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Ken Lee
11-Apr-2012, 17:21
You might enjoy this recently updated article entitled New Thoughts on Digital Photography (http://www.barnbaum.com/barnbaum/Thoughts-article.html) by photographer Bruce Barnbaum.

A long-time large-format darkroom printer, he has recently made inroads into digital photography, and shares some astute and well-considered observations.

Heroique
11-Apr-2012, 17:32
His concluding remark deserves a pull-out:

“It’s wise to fully assess the benefits and liabilities of each approach [digital and traditional] before plunging into either one. But I must add one final thought in support of traditional methods: nothing has the radiance of a finely crafted silver print. Nothing. Even after 20+ years of improved digital technology, the traditional silver print is still the epitome of b&w photographic excellence. Even with the many remarkable — truly remarkable — digital b&w prints that I have seen, the traditional silver print still ranks as the standard by which all others are judged. I recognize that this may change in the future, but as I write and update this article (most recently in February, 2012), it still remains true.”

Vaughn
11-Apr-2012, 17:43
A well-balanced article.

Jay DeFehr
11-Apr-2012, 17:44
Yes, I dislike the article as much, or more than I did the first time I read it. The whole article is an argument based on a straw man digital photographer. It's quite convenient to criticize a character whose flaws you've carefully constructed, but it has little in common with reality, and is of no practical use to anyone, as far as I can see. The article seems to me a very self conscious attempt by Barnbaum to assert his authority (upon which booking his workshops depends) at a time when his methods (on which his workshops are based) are becoming more alternative than mainstream. I'm sure there are many photographers (among others) from Barnbaum's generation who feel somewhat slighted after investing so much of their lives into a process that's being superseded by one that is not, in their eyes, the equal of the one they know. I sympathize, but I don't find his observations astute, or well considered.

darr
11-Apr-2012, 17:56
... The article seems to me a very self conscious attempt by Barnbaum to assert his authority (upon which booking his workshops depends) at a time when his methods (on which his workshops are based) are becoming more alternative than mainstream. I'm sure there are many photographers (among others) from Barnbaum's generation who feel somewhat slighted after investing so much of their lives into a process that's being superseded by one that is not, in their eyes, the equal of the one they know. I sympathize, but I don't find his observations astute, or well considered.

+1

Darin Boville
11-Apr-2012, 18:13
4500 words! I think I could edit it down to about 1/10 of that without trying hard. :) But I would still disagree with it (or, more accurately, think most of it irrelevant).

--Darin

Old-N-Feeble
11-Apr-2012, 18:22
Logical/realistic and pragmatic. I loved it!!

Jay DeFehr
11-Apr-2012, 18:24
Logical/realistic and pragmatic. I loved it!!

Pragmatic, maybe......

tgtaylor
11-Apr-2012, 19:38
Note, though, that the latest (but not greatest) Clint Eastwood movie J. Edgar, released in November, was shot on...yes, FILM - despite the higher costs associated with film production. Why do you suppose they bothered to shot it on film instead of digital capture?

http://www.panavision.com/spotlight/lighting-history-tom-stern-asc-afc-shoots-j-edgar

Thomas

Old-N-Feeble
11-Apr-2012, 19:47
Because Clint is "The MAN"!!

Gary Samson
11-Apr-2012, 19:49
When you consider the fine and expansive body of work that Bruce Barnbaum has created over the years, this article carries the weight of a thoughtful, knowledgeable photographer who has carefully assessed the current state of digital image creation vs. the traditional darkroom approach. I think his conclusions hold much merit.

Greg Y
11-Apr-2012, 19:54
+1.

Jay DeFehr
11-Apr-2012, 19:56
Note, though, that the latest (but not greatest) Clint Eastwood movie J. Edgar, released in November, was shot on...yes, FILM - despite the higher costs associated with film production. Why do you suppose they bothered to shot it on film instead of digital capture?

http://www.panavision.com/spotlight/lighting-history-tom-stern-asc-afc-shoots-j-edgar

Thomas

So, if I provide an example of a film shot digitally, we should come to the opposite conclusion? What does this have to do with Barnbaum's article?

Greg Miller
11-Apr-2012, 19:58
Borrowing a quote from the link in the Eggleston thread:

"According to Joshua Holdeman, international director of the Christie’s photography department, the point of the sale was to establish a new market for Eggleston’s photography in the contemporary art world. “Eggleston has been kind of stuck in the old school world of the photography collectors for a long time, whose primary concerns are about process, print type, print date, etcetera,” says Holdeman.

Whereas the type of print and the exact date a print was made is “a huge deal” for photography collectors, Holdeman says, “for contemporary art collectors it’s much more about the object itself—they couldn’t care if it’s a dye transfer or a pigment print or whatever, as long as the object itself is totally amazing, that’s what they care about.”"

Greg Y
11-Apr-2012, 20:05
"they couldn’t care if it’s a dye transfer or a pigment print or whatever, as long as the object itself is totally amazing, that’s what they care about.”......that seems to be the way modern society is going

Greg Miller
11-Apr-2012, 20:15
"they couldn’t care if it’s a dye transfer or a pigment print or whatever, as long as the object itself is totally amazing, that’s what they care about.”......that seems to be the way modern society is going

That sounds a lot like what the painters said when photography started emerging.

Greg Y
11-Apr-2012, 20:20
Guess I won't be buying one of your 'archival' prints then...:)

Greg Miller
11-Apr-2012, 20:25
Guess I won't be buying one of your 'archival' prints then...:)

You, and millions of other earthlings ;) I'm OK with that, as I am sure that you are too.

Michael Alpert
11-Apr-2012, 20:54
Jay's criticism seems valid to me. The article does seem to set up a "straw man." In any case, I'm not sure that we can even begin to think about digital photography without thinking about Digital Everything. That is, the whole world of superficial convenience and incredible marketing that we live within--and, like it or not, that we support. This mercantile world seems pointedly devoid of both truthfulness and imagination. And in this world (which includes the culture industry) there are plenty of arrogant immature highly-articulate young fools occupying just about every nook and cranny. The straw man that Bruce sets up is, in fact, all too easily found. Still, here and there one occasionally encounters thoughtful young digitally-oriented artists. If left alone long enough to construct their own particular sense of mindfulness, these oddball youngsters may (with luck) become the Westons and Sudeks of the future.

jloen
11-Apr-2012, 21:15
Ah, the big environmentalist comes out in favor of using precious metals and timber products.

Peter J. De Smidt
11-Apr-2012, 21:42
I respect Mr. Barnbaum, but my reaction to his essay was very similar to Jay's.

Vaughn
11-Apr-2012, 21:52
Ah, the big environmentalist comes out in favor of using precious metals and timber products.

It is a lot cleaner and greener than the computer industry, but by no means clean and green.

Brian C. Miller
11-Apr-2012, 22:01
So what about his essay? Criticize it all you like, the essay is Bruce Barnbaum's opinion, and that's it. On the same page index (http://www.barnbaum.com/barnbaum/Essays.html) for that article, he has essays about Alan Greenspan, the economy, GDP and RDP, the environment, and timber. Once again, so what?

I bought his book, The Art of Photography. I was really disappointed with the section on darkroom printing. I can sum up the chapter with two words: "wing it." He works by approximation and experience. Publishing a book with so little information from such an experienced darkroom worker really devalued the book for me.

Vaughn
11-Apr-2012, 22:19
After the negative comments about Bruce's writings, I re-read it. I still find it to be a well thought out and even-handed article. It does not trash digital and even praises it. A bit wordy, perhaps, but without repeating himself too much.

I can see where those who do not consider their own photography (traditional or digital) as being an artistic pursuit might miss Bruce's main point...or just see it as not important nor as meaningful. A valid POV, but not mine, so I appreciated Bruce's point -- "Thought can — and should — be injected into the digital process right from the start." And as he points out, this also holds true for traditional photography.

