Because I am a relative novice in the use of photography (film photography 1973 to 1978 and now digital photography, 2002to present) I enjoy participating much more in these discussions where my mind itself is “engaged.” creatively than in the totally technical debates about the latest version of hardware/software. Like a lot of the posters to this site I want to improve my own work. And also like others here, that journey towards improvement is at times confrontational to my own ingrained day-to-day biases and opinions.
“Image quality is not the product of a machine but of the person who directs the machine, and there are no limits to imagination and expression”.
This quote is also by Anselm Adams.
Both the camera & the computer fall into the category of machines, making Adams comment relevant to both.
It is my understanding that the CCD and CMOS chips used as sensors in digital cameras are monochromatic (Please correct me if I’m misinformed) and that this grayscale data that they capture about tonal values represented, then has to be converted into a form of RGB, either by the camera itself or through a computer later. In film, there is a necessity to make the choice of translation at an earlier stage than in digital, and there are certainly more options which need to be considered. One way of allowing myself to postpone a part of final choice was to load two bodies for my SLR with different films to assure myself of a choice of interpretation.
Computers have a certain image in the popular mind as being a “push the button” machine that controls the creation of the work. This image is not entirely undeserved. Software developers are under pressure from there sales base to make things easier to do and yet cover ever more complex circumstances at the same time. Think of all the complaints about how slow programs are. I always find myself asking Slow in relation to what? The idea of comparing a physical wet darkroom to a digital darkroom on anything more than a superficial level seems absurd to me. Software image editing packages for instance, are loaded with one button effects filters, which incidentally, many people do not take any real time to learn how to use, let alone understand. A real world darkroom equivalent would necessitate stocking every possible development-chemistry at optimal useable concentration & temperature, for every possible paper combination, and every possible physical effects-paraphernalia within a hands reach of the darkroom user, just in case its needed.
Much (but certainly not all) of the poorly executed digital art so abundant on the web is the result of a lack of knowledge of the specific program being used rather than an inherent fault in digital technology upon which the program is based. Great photographs can and have been created in both film and digital media. Before film great photos were created on glass plates coated with emulsion.
I have been using computers for my artwork, initially I admit out of forced (economic) necessity, for some time now. At the time, I resented this forced migration immensely. Now I find I often create personal work on the computer in preference to the traditional hard media I was schooled in, because I can achieve things impossible to do in paint, increasing the fluency & literacy of my personal visual language. I still often begin my digital works with an initial pencil or ink sketch of some kind, if only to capture the moment of inspiration as it occurs. I do not differentiate between either of these tools strictly on the basis of origin, but rather on which allows me to arrive at my chosen destination in the most straightforward manner. To paraphrase Rob C, I will not rob myself of the best shot at getting it right. It is the conscious, thinking part of me that is my best assurance of protecting my ability to do this.
Sorry BernardL, I guess I've paraphrased you too!