Analogue ecological impact.

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by hdeyong, May 18, 2013.

  1. hdeyong

    hdeyong Member

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    My wife and I are house-sitting in a small Canadian town, and we met one of the neighbours, who turns out to be an avid photographer while walking the dog.
    When he found out I still shoot mostly film, he trotted out a number of reasons why this wasn't a good idea. The last one, was that he was concerned about the environmental impact of analogue, and felt much better shooting digitally. He also said he has over 30,000 images on file, and has to buy a better, (his third), laptop. That seems kinda polluting to me, but, the best was when I was out for a walk the next day and passed him digging in his garden. I stopped for a chat, and spied a huge pickup truck and a matching gigantic house trailer in the driveway. I asked if he had visitors and it turns out that no, that's their home-away-from-home which they take to Arizona every winter.
    From where we are to Arizona is a five day drive, at probably 10 miles per gallon, if that. Never mind the building of these behemoths and the servicing.
    But by jove, my shooting analogue is a bad thing for the environment. I didn't bother to say anything, because he probably wouldn't have understood anyway.
    It's a funny old world.
     
  2. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    Also, how strange to be such a keen photographer when walking the dog. Does the dog provide tips on composition and exposure?:wink:
     
  3. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    The manufacture of digital products has a very negative impact on the environment. It uses Mercury, Arsenic, Cadmium and a host of other chemicals that analog stopped using years ago. The photo chemicals used in processing are quite benign and are easily biodegraded in sunlight or sewage treatment.

    PE
     
  4. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    You're right PE. The digital photographers that constantly upgrading has a greater impact than photographers buying used gear.
     
  5. anikin

    anikin Subscriber

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    Heh, I work in the computer chip industry and the ones PE listed are the nicer ones.
    Things come to mind are hydrofluoric acid, and the best one is TMAH. It is considered a safer alternative than other chemicals, but a small spill on the skin dissolves it instantly and causes serious burns. But that's nothing! It gets quickly absorbed into the blood stream and causes permanent and irreversible damage to the nervous system and death. It is used by the barrelfulls to make camera sensors and chips. Compared to that photographic chemicals are totally benign, and most of them are used as food additives anyway...

    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD
     
  6. summerbee

    summerbee Member

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    You all mentioned very good points. We could ad that a lot of us do mix their own chemicals on precise measure for the need of the moment, with less packages and minimal waste.
     
  7. Tom1956

    Tom1956 Inactive

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    +1
     
  8. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Apart from film spools backing paper and chemistry everything else gets re-ued (120 backing paper and packaging gets recycled). I use film boxes (I mainly shoot LF) for packaging. paper boxes for storing prints, commercial chemistry bottles get re-used (I don't buy much) my newest analogue camera is a Pentax MX or maybe my Wista. Forgot the chinese 6x17 camera bought 6 years ago but it's built like a tanks so should last 100+ years.

    Some of the cameras I use are at least 50 years old, some 100+, same with lenses, there's no obsolescence. Enlargers last for decades and I'm about to restore a 100 year old Ensign (Houightons) enlarger to use as well.

    Printers go obsolete before they waer out because newer OS's son't support them wit drivers. Digital cameras have a finite shuitter count and are poorly built compared to 1970/80s cameras. Printer cartridges aren't recycleable - they could be, laser cartridges are. Laptops have a 3 year life (on average) they wear out, PC's can last longer and are upgradeable. All these thinhgs come over packaged as well. So the waste from Digital is far worse.

    Ian
     
  9. Mustafa Umut Sarac

    Mustafa Umut Sarac Member

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    And americans fill the 40 foot containers with these old laptops and monitors and send to africa as a education gift. US used thousand of depleted uranium filled bombs at irag and cancer count increased 250 times or more. And americans collect japanese garbage from earthquake at pasific coast and send to international monitoring services. And the contaminated and mine filled South east asia.

    Contradictions and brain washed public.
     
  10. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    Today it's impossible to harm the environment by shooting film simply because we just don't have enough film to do any appreciable amount of harm.
     
  11. ParkerSmithPhoto

    ParkerSmithPhoto Subscriber

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    Its my experience that the more someone talks about how "eco-friendly" they are and how everyone else is destroying the environment, the reality is that they are often a giant eco-hog. Witness Leonardo DiCaprio, who preaches this crap to everyone and then flies to South Africa on his private jet to catch a World Cup game.

    Don't even get me started on that insufferable ass Al Gore...
     
  12. spijker

    spijker Subscriber

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    Yeah, there's a lot of hypocrisy around the topic of environmental impact. But listing that here w.r.t. photo chemicals is pretty much preaching to the converted. Although I don't think that the semiconductor industry flushes its chemicals down the drain while we photo amateurs around the world usually do with the exception of used fix for some/most(?) of us. Aren't there carcinogens in most developers (Metol Hydroquinone)? Don't we all pour that down the drain. What about toners and bleach? A few years ago, I was forbidden to rinse wine glasses at the main sink at a photo school because I was told that kinds of toxic stuff from alternative processes went through there. I also find it interesting that there's a current thread on wearing gloves in the darkroom. Apparently photo chemicals are not as harmless as some people claim.

    And aren't it always the biggest perpetrators that proclaim that what they do is harmless or doesn't have a significant effect regardless whether it is photo chemicals, e-waste, CO2 emissions etc. But making different choice that has less environmental impact often cost more money, takes a bit more effort or one has to take a small step back in comfort. And unfortunately many are unwilling to do that. So we should all take a hard look at our own habits first.
     