Mike Anderson
11-Apr-2012, 22:29
A lot of nonsense in that article. Barnbaum doesn't seem to know what he's talking about, he's just making things up.

He talks about an "over-reliance on Photoshop to make everything right". Really? Serious digital photographers try hard to "get it right in camera" and minimize the need for post processing. Less serious one's upload straight to facebook without any post processing.


students who approach photography digitally seem to universally ignore the idea of learning about light, about composition, about the relationship of forms in both black-and-white and color, and even fail to understand their own emotional relationship to the subject matter they have chosen

He's either making this up or has really bad luck with student selection (and that latter alternative carries some obvious implications).


there is a great deal of misinformation written about traditional photographic methods by noted digital practitioners

Then he debunks one example of misinformation he found in a magazine and proceeds to devote many paragraphs to nonissues in the section titled "Problems with the Digital Approach".

Bruce Barnbaum is a great photographer but here he's writing about stuff he just doesn't understand.

Jay DeFehr
11-Apr-2012, 22:54
Among many other logical fallacies, he consistently makes the false distinction between "digital photographers" and "traditional photographers", ascribing various and contradictory characteristics to each, when the reality is that more often than not, any given serious photographer probably belongs to both "categories". He seems to want us to believe a photographer's entire approach changes with his camera. Barnbaum should not write about digital photography from a position of authority, as he wants to do here; he's clearly out of his depths.

Vaughn
12-Apr-2012, 02:37
I do not get that impression from Bruce's article, Jay.

None of what he wrote refers to "serious" photographers, but instead, about those who are just getting into photography -- and how the characteristics of the equipment and process can help or hinder the learning process if the person is not aware of the possible traps. The basic trap being using the shotgun effect instead of thinking about such things as the quality of light and composition before one clicks the shutter. He only points out that the trap is easy to fall into with digital because of relative ease and the large number of tools available to making corrections with digital after the fact. He does neglect to point out that much learning can be done by looking at one's results.

His whole point is that digital photography requires as much thought and "seriousness" as film-base photography to be successful. In that respect he makes no distinction between film and digital users.

Except for the last bit where his bias towards silver gelatin prints surfaces, he goes to some length to not be anti-digital. His bit about costs, etc, seem to be right on...at least from my experience of running a 20 enlarger darkroom for 20 years, and seeing the expense of maintaining and upgrading a 24 station Mac digital imaging lab (along with printer/ink and paper costs).

But, that is just how I approached his writings...YMMD, and probably will.

Doug Howk
12-Apr-2012, 04:11
Bruce is right-on! There may be those who achieve greatness thru utilizing some aspect of digital; but it won't be achieved by merely being a proselytizer for the superiority of those digital methods/equipment. Get back to work in whatever is your chosen medium.

D. Bryant
12-Apr-2012, 04:58
You might enjoy this recently updated article entitled New Thoughts on Digital Photography (http://www.barnbaum.com/barnbaum/Thoughts-article.html) by photographer Bruce Barnbaum.

A long-time large-format darkroom printer, he has recently made inroads into digital photography, and shares some astute and well-considered observations.

Same old BS as before Barnbaum.

Vaughn
12-Apr-2012, 05:29
...Get back to work in whatever is your chosen medium.

The best advise! Time for me to develop the last carbon print of the evening (early morning, actually...)

paulr
12-Apr-2012, 06:55
It is a lot cleaner and greener than the computer industry, but by no means clean and green.

This is an old argument that has never made sense. Most people have a computer anyway, whether or not they use it for phtotography. It lasts years. I know people love to talk about the instant obsolescence of digital stuff, but my desktop computer was made in 2008. I bought it used, and in a few years when I outgrow it will sell it to someone who will use it for years more. This is becoming more and more typical ... hence the diminished growth in the PC market.

Film, chemistry, paper etc... are consumables, and the need for them is directly proportional to the work you do. As is the effluent. The ecological costs are heavily tilted against traditional methods.

It's not terribly relevant in these circles. Most of the photographic waste in the world came from snapshooters, and most of the silver effluent came from institutional darkrooms (minilabs, schools, hospitals, dental offices, etc.). A few fogies with view cameras are a minor source of the polution, whether using silver or silicon.

paulr
12-Apr-2012, 07:03
That is, the whole world of superficial convenience...


Another argument the painters made against photography in the mid-nineteenth century.


http://www.paulraphaelson.com/downloads/technology_art.jpg

Jay DeFehr
12-Apr-2012, 08:52
I do not get that impression from Bruce's article, Jay.

None of what he wrote refers to "serious" photographers, but instead, about those who are just getting into photography -- and how the characteristics of the equipment and process can help or hinder the learning process if the person is not aware of the possible traps. The basic trap being using the shotgun effect instead of thinking about such things as the quality of light and composition before one clicks the shutter. He only points out that the trap is easy to fall into with digital because of relative ease and the large number of tools available to making corrections with digital after the fact. He does neglect to point out that much learning can be done by looking at one's results.

His whole point is that digital photography requires as much thought and "seriousness" as film-base photography to be successful. In that respect he makes no distinction between film and digital users.

Except for the last bit where his bias towards silver gelatin prints surfaces, he goes to some length to not be anti-digital. His bit about costs, etc, seem to be right on...at least from my experience of running a 20 enlarger darkroom for 20 years, and seeing the expense of maintaining and upgrading a 24 station Mac digital imaging lab (along with printer/ink and paper costs).

But, that is just how I approached his writings...YMMD, and probably will.

Vaughn,

I think you're moderating Barnbaum's writing. As I read it, he paints "digital shooters" with a much broader brush:


...I find it hard to make an exposure — a digital capture — without doing at least an initial quick assessment of some basic compositional elements within the scene...and also give thought to the quality of light before pressing the shutter. Unfortunately I see far too little of that from most (emphasis mine) digital users, especially those who have started with digital equipment.

Even when he is (ostensibly) writing about students, his straw man is the kind of caricature that results when observations follow conclusions:


Yet students who approach photography digitally seem to universally ignore the idea of learning about light, about composition, about the relationship of forms in both black-and-white and color, and even fail to understand their own emotional relationship to the subject matter they have chosen. While they are determined to become experts in Photoshop, they seem oblivious, and indeed hostile to the absolute need to understand the fundamentals of light, composition, and their relationship to their chosen subject matter. What results is inevitably: "Garbage in; garbage out."

This brief passage succinctly sums up Barnbaum's view of digital photography and those who, through defects in their very personalities, it seems, fail to recognize its inherent inferiority. His use of universally, fail, oblivious, inevitably, and the old computer axiom, garbage in - garbage out, leaves no room for the reader to come to any conclusion but his. GIGO sums up the entire article and Barnbaum's muddled thinking on its subject. To wit, I'll close with this hilarious tidbit:


But also be aware of the most critically important fact: you can't really change the lighting, the basic relationship of forms, or your "feel" of the subject matter through Photoshop.

Vaughn
12-Apr-2012, 09:55
I probably do moderate and you take it to the extreme. As far as that last bit, if asked, I am sure that Bruce would also say that the same is true when working in the darkroom. Same with GIGO -- start with a crappy badly-seen image on a negative, you'll end up with a crappy image on the print.

But enough, we read and get different things out of the article...that's cool.

Mark Barendt
12-Apr-2012, 10:02
This is an old argument that has never made sense. Most people have a computer anyway, whether or not they use it for phtotography. It lasts years. I know people love to talk about the instant obsolescence of digital stuff, but my desktop computer was made in 2008. I bought it used, and in a few years when I outgrow it will sell it to someone who will use it for years more. This is becoming more and more typical ... hence the diminished growth in the PC market.

The problem with your argument is that "disruptive technologies" interfere with the norm.

My cell phone replaced my home phone long ago, and since moving to film and buying an iPad with 3G and using "the cloud" I have essentially eliminated my need for PC's and even a personal cell phone, and I'm not alone.

