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Thread: "New Thoughts on Digital Photography" by Bruce Barnbaum

  1. #41

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    Re: "New Thoughts on Digital Photography" by Bruce Barnbaum

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Lee View Post
    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.

  2. #42

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    Re: "New Thoughts on Digital Photography" by Bruce Barnbaum

    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.

  3. #43
    Michael Alpert
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    Re: "New Thoughts on Digital Photography" by Bruce Barnbaum

    Quote Originally Posted by paulr View Post
    Another argument the painters made against photography in the mid-nineteenth century.


    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.

  4. #44
    Roger Cole's Avatar
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    Re: "New Thoughts on Digital Photography" by Bruce Barnbaum

    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.
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    Most blest is he who lives free and bold
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    for the fearful man is dismayed by aught,
    and the mean one mourns over giving.
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  5. #45

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    Re: "New Thoughts on Digital Photography" by Bruce Barnbaum

    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.

  6. #46
    Roger Cole's Avatar
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    Re: "New Thoughts on Digital Photography" by Bruce Barnbaum

    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.
    My Flickr page

    Most blest is he who lives free and bold
    and nurses never a grief,
    for the fearful man is dismayed by aught,
    and the mean one mourns over giving.
    - Hávamál verse 48

  7. #47

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    Re: "New Thoughts on Digital Photography" by Bruce Barnbaum

    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Cole View Post
    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.

  8. #48

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    Re: "New Thoughts on Digital Photography" by Bruce Barnbaum

    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Cole View Post
    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.

  9. #49

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    Re: "New Thoughts on Digital Photography" by Bruce Barnbaum

    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Cole View Post
    ...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.

  10. #50

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    Re: "New Thoughts on Digital Photography" by Bruce Barnbaum

    Quote Originally Posted by Old-N-Feeble View Post
    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.

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