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George Kara
28-Mar-2007, 13:39
For me digital has been an excellent learning tool to understand how to envision and capture an image. For years I took family photos etc but never had the skill set to know why some images were successful and others werent.

From the knowledge learned through digital, I find myself now shooting almost exclusively on film, I love having the choice of media for image capture.

The quality of my photos has most certainly improved.

I doesnt seem that photography overall has reached a new level of artistic expression however.

In my opinion lots of commercial digital photos are simply cliches repeated endlessly. Do you think that amatuer and professional photobraphy have improved since the digital age?

Ash
28-Mar-2007, 14:00
digital has helped me in very few aspects:

Killing the film market (well, maiming it significantly) puts high-end gear in an amateur's price bracket
It's great for disposable photography, where quality and hard copies are not necessary
Instant shots for not-so-disposable photo's, but ones that you don't want to wait to be processed


otherwise I'm not really sure what benefits I've seen through digital. Gotta say I learnt everything I know (and am still learning) through film, and through working out HOW to make the image properly. On digital everything becomes an exercise in post-processing

Bill_1856
28-Mar-2007, 14:04
It's too soon to tell. I think that it will take a whole generation of digital photographers to decide if the pictures are any better than those of older generations. My guess is that it will make a significant improvement, both in the art and the craft.

photographs42
28-Mar-2007, 14:37
Everyone has his or her own opinion about what’s good and what isn’t. Some images have a universal appeal and some are liked by only a few. The tools used to make the universally appealing ones are not as important as the vision of the people who make them.

My experience is sort of the reverse of yours. I have used LF for about 25 years. I do 5x7 Black & White for my personal work (mostly landscapes) and Color for Architectural work. A few years ago I switched to mostly using a digital SLR for the Architectural work. To help me over the learning curve I frequently visited a Forum dealing primarily with DSLR’s. The digital camera is an amazing tool. One of its biggest advantages is also one of its biggest disadvantages. It allows anyone to make reasonably good images with literally no understanding of how cameras work.

I have no inclination whatsoever to use a digital system for my personal work. My Architectural work, however, is well suited for it and in many ways it is better for that use. I need to point out here that these images are used primarly for advertising and promotion and are seldom larger than 8x10, usually smaller.

The main problem I have with digital is the mindset that goes with it. When using 4x5 transparency film, everything has to be perfect. I have spent hours getting everything just right for a single image because retouching is expensive and time consuming. With digital, I still clean, arrange, straighten, smooth and whatever else is required but there are a lot of little things that I let slide because “I can fix it in Photoshop”. That leaf or cigarette butt on the sidewalk, the piece of trash stuck under the bush, the crooked sign post or a dozen other “little” things that I wouldn’t think of leaving with film, get left to fix later. Well, that’s a choice I have, but the problem is that I have to fight to keep my mind from slipping farther and deeper into relying on Photoshop to fix things. It makes me lazy and I think my work suffers because of it.

One result of the digital age is that there are a lot more really bad images floating around than ever before.


…….
Do you think that amatuer and professional photobraphy have improved since the digital age?

No.

Jerome

paulr
28-Mar-2007, 14:39
Photography has been through so many technical upheavals and evolutions already. With each one we've lost some things and gained others. The losses are usually more immediately apparent than the gains.

The general trend has been toward the democratization of the medium, and the ever increasing ubiquity of photographic images in the world ... all for better and for worse, it seems.

The rise of digital technology promises to be just like all these previous changes, in all these same respects.

Ash
28-Mar-2007, 14:51
Photography has been through so many technical upheavals and evolutions already. With each one we've lost some things and gained others.

Strangely this forum goes to show that all the technical upheavals have not been universally successful. If any or all had been, then LF photography would no longer exist. Especially considering the age of the technology/materials we are all using for most of our work.

tim atherton
28-Mar-2007, 15:02
Strangely this forum goes to show that all the technical upheavals have not been universally successful. If any or all had been, then LF photography would no longer exist. Especially considering the age of the technology/materials we are all using for most of our work.

Not really. There is obviously a huge range of different uses for photography - LF was still the best technical (as well as aesthetic in some cases) choice for certain areas of photography until very recently

Architectural photography (which is only pretty recently losing its ground); Copy and museum photography; certain types of product and fashion.

Some of these used to use LF film by the pallet load and were the purchasers of high end studio camera (sinar, linhof, cambo etc) that were the pretty much the height of technology for those uses.

Less than 10 years ago you could have seen assistants in NY picking up box loads of loaded 8x10 film holders from labs in the morning and returning them later, from location, for processing. They were pretty much what drove the development and market of many of the best colour emulsions, for example.

Walter Calahan
28-Mar-2007, 15:03
Digital has improved photography only to the ability of the user of these new technologies.

