The Past "Photography" the Future "Imagery" Not for ME!

Started 7 months ago | Questions thread
Aaron801
Contributing MemberPosts: 788Gear list
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Very well put!
In reply to T3, 7 months ago

I agree 100%. It doesn't really matter how you go about getting the look that you want so it's really a case of "by whatever means necessary." I took a number of photo classes in college and one course was all about doing experimental work. There was a project in which we had to combine negatives to create a new image... the kind of thing that folks do all the time in Photoshop these days, but was a little tricker to do in a darkroom. One student did a piece that was really nice (I've forgotten what the subject matter was) and she explained that she couldn't get a really perfect blend from one image to the other in the darkroom so she got out the retouching kit and painted on the print to get that seamless gradation she was wanting. When she apologized for "cheating," the teacher said very pointedly that "there is no cheating in art." I had never thought about it but I found myself agreeing with that as the viewer doesn't have to know anything about the process to get something out of the work. As evidenced by these great examples, very often the process isn't what we might think that it is... but in the end none of that really matters. We either enjoy the work or we don't on it's own merits. You might not know if that great pianist you just saw play studied all her life or learned everything she knows in the last couple of years... You hear the music and are moved by it... or not.

The whole "purity of craft" idea seems so naive, really. Before Photoshop there was airbrushing and before burst mode there were auto winders that folks used to burn up a lot of film in a hurry. If you think that shooting tons of exposures to get a few good ones (because digital is free) is a new concept, you need to learn about folks like Garry Winnogrand, who apparently shot hundreds of exposures for every one keeper. His approach was to shoot so quickly that he really didn't even know what he had in the frame until he developed the film! The juxtapositions that he got in his best shots were probably impossible to get any other way. In this way his "art" was as much in the editing as the taking of the pictures... and there's nothing wrong with that if it gets you the results you're after.

As someone who's spent a lot of time in a darkroom dealing with B&W, color and some alternative processes, I see digital photography as a really great thing. With digital, I feel like I'm much more likely to realize whatever vision I have for a particular image. With software I'm able to fine tune the image to a level that would be all but impossible in a darkroom and digital cameras make it so that I'm much more likely to get the shot I'm after in the first place, as they're much more flexible tools than the old film cameras (I can photograph in a far greater variety of conditions). The fact that I can try out a few approaches and compare them so easily side by side, undoing and redoing steps to my heart's content means that I can really zero in on just the look that going to be ideal.

Digital to my eyes can do almost everything that film can do and then some. Of course there are certain looks... certain processes that can only be achieved by analog means... If that's the look that you're after then you're going to use those tools and those processes and that's perfectly fine as well. Use whatever process that you need to to create the work that's in your mind... simple as that.
There's an idea that I hear that digital photography isn't as "hands on" as the old analog processes were and I see it as just the opposite. With digital, I have much, much more control of the image so I can be MORE hands on with how I approach it. I can treat an image much more like a painting, getting just the level of sharpness or blur on each element, changing colors, contrasts, etc so that it's actually more of a considered process and less "automatic" than working with film.

 Aaron801's gear list:Aaron801's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 Panasonic Leica Summilux DG 25mm F1.4 Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II ASPH Mega OIS
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