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Author Topic: Is it Over?  (Read 17273 times)

Rob C

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amolitor

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Re: Is it Over?
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2015, 03:24:37 PM »

On the one hand, the author is perfectly correct. A link has been severed.

On the other hand, so what? What did that physical connection actually do?

Manipulation is possible in photoshop. It was possible with film, too. The argument is essentially identical to this argument, which I think nobody ever bothered to make:

Now that we've introduced materials that require the use of a developer, a critical link has been severed. Rather than the silver-halides being physically broken down to form the image, as with "printing out" materials, we now merely form a latent image, a chimera, which must be amplified, one might even say extrapolated, by the use of a chemical developing agent. No longer is a photograph a thing literally made by the light from the world, now it is merely suggested, hinted at in the depths of some poorly understood quantum-mechanical world, from which it can be drawn forth only with additional labor.

I think a strong argument can be made that the medium doesn't actually matter much. What matters is what the photographer chooses, ultimately, to do with the stuff the medium gathers up.

That too is under change, and that is, I think, where the actual issues are and where serious people are thinking hard.
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Tim Lookingbill

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Re: Is it Over?
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2015, 03:28:55 PM »

Some folks just can't let go of the past and embrace better, newer and easier to use technology to what amounts to a hobby by most.

Sure, deem the digital camera as just a data collector and not a teller of the truth. I'm loving what I'm getting with my digital camera shooting Raw. I never want to go back to shooting film. What a PITA!

No, Rob, it's never going to be over.
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Torbjörn Tapani

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Re: Is it Over?
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2015, 04:06:53 PM »

Unless you expose a substrate to light and that is your finished print I dont think you have any bigger claim to some physical truth. A print from a negative already lost that physical connection. Might as well be ones and zeros by that point.
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RSL

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Re: Is it Over?
« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2015, 04:29:10 PM »

Evidently the author believes Trotsky wasn't there in those pictures.

Rob C

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Re: Is it Over?
« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2015, 04:31:30 PM »

Some folks just can't let go of the past and embrace better, newer and easier to use technology to what amounts to a hobby by most.

Sure, deem the digital camera as just a data collector and not a teller of the truth. I'm loving what I'm getting with my digital camera shooting Raw. I never want to go back to shooting film. What a PITA!

No, Rob, it's never going to be over.



Indeed it is: you say why yourself: the dislike of film techniques.

It was the very visceral, organic even (distrust the use of the word 'organic' usually), life that the medium itself offered, and which to quote somebody else, was true: the medium was the message.

The message was born to each individual the first time (s)he developed a film and made a print. Nothing in digital sows those seeds in people.

I have repeatedly claimed to anyone who cared to listen that, were digital all there had ever been, I would not have had a reasonably good career in photography. I doubt I would have even owned a camera. There is zero in digital that attracts me, as an old photographer, other than the fact that once a camera and a card are bought, that can pretty well be the end of expenses. Unless, of course, you care to factor in all the upgrades and computers you end up buying just to stand still. I could be doing pretty much all I ever wanted to do in PS6 were it not that my latest computers can't use it. That leads to other problems of longevity of image I won't even go into here.

The magic of photography hardly exists for me now, and, I suspect, many others. We do it digitally because we have little economic or practical choice anymore. It took a lot of world-class snappers, Albert Watson amongst their number, to make that leap. Not because they were ignorant, didn't have their finger on the pulse of what was going down, but because they saw every day that, up in their stratosphere, there was a quality with film that digital just couldn't give.

So what about digital and images? I think digital does just as the chap in the link says it does.

I look at pictures on this site that are supposed to represent the best of Leica's dedicated digital b/w cameras and then I remember how real b/white looked - I still have a very few prints from the 70s still left, highly glazed WSG D papers, and though I have managed to get digital b/white A3+ to where I think it can go, those digital prints don't even feel the same. Without a shadow of a doubt, the computer gives far more accurate control in tiny areas than did manual shading and dodging, but so what, the end product is a graceless perfection devoid of personality.

I have never owned a Leica - at the time I was working it fitted no purpose that my Nikon F and so on through the years didn't handle better. I feel no brand loyalty to the marque at all, but I still think the writer was right: it's not photography now, it's another beast altogether. In general, from what I see, it's a pretty soulless mother.