  13. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    Oh, come on!
    Your neighbour might want to consider the wanton waste of millions of otherwise perfectly useful DSLRs traded up for the next best thing in "upgrade(s)" "for better pictures". I am profoundly amazed by the hundreds I see being traded in almost on a daily basis to keep the industry cogs going over (at the expense of analogue). Each DSLR uses a huge number of precious metals: gold, nickel, silver, cadmium... plus the industry-intensive business of plastic manufacture and moulding. It is not cheap. Not environmentally sound and there is the problem of a chain of waste that nobody seems willing to tackle, unlike recycling mobile phones that is commonplace. The neighbour is misinformed and obviously "carried away" with the benefits and "environmental soundness" of digital, but he is in a rut for sure if he has to continually buy a new PC (another source of waste — how many PCs can you count have actually been recycled?), especially with 30,000 images. LOL. OMG! What does he do with them? I print and frame virtually every one of my images. What does he do with his? Tell me! I take the view he has intellectual waste on a grand scale. Bide him a good day, and be entertained by his naivity, then go back to enjoy doing what you do so well.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 19, 2013
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  15. Slixtiesix

    Slixtiesix Subscriber

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    One thought: If you shoot 100.000 pictures (whoever may do that) with a DSRL it may be better than producing 365 gallons of developer waste (just do the math: film tank with 500ml capacity, 36 frames. The ration is far worse with 120). It also depends whether you use Xtol or Pyro. Since no film user I know of reaches such high volumes (and the chemistry used in professional labs which easily reach them is recycled), the whole debate is meaningless. The amount of waste that accumulates through normal amateur use is neglectable if disposed properly.
     
  16. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    It seemed to me that back in the early 90s when digital was first starting out companies like Kodak were touting digital as more environmentally friendly, that's why they were heading that direction. They even changed their name to Kodak Imaging, I think.

    Also companies were having EPA issues and moving plants to Mexico and eastern bloc countries where environmental rules were lax.

    So for a fact the chemicals were a problem.

    But obviously with digital, built in obsolescence, and the chemical issues with digital components, I doubt a move over to digital helped the ecology much.

    All chemical manufacturing corporations can be ecological if they choose to, but most will just move their pollution to places where they aren't monitored.
     
  17. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Well Slixtisix, one DSLR sensor or one ram drive with pictures contains more toxins than that 365 gallons of developer. If you expose the developer to air and sunlight it oxidizes and becomes neutral in pH, thus becoming nearly harmless. The bacteria in sewage treatment do the rest. The sensor OTOH, has non-biodegradable toxins that leach into the ground water where it is dumped.

    That ones sensor contains arsenic and selenium, which are toxic forever. They do not biodegrade.

    PE
     
  18. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Blansky, AFAIK, Kodak was neutral on the subject at that time. They were working on the problem. And, as the upgrade problem became apparent, I believe that some opinions changed regarding digital.

    PE
     
  19. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    Entirely possible.

    The "ecological friendly" assertion could have just been marketing as well. I'd just changed cities and worked in a camera store for a year, to decide if we were staying before reopening my studio and the reps were all touting digital as the newest, best, ecological friendly etc etc and I'd been analog at that time (obviously) for 15 years and wondered what all the excitement was about.

    I think the EPA was tightening rules, globalization was starting, tech was finding it's way, and a whole lot of factors were happening help spread the digital revolution. I may have the dates off a bit but it seemed like a lot of factors fell into place for digital to grab a place in the market. I remember one of the reps saying, yeah, the EPA is killing these companies that's why they're getting away from chemicals.

    But I do remember I was surprised, and saw the writing on the wall when Kodak went from whatever it was, to now, Kodak Imaging. I thought, wow, for a giant like Kodak to change its name, this digital thing must be real.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 19, 2013
  20. batwister

    batwister Member

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    But a serious amateur might shoot 100k frames within a couple of years on a DSLR, then dispose, and upgrade. At my current shooting rate, with 120, 100,000 frames would take 10 years.
     
  21. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Guys;

    One thing we have not discussed here is the ecological impact of CDs and DVDs. Thee are the equivalent of film in some ways and contain a lot of chemistry that follows them through their lives to the garbage heap.

    PE
     
  22. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    There should be laws that any new product or invention has to be accompanied with a process to break it down/recycle it as part of the licensing process.
     
  23. Slixtiesix

    Slixtiesix Subscriber

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    Wow PE, as opposed to me, you´re an absolute authority on these things. I stand corrected!
     
  24. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    from what i remember electric cameras and computers still use electricity, even though it might be battery powered.
    making electricity is not a waste free process unless people are using their personal wind or solar farm ....
    i would guess there is quite a bit of pollution involved with manufacturing film and paper, just like there is in making digital-stuff.

    people believe what they want, in the end it really doesn't matter ..
     
  25. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    One of the complicating issues in respect to this problem is the issue of timing. Another is the issue of geographical concentration.

    The environmental consequences of film and analogue processes are spread out over the life of the process (R & D, manufacture, transport, cold storage, processing, projection/printing) in a different way and at more/different locations than the environmental consequences of digital processes (R & D, manufacture, transport, battery operation, display/printing).

    At some points in the process, and at some locations, film and analogue processes may have a more extensive impact. And at other points in the process, and at some locations,digital processes may have a more extensive impact.

    We are often more attuned to the impacts that are local (processing) than the impacts that appear more distant (manufacture in another part of the world).

    I remember a fair bit of discussion about Kodachrome being less environmentally "friendly" than E6 film, but I expect that opinion was based mostly on looking at the processing part of the equation, where the impact was concentrated in a very few, relatively high volume locations, and involved the effect of the dyes, which with Kodachrome are/were added at time of development, instead of at time of manufacture, which is the case with E6 films.
     
  26. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    This is awful, but not news. Where do old non-working DSLRs go, if not in shops? Maybe I shouldn't ask: landfill? <*shudder*>