Luminous Landscape Forum

The Art of Photography => But is it Art? => Topic started by: Rob C on August 12, 2018, 10:17:50 am

Title: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Rob C on August 12, 2018, 10:17:50 am
"I suppose it's an example of the images I would never have made on film. Digital allows the luxury of trying stuff out without wasting money in the process. Not the kind of thing I'd probably have printed up either, were my printer still able to print anything - but certainly interesting and entertaining enough for me to spend some time figuring out where it might go. That's a definite plus for digital photography, and perhaps an illustration of how it can take us to different stations not on the film circuit. Guess it takes time to work out the new options available in photography."

I posted the above in Lula, recently, and it got me thinking.

Could it be that those of us with a strong hankering for film, or perhaps with the memory of it, are not really making a realistic comparison between the two media, film and digital, but are, rather, forcing our minds into thinking unnecessarily of them as competing fighters in some imaginary battle of wits?

I come from a photographic background that was film for the entirety of my career. As such, digital arrived as a bit of a negative influence, causing a lot of harm to the world that I knew, in which I had felt fairly comfortable. Suddenly, that world became flooded - to the point of drowning - with images of all sorts, both good as bad, with the added menace of them being offered in the marketplace as alternatives to those produced through a degree of learning, experience and understanding of what made the fiscal clock keep running. The investment quotient was removed from, especially, the world of stock photography, and the perceived value of going anywhere with the objective of producing a set of professionally created photographs turned into a nonsense: the rank amateur armed with his digital camera could eventually arrive at the right exposure and, during his holiday, shoot a zillion shots for free, and at least one should be good enough to merit a sale via some library. It's what machine guns do in warfare. So immediately, the sense of digital, the way it was appreciated, was that it had become an existential threat.

That continued for quite some time, and the insidious effect of a vast supply of cheap imagery in one sphere of photography led to a gradually accelerating decline in perceived value in pretty much all genres of professional photographic work, with the inevitable result of falling revenue and much longer working hours spent producing the thing, the somewhat intangible thing finally delivered to the client.

Once set in motion, this inevitably carried on to the point where it reached its nadir or, as some might see it, the realistic, modern level of the monetary value of photography today. Most professionals have now long embraced digital, and except perhaps for some "art" photographers, that's their future, as much as it is their present.

So where is photography today, for those of us not doing it for the money?

I think that, in general, it has become a very different beast, with its prime objective no longer that little - or large - piece of photographic paper bearing testimony to the pleasure or expression of artistic appreciation a moment once gave, a feeling strong enough to make us knowingly expend time, effort and money in pursuit of it; I think it has become another creature altogether, one far more light, that seeks only to be remembered for five seconds at best.

Having written that is not to preclude those who simply use the medium as they did or would have done with film, from just going on as before, creating pictures that they love and enjoy, regardless of medium.

What has altered, though, is that for both kinds of photographer, the opportunity for experimentation is far greater than ever it was. And I think that's the crucial aspect: one should learn to forget about the innate characteristics of film grain and so forth, and just use the digital route for what it offers instead, which is low cost, unlimited opportunity to mess about, and within a different photographic experience altogether. It's in the constant comparison of one medium with the other that the older photographer might find continuing frustration.

The musical analogy with score and the interpretation of it has never been more relevant than today, where our chances of coming up with a pleasing, personal take on something is far higher than it was before the advent of digital. Instead of wasting expensive sheets of paper, test strips notwithstanding, we can today sit on our collective ass, look at a screen and alter, adapt, add, subract and lie through our visual teeth until we reach the point where we feel we may have accomplished something worth showing.

Unfortunately though, none of this alters the fact that we will always need to have somethig inside us that we can express visually. If that's not there, we are left as voiceless as ever we were.

So yes, I think photograhy is now something else, and that its "drawing with light" sentiment is of the past, more drawing been done in the computer than in any camera.
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: KLaban on August 12, 2018, 10:57:54 am
...Having written that is not to preclude those who simply use the medium as they did or would have done with film, from just going on as before, creating pictures that they love and enjoy, regardless of medium...

Pretty much sums up my approach to personal work.

What digital capture does offer is the possibility and ease of post capture intervention which is something I admit to doing when needed but preferably with as light a touch as possible.

As a former illustrator I'm not interested in becoming an illustrator with a camera.
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: John McDermott on August 12, 2018, 11:37:28 am
Although you may be "right", this is the classical lament of an industry, a field of endeavor this has been eclipsed by the forward motion of history. The same complaints were voiced by stable owners upon the advent of the horseless buggy!
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Peter McLennan on August 12, 2018, 12:44:17 pm
Although you may be "right", this is the classical lament of an industry, a field of endeavor this has been eclipsed by the forward motion of history. The same complaints were voiced by stable owners upon the advent of the horseless buggy!

Precisely, John.  The soldiers guarding the keys to the kingdom have been disarmed by digital technologies in many industries besides ours.  The boys in the computer rooms, for example, no longer control access. Everyone has several computers. Similarly, music has moved from the corporate-controlled recording studio to the renovated garage; from a thousands-an-hour elitist enterprise to a single person with a laptop.

But none have been more directly or precipitously affected than photographers.  Cinematographers (and especially camera operators) once held great sway on-set. Their word was law, for the crew was largely ignorant of the camera department's day-to-day responsibilities. Nobody but the operator saw what was actually being recorded. Now, monitors are everywhere on the set and everyone can see exactly what's going on.  Now, they're just another crew member; they've lost status, control and power.

And that's a good thing.  Film making is now better, cheaper and more creative than ever before, due in great part not to the loss of the closely-held power of the photographers, but to the sharing of it.
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Rob C on August 12, 2018, 01:13:09 pm
Precisely, John.  The soldiers guarding the keys to the kingdom have been disarmed by digital technologies in many industries besides ours.  The boys in the computer rooms, for example, no longer control access. Everyone has several computers. Similarly, music has moved from the corporate-controlled recording studio to the renovated garage; from a thousands-an-hour elitist enterprise to a single person with a laptop.

But none have been more directly or precipitously affected than photographers.  Cinematographers (and especially camera operators) once held great sway on-set. Their word was law, for the crew was largely ignorant of the camera department's day-to-day responsibilities. Nobody but the operator saw what was actually being recorded. Now, monitors are everywhere on the set and everyone can see exactly what's going on.  Now, they're just another crew member; they've lost status, control and power.

And that's a good thing.  Film making is now better, cheaper and more creative than ever before, due in great part not to the loss of the closely-held power of the photographers, but to the sharing of it.


That, Peter, is one of the most broad assumptions I have come across of late!

I won't even start to contradict you - it's too big a subject, and the evidence to contradict you is right there on the screen, replete with bangs, flashes, digital tricks and lost narratives! Hell, the most memorable line today is still "I'll be back!" which has got to tell you something about how far we have advanced.
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Rob C on August 12, 2018, 01:15:52 pm
Although you may be "right", this is the classical lament of an industry, a field of endeavor this has been eclipsed by the forward motion of history. The same complaints were voiced by stable owners upon the advent of the horseless buggy!

Stable owners make more money today than ever they did.
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: 32BT on August 12, 2018, 01:40:16 pm
Although you may be "right", this is the classical lament of an industry, a field of endeavor this has been eclipsed by the forward motion of history. The same complaints were voiced by stable owners upon the advent of the horseless buggy!

No, i think his essay was about moving beyond that: only if you stick to the comparisson between the old cariage and the buggy, does one stay frustrated with the buggy. Once you accept the buggy for what it offers, you can move beyond the frustrations.
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Alan Klein on August 12, 2018, 02:40:14 pm
I shoot medium format film when I want to slow down and get my landscapes with a lot of time to think about what I;m shooting.,  I like the process, the separate light meter, the loading of the film, the waiting for it to return from the processors.  I used to print more but there's no room on the wall.  I scan them and put some on my flickr page. 

Recently, my photo club printed 8 digital pictures from various members who entered pictures in a contest.  They were mounted to be displayed on the 55+ community's clubhouse wall, a little bit of a kick.

When I travel I shoot digital and create video slide shows with music, narration, credits etc to play on my 75" UHDTV.  Before digital, I would make photo albums of the prints.  But having shows on TV's are better. 

I don;t see competition between digital and film.  It's like saying a pick up truck is better than a sedan.
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: RSL on August 12, 2018, 03:31:46 pm
Unfortunately though, none of this alters the fact that we will always need to have somethig inside us that we can express visually. If that's not there, we are left as voiceless as ever we were.