Scott Knowles
28-Mar-2007, 15:05
I agree with a lot of what's been said about the general nature and effect of digital photography. For me personally, it has improved mine in two ways. First, getting a computer system and Photoshop a year ago has provided me an avenue to produce prints and photo cards in-house, to learn photo processing, production and printing, with years more to continue learning and improving. Second, adding a digital camera system has allowed me to expand my work into new areas in ways film was restrictive, that is the cost of film. While I still use film along side digital, the bulk now is digital for the quantity to play, test and take lots of images. Shooting a flash card full for an event is a lot cheaper than 10 rolls of film. And it's helping learn 4x5 photography. I carry my Canon digital and film cameras now when I shoot LF to record the images in other formats and medium. This is allowing me to afford 4x5 film and processing.

Scott Davis
28-Mar-2007, 15:08
I don't think in the long run it will have a significant impact on the quality of photography - it may well improve the technical execution of a snapshot in terms of color and exposure, but beyond that, the vast majority of people will never be bothered to learn how to compose or pre-visualize their subject. Even fewer will be bothered to think about how things like deviating from suggested exposure will alter their images. This is the norm now - nothing really any different. It certainly won't increase the number of "artists" working in the media who produce work worthy of the title, and I don't think it will decrease them either.

To paraphrase Edward Weston, "there are some things that can be said in digital that cannot be said in analog". The inverse corollary is of course also true.

tim atherton
28-Mar-2007, 15:10
One result of the digital age is that there are a lot more really bad images floating around than ever before.

I have a hunch this may only be so in terms of total volume. Percentage wise, I think the amount of crappy images may be about the same as it's always been. Though the other part of my hunch is that the percentage of good stuff is actually increasing slightly

paulr
28-Mar-2007, 15:17
Strangely this forum goes to show that all the technical upheavals have not been universally successful. If any or all had been, then LF photography would no longer exist. Especially considering the age of the technology/materials we are all using for most of our work.

An upheaval doesn't have to mean that something disappears ... it can just mean something falls from a place of prominence and gets replaced by something else. Once upon a time ALL cameras were large format. Now LF cameras are a tiny niche.

Gordon Moat
28-Mar-2007, 15:17
. . . . Do you think that amatuer and professional photobraphy have improved since the digital age?

I think it has largely remained the same. While a digital camera can alleviate some anxiety, maybe build confidence, or make photography seem more accessible, I think it has also shown a careless approach in many examples. Undoubtely there are just as many good images as could be made in the past, though now we have the misfortune of seeing an infinitely greater number of crap images. One nice thing about more bad examples is it allows truly good images to be more readily apparant.

I think the biggest and greatest improvement in imaging has been in lighting controls. There are lighting situations possible today that would have been more difficult 15 or more years ago. This is not so much in the technology of lighting, but that the amount of lighting power in smaller packaging has allowed new approaches. To me this has been the only obvious revolutionary change in imaging.

Some digital tools make composite images and retouching more accessible. The results might not be much different than what was possible in the past, though the investment in time and money are often less to get intriguing results. Unfortunately there are more people doing this, some really good, but also many others showing more crap.

Ciao!

Gordon Moat
A G Studio (http://www.allgstudio.com)

GPS
28-Mar-2007, 15:35
...
Do you think that amateur and professional photography have improved since the digital age?

Of course, with no doubt and very obviously the digital cameras have improved both the amateur and the professional photography! It is clearly evident in for ex. astronomical photography - thanks to the higher light sensitivity (not only) amateurs can today take pictures that they could never before! Therefore the film almost disappeared from telescope cameras! I'm always amazed to see what an amateur can produce with just simple digital P&S cameras. The same is valid for birds photography through telescopes - a great progress there too. And many other fields could be added too...

roteague
28-Mar-2007, 16:14
Do you think that amatuer and professional photobraphy have improved since the digital age?

No.

I just need to look at any magazine, regional, national or international to see the steady decrease in quality. Just last week I picked up an issue of Conde Nast Traveler - top end travel magazine, I think most would agree - to be confronted by an ad for a 5 star resort, picturing one of their rooms. The highlights were totally blown, odd colors, lack of sharpness. Really makes me want to visit their hotel, yeah....

Or, look at an ad for the Lowpro SlingShot AW as found in several UK photography magazines, again, blown highlights (the woman's hand and face is half white), odd coloration on the skin; obviously a cut and paste job, since the direction of the light on the subject doesn't even begin to match the background (a street scene in San Francisco).

Or, the front page of Outdoor Photography magazine a few months ago. A image taken in the Isle of Skye by a high-end Canon digital. Horrible picture, muddy shadows, lack of sharpness.

I've been reading photography and other magazines for many years, and have never seen anything as bad as what we see now.

