Digital is No Less "Organic" Than Film

Started Aug 17, 2014 | Discussions thread
Flat view
bford Senior Member • Posts: 1,489
Digital is No Less "Organic" Than Film

This is a spinoff thread from a film related thread that is almost full.

JulesJ wrote:

bford wrote:

JulesJ wrote:

Dave Luttmann wrote:

You can of course expect a bunch of snarky, sarcastic replies here. The experience of using old gear is a nice change for some people. Using old lenses are often a treat for the different look. As well, film looks different, and behaves differently under varying light conditions. I always liked the feel of the Canon F1. Look at the Nikon Fe2 as well. And the Minolta cameras and MD lenses. Some nice stuff. Ifind it refreshing to try different media as it tends to expand possibilities and ones opposed to the old mantra of digital is better...blah blah blah.

I still have my FE2, beautiful camera, i used to have two and sold one and still regret it. Film can give a beauty and depth that digital never can. Digital strives for no noise, whereas film is organic and it's beauty is the grain whether it is visible or not.

The digital equivalent of grain is no less organic,

Actually it is. Silver grain is created organically and thus the patterns were never repeatable and varied beautifully with different films and also with different development times and temperatures.

Organic does not necessarily equal random. Organic used as you are using it simply means as things are in nature. Nature has randomness, and order. The more organized formation of an image created with digital cameras, especially current ones, actually record, as a whole, more of what is natural, random and ordered.

That said, the digital equivalent of grain is also random. Below is an ISO 6400 crop from a popular Sony camera. What do you see? I see something that looks like film grain, and that also has randomness.

View: original size

Noise is so well named and is a nasty grid of interference that digital camera cameras can only hope to eliminate, and when they do they think that digital will be perfect. How wrong they are. I can only guess that you never used the wet process and didn't spend your youth experimenting with it.

Here's a Wikipedia article on image noise.

Some quotes:

"At higher exposures, however, image sensor noise is dominated by shot noise."

"The grain of photographic film is a signal-dependent noise, with similar statistical distribution to shot noise."

That's what you are seeing in the image above.

no less integral, than the grain of film is in forming the final image we see. Many, if not most, photographers, actually prefer it to film grain.

How sad.

Not sad at all. Consider the image above, what I wrote, and the information supporting it.

What most people that shoot film truly feel "sad" about, is the ending, or possible ending, of an era. For some, the younger ones, outside of the hipsters playing the role, they simply wish they could go back in time and experience, or live in, another era, which is why such people are also into turntables, records, and other vintage things. I can understand and appreciate that to a certain extent, after all I did live during those periods, and I suspect you did too. But I can not understand and appreciate it to the extent that I can not recognize and accept the truth about what digital has brought to photography.

Those that think film has no place in photography are missing a lot.

I think only if they go all the way and do their own printing.

Digital we all know has many advantages, mostly to do with speed of processing, cost and convenience.

Digital also has much higher resolution, much higher ISO capability, much better color accuracy, not to mention what one can do in an image editing app.

All those things do not necessarily lend themselves to a better end product. You are talking about science, I prefer to treat photography as an art.

But is there not a lot of science that goes into the creation of film and silver based paper, color or b/w? Is there not a lot of science that goes into the manufacture of lenses for your film camera?

Science, technology, has always been a significant part of photography. Photography is not like drawing with a pencil, or painting. Both of those crafts require a lot of skill to do well, for sure, but technologically speaking, in comparison to photography, they are primitive, and will remain primitive. The pencil artist and painter are creating the images and the art. With photography, the photographer is creating the art, but it is the camera, the higher technology behind it, that is ultimately creating the image.

I'm sure you hate the works of the great artists as their drawings, and paintings are often not true to real life at all. Sadly for you Van Gogh didn't have a Colormunki.

Not at all, but for most photographers the technical, or technological, side of photography is just as important as the artistic side, and always has been. It is inherently a technological craft.

Let me ask you this, why are you using a camera to begin with if you are more concerned with art? If it's just for creating abstractions of life and matter, why not take up drawing and painting instead? You may say, even you have the occasional need to create something "true to real life." OK, but you can do that with a pencil or a paintbrush. After all, there are many extraordinary artists creating photo realistic work with pencil and paint.

The problem with bringing up comparisons to classical artists working in traditional mediums is that those people were, and are, creating their art with comparatively primitive tools.

With no desire to be discouraging, for me such people's work is much more of a sign of a God than someone snapping pictures with a camera, film or digital. Holding a camera can not be compared, for even the art of film photography is crucially dependent on the technology involved in the medium.

But in my work i look at digital images and those produced by the silver gelatine process and especially when it come to B&W, the old process wins hands down for the beauty of the print.

But any digital image can obviously be printed to traditional photo paper. In fact , the vast majority of digital photo prints are made on traditional photo paper. The only limitations would be doing it at home and the limited labs that will print your digital images to traditional b/w paper over the color variety.

But still lacking the grain of original film, even I added on your computer.

But I have proven that digital cameras are also producing random grain. There is also nothing preventing a film like grain, assuming that it can not be likened enough with what is already produced in digital cameras, as film shooters like to say, from being added to a digital camera image. After all, when I scan film I see the same grain that is in the film. If it is in the digital scan and file then that particular grain can be replicated and added to any digital image. Many professional photographers already agree that that is already possible, as I do, if one chooses to go beyond the "grain" produced by a digital camera.

Come along to Paris Photo next November, I'll be there, you will see hundreds of silver prints that are so wonderful that they could never have been produced digitally, with prices to reflect that.

Unfortunately my mobility is rather limited, but thank you for the offer. Really. I have no doubt I would be impressed by the silver prints on display. None at all. I have some hanging in my home, that I printed myself in my own darkroom.

That said, I have seen even more impressive photography created today than I did back in the film days. Far more. That shouldn't be a surprise considering how much more is possible with digital technology.

Flat view
Post (hide subjects) Posted by
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum PPrevious NNext WNext unread UUpvote SSubscribe RReply QQuote BBookmark MMy threads
Color scheme? Blue / Yellow