Exactly! And that's the real problem. Always has been. Doesn't matter whether the thing in your hand is a camera or a brush. The thing in your hand is useless unless there's a thing in your brain.
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Farmer on August 12, 2018, 03:35:51 pm
Exactly! And that's the real problem. Always has been. Doesn't matter whether the thing in your hand is a camera or a brush. The thing in your hand is useless unless there's a thing in your brain.

Indeed.  Now is no different to before.  Photography is still photography.
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Patricia Sheley on August 12, 2018, 04:36:33 pm
"...thing in your hand is useless unless there's a thing in your brain." quote attribute, Russ.

that thing emanating gloriously from the momentary interconnections and vapors of flood tides across a long and growing longer life of "seeing"/"tuned awareness of ones current point on the curve".

I love this thought Russ~
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Rob C on August 12, 2018, 04:44:18 pm
Indeed.  Now is no different to before.  Photography is still photography.


Is it really the same animal?

For some it can be, I still treat the shooting as if with a film camera, but that's just mechanics: after that, my new interest has taken me somewhere else that film could not, and never even made me think about going to visit.

As I went to pains to explain, digital has changed the options and the parameters beyond casual recognition; the limits of making a darkroom print have been left behind and, for me, no longer exist. The essence, the point of my pictures now is to make them other than the fairly stark, literal reality that film and its associated processes would offer me. I speak as an accomplished printer of many years of professional print production; darkrooms never held fears for me, as an amateur because I was unaware of how little I knew, and much later, because I did know what I was required to know. However, today's computer alternative is totally different - or, put another way, it takes pictures to conclusions that a darkroom would not.

I stress again: it's not a matter of superiority of one medium over another, but of different possibilities, possibilities so different as to make me conclude that the parting of the ways was quite some time ago, probably quite some time before I became so aware of it having happened to me.

That's one advantage of running a fairly large website that serves as general storage, rather than a gallery of best shots: I can track the progress/change in what I find interesting to do for myself, with no editing concessions built-in for commercial purposes long gone. From the inception of my Glimpsed Parallels series, the contributions to the original Biscuit Tin set have pretty much ceased. The idiom no longer matters to me. The pictures in the latter series could have been made on film as much as on digital, insofar as the final result goes. I appear to have gone somewhere else, somewhere I could not have gone with film photography.

So there we are - for me at least, this is a very different world of image-making.
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Rob C on August 12, 2018, 04:51:25 pm
No, i think his essay was about moving beyond that: only if you stick to the comparisson between the old cariage and the buggy, does one stay frustrated with the buggy. Once you accept the buggy for what it offers, you can move beyond the frustrations.

I never for a moment imagined you would not understand. My faith was rewarded.

:-)

Rob
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Telecaster on August 12, 2018, 05:12:38 pm
I've never photographed with the intent of creating a "body of work," or even with all that much concern about what to do with photos after taking 'em, so electronic cameras haven't changed my ways of doing things much. One difference is that I no longer scan film…instead I re-photograph it. Otherwise most of my snapping is driven by the desire to observe & see more closely & clearly. Photographs are a result of this but not really the purpose. The rest, and a minor part, is about how cameras & lenses see the world differently than eyes. Here the photos are more central.

-Dave-
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: KLaban on August 12, 2018, 05:41:54 pm
...Unfortunately though, none of this alters the fact that we will always need to have something inside us that we can express visually. If that's not there, we are left as voiceless as ever we were...

...The thing in your hand is useless unless there's a thing in your brain...

Yes.

These gems apply whatever the medium.
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Eric Myrvaagnes on August 12, 2018, 07:59:13 pm
Yes.

These gems apply whatever the medium.
+1.
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: elliot_n on August 12, 2018, 08:12:39 pm

Unfortunately though, none of this alters the fact that we will always need to have somethig inside us that we can express visually.

I see it more as letting the outside in, rather than the inside out.
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: FranciscoDisilvestro on August 12, 2018, 10:19:16 pm
It is the evolution of the medium, wheter we liked or not.

I see the big changes mainly in two areas

From the business point of view: The technology has lowered the entry barriers substantially, both in photography and cinematography. In all industries were this has happened, what was in the past a market dominated by a few players who could overcome the barries and who played scarcity to increase prices at their will, it is now a market with exceess players and excess supply, almost like a commodity, where high efficiency and low costs are the rule (there is an expected quality level in the market that you either have or not, and many players have it).

It is actually very difficult to change this mainset and many of the old players could not adapt and dissapeared.

The value proposition of the photographer has to change. It is not enough to have the equipment or skills now since those are accessible to many (a large number of photographers turned their business into education by conducting workshops or publishing tutorials, transferring to a large audience the knowledge that was a strategic differentiation in the past). It is more important to think in how to add value to your clients in a way that your competitors cannot rather than just rely on your experience and showing off expensive equipment.

The other main change is that current tools have blurred the frontiers that existed between different types of image making activities (i.e photography & illustration). Besides this overlap, which some may consider a downside, a lot of new possibilities appeared in the market, that were unthinkable just a few years ago.

Film and vinyl records will not become mainstream again, people will not leave aeroplanes and return to trains nor leave cars to ride horses. Consumers will not pay more just because you use more expensive equipment. Get over it, adapt or die.
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: KLaban on August 13, 2018, 02:53:25 am
It is the evolution of the medium, wheter we liked or not.

I see the big changes mainly in two areas

From the business point of view: The technology has lowered the entry barriers substantially, both in photography and cinematography. In all industries were this has happened, what was in the past a market dominated by a few players who could overcome the barries and who played scarcity to increase prices at their will, it is now a market with exceess players and excess supply, almost like a commodity, where high efficiency and low costs are the rule (there is an expected quality level in the market that you either have or not, and many players have it).

It is actually very difficult to change this mainset and many of the old players could not adapt and dissapeared.

The value proposition of the photographer has to change. It is not enough to have the equipment or skills now since those are accessible to many (a large number of photographers turned their business into education by conducting workshops or publishing tutorials, transferring to a large audience the knowledge that was a strategic differentiation in the past). It is more important to think in how to add value to your clients in a way that your competitors cannot rather than just rely on your experience and showing off expensive equipment.

The other main change is that current tools have blurred the frontiers that existed between different types of image making activities (i.e photography & illustration). Besides this overlap, which some may consider a downside, a lot of new possibilities appeared in the market, that were unthinkable just a few years ago.

Film and vinyl records will not become mainstream again, people will not leave aeroplanes and return to trains nor leave cars to ride horses. Consumers will not pay more just because you use more expensive equipment. Get over it, adapt or die.

I agree with everything you've said, but I'm not sure you answered Rob's question.

Hell, I'm not sure I answered Rob's question.
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: KLaban on August 13, 2018, 03:10:17 am
Pretty much sums up my approach to personal work.

What digital capture does offer is the possibility and ease of post capture intervention which is something I admit to doing when needed but preferably with as light a touch as possible.

As a former illustrator I'm not interested in becoming an illustrator with a camera.

Actually, in a roundabout way, perhaps I did.

;-)
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Farmer on August 13, 2018, 03:14:05 am
So there we are - for me at least, this is a very different world of image-making.

Image-making, yes, because there are more options.  But photography is still photography at its core.
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: ErikKaffehr on August 13, 2018, 03:46:43 am
Hi,

Photography essentially means painting by light, that has not changed. The tools of the trade has changed.

In film times, it was pretty much "you press the button and we do the rest", unless we did a complete wet workflow.

But, I guess that most photographers shot slide film, or even print film. The lab developed the film and made the prints. For printing, the images would be scanned.

Today, the photograph is a digital original and much of the tasks the lab or the scanner operator did is now at the hand of the photographer.

That may mean that the photographer has more to do. Also, anyone can make decent quality images under a wide variety of conditions. So, photographers need to create great images.

Digital photography also gives us a lot of control. Inkjet prints are said to be good enough to replace "die transfer printing", which is as well as die transfer materials are no longer made. Also, we can make great prints with very affordable gear, in full control of the process and without inhaling vapors of unhealthy chemicals.

Best regards
Erik



Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Rob C on August 13, 2018, 04:48:15 am
Image-making, yes, because there are more options.  But photography is still photography at its core.


Perhaps we are now reading the same book, if not exactly from the same page.

My point is that digital imaging (even the term) has taken us beyond photography, the raw concept of painting with light; the game has moved to the position where an original exposure is now nothing more than a basic template from which to fly to different worlds.

That we can now fly off this planet through our images does not mean that everyone should feel that obligation; I'm simply offering the idea that, for me, in my current visual "space", it's the most interesting option available. Were said space able to revert to a time where I could again do what I did in my working life, I am just as certain that I would be perfectly content using digital exactly to the same purpose as I did film, and with just as little artifice. It's boredom that forces new departures, boredom with what is abundantly available as quotidian reality.

Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: KLaban on August 13, 2018, 04:56:56 am

Perhaps we are now reading the same book, if not exactly from the same page.

My point is that digital imaging (even the term) has taken us beyond photography, the raw concept of painting with light; the game has moved to the position where an original exposure is now nothing more than a basic template from which to fly to different worlds.

That we can now fly off this planet through our images does not mean that everyone should feel that obligation; I'm simply offering the idea that, for me, in my current visual "space", it's the most interesting option available. Were said space able to revert to a time where I could again do what I did in my working life, I am just as certain that I would be perfectly content using digital exactly to the same purpose as I did film, and with just as little artifice.
It's boredom that forces new departures, boredom with what is abundantly available as quotidian reality.

Rob, the boredom bit apart, I doubt anyone would disagree, although who knows, this is after all, LuLa.
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Rob C on August 13, 2018, 04:58:49 am
Hi,

Photography essentially means painting by light, that has not changed. The tools of the trade has changed.

In film times, it was pretty much "you press the button and we do the rest", unless we did a complete wet workflow.

But, I guess that most photographers shot slide film, or even print film. The lab developed the film and made the prints. For printing, the images would be scanned.

Today, the photograph is a digital original and much of the tasks the lab or the scanner operator did is now at the hand of the photographer.

That may mean that the photographer has more to do. Also, anyone can make decent quality images under a wide variety of conditions. So, photographers need to create great images.

Digital photography also gives us a lot of control. Inkjet prints are said to be good enough to replace "die transfer printing", which is as well as die transfer materials are no longer made. Also, we can make great prints with very affordable gear, in full control of the process and without inhaling vapors of unhealthy chemicals.

Best regards
Erik


Yes, photography, in its pre-digital form, meant exactly what you state. Today, it has morphed into another creature entirely. The only "photographic" part that remains is the original capture. Nothing else is light-dependent because it happens in a computer. A last connection with light is if you print, at which time your print depends for its look upon the illumination under which you see it.

Whether the photographer does the post-exposure work, or whether he farms that out to another body has little to do with the original proposition, being that photography as we knew it was one thing, but digital has turned it into something very different, a creature with rubber sides and no known limits to where it can stretch.
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Rob C on August 13, 2018, 05:00:13 am
Rob, the boredom bit apart, I doubt anyone would disagree, although who knows, this is after all, LuLa.

;-)
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: elliot_n on August 13, 2018, 05:28:38 am
Rob, the boredom bit apart, I doubt anyone would disagree, although who knows, this is after all, LuLa.

Oscar Rejlander, Jerry Uelsmann etc...
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: KLaban on August 13, 2018, 05:41:41 am
Oscar Rejlander, Jerry Uelsmann etc...

Elliot, you are of course quite right. I'm not sure I have ever attempted to define photography but if I have then who or what am I that it would make any difference? Who am I that I'd want to? I am but one of many photographer contributors to a rather obscure forum.

Now folks, isn't that rather refreshing?
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Rob C on August 13, 2018, 07:10:05 am
Elliot, you are of course quite right. I'm not sure I have ever attempted to define photography but if I have then who or what am I that it would make any difference? Who am I that I'd want to? I am but one of many photographer contributors to a rather obscure forum.

Now folks, isn't that rather refreshing?


Refreshing, but also too close to the nitty gritty; were we to follow the sense, then we'd be forced to conclude it were better to close down the compu...
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: KLaban on August 13, 2018, 07:28:32 am

Refreshing, but also too close to the nitty gritty; were we to follow the sense, then we'd be forced to conclude it were better to close down the compu...

...the computer stays on, I rely on it for things that are far more important to me than viewing and contributing to this forum, but if that's all it was on for then yes, it would perhaps be better to shut it dow...
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Rob C on August 13, 2018, 07:42:50 am
Oscar Rejlander, Jerry Uelsmann etc...


Art Kane also played around a couple of times with putting swimsuit models upside down in the skies...

To my mind, that's nothing to do with my concept of where digital can take us: I mean it to mean whilst keeping the final, elaborated image well within the bounds of believability. That's both the freedom and the challenge, the notion of how far to go without losing the plot along the way. Again, something within the mind, a personal call not based on guru message.

(You may have noted, also along the way, that I find it very easy to equate art guru with quack.)

:-)
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: elliot_n on August 13, 2018, 08:13:16 am
I see the darkroom as a primitive computer that is fundamentally the same as photoshop. When pushed to the extreme it could be used to create surreal montages (Jerry Uelsmann), but it could also be used more gently (dodging, burning, bleaching, toning etc), to subtly enhance the scene that presented itself to the camera. What tools are you using in Photoshop that are so different to what was available in the darkroom?
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Rob C on August 13, 2018, 09:54:48 am
I see the darkroom as a primitive computer that is fundamentally the same as photoshop. When pushed to the extreme it could be used to create surreal montages (Jerry Uelsmann), but it could also be used more gently (dodging, burning, bleaching, toning etc), to subtly enhance the scene that presented itself to the camera. What tools are you using in Photoshop that are so different to what was available in the darkroom?


I never felt any relationship between darkrooms and computers. Darkrooms are about gut reaction, the physical involvement and use of your body (hands, reach, arms, memory) whereas computers are about sitting on your ass, and monkeys writing Shakespeare. You just keep on truckin' until you get there, a possible difference being monkeys seldom read Shakespeare.

With darkrooms you were not able to do things as quickly, easily and seamlessly as you can with PS. I tried all the usual stuff such as using black/white negatives and exposing onto colour papers through CC filters etc. and it was crude in the extreme, and eventually pointless and unfulfilling. Because there is a difficult and inefficient manner of doing something is not its own reward if a better path presents itself; rather than reward it is representative of a loose screw. To be fair, I have not come across a better digital way of shading in skies than I used to do, by hand. I use Layers a lot; I use bits of purposely-shot "effects" files that sometimes fit my ultimate intentions and sometimes not, making me shoot something else to meet my needs to get to where I aim, stuff that never, of itself, is a picture, just an atmospheric awaiting use elsewhere.

There are really no limits to where this kind of thing can go; but as ever, I believe that for it to work, it has to look convincingly real to the extent that the viewer never asks himself the question in the first place. None of that "Jerry" stuff ever convinced me; it always looked to me like just another example of look what I can do! I don't think that's a valid purpose in the normal context of image appreciation.

(I do believe that darkroom experience saved me a lot of tears regarding making digital images: I came to the thing from a base of already knowing what a good print can look like. I believe that's a harder thing to do today.)

Of course this is all my personal take; what else can I offer?

To conclude, I'd suggest that I took greater pride in a good wet print, well-glazed, than I can today from looking at my own stuff on the Internet. The wet print tickled my pride in craftsmanship, whereas the digital world makes me feel that yes, I have managed to go somewhere new with a different kind of image with a modicum of success. However, as I got there via computer, I seldom escape that niggling "so what?" in my ear.

I suppose that's why I ultimately perceive the two forms of image-making as worlds apart.

Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: KLaban on August 13, 2018, 10:15:19 am
The digital darkroom is the process I used to dream about while I was inhaling all those noxious fumes in a large darkened cupboard, hated every moment. Didn't know what it would be, what it would be called or that it would ever exist but now that it's here I wouldn't want it any different.

Wet prints, film, forget it, if I had to go back in time that's exactly what I'd do.

Viva all things digital including this place.
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: RSL on August 13, 2018, 10:29:02 am
The digital darkroom is the process I used to dream about while I was inhaling all those noxious fumes in a large darkened cupboard, hated every moment. Didn't know what it would be, what it would be called or that it would ever exist but now that it's here I wouldn't want it any different.

Wet prints, film, forget it, if I had to go back in time that's exactly what I'd do.

Viva all things digital including this place.

Couldn't possibly agree more, Keith.

And Rob, have you tried to make prints from your digital work? I have a house full of 17 x 22 inch prints, made with an Epson 3880, framed and on my walls. In the end, the results you can get with a decent printer equal or surpass wet prints. Wasn't always this way. Not too many years ago digital printing didn't have the range, depth, or survivability of wet prints. Nowadays color prints from a digital printer will vastly outlast wet color prints. I suspect silver always will be able to outlast ink, but I'll be long gone, and my kids'll be long gone before current digital blacks fade noticeably.
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: elliot_n on August 13, 2018, 10:36:04 am
The digital darkroom is the process I used to dream about while I was inhaling all those noxious fumes in a large darkened cupboard, hated every moment.