Bruce Watson
28-Mar-2007, 16:21
Do you think that amatuer and professional photobraphy have improved since the digital age?

In some ways yes, in some ways no. The problem with getting a good photograph always remains in the head of the photographer. No technology is going to change that.

Kirk Gittings
28-Mar-2007, 17:29
In my opinion lots of commercial digital photos are simply cliches repeated endlessly.

That was true of film too. That is true of all art. Few people are truly creative. The only difference is there is more of it and because of the web it is more accessible and obvious.

Wayne
28-Mar-2007, 17:49
No.


Wayne

Brian Ellis
28-Mar-2007, 21:16
Much of the "serious" photography world was up in arms when George Eastman introduced roll film and small, simple cameras that anyone could use. He took photography out of the hands of a relatively small elite and made it available to the masses. Most of the same stuff you hear today about digital - it's fast and easy but it's not high quality, etc. etc. - was said back then about Eastman's roll film and small cameras. And a very strong prejudice against 35mm film existed in many photography circles well into the 1950s among people who thought that large format cameras and sheet film were the only tools capable of making good photographs (who was it, Eugene Smith maybe, that had to battle Life magazine in order to gain the right to use a 35mm camera on job assignments?). The history of photography is replete with the moans and groans of users of something old that's replaced by something new. And some day something will come along to replace digital, and then it will be the digital photographers who dump on the new technology and claim it isn't as good as digital, it's good only for snapshots, etc. etc.


As for your question, you'd have to define "improve" and "improve" for whom. But I'm pretty sure the average person who used a 35mm camera of some sort on vacations, holidays, etc. and now uses a digital camera (i.e. not the participants in this forum) would say the ability to see each photograph as it's made, the ability to immediately erase photographs that don't turn out well, the relative ease of "processing" (as compared with setting up a home darkroom to do your own or paying someone else to do it), the ability to take hundreds of photographs on one small card rather than having to buy and carry around a comparable amount of film, the ability to erase and reuse cards rather than buying new film, and the ability to store finished photographs on small discs as opposed to throwing negatives and film in shoe boxes, are all "improvements."

sparq
28-Mar-2007, 22:00
Digital makes the drill easier. That's it.

George Kara
28-Mar-2007, 22:19
Brian Ellis

Very insightful and well considered points.

George

roteague
28-Mar-2007, 22:43
As for your question, you'd have to define "improve" and "improve" for whom. But I'm pretty sure the average person who used a 35mm camera of some sort on vacations, holidays, etc. and now uses a digital camera (i.e. not the participants in this forum) would say the ability to see each photograph as it's made, the ability to immediately erase photographs that don't turn out well, the relative ease of "processing" (as compared with setting up a home darkroom to do your own or paying someone else to do it), the ability to take hundreds of photographs on one small card rather than having to buy and carry around a comparable amount of film, the ability to erase and reuse cards rather than buying new film, and the ability to store finished photographs on small discs as opposed to throwing negatives and film in shoe boxes, are all "improvements."

You mean in the same way that McDonald's has "improved" on food preparation?

Jim collum
28-Mar-2007, 23:07
good points Brian.

If there's a quality issue involved, i suspect it has more to do with the attitude of the person using the camera, rather than the camera itself. there's no inherent quality difference between the film and digital captures. I suspect, thought, that the biggest perception of lessening of quality has to to with the Internet. The number of acutal images (good or bad) available for viewing on the net is massive. Flickr averages about 2-3000 images uploaded per minute. that's a *lot*. Most of those are family photo's, snapshots.. images that previously were only seen by the immediate family. Before the web, a person's exposure to images outside of immediate family were mostly professionally done, giving a higher percentage of viewed quality.

Brian C. Miller
28-Mar-2007, 23:26
You mean in the same way that McDonald's has "improved" on food preparation?
According to a recent taste test, McDonalds beats Starbucks (although that's not difficult).

The problem I see with digital is that it is really going to accentuate the problem with families losing their mementos. Even though someone may throw away their negatives, they still have the prints. Now there aren't even prints. Or they print the pictures with their home printer, and watch the image fade away. So much for many childhood memories.

As for digital cameras, I have known many people who had problems using their film cameras, let alone a digital camera. For one fellow, he bought it to show customers his repair work. It quickly became a nightmare for him because he had to organize all the photos and print them himself, instead of dropping off a roll of film and picking up a packet of prints.

I don't know if digital photography improves anything for the casual person making snapshots. Depends on the person, and it also depends on the camera.

Does digital photography improve art? Anybody remember that guy around the turn of the century who claimed that a used urinal was art? (Marcel Duchamp, 1917 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/4059997.stm)) As long as the standards are in the mouth of the sales artist, are there standards at all?