And as to digital being easier to use, I don't think so if you are being serious in your work. What it does make easier is to produce crap. From the simple, three-trick understanding challenge of film cameras it has become a bitch you often find yourself fighting. Too many choices. Too many opportunities for getting caught out on wrong machine settings. Happens to me almost every day I go shooting.

In a nutshell, digital lacks simpatico. Digital is to photography what painting by numbers is to fine art.

Rob C
« Last Edit: September 28, 2015, 04:52:14 PM by Rob C »
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amolitor

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Re: Is it Over?
« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2015, 04:51:18 PM »

To be fair, the author isn't making the common, facile, and wrong argument that "now that we have photoshop, it's all just balderdash".

He's making a more subtle and, in some ways, interesting point. It is, I think, better phrased as a question:

What, if anything, is lost, when the physical medium of film and all the photochemical stuff and all the physicality of it is removed from the equation?

You can be dismissive if you like, but you're pretty much just angrily saying "SHUT UP, EGGHEAD! THINKING MAKES ME FEEL FUNNY INSIDE!"
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Rob C

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Re: Is it Over?
« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2015, 04:53:13 PM »

To be fair, the author isn't making the common, facile, and wrong argument that "now that we have photoshop, it's all just balderdash".

He's making a more subtle and, in some ways, interesting point. It is, I think, better phrased as a question:

What, if anything, is lost, when the physical medium of film and all the photochemical stuff and all the physicality of it is removed from the equation?

You can be dismissive if you like, but you're pretty much just angrily saying "SHUT UP, EGGHEAD! THINKING MAKES ME FEEL FUNNY INSIDE!"

You are so right!

Rob C

Mike D. B.

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Re: Is it Over?
« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2015, 04:55:10 PM »

... In general, from what I see, it's a pretty soulless mother. ...
Rob C
+1

Maybe it’s more difficult for (us old) long-time analog photographers to “let go” and change to digital than for a younger generation.  I do miss my Leica M3, my Pentax 6x7, my Nikon F2.  But I love returning from a shoot and immediately being able to download images to my computer for viewing, processing and, often, printing.

I miss negatives.  I miss developing films.  I miss substance after shooting.  I’m not keen on the virtual world, be it digital communications, collecting my life on a hard disk, worrying about data loss, buying s new computer every six years or so.  But I enjoy the immediate availability of information via the net, the ability to exchange information in forums.

I miss being able to exchange my car’s burnt out headlamp without having to disassemble half the engine’s cooling system in order to reach the darn lamp housing.  I miss the ability to set my (new) alarm clock without having to spend hours trying to understand the odd translations in the instruction manual which is a good 300 pages thick and weighs more than the clock/radio set itself and has print so tiny, that I need a strong magnifying glass to read the print plus a interpreter to understand what the (Chinese?) manufacturer is trying to tell me.  I’ve gone through some eight new radio/alarm clocks, tossing all out and ended up buying the analog (Saba flip clock) I had in the earl 70s.

Rob, I keep swinging back and forth between two eras (universes?).

RSL

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Re: Is it Over?
« Reply #9 on: September 28, 2015, 05:32:37 PM »

Interesting discussion. In the process of clearing out the house in preparation for moving permanently to Florida I've given away at least a hundred framed pictures to my four sons and 18 grandkids, mostly from the walls, but a bunch from temporary storage. They also carried off more than another hundred mounted and matted prints. A lot of these pictures ended up or will end up on the walls of my second son's law firm, and my oldest daughter-in-law's real estate company. The equipment I used to shoot these pictures ranged all the way from a 4 x 5 view, through a series of lesser 35mm cameras, a Canon 7, three Leicas, one Ikoflex, one Rolleiflex, and a series of ever-improving digitals ending with the Nikon D3 and D800.

I loved working in the darkroom, but once adequate post-processing software (Photoshop) came along I was happy to leave the darkroom behind. Yeah, I loved watching a print come up in the developer, but when you were finished you had to wash up all that stuff, and I hate washing up stuff. Now I look at those prints, many from the darkroom and many from the Epson 3880, and what I notice is that with the B&W prints unless I think hard I sometimes can't remember which camera I shot them with.

