inkjet printer, and some hard drives, and I’m all set.
And yet, I still enjoy shooting film and have found it impossible to quit. I like how film looks, I enjoy working in the darkroom, and I love my Leica rangefinder cameras. Having binders full of negatives sitting on my shelves is a comfort to me. They’re real, you know? I prefer real things.
In a completely different arena, I would like to stop using Emacs for everything. The great benefit of Emacs, that it can be anything and do everything, is for me also its greatest drawback. I can’t stop futzing with it. And I can’t stop trying to use it for freaking everything all the time. I just need to write stuff and keep track of some tasks. Why then do I use it to read email, RSS feeds, Mastodon, and whatever other things I can shoehorn into what should be a simple text editor?
So, I frequently fire up Obsidian, BBEdit, Logseq, Roam, iA Writer, TheBrain, Tinderbox, and oh right, none of these does the things Emacs and Org-mode can do quite as efficiently and with so much flexibility. After a few days away, I end up back in Emacs and farting around with capture templates or trying to decide between Denote and Org-roam.
The truth is that I’ll probably always shoot film and I’ll probably always use Emacs. I just wish that I could convince myself of this, then move on and actually do something creative or useful with them.
Perhaps the darkroom process is more similar to Emacs than you realize. In the darkroom you can dodge and burn-in areas of the print to tease out details that although digital can do this, it seems less engaging because the digital filter uses an algorithm you may not understand as well as directly manipulating the light. Likewise I find the same feeling of accomplishment when I can manipulate Emacs to tease out a solution I’m looking for and in the process I get better at it over time.
I had to give up the darkroom in the garage as I started woodworking more and those two hobbies clash as one generates lots of dust and dust just destroys the darkroom experience.
Your comparison is completely accurate! The difference for me is that I stopped worrying about perfecting my darkroom technique. For a while I would fret over every detail and it took the fun out of it. I mostly make simple work prints and those often end up “final”. I’m hoping I can do the same thing with Emacs 😁.