Brian Ellis
28-Mar-2007, 23:48
You mean in the same way that McDonald's has "improved" on food preparation?

What I said (and meant) was that the "average" person who uses a camera on vacations, holidays, etc. would probably say that digital cameras represent an improvement over their film cameras. Sorry but I don't know anything about McDonald's methods of food preparation.

GPS
29-Mar-2007, 00:07
To all those that declare no improvement in photography by the digital means - just think of the medical photography impossible with any film cameras and happily done with the digital ones...

Daniel Grenier
29-Mar-2007, 05:45
Has improved my professional photography a lot. Has done nothing for my personal photography.

Wayne
29-Mar-2007, 07:32
To all those that declare no improvement in photography by the digital means - just think of the medical photography impossible with any film cameras and happily done with the digital ones...

Some people dont consider digital imaging to be photography at all. But thats another thread and its already been done.


Wayne

Jim Jones
29-Mar-2007, 08:18
My 5x7 RB Cycle Graphic with a good lens cost many week's pay almost 100 years ago. Its case is 5.5 x 10 x 16 inches and weighs about 20 lbs with six empty double glass plate holders and a No. 2 Crown tripod. It would take fine B&W photos. A DSLR is relatively inexpensive, lighter and more compact, much more convenient and versatile, and is capable of fine B&W or color photos. The DSLR shooter has even more than those 12 glass plate exposures available. Digital editing has its advantages, too. At least the bicyclist with his RB Cycle Graphic got great exercise back then. I'll stick to film, but concede that modern technology offers the possibility of shooting more and better images for the effort involved.

Neal Shields
29-Mar-2007, 08:21
In the firearms world they call it: "spray and pray".

In one extreme case a highway patrolman emptied a 13 round clip at a perp at less than 15 yards, reloaded and emptied the second clip and missed every time.

(The bad guy was using the same strategy and was also missing the patrolman)

A local cop took the bad guy down will one well placed round from a 1911 (year of design) 8 shot 45.

Properly used older proven technology will outperform modern glitz and buttons every time.

Dick Hilker
29-Mar-2007, 09:36
Yes, to the extent that more folks are now able to make fairly decent pictures themselves without having to learn the basics.

On the other hand, because the cameras have made the picture-taking process so automatic, too many newcomers with expensive gear find themselves disappointed with the results, because the process seems simpler than it really is. A while back, in a workshop we did for just such folks, I was amazed at how many with thousands of dollars worth of cameras hadn't the foggiest notion of shutter speed, aperture, depth of field or basic composition.

For experienced users of film cameras, the new digital equipment offers an opportunity to play around without hearing a cash register ring with every click of the shutter and, through that freedom, are learning more about what works and what doesn't. That's certainly a big plus for digital.

walter23
29-Mar-2007, 11:25
I think it's raised the bar considerably. You now have a slew of beginners shooting a thousand shots a day and by chance coming across a great image to put out there.

You also have a smaller percentage (but still large number) of dedicated people learning much more quickly with digital and therefore putting out higher technical quality than they would be otherwise. I'm one of those people I think; I learned a lot in two years of digital photography. That's not to say I don't have a lot further to go.

So the net effect is that you've got way more nice images flying around, and it's much harder to stand out and find an original perspective on things. What's the future of photography (like wedding photography and professional portrait photography)? I wonder how many amateurs now are buying entry-level professional lighting gear (alien bees and white lightnings and diffusion panels and stuff)? It seems to be quite a few, but of course I'm involved in a lot of forums where people have an obsession with this stuff. Still, in my workplace I can think of two other people off the top of my head who have thousands of dollars invested in gear - top end digital stuff and expensive accessories (lighting kits, arca heads and high end gitzo tripods), plus a couple of bronica medium format users.

George Kara
29-Mar-2007, 13:14
Neal - Lol. Talk about mixing metaphors huh?

Using your analogies, an F22A isnt a match for WWII era P-51. There is no question that modern technology has enabled many photos that are difficult or close to impossible to shoot using traditional film cameras.

Certainly sports photography and videography has been greatly improved. Canon and Nikon own this pro market. Its great to watch Formula 1 in HD. The good old days of NTSC broadcast are luckily coming to a slow close. The in car cameras with real time, speed, gear, rpm g - force etc are great fun.

Things even out more with static images, but LF or MF just cant quite get the shots of a ferrari blasting down the curva grande at Monza.

So respectfully Neal, properly used old technology isnt close to modern technology where hi-speed shooting and high speed delivery are required.

roteague
29-Mar-2007, 13:25
There is no question that modern technology has enabled many photos that are difficult or close to impossible to shoot using traditional film cameras.