It all comes down to HCB's universally true statement: "Photographing is nothing. Looking is everything." The key is to be so familiar with your camera that you don't have to think about it any more than you think about shifting gears in a stick-shift car. I agree with Rob that most digital cameras have far too many bells and whistles. But you don't have to use all that stuff. You use the stuff that fits your own way of shooting.

As far as the original question is concerned, as Yogi Berra famously said, "It ain't over till it's over." And, though equipment, like climate, is always changing, it ain't over, folks.   

amolitor

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Re: Is it Over?
« Reply #10 on: September 28, 2015, 05:41:10 PM »

Personally, I am of the opinion (I think) that what is lost is really just a method of working. Film has a bunch of properties that make using it different from digital. For Rob, those ways of working suited him in ways that digital does not, and there's really no argument to be made against that, is there? It's personal.

Still, there's the all important question (and it is genuinely important) of how society as a whole looks at photos. What does society, en masse, think about photographs? Digital and photoshop are huge players in the changes here. Despite the fact that people could and did manipulate film, the perception of photographs today is far more that manipulation is present.

People were surprised to find that Yosemite doesn't really look like that.
Nobody at all is surprised that there were only 3 mourners, not 3000.

That's an important change.

And then there's the other, squishier, question. What else is being lost? Is there something we can't even see yet, something we can't imagine, that's being lost in the film to digital transition? What are we missing?

Humans are notoriously bad at noticing hugely important things at times of transition and I like to think that the last 100 years has given us a healthy sense of paranoia in times of rapid change. So, it it fit and meet to ask, regularly, What, if anything, is being lost?
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Tim Lookingbill

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Re: Is it Over?
« Reply #11 on: September 28, 2015, 06:27:20 PM »

It appears from my years as a prepress technician working in the darkroom trying to meet deadlines that we're missing from digital the glazed filtering effect from gelatinous layers of dye couplers reacting to sliver halide exposed to light that creates to what amounts similarly to viewing a captured scene through the layered glazes of a decoupage project and assuming that imbues some type of soul to the final image.

My suggestion is to go to the real thing by taking up decoupage. I'm having fun playing around with ACR's WB, HSL and SplitTone to come up with my own looks and color styles straight from my own vivid imagination to create images that for one I haven't seen before and secondly were impossible to convey with film and thus avoiding the disappointments from the lab of shots taken with my Yashica SLR and 35mm print negative film.
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RSL

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Re: Is it Over?
« Reply #12 on: September 28, 2015, 06:36:52 PM »

Personally, I am of the opinion (I think) that what is lost is really just a method of working. Film has a bunch of properties that make using it different from digital. For Rob, those ways of working suited him in ways that digital does not, and there's really no argument to be made against that, is there? It's personal.

Still, there's the all important question (and it is genuinely important) of how society as a whole looks at photos. What does society, en masse, think about photographs? Digital and photoshop are huge players in the changes here. Despite the fact that people could and did manipulate film, the perception of photographs today is far more that manipulation is present.

People were surprised to find that Yosemite doesn't really look like that.
Nobody at all is surprised that there were only 3 mourners, not 3000.

That's an important change.

And then there's the other, squishier, question. What else is being lost? Is there something we can't even see yet, something we can't imagine, that's being lost in the film to digital transition? What are we missing?

Humans are notoriously bad at noticing hugely important things at times of transition and I like to think that the last 100 years has given us a healthy sense of paranoia in times of rapid change. So, it it fit and meet to ask, regularly, What, if anything, is being lost?

Hi Andrew, You've made some interesting points, and with respect to the kind of photography intended to memorialize something, I agree. But if you see photography as art, whether or not you can manipulate a photograph in Photoshop should be the least of anyone's concern. Once you see photography as art its objective becomes synonymous with painting: to produce a certain kind of experience.

Frankly I don't think anything's being "lost." I think something's being added.

bassman51

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Re: Is it Over?
« Reply #13 on: September 28, 2015, 11:12:05 PM »

I think I'm old enough to qualify as an oldtimer, as Medicare kicks in next year for me.  I can't understand why this is an issue, any more than the advent of cars destroyed the natural state of horse-driven transportation ("you don't sit on a living, breathing creature anymore, but rather in a cold metal cage propelled by inanimate mechanical processes ...").