The company I work for got my group (19 of us) iPhones and took away our laptops, only kept 2PC's; one for the boss, one for the admin.

There are programmers replacing their PCs with iPads and online computing.

Running and maintaining a PC is becoming like running a Hummer, a high cost endeavor compared to the alternatives.

We are quickly entering the post PC world where they won't be the norm.


Film, chemistry, paper etc... are consumables, and the need for them is directly proportional to the work you do. As is the effluent. The ecological costs are heavily tilted against traditional methods.

It's not terribly relevant in these circles. Most of the photographic waste in the world came from snapshooters, and most of the silver effluent came from institutional darkrooms (minilabs, schools, hospitals, dental offices, etc.). A few fogies with view cameras are a minor source of the polution, whether using silver or silicon.


Shifting the snap shooting to cell phones isn't all that bad in my mind.

For my creative work though LF is very economical because I can take and develop a single sheet of 4x5 with very little waste and 1/4 the effluent of a 35mm roll.

Drew Wiley
12-Apr-2012, 10:16
One can make prints every bit as good as Barnbaum's without buying into his personal lockjaw ideology. If his style of teaching works for you, fine ... otherwise there is more
than one way to skin a cat. And I'm not referring to simply dkrm vs digital printing. So
obviously, I do not consider him authority on printing, but just one more opinion.

Ken Lee
12-Apr-2012, 10:30
As Mr. Barnbaum writes:
"There is nothing about digital photography that forces lack of thinking, but there is much about digital photography that encourages it."

There is nothing about this forum that forces people to be rude and uncivil, but there are several members who encourage it.

buggz
12-Apr-2012, 10:47
My immediate analogy is music.
I remember a time when I used to sit and do NOTHING but listen to music.
How many do this today?
I bet not many, especially young people.
Music has been cheapened to be background noise.
And Amazon wants to sell me mp3s?
Uhm, no thanks.
I STILL like old vinyl and my tubes!


"they couldn’t care if it’s a dye transfer or a pigment print or whatever, as long as the object itself is totally amazing, that’s what they care about.”......that seems to be the way modern society is going

Mike Anderson
12-Apr-2012, 11:36
As Mr. Barnbaum writes:
"There is nothing about digital photography that forces lack of thinking, but there is much about digital photography that encourages it."
....
This is summarizes the misinformation. There's nothing about digital that encourages lack of thinking. Does a Kodak Instamatic encourage more thoughtful consideration than a Phase One back on a technical camera?

ROL
12-Apr-2012, 12:08
Though not a particular fan of Barnbaum's work (too dark tonally), or some of his more extreme views even in the traditional realm, I didn't find anything in the otherwise well written article to disagree with, except its verbosity!. It's hard to know who this treatise is aimed at, though I suspect it may have been more of a mea culpa regarding his own feelings about digital. Come to think of it, the oppressive overtones of the article are entirely consistent with the heaviness I feel in his photos. All I can say is that you won't catch me writing such a lengthy article on the web – without pictures! Not that anyone would care to read anything I publish anyway.

I've spent far too little time in my darkroom in the past 2 years, primarily due to financial stresses. Meanwhile, ever increasing physical limitations have forced me to investigate digital as a way to keep the juices flowing. But I have found that even, or especially, with the addition of easily obtainable video with the same device, it is no match for the process of traditional photographic methods. Still worrying about composition, lighting, and phantom "film" costs, it has taken awhile to get to the shoot first (hose) and ask questions later (Photoshop post processing) possibilities of digital. For me, the ends, if you can call a mass machine produced print an artistic end, simply do not justify the means.

Coincidentally, I saw the film Everlasting on the Sundance Channel, recently. While not a very good flick generally, the life journey of the female protagonist, whose most transcendent moments occurred standing over a developing tray, reminded me of how much really do need to make more time for my own darkroom.


Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Merg Ross
12-Apr-2012, 13:05
As Mr. Barnbaum writes:
"There is nothing about digital photography that forces lack of thinking, but there is much about digital photography that encourages it."

There is nothing about this forum that forces people to be rude and uncivil, but there are several members who encourage it.

True. Ken, thanks for the link.

Bruce will be 70 next year and has been steeped in traditional photography for more than half of those years. I would place more emphasis on his knowledge of that process, and less on what he has yet to learn about digital.

However, among those who have been at this for decades and derive their livelihood from photography, I have heard the same concerns addressed in the article. In particular, the immense cost of constant upgrades and the future accessibility to past imagery.

These are not necessarily concerns of the dilettante, but paramount to many serious workers in the medium.

Bruce has had his share of detractors, but I would not dismiss his message; there is some truth within.

Greg Miller
12-Apr-2012, 15:22
It is clear from the article that Bruce has very little experience with computers, let alone digital processing. Future accessibility is a non-issue. You can still inexpensively get data copied from 5 1/4" floppies (or even 8" floppies) by many service bureaus (assuming that there is even any meaningful data on 5 1/4" floppies that have not been copied to new media years ago). And files saved in a tiff, or psd formats will be readable by many applications for generations to come. There is nothing new in problems related to data backups and data portability that hasn't already been solved by the millions of businesses who have been storing data for the past 50 years. How many photographers here actually store their negatives in a proper archival manner? There are pros and cons either way, so anyone pointing out the negatives of digital file storage should also point out the negatives of analog negative storage. But the pros for digital files (that Bruce failed to mention) is the ability to store multiple first generation copies in multiple places, with the possibility to copy them endlessly for centuries with much less degradation than a single first generation negative.

Michael Alpert
12-Apr-2012, 15:45
Another argument the painters made against photography in the mid-nineteenth century.


http://www.paulraphaelson.com/downloads/technology_art.jpg

No, Paul, this discussion has nothing in common with the old question about photography and "art." It was generated in response to B. B.'s unhappy observation that people using little screens sometimes seem strangely unable to work with commitment or to think in a deliberate, constructive manner. Although I implied that B. B.’s essay presents an incomplete (and therefore distorted) view, I actually share some of his concerns.

Roger Cole
12-Apr-2012, 16:19
It's always fascinating how much controversy anything Barnbaum writes can actually generate. I sometimes think the man could just comment in writing that, "daytime is usually brighter than nighttime" and face a firestorm of criticism.

FWIW, I liked the article. There is some "straw manning" going on, but it seems a rather valid form of such to me. All the points of his straw man are indeed very commonly encountered, in my experience. I doubt even Bruce would claim they are necessarily found all in the same person. So he's addressing some of the most common points, and if some folks see that as an attack on some hypothetical digital photographer that view seems to me more rooted in a sort of defensiveness than in what Bruce actually wrote. Yes, it's longer than it could be. Yes, he's off base on a few things like the 5-1/4 floppies. (I had a 5-1/4 drive in my machine up until a year and a half ago and still have the drives and boards with controllers for them in my basement junk box. If I needed to do so, I could assemble a computer that could read them and transfer the files via network within a few hours, not to mention using service bureaus.) But his criticisms of some of the more common pitfalls of digital seem accurate to me in general. Nowhere do I read him saying that this makes digital bad or inferior (except in ultimate black and white print quality, a judgment I concur with so far and that even he says could easily change) just different and with different pluses and minuses.

Jay DeFehr
12-Apr-2012, 17:04
When I was a kid I had a great teacher (Hello Mr. Pugh, if you're out there!), working in a poor school system, with little support from his administration. One year he suddenly inherited a group of "gifted" students orphaned by their regular teacher. Literally overnight he designed a curriculum for his students, based on critical thinking and decision making. He taught us to recognize a wide range of logical fallacies and cognitive biases in writing (others' and our own), and to analyze arguments. We read Orwell's Politics and the English Language and made truth tables. Every class period began with a logic puzzle. It was fantastic! Not that I didn't love Poe and Twain, but I didn't miss our former teacher one bit. A regular exercise was to "break down" a piece of writing selected by Mr. Pugh, and identify the biases and logical fallacies therein. I smile thinking what my thirteen year old classmates would have made of Barnbaum's essay.

