Digital seems to have killed the photographer in me....

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by vpwphoto, Mar 23, 2011.

  1. vpwphoto

    vpwphoto Member

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    I am a professional image maker... portraits, commercial work, products.
    I have never done anything too "glamourous" just good solid work. I have shot a couple national/global campaigns for Stanley tools. (Billed as a local job... but that is another story).

    I have lost the "flow". Shooting... opening packages of processed chromes.
    A regular trip into the darkroom each or every other day. Late afternoon processing and early morning printing for deadline.

    There is just no joy in sitting at the computer sorting over-shot assignments because digital exposures cost you only time. The darkroom was like a church. The only distraction it offered me was the jazz on the radio, or the occasional phone call.

    Editing and "processing" in the digital arena is punctuated by constant e-mails, phone calls, and the distraction of APUG and Facebook.

    Perhaps I need to build a digital processing "Lightroom", where it is the business of photography only? I have tried... the flow of work from wet to dry, from unwrapping film to cutting, to culling the bad exposures down to a select 8 that the customer asked for. Darkroom work was active and regulated by the clock, and so unforgiving!! Digital is too forgiving. Throw away and image...sometimes it can be retrieved. No more color balance... grey balance with a little eyedropper.

    I am going back to what actually feels like work now... not a magical alchemy of light and molecules. :pouty:
     
  2. Mustafa Umut Sarac

    Mustafa Umut Sarac Member

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    Take care. Read more on electronics , when you learn more , you will find the inventor in your mind again. Today I read some audiophile stuff and received a guide from Texas Instruments and it fired me.
    I dont know you , do you like old electronic stuff like preamps , power amps , turntables but when you learn how new digital stuff working , you will have a more active mind.
    Visit www.stereophile.com and visit mit edu media lab. Digital is bad , this is not true , it opens many new oppurtunities to the persons and parts are damn cheap.

    Umut
     
  3. MaximusM3

    MaximusM3 Member

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    That's the problem with digital. Even though I don't do this for a living, digital had killed my passion, vision, drive and creativity. It always felt stale and flat, as I was not creating anything. It's obviously not about image quality but about the process. Shooting film, exposing, controlling development, molding your negatives to your printing workflow and making that final print you can be proud of, is what makes it all special and worth the effort and dedication. Digital workflow is sterile, printing is sterile, there is no soul or feel in the process. Images may look killer but, sitting there in front of a screen and manipulating pixels, doesn't fuel the drive or improve your vision behind the camera. Most screw ups can be fixed later and that makes one VERY lazy. I was basically running around doing snapshots, which unequivocally would end up in the trash. Even after manipulating the few keepers, I would doubt myself and whether they could be even better if I turned myself into a Photoshop wizard. At the of the day, it was all computer work and little about photography.
    I guess I am lucky that I don't need to do this for a living, as I have no professional requirements to shoot digital and sit for hours on end in front of a screen.
     
  4. dpurdy

    dpurdy Member

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    Process oriented people need to take pleasure in the process. Getting wet, opening packages of film, loading cameras, mixing solutions, holding rolls of film up to a light or looking with a loupe on a light table and a thousand other things. Sitting at a key board isn't an enjoyable process for me.
    Dennis
     
  5. vpwphoto

    vpwphoto Member

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    @ dpurdy... Looking at your work made my day today!
     
  6. bwrules

    bwrules Member

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    Oh no! Not another digital vs. analog mile long thread!

    Photography is ultimately about results, not processes. I find that both darkroom and digital "lightroom" processes bug me (they are daunting and time-consuming), but I like B&W film results. I don't like digital's plasticky, rubbery look and lack of texture. No amount of post-processing seems to fix that, although I am not a workflow guru in either. Perhaps someone knows how. I've seen Silver efex results, it's not the same thing.