And you are jumping to conclusions and making assumptions. You seem to assume that those shooting traditional film cameras can't make use of the latest Photoshop and digital printing technologies. You also seem to jump to the conclusion that digital photography and digital printing are the same technologies - they are not.

Marko
29-Mar-2007, 13:48
And you are jumping to conclusions and making assumptions. You seem to assume that those shooting traditional film cameras can't make use of the latest Photoshop and digital printing technologies.

He seems to assume?

Well, now, that's a new one. Talk about jumping to conclusions or making assumptions! The "crapy, out of focus, burned highlights digital images in national magazine" kind of argument getting worn out or is it just too inconvenient to make it twice in the same thread?

:rolleyes:

George Kara
29-Mar-2007, 13:52
Perhaps you are assuming printing, Im not. I love sports photogaphy but I sure dont want to hang any of it on a wall. I have a buddy who shoots alot for ESPN. They tell him what they want for shots, he delivers the content during and right after the games or events. His photos are uploaded to websites almost real time. How about the photographer that shoots modern dance live on stage and projects the images instantly on large screens for the audience to view with the performers. This is clearly impossible with film.

BTW, I use photoshop and scan all my film images and print digitally.

Greg Miller
29-Mar-2007, 14:28
One result of the digital age is that there are a lot more really bad images floating around than ever before.

I have a hunch this may only be so in terms of total volume. Percentage wise, I think the amount of crappy images may be about the same as it's always been. Though the other part of my hunch is that the percentage of good stuff is actually increasing slightly

I think there may be a slight increase in bad images because digital has caused an increased interest in photography so more people are taking more pictures.

I think the awareness of how many bad images there are has increased significantly because digital cameras have made it easier to make digital images visible to us via the internet. Historically, we never had an awareness of how many bad images there were because they sat around as prints in a shoe box. Take the internet away today and you would go back to not knowing how many bad images there are.

jnanian
29-Mar-2007, 14:33
it has allowed regular people
to do their own processing/printing without having to deal
with having a darkroom. they don't have to pay someone lots of money
to process/print their photographs for them in a pro-lab, instead they
can upload to their nearest drugstore or walmart or print at home.

small (or large) companies now can buy a digital camera and do their own
photo-services and not have to deal with the cost of photography by a professional,
and good or bad they can do their own graphic design/website work as well.

it has opened the field of photography up even more to the average consumer.

Greg Miller
29-Mar-2007, 14:35
No.

I just need to look at any magazine, regional, national or international to see the steady decrease in quality. Just last week I picked up an issue of Conde Nast Traveler - top end travel magazine, I think most would agree - to be confronted by an ad for a 5 star resort, picturing one of their rooms. The highlights were totally blown, odd colors, lack of sharpness. Really makes me want to visit their hotel, yeah....

Or, look at an ad for the Lowpro SlingShot AW as found in several UK photography magazines, again, blown highlights (the woman's hand and face is half white), odd coloration on the skin; obviously a cut and paste job, since the direction of the light on the subject doesn't even begin to match the background (a street scene in San Francisco).

Or, the front page of Outdoor Photography magazine a few months ago. A image taken in the Isle of Skye by a high-end Canon digital. Horrible picture, muddy shadows, lack of sharpness.

I've been reading photography and other magazines for many years, and have never seen anything as bad as what we see now.

How is it you attribute all this to digital technology (as opposed to, say the significanlty reduced budgets in the post 9/11 era)???

tim atherton
29-Mar-2007, 14:40
I think there may be a slight increase in bad images because digital has caused an increased interest in photography so more people are taking more pictures.

The other side of that is that once the person has the camera in their hands, it's a lot easier and cheaper to experiment and take risks to try something out. I see a lot of surprisingly quite good stuff coming about because a person went out and just took tons of pictures - and in the process finding out what worked. I'm not talking about professional photographers here, but the ordinary Joe's who post their stuff online on flickr and on blogs etc

I'm not saying quantity necessarily = quality, but having the freedom to really "play' with the camera and taking pictures does seem to have led to some interesting pictures an increasing percentage I would say.

The continued democratisation of photography is a good thing imo


I think the awareness of how many bad images there are has increased significantly because digital cameras have made it easier to make digital images visible to us via the internet. Historically, we never had an awareness of how many bad images there were because they sat around as prints in a shoe box. Take the internet away today and you would go back to not knowing how many bad images there are.

An interesting (and entirely unscientific) experiment is to look at the pre 1930 (I think it is) collectibles>photos on ebay. The last time I looked I think there were about 10,000 at any one time. They are 98.5% crap - professional or amateur (especially if you don't let nostalgia/quaint blind you). Even a moderately good photo stands out.