Roger Cole
12-Apr-2012, 17:35
13 year old aspiring logicians might well have a different opinion from adult photographers.

While I see the value in that kind of thing too I would be crying "foul!" long and loud if it fully supplanted Poe.

Of course it's biased. It's not an academic argument or a legal one. It's his personal view. Love it or hate it or anywhere in between; I doubt Barnbaum cares very much. He doesn't seem too concerned with who disagrees with him.

Old-N-Feeble
12-Apr-2012, 17:54
13 year old aspiring logicians might well have a different opinion from adult photographers.

While I see the value in that kind of thing too I would be crying "foul!" long and loud if it fully supplanted Poe.

Of course it's biased. It's not an academic argument or a legal one. It's his personal view. Love it or hate it or anywhere in between; I doubt Barnbaum cares very much. He doesn't seem too concerned with who disagrees with him.

Nor, given his success, need he be. :)

Jay DeFehr
12-Apr-2012, 18:02
13 year old aspiring logicians might well have a different opinion from adult photographers.

While I see the value in that kind of thing too I would be crying "foul!" long and loud if it fully supplanted Poe.

Of course it's biased. It's not an academic argument or a legal one. It's his personal view. Love it or hate it or anywhere in between; I doubt Barnbaum cares very much. He doesn't seem too concerned with who disagrees with him.

Roger,
The 13 year old logicians needn't have any opinion about the subject matter at all to recognize the logical fallacies and biases in the essay, which might go some way towards informing their judgments of the material as presented.

I think critical thinking dovetailed quite nicely with Poe and Twain.

Yes, it's biased, but Barnbaum is presenting himself as an authority, and the ways it's biased are important in weighting his opinions.

I don't think Barnbaum's feelings about my analysis of his essay (and there's no reason to believe he has any feelings about, or knowledge of it) are at all relevant to the discussion.

Greg Miller
12-Apr-2012, 18:07
...and if some folks see that as an attack on some hypothetical digital photographer that view seems to me more rooted in a sort of defensiveness than in what Bruce actually wrote.

I'm not sure why pointing out flaws in logic needs to be perceived as coming from someone feeling attacked, or being defensive. It's just pointing out flaws in logic. It doesn't have to come form some emotional state.

Jay DeFehr
12-Apr-2012, 18:16
Nor, given his success, need he be. :)

Incidentally, this is an example of one of the common logical fallacies we were taught to recognize-- it's an appeal to authority-- as if Barnbaum's supposed authority has some bearing on an analysis of his writing, which of course it cannot. It reveals a conflation of Barnbaum's abilities as a photographer with the strength of his argument. And he is making an argument, though not a strong one.

Old-N-Feeble
12-Apr-2012, 18:22
Incidentally, this is an example of one of the common logical fallacies we were taught to recognize-- it's an appeal to authority-- as if Barnbaum's supposed authority has some bearing on an analysis of his writing, which of course it cannot. It reveals a conflation of Barnbaum's abilities as a photographer with the strength of his argument. And he is making an argument, though not a strong one.

Heh... you obviously don't know me very well. I respect actions, common sense, integrity/honesty, and complete openness... not authority. My so-called "superiors" have demanded that I cease and desist my broadcasts many times.

Jay DeFehr
12-Apr-2012, 18:50
Fair enough, ONF. It wasn't meant as a personal characterization.

Old-N-Feeble
12-Apr-2012, 18:54
Fair enough, ONF. It wasn't meant as a personal characterization.

Understood... just wanted everyone to understand that I'm about as opposite a "byootox kisser" as one can get. :) I happen to like and respect Barnbaum's work... always have. Simple as that. BTW, there are many members here and on LFP.I who's work I deeply appreciate. I'll not be brown-nosing them either. :)

Michael Alpert
12-Apr-2012, 21:26
. . . Love it or hate it or anywhere in between; I doubt Barnbaum cares very much. He doesn't seem too concerned with who disagrees with him.

Roger,

You have inadvertently articulated a concern that runs through this whole discussion. In his essay, Bruce Barnbaum really doesn't seem to care very much about the students he criticizes. He doesn't even seem to perceive them accurately as complex human beings. Instead, he presents caricatures. With this in mind, I hope his essay does not represent his actual teaching practice. (To tell you the truth, I had never heard of this teacher-photographer before I read this thread.) If you are correct that he really doesn't listen to those who disagree with him, I wonder why any thinking person would listen to him.

Mark Sawyer
12-Apr-2012, 21:35
...And he is making an argument, though not a strong one.

Strong for some, weak for others. The world will always be divided between the digital and the analog, the liberals and the conservatives, the believers and the heretics...

Oh, but that the worst conflict in the world was between silver and sensors...

Jay DeFehr
12-Apr-2012, 22:37
Strong for some, weak for others. The world will always be divided between the digital and the analog, the liberals and the conservatives, the believers and the heretics...

Oh, but that the worst conflict in the world was between silver and sensors...

Mark,

Barnbaum's argument might be more persuasive for some than for others, but its relative strength depends on its logical structure, not on how persuasive it is, or even whether its conclusions are true or false.

As far as the traditional vs digital debate is concerned, for me, there isn't one.

rdenney
12-Apr-2012, 23:17
The company I work for got my group (19 of us) iPhones and took away our laptops, only kept 2PC's; one for the boss, one for the admin.

I hope you are never asked to write a 100-page report, at a billed rate that encourages your client to demand you do it quickly. I type faster on an iPhone than on an iPad (the "keys" lack the tactile response to allow touch typing but are too far apart for hunt-and-peck). On a real keyboard with real keys, I type about four times as fast as on an iPhone. Maybe ten times as fast.

Some would argue that it's just more words, but that's not the point. I'm not seeing a reduction in words as a result of iPads. I am, however, seeing a reluctance on the part of people to read and write complete thoughts, which sometimes require more than 140 characters. I'm also seeing thoughts that aren't worth more than 140 characters, or often rendered completely senseless by garbled word replacements. I could have been fired for some of the things my iPhone thought I meant to say instead of what I actually said, but for my fat thumbs. It's a powerful tool for keeping small problems from becoming big problems, but it becomes a like a brother-in-law who came over one evening to help you build some bookshelves and three years later is still on the sofa drinking your beer. Maybe you'd rather he do that than drive your car into a tree, but then again maybe not.

Where I live, I'm doing good to get 700KB/S data rate, with frequent interruptions and sometimes enormous latency. And if I move more than 8GB a month, I pay extra. And the service I use is already expensive. It's also the only service available where I live. Forget online backups; forget replacing my hard-wired landline; forget canning my satellite TV service. So much for the cloud--I cannot depend at any time on fetching my stuff from somewhere else. I probably pay four times what you do for the same basic services, but at a much lower service model. I am not alone--even in cities, I see people saying the foulest things to to their cell phones when they walk behind a building and their call is dropped. But your model is even more dependent on an infrastructure beyond your influence than is Mr. Barnbaum's darkroom. I'm not even willing to discuss the point that reading 4-point text on my iPhone is making me even more blind than I was before.

Back on the subject, I, in fact, do approach photography differently with a digital camera than with a view camera. But that really is a false comparison--the differences between my Canon 5D and my Sinar are vast beyond the relatively trivial fact that one is digital and the other uses film. Still, I do take advantage of the ability to see the image I just made, and to check the data in that image. We used to do that, too. It was called Polaroid. And it was (and is) expensive. Fast feedback is a seductive learning tool. We can't escape the fact that the marginal cost of another provisional digital photograph is zero with the digital camera, which makes succumbing to the seduction relatively cost-free.