    The process of picture taking is almost exactly the same (just as demanding) though with either, with a the digital's advantage of chimping, and the disadvantage of lacking nice affordable rangefinders. I don't buy the cheapening argument. If you are in it for results (good photos that happen rarely), and not screwing around with processes and testing/pixel peeping, you could produce equally good photos given enough time if digital's look is acceptable to you.
     
  7. Brian Legge

    Brian Legge Member

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    I find it is useful to separate free time space from work space, no matter what. I'm a programmer by day. When I was working at home for a while, I worked exclusively on my laptop. The laptop didn't have anything 'fun' on it - it was just a work machine. I often worked disconnected from the internet to avoid the temptation to be distracted, only going online when I needed to look up reference material.

    My productivity, focus and happiness doing the work went way up. I think your idea about a dedicated space may be worth exploring.
     
  8. mbsmith

    mbsmith Member

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    I disagree. A photograph may be about the results, but photography as a practice is very much about the process (whether it be simple or complicated) of acheiving a desired result. Whether the photographer obssesses, or even cares, about the processes is relative.

    I think the OP articulated an understandable difference between the two fields that many can relate to.
     
  9. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    One of the great appeals of the darkroom is that it equals time away from the computer. A machine which is ubiquitous in many people's lives. Stepping away from a machine often associated with work is ambrosia.
     
  10. Klainmeister

    Klainmeister Member

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    I do IT work so anything away from these backlit screens is a wonder. The darkroom (although my current residence doesn't permit one) is exactly what I need at the end of a work day.
     
  11. vpwphoto

    vpwphoto Member

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    I didn't start a (another) debate about which is better... it's the "flow" of work.

    Economically, the barriers to entry have fallen, the ability to do competent work (on the surface) has been removed.

    There are too many small studios and people with blogs saying they are commercial photographers that are not.
    The ability to earn a decent living has been damaged by too many putting shingle out by undercutting the establishment, yet they do not realize that another is waiting in line to do the same.

    I do think a return to film work might be my last salvation to differentiate myself form the 20 something DSLR "chimps".
     
  12. resummerfield

    resummerfield Subscriber

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    +1. I could not have said it better.
     
  13. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    For you perhaps.


    Steve.
     
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  15. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    The computer I use for digital/hybrid stuff, I do not use for recreational web browsing. It's too easy to get a virus/spyware/malware, and that would be bad, real bad for my precious digital photos. No distractions then. But I have another computer right next to it that I use for facebook/apug/lfinfo, etc...

    I don't do it professionally, but I have a happy mix of digital, hybrid, and pure analog photography. The different methods have their uses.
     
  16. bwrules

    bwrules Member

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    I think wider availability and democratization of photography is a good thing as more people can enjoy it. I betcha it doesn't affect the percentage of those who are truly good at it though, so there shouldn't be much of increased competition for them or cheapening. I think if work stands out and clients like it, then that photographer will get more clients over the crowd.
     
  17. sandholm

    sandholm Subscriber

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    Hi
    In a sense i know what you mean, I am not a professional but I do shoot for pay occasionally. For me digital can be a bless but it can also be a nightmare, and as you say the biggest nightmare is infront of the computer (I also shoot digital for some of my own work). I get the same feeling as you when its to much digital I just loose the connection to the work. Now this is what I usually do

    1: When i shoot digital I dont look at the image. I have a M9 for street and I have actually covered the display (black duct tape). I dont want to see it the image when i am shooting

    2: I have a digital back for my hasselblad, most used in studio and at weddings but here I dont look at the image instead I only look at the histogram, but I see this information as a "polaroid".

    Doing these to things I get in to the process that there is no image, it becomes as I would have film in the camera and I stop shooting all the time. I just need 2-3 really good shoot of the bride, maybe I bracket one because that highlight looks a bit funny (which i would have done with film) and I am done. This means that I dont end up with 50 images of just the bride from that pose.