Greg Miller
29-Mar-2007, 14:47
[QUOTE=tim atherton;230109]The other side of that is that once the person has the camera in their hands, it's a lot easier and cheaper to experiment and take risks to try something out. I see a lot of surprisingly quite good stuff coming about because a person went out and just took tons of pictures - and in the process finding out what worked. I'm not talking about professional photographers here, but the ordinary Joe's who post their stuff online on flickr and on blogs etc

I'm not saying quantity necessarily = quality, but having the freedom to really "play' with the camera and taking pictures does seem to have led to some interesting pictures an increasing percentage I would say.

The continued democratisation of photography is a good thing imo



I agree. I don't think the masses are doing that much experimental shooting, but for those who do (like me) it is a great learning tool. The ability see to results instantly and not have to pay-per-click are both good things. The learning curve for beginners who strive to improve is quickened. And the more experienced photographers who want to experiment enjoy the freedom of instant feedback and minimal cost of trying.

sparq
29-Mar-2007, 15:44
Please someone explain to me what "democratisation" of photography is; and how film is more totalitarian than digital.

Marko
29-Mar-2007, 16:13
Please someone explain to me what "democratisation" of photography is; and how film is more totalitarian than digital.

OK, let's compare 35mm as the consumer format.

A new entry level SLR (film) camera with a kit lens costs about $200 on average. An entry level DSLR with a kit lens can be had for about $500, also new. Add another $100 for a large CF card and a reader. Both cameras are Canon, just for the sake of even comparison, but similar relationship could be had with a Nikon or any other brand I believe.

Color slide film costs $6-8 per 36-exp roll before processing.
Color print film costs about $3-5, also before processing.

Shooting one roll of film per week, one would have to shoot about 57 weeks worth of color slide (slightly more than a year) or about 100 weeks worth of color negatives (slightly less than two years) to exhaust the $400 differential between the two cameras.

That is only one roll per week and without counting the price of processing and printing.

With black and white, one can also experiment with filtering and other variations AFTER the image was already taken.

Results with digital are visible immediately while with film one would have to pay and wait for the processing of the entire roll to see the results.

For professionals, cost- and time- effectiveness factor of digital rises exponentially.

Jim Rhoades
29-Mar-2007, 16:15
Digital photography is wonderful. It has allowed me to buy a 5x7 Durst enlarger with a full set of condensers, lenses and a cold light. More stainless steel tanks, hangers trays and washers than you could ever believe. And now a Seal 500 mounting press the size of a VW bug. All this on a civil service pension. Oh yeah, life is good.

It's funny too. I love setting up my 5x7 on a tripod, then having some kid tell me how his 10 megapixie camera will out shoot the Dorff. He then holds it out about three feet in front of him viewing the screen and pressing the electric shutter. It's a good thing that the college MFA programs like fuzzy photos.

Marko
29-Mar-2007, 16:24
It's funny too. I love setting up my 5x7 on a tripod, then having some kid tell me how his 10 megapixie camera will out shoot the Dorff. He then holds it out about three feet in front of him viewing the screen and pressing the electric shutter. It's a good thing that the college MFA programs like fuzzy photos.

I find it pretty amusing to see the old, presumably wise and experienced guys get all worked up over the words of some kid who didn't even grow a proper beard yet...

;)

P.S. I also wonder who's teaching in those colleges, if the students are so supposedly clueless?

tim atherton
29-Mar-2007, 16:33
Please someone explain to me what "democratisation" of photography is; and how film is more totalitarian than digital.

it's a pretty loose term loosely applied...

The box Brownie (you press the button we do the rest) in (I think?) the 1890's was the first major step to make photography much more broadly accessible.

other changes along the road continued that direction - among many others - high street labs then one hour labs, point and shoots with auto winding and auto focus and so on.

Digital has done that in a different sort of way (certainly to get set up with a digital camera isn't cheap cheap), but what it has done is what was mentioned earlier in this thread. People can easily take as many pictures as they want, they can chuck the ones they don't want instantly, they can try things they might not have tried before when they had to pay for each frame. They can share them much more widely - in some ways much more easily - than they could before.

Among other things, all this moves people away from the idea that making pictures is difficult, arcane and so on.

DrPablo
29-Mar-2007, 17:06
I think shooting a picture on film requires a much bigger commitment to the final product at the time of capture. The choice of film immediately imposes constraints on the final image before you shoot. With digital, and especially RAW imaging, many of these decisions are made after capture, on the computer.

So digital has an advantage in terms of flexibility. But I think film has this advantage -- that you have to walk, observe, regard, and meter your scene with the final image in mind, before you capture. You have to shoot to the strengths of the film, which means making more committed decisions before you press the shutter. And I think it means more careful composition, more deliberate metering, and more thoughtful scene selection.