I'm ambivalent about darkrooms. I love the late 20th century machinery. And I sometimes enjoyed the dark privacy. But I was less keen on the contact dermatitis.

My dad built a darkroom at home in the late 70s (it was the thing to do then). As a child I spent long sessions in there, following the special effects recipes I found in books by John Hedgecoe and Michael Langford (Colorvir, anyone?!). Montage, solarisation, bas-relief etc. - all subsequently ported over to Photoshop. It's this magic-box 70s darkroom, domain of the amateur, which I regard as the predecessor of the computer, rather than its antithesis.
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: JNB_Rare on August 13, 2018, 10:48:47 am
To me, photography remains a combination of perception (sometimes preceded by ideation and planning, as with still life, conceptual or commercial photography), capture, processing craft, and use/sharing. What's interesting is that changes/advances in one facet ripple through to others. In the past, the development of smaller, more portable cameras (Leica/35mm), and the introduction of colour film helped broaden the (photographic) perceptions of those who utilized the technologies. Magazines and photo books helped broaden the audience for images, and some photographers learned to adapt their processing to better suit the medium.

Digital has certainly had an impact on all areas of photography, ranging from minor to profound, and from annoying/destroying to enhancing/freeing, depending on the individual photographer's (artist's) perspective and pursuit. I don't use very much of the enhanced technology that my camera offers, but I've adapted my previsualizing and capture to accommodate the digital nature of it, and the subsequent computer processing. Wrapping my head around the digital darkroom was the most challenging change for me (my head still spins), but also the most rewarding; I discovered enhanced control to make an image that pays tribute to my initial perception, and sometimes to explore new and exciting perceptions post capture.

I still make prints, but very selectively. I never had a colour darkroom, so digital printing gives me new (and more consistent) control over colour enlargements. Occasionally, I've used premium inkjet papers (mostly weightier Baryta) and the feel of them brings back at least some of the smile I used to get with silver prints. The Internet (selected sites and a private FB group) provides me with some new avenues to share what I've created (as a personal pursuit, not a commercial one), and to take an interest in what others might like to share.

Is photography, today, still photography? I'd say yes, even if "digital" was a technological sea-change. I am mostly sanguine about the changes. Besides, no one really cares if I'm not.  :)
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Rob C on August 13, 2018, 12:12:21 pm
Couldn't possibly agree more, Keith.

And Rob, have you tried to make prints from your digital work? I have a house full of 17 x 22 inch prints, made with an Epson 3880, framed and on my walls. In the end, the results you can get with a decent printer equal or surpass wet prints. Wasn't always this way. Not too many years ago digital printing didn't have the range, depth, or survivability of wet prints. Nowadays color prints from a digital printer will vastly outlast wet color prints. I suspect silver always will be able to outlast ink, but I'll be long gone, and my kids'll be long gone before current digital blacks fade noticeably.

Russ, I have boxes of Hahne. prints from my computer. I need no more to sit there; the mass is critical already!

;-)
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Rob C on August 13, 2018, 12:51:21 pm
The digital darkroom is the process I used to dream about while I was inhaling all those noxious fumes in a large darkened cupboard, hated every moment. Didn't know what it would be, what it would be called or that it would ever exist but now that it's here I wouldn't want it any different.

Wet prints, film, forget it, if I had to go back in time that's exactly what I'd do.

Viva all things digital including this place.

No wonder you hated the entire experience! One needs a proper darkroom to work comfortably; one needs the space to walk around muttering to oneself, dancing to Chuck Berry whilst imagining, partnering instead of a wet print, the lovely little chick doing the dancing during Chuck's performance at the '58 Newport Jazz Festival:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sHfdJyOb5qY

Bert Stern got it right: sex appeal does not need to equate with acres of skin. Especially with somebody that young and naturally cute...

Similarly, neither do fumes have to provide proof of presence: well-ventilated is de rigueur! It's like furtive sex in your darkroom cupboard: would you seek it out today? Well, maybe that's different. (I promise not to go there, but my Parthian gesture on leaving my hated boarding school was to be within a cupboard with one of those forbidden creatures - a fellow (does that make sense referring to a girl?) boarder, but one within the female residence a couple of safe miles distant from the boys' quarters. Discovery would have meant metaphorical stoning or drowning, a fate obviously outweighed by the sense of getting one over those bastards! Nothing much happened within the cupboard, but nevertheless, it was an experience I still remember - perhaps because I'm slightly claustrophobic.)

Don't ever send your kids away to get educated. It was all much better and less furtive when we got back to Britain.

How did I get from here to there and back to here? Speed of Light! That Terence Donovan is everywhere these days.

Rob

P.S. Before I forget about her: the next day was our last before school broke up; we wandered around getting folks to sign our autograph books (do they still do that?) and this particular girl wrote: "The secret of success is to be ready when your opportunity comes - old Indian proverb." I swear to you: never until this moment did it occur to me that she may have been thinking about cupboards as she wrote that down.

Explains a lot of what was to follow in my life.

;-(
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: KLaban on August 13, 2018, 01:08:11 pm
...No wonder you hated the entire experience! One needs a proper darkroom to work comfortably; one needs the space to walk around...

Actually our darkroom at college was state of the art and newly purpose built, replacing as it did that cupboard. What went on in there would make anyone's hair curl, but hey, it was the sixties.
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: cgarnerhome on August 13, 2018, 01:37:06 pm
I would argue photography has not changed.  The tools available to enhance our expression of a captured image have changed dramatically. 
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Slobodan Blagojevic on August 13, 2018, 03:10:02 pm
The digital darkroom is the process I used to dream about while I was inhaling all those noxious fumes in a large darkened cupboard, hated every moment. Didn't know what it would be, what it would be called or that it would ever exist but now that it's here I wouldn't want it any different.

Wet prints, film, forget it, if I had to go back in time that's exactly what I'd do.

Viva all things digital including this place.

A rare occasion to agree with Keith ;)

Try this with film: ISO 10,000 (ten thousands!)
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: KLaban on August 13, 2018, 03:20:31 pm
A rare occasion to agree with Keith ;)

Try this with film: ISO 10,000 (ten thousands!)


Slobodan, it was bound to happen sooner or later.

;-)
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Ivo_B on August 13, 2018, 04:09:31 pm
Interesting discussion.











In 2004...........

 ;)
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: KLaban on August 13, 2018, 04:17:55 pm
Interesting discussion.











In 2004...........

 ;)

Yes, I remember it well.

;-)
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Rob C on August 13, 2018, 04:46:05 pm
Actually our darkroom at college was state of the art and newly purpose built, replacing as it did that cupboard. What went on in there would make anyone's hair curl, but hey, it was the sixties.

And for the brief time remaining, I really would have been able to curl my hair.

I'll not raise it again, but that Golden Age thang...

;-)

Rob
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: MattBurt on August 13, 2018, 06:32:59 pm
We had a lot of darkroom shenanigans in the 1980's when I was in high school and starting college as well. The fume hood and locking door made it a go-to weed smoking spot for those inclined.  :o

I was already a computer scientist and a photographer so when the two disciplines came together, I was thrilled!
That being said I wouldn't mind a simple darkroom at home again for my 5x7 negatives. Could happen one day in the semi-near future.
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Farmer on August 14, 2018, 03:40:23 am
Interesting discussion.

In 2004...........

 ;)

It held your interest for 42 posts and elicited a reply...

;)
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Rob C on August 14, 2018, 04:06:38 am
A rare occasion to agree with Keith ;)

Try this with film: ISO 10,000 (ten thousands!)



And in so doing, and posting pictures, you prove (for me) my point: digital has taken image-making to something quite else, making an image possible under light too low for much luck with film.

Nobody argues that cameras are not still the common ground, but the afterwork is completely different and has nothing more to do with light.

You don't even get the darkroom use of light, in the enlarger as in the safelight.

This is not a fight over film or digital superiority; it's about each being a different beast to the degree that they cannot really be compared.
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: KLaban on August 14, 2018, 04:39:36 am


And in so doing, and posting pictures, you prove (for me) my point: digital has taken image-making to something quite else, making an image possible under light too low for much luck with film.

Nobody argues that cameras are not still the common ground, but the afterwork is completely different and has nothing more to do with light.

You don't even get the darkroom use of light, in the enlarger as in the safelight.

This is not a fight over film or digital superiority; it's about each being a different beast to the degree that they cannot really be compared.

And yet by starting this thread you are asking us to do just that.

;-)
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Ivophoto on August 14, 2018, 05:43:31 am


making an image possible under light too low for much luck with film.