Mr. Barnbaum's darkroom is not as future-proof as he describes, and he cannot extrapolate the reliable availability of the necessary materials over the last 30 years to the next 30 years. At any time, he is subject to his darkroom becoming unusable if just a handful of manufacturers no longer make the few products that he critically needs. Sure, he can coat his own paper and try to find the raw materials needed to mix his own chemicals--that would test his commitment to the notion that convenience is bad for art--but I suspect that will impose a far greater modification of his work than printing digitally. With film photography, we are depending on an industry with a rapidly declining demand base. We all hope the decline stabilizes in time to sustain the minimal production infrastructure on which we depend. But we are all scared it won't, and I wonder why we keep kicking the dirt about it instead of being honest about our fear. With digital, we are depending on our own ability to maintain our computer infrastructure, which most of us do anyway, and that is not what really scares us. At the crossover points--such as keeping our prior film images relevant by scanning them--we are especially vulnerable. But what really scares us is that are hard-won skills will be seen as irrelevant, as they already are by most people.

A considered approach to the digital revolution would start by describing, free of any underlying technology, how we make our art, and then extracting requirements on technology to support that described approach. But that does not happen. Instead, products are designed for people unlike most of us, and we must live with products that fulfill someone else's requirements. Without understanding those requirements, all articles like Mr. Barnbaum's--on both sides of the debate--answer questions that have not been asked. One of those questions is whether the photographers of the future will even care to make prints. If they don't, even our digital print-making may become vulnerable to obsolescence. How's that for a cheery thought?

Rick "thinking Mr. Barnbaum's pronouncements a thinly veiled desperate fear of becoming irrelevant--and knowing how he feels" Denney

Heroique
13-Apr-2012, 00:38
I enjoyed your post, but you sure do project a lot of fear onto everyone.

Struan Gray
13-Apr-2012, 02:21
I'm not sure there's much projection needed in Barnbaum's case.

His is the usual professional response to disruptive novelty: take refuge in your job title, and only argue with puppets you make and control yourself. Here's Emerson doing the same thing over a century ago:



As we have said, by the aid of photography feeble painters and etchers are able to produce fairly passable work, where otherswise their work would have been disgraceful.

...

Art Division - In this division the aim of the work is to give aesthetic pleasure *alone*, and the artist's only wish is to produce works of art. Such work can be judged only by trained artists, and the aims and scope of such work can be fully appreciated only by trained artists. Photographers who qualify themselves by an art training, and their works alone belong to this class.


Peter Henry Emerson
Introduction to Naturalistic photography for students of the art.
http://archive.org/details/naturalisticphot00emerrich


Personally I have more respect for a flexible approach which recognises the practical need for *some* kind of decision to be made, but doesn't get too hung up on the sanctity of rules. Tortis as insect (http://www.wandleys.demon.co.uk/punch20.htm).

Mark Barendt
13-Apr-2012, 04:38
Mark,

Barnbaum's argument might be more persuasive for some than for others, but its relative strength depends on its logical structure, not on how persuasive it is, or even whether its conclusions are true or false.

As far as the traditional vs digital debate is concerned, for me, there isn't one.

Oh Jay, if only your thought we're true life would be so much simpler.


Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace

You, you may say
I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world

You, you may say
I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will live as one

Logic can be persuasive within scientific research, but even there it has to fight emotion.

In sales emotion wins over logic, in politics too.

The very reasons most people photograph things is for fun or love, not for logic.

The story (true or not) we tell about something adds value, without a story things are generic/commoditized/cheap.

Steve Smith
13-Apr-2012, 05:25
I respect actions, common sense, integrity/honesty, and complete openness... not authority.

Me too. Respect is to be earned. It doesn't automatically come with authority.


Steve

Steve Smith
13-Apr-2012, 05:27
I hope you are never asked to write a 100-page report

Without a PC? Pen and paper.


Steve.

Mark Barendt
13-Apr-2012, 05:40
I hope you are never asked to write a 100-page report, at a billed rate that encourages your client to demand you do it quickly. I type faster on an iPhone than on an iPad (the "keys" lack the tactile response to allow touch typing but are too far apart for hunt-and-peck). On a real keyboard with real keys, I type about four times as fast as on an iPhone. Maybe ten times as fast.

I have a Blutooth keyboard. Quite handy, even use it while on the treadmill.


Some would argue that it's just more words, but that's not the point. I'm not seeing a reduction in words as a result of iPads. I am, however, seeing a reluctance on the part of people to read and write complete thoughts, which sometimes require more than 140 characters. I'm also seeing thoughts that aren't worth more than 140 characters, or often rendered completely senseless by garbled word replacements. I could have been fired for some of the things my iPhone thought I meant to say instead of what I actually said, but for my fat thumbs. It's a powerful tool for keeping small problems from becoming big problems, but it becomes a like a brother-in-law who came over one evening to help you build some bookshelves and three years later is still on the sofa drinking your beer. Maybe you'd rather he do that than drive your car into a tree, but then again maybe not.

I agree that a lot of written thought is dumbing down. It is becoming so easy to use text that people expect it to be as simple as communicating via voice. To be successful though outside a very small group that requires context and understanding and trust and an understanding of the medium's failings and the coded messages we all give.


Where I live, I'm doing good to get 700KB/S data rate, with frequent interruptions and sometimes enormous latency. And if I move more than 8GB a month, I pay extra. And the service I use is already expensive. It's also the only service available where I live. Forget online backups; forget replacing my hard-wired landline; forget canning my satellite TV service. So much for the cloud--I cannot depend at any time on fetching my stuff from somewhere else. I probably pay four times what you do for the same basic services, but at a much lower service model. I am not alone--even in cities, I see people saying the foulest things to to their cell phones when they walk behind a building and their call is dropped. But your model is even more dependent on an infrastructure beyond your influence than is Mr. Barnbaum's darkroom. I'm not even willing to discuss the point that reading 4-point text on my iPhone is making me even more blind than I was before.y

I agree about the iPhone, I only use an iPhone because that's what the company gave me. IMO they were too cheap and too tied to thinking that they need voice communication outside face to face meeting to take the leap to an iPad.

Since I have my own iPad I transfer most of the 4pt stuff over there to read and manipulate.

I'm not saying that everybody can do without a Laptop or desktop. What I am saying though, is that the majority of the world can do very nicely without them.

The hurdle in a productive sense isn't really the data transfer rate, it's the reliability. If the data we are working on is in the cloud (only transferred "up" once), and the program is there on the server too, then all we are doing after the upload is using our local devices to move things around in the cloud; we're sending text and control commands that require very little bandwidth.


Back on the subject, I, in fact, do approach photography differently with a digital camera than with a view camera. But that really is a false comparison--the differences between my Canon 5D and my Sinar are vast beyond the relatively trivial fact that one is digital and the other uses film. Still, I do take advantage of the ability to see the image I just made, and to check the data in that image. We used to do that, too. It was called Polaroid. And it was (and is) expensive. Fast feedback is a seductive learning tool. We can't escape the fact that the marginal cost of another provisional digital photograph is zero with the digital camera, which makes succumbing to the seduction relatively cost-free.

Mr. Barnbaum's darkroom is not as future-proof as he describes, and he cannot extrapolate the reliable availability of the necessary materials over the last 30 years to the next 30 years. At any time, he is subject to his darkroom becoming unusable if just a handful of manufacturers no longer make the few products that he critically needs. Sure, he can coat his own paper and try to find the raw materials needed to mix his own chemicals--that would test his commitment to the notion that convenience is bad for art--but I suspect that will impose a far greater modification of his work than printing digitally. With film photography, we are depending on an industry with a rapidly declining demand base. We all hope the decline stabilizes in time to sustain the minimal production infrastructure on which we depend. But we are all scared it won't, and I wonder why we keep kicking the dirt about it instead of being honest about our fear. With digital, we are depending on our own ability to maintain our computer infrastructure, which most of us do anyway, and that is not what really scares us. At the crossover points--such as keeping our prior film images relevant by scanning them--we are especially vulnerable. But what really scares us is that are hard-won skills will be seen as irrelevant, as they already are by most people.