Nobody really looks at a negative as a piece of art, anymore than they look at a sensor.  It's the final image - after all the choices (manipulations) of capturing the reflected light on the chemical or semiconductor sensor; all the choices (manipulation) in exposing and developing the silver print or post processing and printing the inkjet print.  I fail to see any philosophical difference.  I do see many practical and qualitative differences.

In the end, neither us "better" or "worse". Just new. 
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GrahamBy

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Re: Is it Over?
« Reply #14 on: September 29, 2015, 01:33:49 AM »

I think the "problem" is not what was lost but gained: the facility to over-manipulate.

Here's a photo I took a week ago:
https://500px.com/photo/123014133/h%C3%B4tel-de-ville-des-pentes-by-graham-byrnes?ctx_page=1&from=user&user_id=10643117

In your opinion, it looks more like the author's film or digital example?

The fact that digital allows you to stuff around doesn't oblige you to do so...
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Diego Pigozzo

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Re: Is it Over?
« Reply #15 on: September 29, 2015, 05:57:02 AM »

http://leicaphilia.com/digital-photography-based-on-a-true-story/
Rob C

It looks to me the same old lamenting about digital manipulation vs film truthfulness.
The only interesting part (which, obviously, is not explored enough since is not "philosophical enough") is the archivial problem.

But aside that, just old (and boring) stuff.
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GrahamBy

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Re: Is it Over?
« Reply #16 on: September 29, 2015, 06:12:24 AM »

Actually, this reminds me: I have at home a copy of "The International Photography Yearbook 1981" which I picked out of a bargain bin somewhere. It contains a lot of rather painful manipulations by multiple exposure either in camera or in the darkroom (but also some wonderful images by eg Helmut Newton).

Bad taste is bad taste, technology just gives it greater scope.

As to the philosophical difference between capturing the passage of photons via a quantum mechanical interaction with a) an unstable chemical bond in gelatine smeared on plastic vs b) a semiconductor printed on a silicon wafer... it's more a demonstration of ignorance than anything else. Personally, I doubt Barthes would have been so silly as to worry about it.
« Last Edit: September 29, 2015, 06:19:09 AM by GrahamBy »
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Diego Pigozzo

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Re: Is it Over?
« Reply #17 on: September 29, 2015, 06:15:36 AM »

...
As to the philosophical difference between capturing the passage of photos via a quantum mechanical interaction with a) an unstable chemical bond in gelatine smeared on plastic vs b) a semiconductor printed on a silicon wafer...

Let's add the quantum interaction with the opsin proteins.
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Rob C

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Re: Is it Over?
« Reply #18 on: September 29, 2015, 09:14:13 AM »

Actually, this reminds me: I have at home a copy of "The International Photography Yearbook 1981" which I picked out of a bargain bin somewhere. It contains a lot of rather painful manipulations by multiple exposure either in camera or in the darkroom (but also some wonderful images by eg Helmut Newton).

Bad taste is bad taste, technology just gives it greater scope.

As to the philosophical difference between capturing the passage of photons via a quantum mechanical interaction with a) an unstable chemical bond in gelatine smeared on plastic vs b) a semiconductor printed on a silicon wafer... it's more a demonstration of ignorance than anything else. Personally, I doubt Barthes would have been so silly as to worry about it.

That's a wonderful pairing! Helmut was famous for (amongst other things) saying that he hated good taste! And he never betrayed himself. Having said which, I admit to a love/not-quite-hate relationship with him. I spent my hundred euros buying the small version of Sumo and periodically put it up on its perspex stand on my workbench, music on loudly, and look through as much as I can before getting physically tired. You can't sit down with it on your knee: it will kill your circulation.

Helmut had one very great talent: he knew how to shock, but how to keep it within publishable limits. He also admitted to a collection of personal porn, but as I have no interest in that I shall not be searching for it.

However, all of this delightful reverie stuff aside, it's painful to have started a thread and later realise just how few will make contact with the actual point of the original link.

Oh well, wiser next time.

Rob C

Diego Pigozzo

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Re: Is it Over?
« Reply #19 on: September 29, 2015, 09:17:47 AM »

..it's painful to have started a thread and later realise just how few will make contact with the actual point of the original link.

Why, there is any actual point in the original link beside "just film photographers were real photographers"?
« Last Edit: September 29, 2015, 09:19:26 AM by Diego Pigozzo »
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