N.

Well, few weeks ago I exactly said the same. Laughter was my share and someone posted an unsharp and blurry picture made on film to prove the opposite.

🤫
Title: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Ivophoto on August 14, 2018, 05:44:27 am
It held your interest for 42 posts and elicited a reply...



I skipped the blabla.

^2
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Slobodan Blagojevic on August 14, 2018, 06:46:59 am
... the afterwork is completely different and has nothing more to do with light.

You don't even get the darkroom use of light, in the enlarger as in the safelight...

That’s why we have the Lightroom  ;)

Actually, there is light, coming from the computer monitor. Without that, we wouldn’t even see what we captured.

It is still the same animal. Just a Rottweiler vs. a poodle 😊
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Martin Kristiansen on August 14, 2018, 07:15:38 am
That’s why we have the Lightroom  ;)

Actually, there is light, coming from the computer monitor. Without that, we wouldn’t even see what we captured.

It is still the same animal. Just a Rottweiler vs. a poodle 😊

I was about to say the same thing. It’s all about light. Colour spaces, contrast, colour.  I really like it.

I was nuts about the darkroom and printed for some really top photographers. People like David Goldblatt who passed away recently. Loved the whole vibe. Setting up the neg in the  carrier, blowing off the dust, slipping the paper into the developer and watching the image image slowly emerge inthe dim light. It was marvelous. I hated the clean up though, washing trays and draining chemicals. Tidying up. A real pain. 

As much as liked the whole process I don’t miss it. I like PS and really like C1. LR seems like a necessary evil. It’s still the same in essence for me. Even though I shoot commercially I am still out almost every weekend shooting for myself.
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Rob C on August 14, 2018, 08:48:41 am
And yet by starting this thread you are asking us to do just that.

;-)


No, I'm not buying that interpretation at all.

I am not asking anyone to choose between either digital or film, neither am I suggesting one is better than the other. I'm suggesting they are such different animals, especially after the click, that they have ceased to be comparable.

Slobodan's shot at incredible (in film terms) ISO shows that the departure from the traditional sense of photography has perhaps started even before processing, though I am inclined to discount that idea and believe it is still photography up to the point of capture.

Stretch it much further, and then you have to admit the case for X-Rays and Echo scans as well as thermal imaging devices to be welcomed into the realm of photography, if only because you can see an image.

Rob
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Rob C on August 14, 2018, 08:57:48 am
1. That’s why we have the Lightroom  ;)

2. Actually, there is light, coming from the computer monitor. Without that, we wouldn’t even see what we captured.

It is still the same animal. Just a Rottweiler vs. a poodle 😊

1. Lightroom is just a trade name.

2. You have a point there, but more a semantic one than relevant to the formation of an image. It is passive, in that it let's you see what you have done in the computer, but does not, of itself, make changes to the image; it is not even a catalyst.

3. You'll never get a job at Crufts!

;-)
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: KLaban on August 14, 2018, 09:39:37 am
And in so doing, and posting pictures, you prove (for me) my point: digital has taken image-making to something quite else, making an image possible under light too low for much luck with film.

Nobody argues that cameras are not still the common ground, but the afterwork is completely different and has nothing more to do with light.

You don't even get the darkroom use of light, in the enlarger as in the safelight.

This is not a fight over film or digital superiority; it's about each being a different beast to the degree that they cannot really be compared.

And yet by starting this thread you are asking us to do just that.

;-)

No, I'm not buying that interpretation at all.
I am not asking anyone to choose between either digital or film, neither am I suggesting one is better than the other...

And I am not buying your interpretation of my previous post which said nothing about making any kind of choice.

To answer your original question we need to compare for ourselves something that you've said is incomparable and yet by starting this thread you are asking us to do just that.

;-)
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Martin Kristiansen on August 14, 2018, 10:00:27 am
Film photography and digital photography are not comparable? I can think of lots of ways in which they are comparable. Sure they are different but they are certainly comparable.
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: KLaban on August 14, 2018, 10:25:13 am
Film photography and digital photography are not comparable? I can think of lots of ways in which they are comparable. Sure they are different but they are certainly comparable.

Absolutely.
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: cgarnerhome on August 14, 2018, 12:35:30 pm
Are we just overthinking it?  Isn’t it just the evolution of how we capture and process images?  Clearly the rate of change in technologies that have impacted the photographic process have accelerated dramatically in the last 20 years.  For me, the intent has stayed the same – I want to capture and display images that speak to me.  I for one, love having options available to me to support that objective.  It’s as if technologies have allowed me to be more articulate with my expression.
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: MattBurt on August 14, 2018, 12:52:28 pm
Anything newer than a camera obscura just isn't pure enough for me.  8)
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Eric Myrvaagnes on August 14, 2018, 01:44:40 pm
Anything newer than a camera obscura just isn't pure enough for me.  8)
+1.
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Rob C on August 14, 2018, 04:06:54 pm
Film photography and digital photography are not comparable? I can think of lots of ways in which they are comparable. Sure they are different but they are certainly comparable.
.

To the extent that you can compare zebras and horses, yep, you have a point!

:-)
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Rob C on August 14, 2018, 04:18:50 pm
Anything newer than a camera obscura just isn't pure enough for me.  8)


You may be absolutely right. That original was all about light, but from then on it became wedded to chemistry. Today, chemistry has been divorced (or murdered out in the bad side of town) and the new, virtual belle dame ensconced upon the bed.

I wonder who will turf her out in fifteen minutes?

Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: MattBurt on August 14, 2018, 04:55:14 pm
Or now the chemistry just happens early in the process, when the camera is manufactured.
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Tony Jay on August 14, 2018, 07:25:37 pm
.

To the extent that you can compare zebras and horses, yep, you have a point!

:-)
Completely unaware that a zebra is, in fact, a type of horse!
Yes, every zebra belongs to the genus Equus, as does every horse.
If a horse is a horse then a zebra is also a type of horse...

So, in fact, horses and zebras ARE directly comparable, which goes a long way to cast doubt on most of your philosiphizing on photography...
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: RSL on August 14, 2018, 07:43:35 pm
Exactly, Tony! That sums up the whole situation. ;D ;D
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Rob C on August 15, 2018, 03:46:31 am
Completely unaware that a zebra is, in fact, a type of horse!
Yes, every zebra belongs to the genus Equus, as does every horse.
If a horse is a horse then a zebra is also a type of horse...

So, in fact, horses and zebras ARE directly comparable, which goes a long way to cast doubt on most of your philosiphizing on photography...

As a film camera is similar to a digital camera. But there it stops, as with the two quadrupeds.

The discussion - well, what I'd hoped would be one - is to do with what happens after pressing that magical button. That's where, with digital, the essential play of light ends, and another sort of science takes over completely.

So, sorry, but not as cut and dried as you'd dismissively wished.

;-)
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Ivo_B on August 15, 2018, 04:19:32 am
As a film camera is similar to a digital camera. But there it stops, as with the two quadrupeds.

The discussion - well, what I'd hoped would be one - is to do with what happens after pressing that magical button. That's where, with digital, the essential play of light ends, and another sort of science takes over completely.

So, sorry, but not as cut and dried as you'd dismissively wished.

;-)

This is a very precise question and about the analogue vs digital workflow. It is about 'le métier'. It is not only about crayons vs oil paint.....

Story about my time as engineer: We had a drawing office. When we had a design we went to the drawing office. 20 Draftsmen standing on slanted tables fiddling around with Steadler or Rotring pens and pigment inkt. A week later we commented on the drawing with a red pencil and returned the corrected drawing to the drawing office. In the cafeteria we laughed about the brainless draftsmen and had an arsenal of jokes how design could go wrong thanks to drawing errors. Then, the PC came and AutoCAD dropped a massive pile of 'new' work on our table. The better draftsmen became poor engineers and the good engineers became poor auto cad designers.
Recognize the story?
I remember standing in de que waiting in the lab to get the uncut mid formats and holding it on the light table, selecting and marking up with my marker en eventually direct ordering prints of the clear winners. Week later judging the prints and pushing them back over the counter with a 'how is this possible' attitude.
And then , the PC came and AutoCAD Photoshop dropped a massive pile of 'new' work on our table. The better draftsmen photographers became poor engineers Post Processors and the good engineers keen photoshoppers became poor auto cad designers Photographers.


...
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Rob C on August 15, 2018, 05:49:13 am
This is a very precise question and about the analogue vs digital workflow. It is about 'le métier'. It is not only about crayons vs oil paint.....