A considered approach to the digital revolution would start by describing, free of any underlying technology, how we make our art, and then extracting requirements on technology to support that described approach. But that does not happen. Instead, products are designed for people unlike most of us, and we must live with products that fulfill someone else's requirements. Without understanding those requirements, all articles like Mr. Barnbaum's--on both sides of the debate--answer questions that have not been asked. One of those questions is whether the photographers of the future will even care to make prints. If they don't, even our digital print-making may become vulnerable to obsolescence. How's that for a cheery thought?

Rick "thinking Mr. Barnbaum's pronouncements a thinly veiled desperate fear of becoming irrelevant--and knowing how he feels" Denney

I heard a thing on NPR, a piece on a new book, a while ago about disappearing technologies.

The upshot of the piece was that that no technology that has ever been developed by man has ever completely disappeared. Not even one.

I do agree that we, as a community, aren't really discussing the right things and that ego and emotion very much get in the way because of our fears.

rdenney
13-Apr-2012, 08:59
Without a PC? Pen and paper.

You are kidding, right? I'm even slower with pen and paper than I am with an iPhone, and there are no typists to hand a manuscript to in any case. That ship sailed about 20 years ago, and longer in many industries.

Rick "fingers cramping at the very thought" Denney

Vaughn
13-Apr-2012, 09:12
I think people need to realize Bruce's writing is titled "New Thoughts on Digital Photography". Not "An Authoriative Thesis on Digital Photography". That it appeared on his website -- not Scientific American or some peer-reviewed technical or cultural publication. It has not even appeared in Popular Photography (is that still around?)

His website, for cripe's sake! He forced no one to read it, he makes no claim of it being the "last word" on the subject.

We are a silly bunch of people...:cool:

ROL
13-Apr-2012, 10:12
His website, for cripe's sake! He forced no one to read it, he makes no claim of it being the "last word" on the subject.

We are a silly bunch of people...:cool:

Indeed. Pot calling the kettle black. But then I assume the OP's intent in calling attention to it, was to generate insightful discussion (not that I contributed any:rolleyes:), and he must ultimately take the rap for the thread, not Barnbaum.

archphotofisher
13-Apr-2012, 10:15
When photography entered the world 150 years ago the great painters did not embrace it!!!! It was the devils work; it took 80 years before it became a significant art form.
One has to remember that Eugene Atget, Ansel Adams and Edward Weston, and all of our past photographers waited for new technology to enter into their world, and embrace it with open arms. One has to remember Ansel Adams and what he did to help Polaroid photography along and his work in digital photography in the early early years.

But one thing is evident there’s a lot more people in the world photographing and having their images published, good or bad.

It all comes down to one thing for me, it doesn't matter if it was done under the dark cloth or in a wet darkroom or a printer generated by a computer. If it can’t hang on the wall and please you, year after year after year the image is not worth it. No matter how it was produced.

Photography is a technology-based art, always has been and always will be, so combine the two, old and new together to create something great.

Keep the passion, the journey is the art.

Jay DeFehr
13-Apr-2012, 10:25
Oh Jay, if only your thought we're true life would be so much simpler.
Logic can be persuasive within scientific research, but even there it has to fight emotion. In sales emotion wins over logic, in politics too.
The very reasons most people photograph things is for fun or love, not for logic.
The story (true or not) we tell about something adds value, without a story things are generic/commoditized/cheap.

mark,

I think I might have confused you. The logical structure of an argument is much like the structure of an equation, with the elements of argument (premises, inferences, conclusions,etc.) substituting for the terms of an equation, and an argument is strong or weak depending on its logical structure, but proving an argument isn't absolute the way solving an equation is. The persuasiveness of an argument depends not only on its relative strength, but also on the biases of the person(s) argued to. If you want to argue that I'm very attractive and smell like vanilla and rose petals, I might be persuaded by even a very weak argument containing obvious logical fallacies, due to my biases, but if you want to argue the same for yourself, I might be less persuaded by even a strong argument due to my biases.

So an argument can be weak and persuasive, or strong and unpersuasive, and it can contain true premises and arrive at a false conclusion or have false premises and arrive at a true conclusion. Understanding the structure of an argument, and learning to identify logical fallacies and biases provides tools for evaluating premises and arguments. For example, when you say:


In sales emotion wins over logic, in politics too.

That's a premise. As worded, it's absolute -- in sales and politics, emotion trumps logic, period. As a rule of thumb, absolute statements are usually false, so i'm not inclined to agree with your statement without a supporting argument that is persuasive. One reason absolute statements send up red flags is because any person can rely on personal experience alone to disprove one. If I say, "I've personally made purchases and/or voted based on logic alone, so your premise is false", how can you respond? For your premise to be true, mine must be false, and we've entered into a zero sum game prone to degrade to logical fallacies like ad hominem, appeal to strength, numbers, etc. -- in other words, to get emotional.

If instead, you'd written:

"Emotion can play a dominant role in sales and politics"

I'd be more likely to agree outright, even if I'm not sure what point you're trying to make by your premise.

Ken Lee
13-Apr-2012, 10:50
I assume the OP's intent in calling attention to it, was to generate insightful discussion (not that I contributed any:rolleyes:), and he must ultimately take the rap for the thread, not Barnbaum.

Yes, I thought it might generate some insightful discussion, or at least help a few members consider the issues.

Personally, I don't think that we can ever reach a judgement about any aspect of technology, because "progress" is inherently paradoxical, like the proverbial double-edged sword.

A vacuum cleaner makes it easier to clean a room, but requires electricity and all the problems that come along with getting it. The net effect of so many household devices may be greater pollution and flabbiness. Advanced medicine may save countless lives (or prolong them at least), but introduces problems of overpopulation. We may send our children to school in a bus instead of making them wal, but we need to set aside hours of exercise for them during the day, lest they become restless and... obese. And while buses may be convenient, providing fuel for them introduces a host of problems. In the casino, the house always comes out ahead, because the game is rigged. By analogy, scientists observe something called Entropy.

Those cave-painters depicted in the cartoon, may have been right all along. They were perhaps the first "Carbon printers", and some of their works have lasted 35,000 years. :cool:

Vaughn
13-Apr-2012, 11:19
...Those cave-painters depicted in the cartoon, may have been right all along. They were perhaps the first "Carbon printers", and some their works have lasted 35,000 years. :cool:

I'll have to remember that line next time someone asks how long my carbon prints will "last"! ;)

sanking
13-Apr-2012, 11:44
I'll have to remember that line next time someone asks how long my carbon prints will "last"! ;)

I bet you are not mixing your carbon pigment with blood and urine like the cave men!!

Sandy

Drew Wiley
13-Apr-2012, 11:52
Aaaah, now we are finally starting to get somewhere with this discussion - the secret techniques are starting to be revealed! I'll jot it down in my (handwritten) notebook, just in case I have the opportunity to work in carbon. Or maybe Formulary could batch up blood
and urine in alt photo kits. Never question cave painters. Their work is still the standard
by which all others are judged.

Greg Miller
13-Apr-2012, 11:57
The response would be interesting if he had proclaimed that he thought inkjet prints were as good as silver. If I recall correctly, there was no shortage of comments here when it came out that Dykinga and Muench were starting to shoot digital. Either way, isn't it healthy for people to question other people's point of view?

Sal Santamaura
13-Apr-2012, 12:06
I hope you are never asked to write a 100-page report...


Without a PC? Pen and paper...


You are kidding, right?...There are very few situations where the substantive information within a "100-page report" couldn't have been just as effectively communicated in 5 pages. Most writing after the executive summary is blah, blah, blah intended to justify the author's value or how much a client is charged for the work.

