I am an occasional reader of both Luminous Landscape AND Ken Rockwell's site. Both of them occasionally give me some info I find useful (technical, photoshop hints etc.). I have, however, found them to be both rather meager in any meaningful content as related to discussions of art, artistic process, aesthetics et al. I find Alain Briot's articles on the creative process to be sophomoric and dull...overstating the obvious and lacking any new, fresh ideas or insights. This is just my opinion.
As to the rebuttal...The question IS the problem. "The Camera Doesn't Matter" is just a rewording of the "pithy aphorism" -It's not the camera, it's the photographer.
I am not sure if Michael understands the question....Let me put it this way:
You may have heard the riddle: "If a tree falls in the forest, and there is no one there to hear it, does it make a sound?" . The most technically cogent answer would be....NO. A tree falling creates sound waves....and a 'sound' is a measurement of the sound waves (to our ears...noise, music…whatever). Therefore, if there is nothing to measure the sound waves…there is no sound. The problem however is that this ignores the "essence" of the question...the question is not a scientific inquiry but rather a philosophical dispute: "Is there an objective reality that exists outside of our perception of it". THIS is the real question in the case of a tree falling, and I think the real question in the case of the camera is: "Does a technical improvement in a creative tool directly correlate to an aesthetical improvement in that creative process." OR "Can an improvement in precision foment an improvement in creative decision" OR "It not the medium, it is the message" OR…well…You could go on and on. The question is obvious.
I must start by saying I don't appreciate the patronizing tone of Michael’s rebuttal. As if reading his point of view is somehow the final word on the subject. Throwing around words like "stupid" "horseshit" and "mindless vapidity" does not elevate his position in any way…all it does is get my back up. And so I start...
Photography is an art and a craft. As a craft it is only of interest to speak of its merits or qualities purely in terms of its commercial value. As a craft it is as interesting a subject to discuss as it is to have a discussion about the K&N air filter on my motorcycle (well…it IS interesting to me , actually). Maybe Michael is more comfortable talking about technical matters because (in my opinion) his work is lacking of much artistic content or style. I could never look at one of his photos and recognize a distinctive personal style or trait, and his work does not move me on any emotional level. He is very technically proficient, and because he is always traveling and shooting full-time, he has shot some unique moments. But an artist creates his own moments. Currently, in Toronto, there is an exhibition at Stephen Bulger's photo gallery by Larry Towell (http://www.bulgergallery.com/
). As this gallery is rather close to my own gallery I have looked at these quite often. I am amazed by his composition...and all how works have a signature style. These are just photos shot around his Ontario farm (Larry Towell is a Magnum photographer btw....google him). Very few of us photographers can reach the quality if this photographer...that's not my point though. These could have been shot with any camera....the composition is the thing (in this case).
Michael (or at least I think it was him...from photos I’ve seen) once came into my gallery and looked at one of my own photo works hanging on the wall. He was looking at it from six inches away. I suppose he was discerning the quality of this digital print purely on its technical merits. I tend to think this is looking at art through a loupe....or not seeing the forest for the trees.(I print with an Epson 2200, at 1440 dpi with Imageprint 5.6 and the image in question was shot with a Rollie 35 camera, Agfa Scala scanned on a Minolta Dimage Dual IV...not at all interesting really, but for the sake of full disclosure).
There is an artist currently on exhibition here that created her works with a Lomo Frogeye film P&S camera printed 36" by 24". The inherent 'noise' qualities are quite pleasing...Looks great! Noise is very interesting to me. This is when the subject matter expands beyond its frame. I think it is a byproduct of when inert , static, immaterial particles come alive from creative processes.Examples of desirable noise that comes to mind... feedback 'noise' in Jimi Hendrix' guitar.Video feedback. Fractals. The 'warm' qualities of old analog stereo systems. Vintage synthesizers.
One of my more 'successful' images is a composite of two images...one shot on a P&S digital , the other from a 60's 'half-frame' film P&S camera scan.I have the luxury of shooting with a Canon 5d and L lenses....but that is mostly so that I look 'professional' for some commercial work I do.
O.K....Im rambling on a bit. I dont usually have the time or bother to post on web forums or have these type of interactions/discussions via the internet...and it's late and i'm tired...
To sum up...Landscape photography has been shot to death...and it is very difficult to shoot anything very original.It is usually in this arena that discussions of technical quality are given so much merit. Would love to show some examples of what I was talking about. I know Flash and Director...but i'm pretty daft at all this html stuff..lol.Anyway....it's pretty much a watershed for digital photo technology. The megapixels can increase, but it won't make a difference until the lenses can be improved to match. This is at the high end,'technical' end of things....only of interest for commercial concerns. For artists...FOR ART....times have never been better. Go out and spend 150$ on a camera and create some amazing photos. It's not the camera...it's the photographer!