Story about my time as engineer: We had a drawing office. When we had a design we went to the drawing office. 20 Draftsmen standing on slanted tables fiddling around with Steadler or Rotring pens and pigment inkt. A week later we commented on the drawing with a red pencil and returned the corrected drawing to the drawing office. In the cafeteria we laughed about the brainless draftsmen and had an arsenal of jokes how design could go wrong thanks to drawing errors. Then, the PC came and AutoCAD dropped a massive pile of 'new' work on our table. The better draftsmen became poor engineers and the good engineers became poor auto cad designers.
Recognize the story?
I remember standing in de que waiting in the lab to get the uncut mid formats and holding it on the light table, selecting and marking up with my marker en eventually direct ordering prints of the clear winners. Week later judging the prints and pushing them back over the counter with a 'how is this possible' attitude.
And then , the PC came and AutoCAD Photoshop dropped a massive pile of 'new' work on our table. The better draftsmen photographers became poor engineers Post Processors and the good engineers keen photoshoppers became poor auto cad designers Photographers.


...



Thank you Ivo; you and Oscar got it from the beginning.
............................................................

"So where is photography today, for those of us not doing it for the money?

I think that, in general, it has become a very different beast, with its prime objective no longer that little - or large - piece of photographic paper bearing testimony to the pleasure or expression of artistic appreciation a moment once gave, a feeling strong enough to make us knowingly expend time, effort and money in pursuit of it; I think it has become another creature altogether, one far more light, that seeks only to be remembered for five seconds at best.

Having written that is not to preclude those who simply use the medium as they did or would have done with film, from just going on as before, creating pictures that they love and enjoy, regardless of medium.

What has altered, though, is that for both kinds of photographer, the opportunity for experimentation is far greater than ever it was. And I think that's the crucial aspect: one should learn to forget about the innate characteristics of film grain and so forth, and just use the digital route for what it offers instead, which is low cost, unlimited opportunity to mess about, and within a different photographic experience altogether. It's in the constant comparison of one medium with the other that the older photographer might find continuing frustration.

The musical analogy with score and the interpretation of it has never been more relevant than today, where our chances of coming up with a pleasing, personal take on something is far higher than it was before the advent of digital. Instead of wasting expensive sheets of paper, test strips notwithstanding, we can today sit on our collective ass, look at a screen and alter, adapt, add, subract and lie through our visual teeth until we reach the point where we feel we may have accomplished something worth showing.

Unfortunately though, none of this alters the fact that we will always need to have somethig inside us that we can express visually. If that's not there, we are left as voiceless as ever we were.

So yes, I think photograhy is now something else, and that its "drawing with light" sentiment is of the past, more drawing been done in the computer than in any camera."

...


I took the opportunity of quoting the above part of the OP.

Even a rapìd reading of it should illustrate just how little understood it has been, and how diverted the discussion that followed became. It turned into a fight about tools and how similar tools are insofar as cameras are concerned, said similarity of them becoming the topic in the mind of some, rather than the topic being about what it had been meant to be: about the heart and the soul of the practice and where it could be, and seems to be going today.

Perhaps that's not really surprising. I don't think that matters to very many people, not just here, but, with rare exceptions, anywhere in "photography" as found in the Internet.

Perhaps it was a mistake to start a thread on a topic which is actually fairly close to the topic of art, therefore difficult in the extreme to change from a thought in the mind to words on a page: it is not literary, it is visceral.

I won't  close this thread, because I'm sure it has space to run, and some may enjoy that. But for myself, I think I have tried to express my point of view on the matter as clearly as I can, and that is obviously not well enough, so I don't see a lot of point repeating myself until we all fall asleeep.

Rob
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Martin Kristiansen on August 15, 2018, 07:27:52 am
If you don’t mind me asking Rob.

You were a commercial photographer right. How much film processing did you do? How much black and white printing and how much colour printing? Since digital how much image processing on a computer do you do? How much stitching, blending and digital printing?

Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: elliot_n on August 15, 2018, 07:39:18 am
Rob, I’m sorry you feel misunderstood. I’ve re-read your original post and the thrust of it seems to be that photographers should overcome the trauma of the advent of digital and embrace the sophisticated toolset that digital provides. Ivo rightly pointed out that most of us went through this process many years ago. You may have been hoping for a discussion about ‘the heart and the soul’ of contemporary photographic practice, but your original post is entirely framed by technical considerations (darkroom vs lightroom). It is hardly surprising that subsequent comments focused on the perceived similarities and differences between an analogue and digital workflow.
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: FranciscoDisilvestro on August 15, 2018, 08:37:58 am
This is a very precise question and about the analogue vs digital workflow. It is about 'le métier'. It is not only about crayons vs oil paint.....

Story about my time as engineer: We had a drawing office. When we had a design we went to the drawing office. 20 Draftsmen standing on slanted tables fiddling around with Steadler or Rotring pens and pigment inkt. A week later we commented on the drawing with a red pencil and returned the corrected drawing to the drawing office. In the cafeteria we laughed about the brainless draftsmen and had an arsenal of jokes how design could go wrong thanks to drawing errors. Then, the PC came and AutoCAD dropped a massive pile of 'new' work on our table. The better draftsmen became poor engineers and the good engineers became poor auto cad designers.
Recognize the story?
I remember standing in de que waiting in the lab to get the uncut mid formats and holding it on the light table, selecting and marking up with my marker en eventually direct ordering prints of the clear winners. Week later judging the prints and pushing them back over the counter with a 'how is this possible' attitude.
And then , the PC came and AutoCAD Photoshop dropped a massive pile of 'new' work on our table. The better draftsmen photographers became poor engineers Post Processors and the good engineers keen photoshoppers became poor auto cad designers Photographers.


...

I think that is true during the transition from old to new technologies. After a while a new way to do things emerge and the old way of dividing tasks and roles no longer holds. A big issue is that in many cases the education system (both Universities and Techical institutes) lags behind the new way to to things in industry
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Rob C on August 15, 2018, 09:57:05 am
If you don’t mind me asking Rob.

You were a commercial photographer right. How much film processing did you do? How much black and white printing and how much colour printing? Since digital how much image processing on a computer do you do? How much stitching, blending and digital printing?



No, I don't at all mind you asking.

In 1960 I switched, in my fourth year of an engineering apprenticeship, to the photographic unit of the same aero-engine company.

I immediately learned that I, a guy with his own home darkroom - roomy, primitive but viable - didn't actually know how to print very well. I soon learned how to do what I didn't know could be done, and after the first couple of years I got switched to the colour department where I had to learn how to process Extachrome and colour negs too, and to colour print, often making inter-negs from 16mm motion strips.

The great benefit and bonus of working in that industrial unit was this: it was considered a service unit, and nobody gave a damn how much material you consumed, just get the damned print right! Once you had it, you often had to repeat it to the extent that you were developing thirty of those black and white mothers at a time in a dish, perhaps twice, and they all had to match. Fun, when you know how. The difficulty was if you smoked, and we all did: you couldn't get the thing out of your mouth because your fingers were soaking...

I had gone there with the intention of being a photographer, but I realised I was more valuable to the unit in their two darkrooms, so I thought about that, and then left. During those years, I must have made at least several hundreds of prints a week.

From there, I went to a commercial advertising studio for a short while, and learned the second big lesson of my photo-life: if you want to enjoy photography, do the type of work you want to do, and earn some money, you have to be self-employed. In 1966 I managed to go solo, and never worked for another boss again.

The first few years on my own I did mostly black/white photography and colour transparency work. I did all my own printing, obviously enough - as all of us did (you couldn't have a business then without a studio and a darkroom of your own); I knew better than to attempt my own colour lines because I would never have had the throughput for it to make sense. Which, when I had to produce colour prints, pissed me off royally, because I knew that all the bloody labs had to do was run one more filtration test and they would have got there to where I intended. The fights always ended with what was, and I quote: "commercially acceptable". I ran into exactly the same thing when I was producing calendars and insisted on presenting the client with machine prints and not Cromalin proofs. I guess I became a pain in the commercial ass - the hunt for perfection usually does that when others have to be involved. But I guess they thought about the business I was bringing with me...

From about the end of the 70s I used almost nothing else than Ektachrome in the Hasselbads and Kodachrome in the Nikons.

I retired just about when digital began to happen seriously - mid to late 80s? - so never worked with it professionally.

....................

Today.  Stitching: none; I have no interest in that kind of photography. Everything on the website was, obviously, scanned from film on my delighful little CanoScan FS 4000 US, or shot digitally.

The point, the driving force to the writing of my OP, was actually brought to my mind by my realisation that I was no longer doing straight digital pictures, making images much as I would have done using film; I found myself going into blending different, specially shot bits and pieces, into the main images in order to create something that never did exist but that would not look artificial and so disappoint me.