With a little refresher practice, I'd bet you could create 5 pages of good penmanship in the same or less time than it takes to type 100 pages. :)

Sal "who's railed since elementary school against judging the worth of documents by counting words and who recently ended a long engineering career spent largely churning out useless long reports" Santamaura

Jerry Bodine
13-Apr-2012, 12:39
A vacuum cleaner makes it easier to clean a room, but requires electricity and all the problems that come along with getting it. The net effect of so many household devices may be greater pollution and flabbiness. Advanced medicine may save countless lives (or prolong them at least), but introduces problems of overpopulation. We may send our children to school in a bus instead of making them walk, but we need to set aside hours of exercise for them during the day, lest they become restless and... obese. And while buses may be convenient, providing fuel for them introduces a host of problems.

Ken, this reminds me of a John Muir quote from his writings:
When we try to pick out anything by itself we find it hitched to everything else in the universe ...

Vaughn
13-Apr-2012, 13:22
I bet you are not mixing your carbon pigment with blood and urine like the cave men!!

Sandy

No, but occasionally a beard hair ends up in the print...;)


Either way, isn't it healthy for people to question other people's point of view?

Definitely!

Roger Cole
13-Apr-2012, 13:58
Oh Jay, if only your thought we're true life would be so much simpler.



Logic can be persuasive within scientific research, but even there it has to fight emotion.

In sales emotion wins over logic, in politics too.

The very reasons most people photograph things is for fun or love, not for logic.

The story (true or not) we tell about something adds value, without a story things are generic/commoditized/cheap.

I had started to post earlier, "what on earth does logic have to do with art?" but knew I'd get roasted. Well I've donned my flame proof undies, or else just plain don't care.

Of course that's inferring something more absolute than I believe too. Any short statement is going to have limits. They're not totally unrelated, but can be very uneasy bedfellows. That's fine with me. I'm a network engineer. I work with iron laws of numbers all the time. My art is for my emotional side, and photography is a good one for me because its technological processes (I'm referring here to analog, but the same would be true of digital) gives my logical mind something to lock on and occupy itself so that it can get out of the way. I prefer analog because I overload on computers and digital anyway. The last thing I want to do is work an all night maintenance shift upgrading our backbone network then come home and use more computers for my art, but that's a personal situation and partial reason for my preference. It doesn't apply to anyone else. Even someone else with the same job might well not feel the same way about it.

So logic is important to me if I'm deciding whether I should develop a little longer or such. It doesn't really dictate my choice of analog versus digital. That's inherently an emotional choice for me. I do this because I enjoy it, and I use the medium I enjoy working with. Logic, other than that very basic "do the one you like" doesn't really enter into it.


I think people need to realize Bruce's writing is titled "New Thoughts on Digital Photography". Not "An Authoriative Thesis on Digital Photography". That it appeared on his website -- not Scientific American or some peer-reviewed technical or cultural publication. It has not even appeared in Popular Photography (is that still around?)

His website, for cripe's sake! He forced no one to read it, he makes no claim of it being the "last word" on the subject.

We are a silly bunch of people...:cool:

I think this sums up what I was trying to say with my comments that I doubt Bruce cares if some people don't agree etc. Even that got turned into criticism of him. That man couldn't say "a cloud in the sky is almost always located somewhere above the ground" without producing controversy. I also don't see him saying "I'm right because I'm Bruce Barnbaum." If there's argument by authority it's inferred by the reader. He may not treat his students as complete people but, if so, I can't tell from this. He's focusing on a few areas that he says he sees repeatedly, or even always, and I have no particular reason to doubt his observations. He doesn't claim they are the sum total of all his observations and opinions.

It's almost as if once someone reaches a certain level of notoriety they can't express an opinion without being piled on for it, or else it better be iron-clad logical. Bah.

Ultimately, they're just his opinions and his observations, posted on his own web site. Like them, hate them, agree or disagree, whatever.


Yes, I thought it might generate some insightful discussion, or at least help a few members consider the issues.

Personally, I don't think that we can ever reach a judgement about any aspect of technology, because "progress" is inherently paradoxical, like the proverbial double-edged sword.

A vacuum cleaner makes it easier to clean a room, but requires electricity and all the problems that come along with getting it. The net effect of so many household devices may be greater pollution and flabbiness. Advanced medicine may save countless lives (or prolong them at least), but introduces problems of overpopulation. We may send our children to school in a bus instead of making them wal, but we need to set aside hours of exercise for them during the day, lest they become restless and... obese. And while buses may be convenient, providing fuel for them introduces a host of problems. In the casino, the house always comes out ahead, because the game is rigged. By analogy, scientists observe something called Entropy.

Those cave-painters depicted in the cartoon, may have been right all along. They were perhaps the first "Carbon printers", and some of their works have lasted 35,000 years. :cool:

Most labor saving appliances and technologies don't end up doing anything of the sort. If they make us more efficient we don't work less, we just get more done or else they shift our work to other areas. Microwave ovens didn't make us work less, they just made us work at other things more and cook less.

I'm not sure where there may be an analogy to digital photography here, unless it's that I don't see people spending less time on post processing and more on shooting. Rather I see them shooting large numbers of nearly identical images then spending as much time chimping a day's shooting as I would spend in the darkroom. They just sort through many times more (often nearly identical) images when doing it.

Yes yes, not everyone does this, and one can certainly shoot deliberately with digital, and I'm sure many pros do so.


I bet you are not mixing your carbon pigment with blood and urine like the cave men!!

Sandy

Interesting aside - I attended and art show opening that included work by my wife's best friend. Among the other art displayed there was a series of paintings in what looked like a dull red pigment but was actually HIV+ blood done by an HIV+ artist. The medium was part of the message. So even painting with blood isn't totally gone. I don't know of anyone including urine in their pigments, but they may well be out there.

Mark Barendt
13-Apr-2012, 14:03
mark,

I think I might have confused you.

No confusion for me.

I truly believe that emotion drives the buying decisions of anything that must be sold. It's all about whom we trust first and then what we know.

Take margarine/Oleo for example. There was a point in my life where I believed fully it was better for me than butter.

There were a few other people that believed that too, we were afraid of butter. Uncle Sam and a few others sold us on that fear.

Turns out we were wrong. Eggs, same basic thing.

Ken Lee
13-Apr-2012, 14:10
Ken, this reminds me of a John Muir quote from his writings:
When we try to pick out anything by itself we find it hitched to everything else in the universe ...

Beautiful

I suspect we're connecting to the same basic tradition of thinking.

rdenney
13-Apr-2012, 14:32
With a little refresher practice, I'd bet you could create 5 pages of good penmanship in the same or less time than it takes to type 100 pages. :)

I'll do you the respect of the assumption of innocence in trying to extrapolate a grade-school lesson to a world where complex designs and processes can't be described in five pages. Systems are far more complicated than they used to be, and far more multidisciplinary. It takes a lot words to explain things clearly enough to prevent failures, and most engineering failures can be traced to inadequate documentation, not a surfeit of it.

Rick "whose penmanship is not at issue" Denney

Jay DeFehr
13-Apr-2012, 15:06
No confusion for me.

I truly believe that emotion drives the buying decisions of anything that must be sold. It's all about whom we trust first and then what we know.

Take margarine/Oleo for example. There was a point in my life where I believed fully it was better for me than butter.

There were a few other people that believed that too, we were afraid of butter. Uncle Sam and a few others sold us on that fear.

Turns out we were wrong. Eggs, same basic thing.

Ok, Mark -- you win.

ROL
13-Apr-2012, 20:29
Ok, Mark -- you win.

Grasshoppa, finally, you understand.

Jay DeFehr
13-Apr-2012, 21:23
Grasshoppa, finally, you understand.

