There aren't many job opportunities out there for carburetor mechanics in the age of fuel injectors.
Nor will you find many help-wanted listings for rotary dial phone repair technicians.
An IBM Selectric typewriter, PC or Mac? You make the call.
And you certainly would not want to drive on the old-fashioned solid-rubber tires of the horseless carriage era instead of those smooth-riding, steel-belted radials unless, of course, you own a vintage Model T.
Indeed, a great innovation today easily can be outmoded tomorrow.
Which brings us to the photo lab and specifically its darkroom on the Modesto Junior College West Campus. Darkroom? Really? Isn't a darkroom a place where they used to develop film? With all of those chemicals and stuff?
Isn't film considered obsolete in these days of digital photography?
The answers are yes, yes and yes. Even so, retiring photography instructor Doug Smith contends, it's a favorite class among the school's art department students and an art form worth preserving. The program has remained so popular, he said, that it sticks around by popular demand even though it barely avoided becoming a budget casualty last year. And it's getting tougher and tougher to find darkroom supplies.
"Almost all of the color films are pretty much gone," he said. "Paper is almost obsolete."
So why do his students most of whom were raised on changing-by-the-day technology like film photography? Why do they enjoy the darkrooms instead of editing digital photos on a computer screen?
"It's an adventure," student Matthew Anderson said. "You take the picture and you don't know what's going to happen until you go into the darkroom and watch it come to life."
No knock on digital photography, Smith said. In fact, he said, he shoots digitally and admits that for virtually all practical purposes, it is better. The fully automatic point-and-shoot digital cameras enable novices to take very good photos, even accidentally.
But what have those novices really learned about photography from an artistic standpoint? Not as much as they would if they shoot with film, Smith said.
"You learn about f-stops and shutter speeds," he said, and developing techniques that digital photography editing simply can't match.
Earlier this week, his students printed 30-by-30-inch black-and-white mural photos, all shot on film cameras.
But with Smith's impending retirement after 25 years at the school, even he wonders how much longer the color and black-and-white film program can survive. He'll be moving to Oregon in just a few months. MJC will hire a temporary instructor for the 2013-14 school year, Smith said, but after that, it's anyone's guess.
"I would be disappointed (if the program ceased)," he said. "I wouldn't be doing it if I didn't think it offered the students a great opportunity."
Smith's first-year students are required to do black-and-white self-portraits, and he can thumb through an amazing array of photos.
"It's truly an art form," student Anderson said. "It doesn't discredit digital. As much time as they spend in front of the computer screen, we spend in a darkroom. But to me, it's learning the basics, the ground level."
That will make them better digital photographers as well, Smith said.
"I'm not just an old guy teaching photography in an old way," he said. "After the first semester, they're already thinking critically about what they want (the photos) to say. They will have learned aesthetics and they'll know how to use a camera."
Which is why he hopes MJC's darkroom doesn't go, well, dark.
Jeff Jardine's column appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays in Local News. He can be reached at email@example.com, @jeffjardine57 on Twitter or at (209) 578-2383.