To answer a question you did not ask: were I working digitally today, in the same fashion and calendar market, it would not be much about creating imaginary scenarios: I would be into retouching mosquito bites and loose threads on dresses! That would mark the limit to the difference digital was making. X-Ray, of course, is something else, and always, except once in Spain, I managed to have it all hand-searched.

Rob
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Martin Kristiansen on August 15, 2018, 10:32:41 am
Thanks Rob. What an awesome answer. I do appreciate it. I wasn’t asking the question to poke holes in your point of view. I wanted a bit of background so my reply could be framed better.

I also worked in an industrial grade image processing environment. I also served a mentorship, to a man about your age. I learnt a great deal from him as you can imagine. I still see him for coffee now and again, and he phones me for advice on quoting sometimes. He is in his 80’s and still does some work.

Anyway. Here is how it is for me. I shot film for 20 years. Began digital in 1995 and  stopped shooting any film in 1998. When I sit down in front of my image processing work station with my Epson 11880 and 4880 alongside me my emotional response is much as it was in a darkroom. A quiet methodical pleasant place. A podcast instead of the radio, a computer instead of an enlarger. I have systems in place and a methodical workflow. It feels the same to me as a darkroom on a visceral level. I massage and sometimes beat images into the desired shape. I usually have a predetermined outcome in mind but I try to be open to mistakes and inspiration as I work. I hang finished work prints with clips onto a wire rail system on the wall. I try to be tidy but I trash the place as I work much as I did in a darkroom. I always tidy up before leaving. As my darkroom was my happy place so is my lightroom now. After a shoot I am often a bit tired and I will sit down and import files from the day. The same excitement and trepidation as I do a quick scan to see what I have as I used to get first glimpse as I pulled the roll of wet film off the reel and held it still dripping up to the light.

My point is for me is at a level below the technology, deeper than pixels and silver halide, the process continues bringing a type of release not dissimilar to a good meditation session.
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Slobodan Blagojevic on August 15, 2018, 10:43:19 am
Rob, if I may attempt to summarize your stance in just a few words: you are basically saying there is enough difference between “drawing with light” and “drawing with computers” to justify the name (and essence?) change from “photography” to, perhaps (suggestion mine), “photographic imaging.” How close am I?
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: KLaban on August 15, 2018, 11:08:09 am
Interesting discussion, but the rest of the world - apart from a bunch of pedantic togs - will continue referring to photos, pics, snaps and selfies regardless of how they are made.

;-)
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Rob C on August 15, 2018, 12:28:30 pm
Rob, if I may attempt to summarize your stance in just a few words: you are basically saying there is enough difference between “drawing with light” and “drawing with computers” to justify the name (and essence?) change from “photography” to, perhaps (suggestion mine), “photographic imaging.” How close am I?


It's called the bull's eye.

Why didn't I think of that sentence? It would have saved me hours!

:-)
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: FranciscoDisilvestro on August 15, 2018, 04:02:04 pm

It's called the bull's eye.

Why didn't I think of that sentence? It would have saved me hours!

:-)

Now we can go back and take photos with our cameras and add the steroids, sorry I mean create images, in the computer  ;)
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: farbschlurf on August 20, 2018, 02:57:49 pm
Only now I read all that, I was off for some days. Fascinating thread. Don't know whether it's a good idea to put in something more, potentially leading away, but I immediately had two thoughts when going through it all. Both build up on the stressed "digital imaging" Slobodan brought up, again.

The first thing I immediately got reminded of was the story of an artist and former (!) photographer I once met. It was 10 years ago, he was in his 70s back than. This artist told me he totally gave up photography for "digital imaging". He used to shoot nudes, and groups of nudes, in rather weird "configurations". Not what you might think, but still must have been pretty exhausting for his models. He told me one day he discovered "Poser". After some years and progress of his skills and probably program updates he slipped more and more into creating his visions in Poser (or perhaps other software) rather than making photos and - of course - after a while he found he is not any longer limited to the rules of science and physics that way. For him this was a real liberation.

The second thought is a bit more critical. Probably most of you follow the discussion about a possible "anti-photoshop-law". Obviously in the commercial world photography and digital imaging blend in each other for a long time now. Probably nobody knows better than the audience right here. It's just wanted and the way it is, elongated legs, thinner hips and all of that. I guess that's a rather negative example of how that possible liberation from the "real world" is being used. And basically we know, almost every commercially published "photo" today is rather a "digital image".

Just my 2ct, too bad being late to the party. Best discussion since long! Thanks.
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Rob C on August 20, 2018, 03:27:25 pm
I'm happy that you enjoyed the thread; some would have preferred it not have flourished.

For myself, writing/reading about photographic "how to do it" is boring, not only because I have done little else since 1960, but because it is obvious that everybody with a recording device can do it, so it's hardly news...

If anyone wants detailed instructions, the manual has that, and many sites tell you how to used PS etc. so the interest has to be in something other than pressing that damned button, which is where one could be forgiven for hoping that a site such as LuLa could have the critical mass to take the other aspect, the soul of photography, to the level of debate; it's how we learn and develop broader ideas, unless, through pure good fortune, we know at an early age all that we need to take along with us on the trip.

It happens.
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Hans Kruse on August 20, 2018, 03:38:17 pm
Yes, photography is still photography in my view. Looking at the end result why shouldn't it be? Too many are caught up in the technical details which does not really matter at the end of the day unless mistakes are done. Does it matter if it is done chemically or digitally? Not at all. Just like a wonderful poem written on a piece of paper or in MS Word does not matter what the medium is, only the end result. What more can I say? This is how I feel about it.
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: amolitor on August 21, 2018, 10:49:15 am
one could be forgiven for hoping that a site such as LuLa could have the critical mass to take the other aspect, the soul of photography, to the level of debate

Alas, not even here. My experience over the years is that this is not a conversation that can happen in a public forum of any kind. It appears to be, literally,  the single more reliably acrimony-inducing topic in amateur photography. At least in these decades.
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Rob C on August 21, 2018, 11:28:40 am
Alas, not even here. My experience over the years is that this is not a conversation that can happen in a public forum of any kind. It appears to be, literally,  the single more reliably acrimony-inducing topic in amateur photography. At least in these decades.


Or, people just couldn't care less about it.

I don't know which is the more depressing thought.

On the other hand, perhaps it takes a degree of obsession with it to make such things matter. Obsession to the point that it turns into the only interest in life next to survival, and the worry about where Brexit is going to leave my ongoing health issues once, as seems probable now, the previously interchangeable health services stop covering ex-member people stranded in other, once fellow-member countries.

What a fuck up.

:-(
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: KLaban on August 21, 2018, 01:33:54 pm

Or, people just couldn't care less about it.

I don't know which is the more depressing thought.

On the other hand, perhaps it takes a degree of obsession with it to make such things matter. Obsession to the point that it turns into the only interest in life next to survival, and the worry about where Brexit is going to leave my ongoing health issues once, as seems probable now, the previously interchangeable health services stop covering ex-member people stranded in other, once fellow-member countries.

What a fuck up.

:-(

Rob, you're not alone, there are approximately 1.3 million UK expats living in the EU who are watching this space intently.
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: HSakols on August 29, 2018, 09:47:28 am
Sorry to be so late to the party.  Rob I've thought quite a bit about this.  For me an exciting time was around 2005 when I used medium format film and scanned it at home.  It was a time I felt like I was learning so much and that made me excited about photography.  I also looked more at my prints.  Today, for the hobbiest, we are flooded with images to the point that it trivilizes the process.  I see many photos on facebook by photographers that are wonderful, but many of these images will never be printed, thus removing an important step.  It wasn't until I started to print that I started looking more carefully at my craft such as shadow detail.  Also now that we are more of a global community we all come from different backgrounds and expereiences which is hard to put into context by just posting photos on the internet.  I think we are at a time where us non professionals need to find more local nitches to share our work.  By the way lately I've had to motivate myself to make a few prints every couple of monthes but it somehow makes the process more real for me.  Maybe I need to load one of my old film backs.  This said a good photograph is a good photograph and should be able to stand on its own, but now everyone can make it with little knowledge or thought including me. 
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: amolitor on August 29, 2018, 12:32:09 pm
It is often said, and I dare say a bit of sleuthing would reveal that I have said it myself, that the quantity of photographs being made and shared today is in some sense desensitizing people to photography. That it is cheapening it.

Is there any evidence of this?