In other words, much of the process of shooting film is deeply tied to the scene. Much of the process of shooting digital is deeply tied to the RAW image. Sure there is overlap between the two, but by their nature the committment to the final image happen at very different times.

Jim collum
29-Mar-2007, 17:14
i think this is related more to the photographer than the equipment. I've had decades of View Camera work, and even when using a DSLR, it's on a tripod, and i walk around looking, checking light, with possible changes in mind. Just as there's nothing from stopping someone with a film camera from just shooting, without regard for film type , speed (auto ISO). When shooting 4x5 chromes and printing, i'd spend more time in the darkroom now working with the image and Cibachrome, color and contrast masks, than i do now with a computer and photoshop.


I think shooting a picture on film requires a much bigger commitment to the final product at the time of capture. The choice of film immediately imposes constraints on the final image before you shoot. With digital, and especially RAW imaging, many of these decisions are made after capture, on the computer.

So digital has an advantage in terms of flexibility. But I think film has this advantage -- that you have to walk, observe, regard, and meter your scene with the final image in mind, before you capture. You have to shoot to the strengths of the film, which means making more committed decisions before you press the shutter. And I think it means more careful composition, more deliberate metering, and more thoughtful scene selection.

In other words, much of the process of shooting film is deeply tied to the scene. Much of the process of shooting digital is deeply tied to the RAW image. Sure there is overlap between the two, but by their nature the committment to the final image happen at very different times.

John Voss
29-Mar-2007, 17:17
I think digital has made a lot of options available to talented photographers who, because they have the imagination, and now the means, may indeed make wonderful photographs, and can present them in ways they would not have previously been able to.

Digitally enlarged negatives for alt processes blend ancient techniques with contemporary ones. My wife's work with photogravures would not be possible without digital negatives using the curves produced with Excel and Photoshop, nor would those of some who are very prominent in that field.

Watching an artist use a Wacom tablet and stylus transform an image with their drawing skills in a subtle and detailed manner is a lesson in the new world of technologically enhanced traditional artistry.

Despite the doubtlessly innumerable threads here to the contrary, lugging around an unweildy ULF camera to produce a contact printable negative for platinum/palladium printing just cannot convince me that said camera can 'be there' at f8 or any other f stop to obtain the exposure. Digital negatives can make them happen.

Does all that 'improve' photography? I think so.

Oren Grad
29-Mar-2007, 17:20
I'm not saying quantity necessarily = quality, but having the freedom to really "play' with the camera and taking pictures does seem to have led to some interesting pictures an increasing percentage I would say.

The continued democratisation of photography is a good thing imo


The box Brownie (you press the button we do the rest) in (I think?) the 1890's was the first major step to make photography much more broadly accessible.

other changes along the road continued that direction - among many others - high street labs then one hour labs, point and shoots with auto winding and auto focus and so on.

Digital has done that in a different sort of way (certainly to get set up with a digital camera isn't cheap cheap), but what it has done is what was mentioned earlier in this thread. People can easily take as many pictures as they want, they can chuck the ones they don't want instantly, they can try things they might not have tried before when they had to pay for each frame. They can share them much more widely - in some ways much more easily - than they could before.

Among other things, all this moves people away from the idea that making pictures is difficult, arcane and so on.

I agree with everything Tim wrote, and would add another point: many of the objections here seem to assume that the only point of photography is to make pictures for gallery walls or for commercial/publication use, and that the only legitimate standard of evaluation for a photograph is traditional craft or esthetic values. This is a very narrow and short-sighted view of such a flexible and powerful medium.

One thing that compact, inexpensive digital cameras do better than film cameras is enable people to use a camera as a personal notebook of their daily lives, not just because the cameras are so affordable and easy to carry but because removing the cost and logistical burden of processing is especially liberating for an application like this. That makes it possible for many more people to experience the pleasures of visual exploration, of learning to look around and really see things, and of using a camera as an active part of coming to terms with the world.

I happen to prefer film and film cameras and traditional silver prints for almost all of what I do in photography. I think the traditional tools and materials have distinctive virtues, I very much hope they'll survive, and I continue to devote substantial effort and resources of my own toward that end. But I also think the way that digital cameras have made the joys of free-wheeling visual exploration accessible to many more people is all to the good.

I'm reminded of that old definition of the Puritan: a person who is deathly afraid that someone, somewhere, is having fun. Me, I think a net increase in happiness and personal fulfillment in the world is something to celebrate.

John Voss
29-Mar-2007, 17:27
Me, I think an increase in net happiness and personal fulfillment in the world is something to celebrate.

Does that 'improve' photography? I dunno, but it sure does speak to its' democratization.