Never mistake fatigue for wisdom.;)

iml
14-Apr-2012, 13:23
I think some people here need to step away from the keyboard for a few hours and relax.

Ken Lee
14-Apr-2012, 13:45
I've always held this forum in "higher regard" when compare to those the likes of APUG. But to be honest, as of recent I can hardly differentiate between two. This is sad. Wasn't this thread about Bruce Barnbaum's article and his opinions on Digital Imaging? Or does that matter?

My apologies for going against the grain. :p

A small number of forum members make most of the clatter. The rest are courteous and light-hearted.

Merg Ross
14-Apr-2012, 13:46
I think some people here need to step away from the keyboard for a few hours and relax.

Or perhaps step away for even longer. This could have been a civil discussion of one man's observations. Instead, it has deteriorated and become an embarassment.

Brian C. Miller
14-Apr-2012, 13:48
ON TOPIC POST FOLLOWS:


There is nothing about digital photography that forces lack of thinking, but there is much about digital photography that encourages it. You can grab the camera, point it at a scene and shoot almost immediately. Then you can look and even delete if you’re not satisfied. Not much thinking involved there.

From PetaPixel, I tend to churn through eight gigs at least, 280 to 300 shots and usually many more, even on the simplest jobs. It’s just so easy to snap away, and that’s what bites you in the ass.

But has my photography improved with all those extra images? I would argue not. If anything, it’s diluted the faith I have in my photographic convictions.[/quote]

Somebody besides Bruce has noticed a problem.


A look at the past is a clear indication of future problems. Old time 5 1/4" floppy memory disks gave way to 3" floppies, then to zip disks, then to CD Roms, then DVDs, and so on. Along the way new hardware and software had to be purchased to keep pace with technological improvements. Translations had to be made from older to newer systems. Current memory storage options will have to be translated to future memory options. The longer you delay in staying current, the less likely it is that you can make the translation. Your older important work can be lost forever.

LA Times: Movie Studios Are Forcing Hollywood to Abandon 35mm Film. But the Consequences of Going Digital Are Vast, and Troubling ("]The One-Gig Card Challenge:

And even after the films are converted to digital, Jan-Christopher Horak, director of the UCLA Film & Television Archive, calls the challenges of preserving them "monumental." Digital is lousy for long-term storage.

The main problem is format obsolescence. File formats can go obsolete in a matter of months. On this subject, Horak's every sentence requires an exclamation mark. "In the last 10 years of digitality, we've gone through 20 formats!" he says. "Every 18 months we're getting a new format!"

So every two years, data must be transferred, or "migrated," to a new device. If that doesn't happen, the data may never being accessible again. Technology can advance too far ahead.

Once again, somebody else has noted what Bruce observed.


Cost is one, not just the initial costs, but the subsequent costs. Initially the cost of digital — scanner, computer, monitor, printer, and software applications — is comparable to traditional: enlarger, lens, sink and plumbing, timer, easel, trays, safelights, etc. But digital requires constant updating and upgrading. Nothing obsoletes itself as swiftly and thoroughly as computer equipment and applications

LA Times:

The new format is called a DCP, or Digital Cinema Package. It is a virtual format, a collection of files stored on a hard drive. Roughly the size of a paperback novel, the hard drive is mailed in a lightweight, foam-lined plastic case to the theater, where it's inserted (or, in the lingo, "ingested") into a server that runs the digital projector. DCPs won't run on traditional film projectors, however. So if they want to play the new format, theater owners must update their equipment.

For this privilege, exhibitors can expect to shell out from $70,000 to $150,000 per screen.

And yet another example of, yes, other seeing what Bruce has seen.

Now, is Bruce really that far off base? He does state quite directly in his article, "I feel digital approaches are perfectly legitimate and wonderful." He has simply noted recurring problems with the digital process. Nothing more, nothing less.

rdenney
14-Apr-2012, 15:04
I heard a thing on NPR, a piece on a new book, a while ago about disappearing technologies.

The upshot of the piece was that that no technology that has ever been developed by man has ever completely disappeared. Not even one.

I do agree that we, as a community, aren't really discussing the right things and that ego and emotion very much get in the way because of our fears.

I think it's true that we never really forget how to do stuff--someone will always keep it going.

But my point wasn't that nobody would keep it going, but that Mr. Barnbaum would not be able to continue to extract prints from his negatives, including making new negatives, as conveniently as he has done in the past. This undermines his argument, it seems to me. The result is that he might have to make his own materials, or buy very expensive and inconsistent small-batch materials. These will necessarily affect his product and the time required to produce it, even the he presents it as a trustworthy constant. And the dimensions of digital photography are also dynamic.

Most of us will, at some point, have to come to terms with this. Right now, it isn't easy--the alternatives to the quality and control we have using sheet film (however we print it) are still quite expensive, prohibitively for some, in dollars and relearning time. I think this was motivating Mr. Barnbaum to make a statement.

Two things seem likely to me: 1.) Digital methods will get cheaper and better. I'm not sure they'll get better in the ways we want them to (big, affordable capture systems), but they will improve.

2.) The value of quality will go down, as the commercial clientele loses interest in it. Slick catalogs give way to web pages, etc. I think we will always stand for quality even if nobody appreciates it but us, but we may lose sufficient critical mass to sustain the required support industry.

Those who revere image detail and tonal depth in large prints are going to be faced with some hard choices, eventually. There are things to be afraid of: becoming irrelevant (maybe many of us don't care), not being able to afford the new technologies for a significant period of time after the old technologies lose viability in the market, or losing the value of the investment many of us have made in equipment and technique.

These things scare me, or more accurately, they depress me--several of the avocations I look forward to in retirement in 15 or 20 years are likely not to survive that long. I've spent decades (slowly) building proficiency--who wouldn't be a little depressed at having to start over?

So, we have divided into camps: those who hold on and those who throw away. The camps are often at war, but the fact is that most of us here are in both camps, if we are young enough to outlive what the holders are holding onto, yet old enough to have too much invested in what the throwers are more willing to abandon.

Surely there is a way to explore the transition without the bloodshed.

Rick "not ignoring the future" Denney

Greg Miller
14-Apr-2012, 15:45
Somebody besides Bruce has noticed a problem.

Regarding the file formats, that may be a problem with cinematic formats, but what commonly used still formats have disappeared in the past 10 years? tiff, psd, jpg - all safe and will continue to be safe because the billions of images currently in those formats virtually guarantees all will be readable for many generations to come.

What does DCP, and its effect on costs of storing cinematic content, have to do with the cost of storing digital still photography images? Again, there aren't any digital file formats disappearing or anyone being forced to convert formats. Also, compare the cost of storing film in file cabinets, hanging systems, archival sleeves, cost of floor space, cost of climate control to the cost of replacing a hard drive every 2 or 3 years. Hard drives are ever decreasing in cost per byte, take a fraction of the floor space, can be stored in normal climatic conditions, and first generation copies can be stored in multiple locations thereby decreasing the risk of loss.

Regarding shotgun shooting, you could have made the same argument when roll film came out - I saw the exact same behavior in 35mm film photographers before digital ever became mainstream. You can also expect that people who use shotgun tactics are unlikely to improve as photographers regardless of whether they use digital or film. If someone lacks discipline and the motivation to learn how to see, then putting a film camera in their hands will not make things better. You can also make the argument that using the immediate feedback of digital allows for people (who are inclined to learn) to learn faster than with film, and become better photographers in less time. Using the anecdotal evidence of one photographer does not build a strong case. The better comparison would be to look a large population of serious new photographers, and see if there is any difference on their growth. Who cares about the hordes of snap shooters snapping away.

Ken Lee
14-Apr-2012, 17:58
http://www.kenleegallery.com/images/forum/seesaw.gif

From cave paintings to canvas paintings, we gained some and lost some.

From canvas to photographs, we gained some and lost some.

From analog to digital, it's the same.

It's a zero-sum game.