Be careful here, I refer specifically to the "glut of images" the "river of photographs" not the ease of access to the means of production. It is well established that the bottom has dropped out of swathes of the profession, but this is more reasonably attributed to the ubiquity, cheapness, and ease of use of cameras not of photographs.
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Rob C on August 29, 2018, 03:15:31 pm
It is often said, and I dare say a bit of sleuthing would reveal that I have said it myself, that the quantity of photographs being made and shared today is in some sense desensitizing people to photography. That it is cheapening it.

Is there any evidence of this?

Be careful here, I refer specifically to the "glut of images" the "river of photographs" not the ease of access to the means of production. It is well established that the bottom has dropped out of swathes of the profession, but this is more reasonably attributed to the ubiquity, cheapness, and ease of use of cameras not of photographs.

Yes and no: cameras have become more easy to use (if you don't really understand the medium) and so more pictures are made, largely by chance, that survive the bin.

The quantity of images around has led to the penny-stock genre and business always looks for the easy ways to save money because, to the bean-counter, that's like making it (or is it, sometimes, how not to make money?). The older generation of guys who worked in advertising was accustomed to sending people away with big budgets and even bigger hopes. That generation has either retired or been put into different management positions and the replacements are probably quite unaware of how it used to be done, and growing up in the ethos of cheap snaps, that's inevitably how they have learned to think.

The move away from print has also removed an important, moderating part of the whole, where price was looked at in an entirely different way. For illustration, I need look no further than my own years in calendar production. Printing a reasonably sized one was very expensive, and the major part of my budget; taking that into consideration, my model, travel and photography charges seemed rather modest, though in reality, both the models and I did very nicely, thank you. Of course, the printers were hit with high paper costs, too, and so the cake had one helluva lot of slices in it, but as a whole, it made everything look proportionate. Anyway, I always quoted as a complete package, but were price ever to be challenged, then a handy breakdown would have made me look modest. My experience was always that people didn't want to know about anything but bottom line, cost either killing the project or giving it the green light.

I suppose that the changes within the communications/advertising world go far beyond just the photography-related ones. Was a time some of us thought the ad agencies milked all of us; today, I think the agencies themselves have a lot of worries ahead of them from the very same democratization of communications.
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Arlen on August 31, 2018, 02:23:12 pm
I am just now getting around to reading this thread, but it is quite an interesting one, Rob. It might have been useful had I read it before posting a "photographic image" in the User Critiques forum a couple of weeks ago.
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Rob C on August 31, 2018, 05:17:06 pm
Possibly so, Arlen, but don't forget that unless it's commissioned, work is best done for the pleasure it gives its creator. If you get lucky, you can achieve both objectives at the same time.

This afternoon I was mooching around the apartment and saw my late wife's Chanel spray which still lives where it always did. I watched a documentary recently on Coco Chanel and her battles over her eponymous 5, and I'm sure that made the connection that today led me to setting up a crude still life in the office (photography always needs more space than you have). Having almost no skill in that field, and no lights that I was willling to set up only to increase my space frustration, I opted to put my Kodak light box on its side and use that as source. I haven't put the files into the computer yet, but probably will tomorrow, thus giving myself something to do... the point being, with my limited experience in that genre, shots at that level would never go near any client, but that removed, they still (I hope!) might give me as much entertainment tomorrow as they did this afternoon. It's photography's best present.

Rob
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Two23 on August 31, 2018, 08:52:13 pm
...I refer specifically to the "glut of images" the "river of photographs" not the ease of access to the means of production. It is well established that the bottom has dropped out of swathes of the profession, but this is more reasonably attributed to the ubiquity, cheapness, and ease of use of cameras not of photographs.


Twenty years ago I was working on a Master's Medical Science degree, and working nights at a huge Fuji TruColor "industrial" film processor.  Every night trucks brought rolls of (mostly) 35mm film from all the "big box" stores in four surrounding states.  It would not be unusual to process something like 15,000 roll per night.  We had a print processor the size of a motor home.  It shot out eight streams of 4x6 on tremendously long rolls, heading to the cutter.  I used to like to stand there and watch as thousands of photos flowed in front of me like a fast moving river.  It was an awesome sight!  Some observations.  I'd say about 90% of those photos were of a family member or loved one (I'll include photos of a teenager's first car here ;D ) or pets.  About 8% were scenery of some kind, usually from a family vacation.  Less than 2% seemed to be composed with any deliberate "artistic" sense in mind such as are posted on LuLa.  Maybe that was less than 1%, I don't know.  My point is that "rivers of photos" is nothing new, and probably dates back to 1904 and Kodak Brownies.  Most images are made as a sort of "keep sake" or record of something, such as your son & girlfriend going to high school prom etc.  The number of images made for "artistic" reasons has always been a niche and small one at that I think.


Kent in SD
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Rob C on September 08, 2018, 07:49:49 am

Twenty years ago I was working on a Master's Medical Science degree, and working nights at a huge Fuji TruColor "industrial" film processor.  Every night trucks brought rolls of (mostly) 35mm film from all the "big box" stores in four surrounding states.  It would not be unusual to process something like 15,000 roll per night.  We had a print processor the size of a motor home.  It shot out eight streams of 4x6 on tremendously long rolls, heading to the cutter.  I used to like to stand there and watch as thousands of photos flowed in front of me like a fast moving river.  It was an awesome sight!  Some observations.  I'd say about 90% of those photos were of a family member or loved one (I'll include photos of a teenager's first car here ;D ) or pets.  About 8% were scenery of some kind, usually from a family vacation.  Less than 2% seemed to be composed with any deliberate "artistic" sense in mind such as are posted on LuLa.  Maybe that was less than 1%, I don't know.  My point is that "rivers of photos" is nothing new, and probably dates back to 1904 and Kodak Brownies.  Most images are made as a sort of "keep sake" or record of something, such as your son & girlfriend going to high school prom etc.  The number of images made for "artistic" reasons has always been a niche and small one at that I think.


Kent in SD


But Kent, the diminutive elephant in you lab was this: art photography isn't pushed through huge processing plants. Either you do it in your own darkroom/lightroom or hire a specialist printer.

Your conclusion is based on a skewed, non-representative base insofar as "art" images may be concerned, but on the wider front there is no argument: most photography is and always was about nothing much. Even, I would suggest, most of the "art" photography wherever, whenever, printed.

Rob
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Dave Rosser on September 08, 2018, 09:29:51 am


No, I don't at all mind you asking.

In 1960 I switched, in my fourth year of an engineering apprenticeship, to the photographic unit of the same aero-engine company.

Rob
Out of interest Bristol or Derby or elsewhere?  If Bristol and you were in the West Works home of the photographic department then I had the benefit of your fumes, the ventilator chimney for the darkroom was right outside my office in APRG (Advanced Propulsion Research Group  for the in initiated).

Dave
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Rob C on September 08, 2018, 01:40:48 pm
Out of interest Bristol or Derby or elsewhere?  If Bristol and you were in the West Works home of the photographic department then I had the benefit of your fumes, the ventilator chimney for the darkroom was right outside my office in APRG (Advanced Propulsion Research Group  for the in initiated).

Dave


Neither: the Mobile Photo-Unit, as it liked to call itself, was based in the R-R branch in Blantyre. I think the main part of it was in Derby.

I have to say, I learned a helluva lot about printing and processing there, if not a lot else! I sometimes yearn for those years of relative innocence.

From what I can gather from friends who worked there too, it was closed after a few years and the work subcontracted out, originally, AFAIK, to a new company made up of the fired staff - Product Support Graphics, I think they called the operation - though no idea to whom or where the work went after that, as I heard they went down the tubes... As there was quite a security issue, I really think it must have been a tough call finding a safe alternative.

;-)

Rob
Title: Re: Is photography, today, still photography?
Post by: Dave Rosser on September 08, 2018, 03:20:38 pm

Neither: the Mobile Photo-Unit, as it liked to call itself, was based in the R-R branch in Blantyre. I think the main part of it was in Derby.

I have to say, I learned a helluva lot about printing and processing there, if not a lot else! I sometimes yearn for those years of relative innocence.

From what I can gather from friends who worked there too, it was closed after a few years and the work subcontracted out, originally, AFAIK, to a new company made up of the fired staff - Product Support Graphics, I think they called the operation - though no idea to whom or where the work went after that, as I heard they went down the tubes... As there was quite a security issue, I really think it must have been a tough call finding a safe alternative.

;-)

Rob
When I retired from RR in 2000 the photographic dept seemed to consist of one man in Derby.  I'm not sure what you did it you wanted high quality pictures of some component - outside contractor I suppose. Ah well times change.

Dave