DrPablo
29-Mar-2007, 17:46
I think your DSLR approach is probably very informed by your view camera experience, as you might agree. Certainly much of it is related to the photographer, but the behavior of the photographer to some degree accomodates the idiosyncracies of the medium.



i think this is related more to the photographer than the equipment. I've had decades of View Camera work, and even when using a DSLR, it's on a tripod, and i walk around looking, checking light, with possible changes in mind. Just as there's nothing from stopping someone with a film camera from just shooting, without regard for film type , speed (auto ISO). When shooting 4x5 chromes and printing, i'd spend more time in the darkroom now working with the image and Cibachrome, color and contrast masks, than i do now with a computer and photoshop.

sparq
29-Mar-2007, 18:11
I understand your points but I am still finding the term "democratization" inappropriate - getting something closer to masses or "lessening exclusivity" has IMHO no connection to democracy. You say democracy but mean a sort of egalitarianism.

I am sorry I am running terribly O/T here, no need to react to this post. I am quiet from now on. :)

tim atherton
29-Mar-2007, 19:45
Democratic:.. "Representing or appealing to or adapted for the benefit of the people at large; "democratic art forms"; "a democratic or popular movement"..."Websters

(or in the OED - more succinctly "open to anyone")

It's a common use (if not the politically oriented one) of of the term democratic

Maris Rusis
30-Mar-2007, 20:29
Digital has been a boon to photography because spares the investment in time, energy, and precious sensitive materials just to make pictures to show what things look like.

In centuries past oil painting was used to laboriously record appearances because there was no decent alternative. No one would dream of doing that now. A similar liberation is now available to photography. Making a photograph involves using a physical sample of something that was part of the subject matter to cause picture forming marks directly in a sensitive surface. The relationship between a photograph and its subject is very special and profound and has implications that go way beyond mere appearances.

If appearances are all that counts then electronic picture making will get you a result with minimal thought, no waiting, no work, and no cost.

tim atherton
30-Mar-2007, 21:29
you know that's incorrect don't you?:
Photography:first utterance. Sir John Herschel, 14 March 1839 at the Royal Society. "...Photography or the application of the Chemical rays of light to the purpose of pictorial representation,..".

"Photography" was used (and even uttered) prior to that

roteague
30-Mar-2007, 22:51
Digital has been a boon to photography because spares the investment in time, energy, and precious sensitive materials just to make pictures to show what things look like.

Nonsense. Where do you think the Franklin River would be today without the work and energy of photography? Namely, through the work of Peter Dumbrovski.

Marko
30-Mar-2007, 23:10
you know that's incorrect don't you?:
Photography:first utterance. Sir John Herschel, 14 March 1839 at the Royal Society. "...Photography or the application of the Chemical rays of light to the purpose of pictorial representation,..".

"Photography" was used (and even uttered) prior to that

Tim, you know you are wasting your time, don't you? :)

They don't want to participate in this discussion, they only want to derail it...

Brian C. Miller
30-Mar-2007, 23:30
In centuries past oil painting was used to laboriously record appearances because there was no decent alternative. No one would dream of doing that now.
Do a quick Google search on "portrait painter" and see what pops up. Look at the books about painting. Guess what? Painting a picture of something to show what it looks like painted is still big. Mr. Bob "Happy Trees" Ross (http://www.bobross.com/) had his own TV show, and by golly he does good stuff with that 3-inch house painting brush!

I bet painting that picture took almost as long as making a toned FB print!

scrichton
2-Apr-2007, 09:54
Digital has improved photography for the good aspects of.. easily accessed; faster for applications where required; transparency in workflow ( there is no pro photographer that can deny a digital camera hasn't helped) Accurate metering.

I'll explain the last two. Before most photographers who were good photographers were terrible darkroom printers and vice versa. Now digital allows photographers to realise their vision in a more manageble way. I personally without digital would never have started large format photography, as printing as I would expect would not be achieveable without it. Therefore workflow of the mind is transparent, expose well and the image should be obtainable in a pre-concieved way. Digital allows this though process to be clearer. ( I consult in arhitectural workflow systems and this is the major area where digital aides creatives).

The other point of accurate metering I have seen being practised by a relatively well known landscape photographer who's name eludes me. His linhof 617 has a cstom hotshoe adapter to mount a canon digital camera and he claims to have dispensed with his meter now. A manually controllable digital compact not only give a viable alternative to polaroid but in the case of 8x10 using polaroid as a test method. A digital camera is very cheap in comparison to burning film. I personally use my D1x less for photography in general but as a verifyable test method as I can see what will normally cost much more to see.

Anyway that's my rant. This thread is about as useless as saying does instant film do anything or does injection systems in cars make them better. Overall film photography is now on an upsurge due to digital converts desiring to use film to "see how it ticks" Thats why I admit I use film again. Thats also why I drive an old car. New technology is for the demands of new concepts and requirments thats all.