    In my dayroom (which I also use as computer editing room) I have internet but when I work I work, no distraction. I do have a phone but I dont check my email every 5 min (and I close the email program when I work).
    In all my work (professional and personal) I use the method of GTD (Get Things Done), which makes me focus 100% of what I am doing instead of thinking of what I need to do, I know that and I know what I have to do. If you done use a time management method you really need on because you sound like you are swamped.

    Last remark. Do you have to shoot digital in all your work? There are plenty of photographers out there who make a good living of shooting film because there results looks "different" from the digital stuff. If you can shoot film why dont you do it? In what I do 1 out of 10 has to be send ASAP, which I then have to shoot digital and send of, but if the customer needs it in 2 weeks and they want good results, the process is up to me. Shoot film, develop, then either scanning of to the client or put it down on paper the old way :wink:

    To sum up. Think about your time management and work environment. Think about if you really need to use digital and if you do try to get into thinking its film, which helps you from over shooting.

    cheers
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 23, 2011
  18. Usagi

    Usagi Member

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    Some thoughts...

    At the end, it's the man, not the machine. But somehow digital feels different. Perhaps because publishing of pictures is so easy with internet that you see a lot of poor photos. Most of them digital.

    As i have to sit in the front of computer in the work, i would not like to do that much on free time.

    Ironically, the rise of digital photography has also created kind of a need for scanning.
    No one will any more ask if they can see my latest albums or color slides.
    Instead everyone seems to expect pictures to appear in the net galleries fast.
    People do not have patience enough for waiting to see real photographs of some event or my children.
    Even the week or so that takes to develop films and scan them seems to be too much.
    I don't understad it.

    One think that causes a kind of loss of inspiration is the massive flood of pictures you can easily see daily in the internet.
    Many of these looks good. In the monitor, watched at typical web size.
    While the creativity of most pictures isn't that great, there is still pile of good looking photos. Again, when viewed on monitor.

    However, at least I forgot too often that the photos I see are small web photos and I have no idea how good they would look when viewed in bigger print.
    Even 30cm wide print. I bet that majority of them would show lack of quality.

    As this huge picture flow goes thru your brains, you begin to see own work less unordinary or personal creations.

    During the days before digital cameras really took the market, the typical amount of photographs that i saw daily was low. Perhaps something like 20-50 including web sites of that time.

    When going back to times before web really break thru, the amount of photos to see was limited to photograph books, photography magazines and occasional opportunies to watch photograph exhibitions.

    Thus own creativity had much more room. Not forgetting that the pace of life was slower.


    Perhaps it would do good to limit amount of web photos and concentrate only to own photography. Regardless of other people's demand.
     
  19. MaximusM3

    MaximusM3 Member

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    That's because the digital PROCESS has created a huge dilution of talent. Anyone running around with an iPhone and fairly basic knowledge of Photoshop or various plug-ins can turn a masterpiece. The process (or post process) is easy, given enough time and computer knowledge. On the other hand, the requirements for film PROCESS are different and yes, likely more difficult and time consuming. But the pleasure is indeed in the process which, as others have mentioned, takes us away from these damn screens and fuels creativity in different ways. So, yes, if film is what's going to make you different, happier, and your work shine brighter than the next guy running around with a Nikon D7000, you have certainly made the right move.
     
  20. 36cm2

    36cm2 Member

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    What mbsmith said x10. The path is as important as the product.
     
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  21. CGW

    CGW Member

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  22. bwrules

    bwrules Member

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    Where are these masterpieces? I have yet to see one made that way...

    I find both digital and darkroom processes difficult enough, and I am sure masterpieces would require far more skill than rudimentary abilities in either. In any case, few people would want to rather deal with a difficult process to produce the same result than an easy one. If we could make pictures without processes, we would.

    I would love to use digital if its imaging had the sort of qualities that B&W film provides, and I ideally don't care about the processes. They are just necessary evil to give me photos. Most of the fun for me happens in picture taking and the rest is drudgery. As it is right now, I can't stand the rubbery, plasticky digital look though.
     
  23. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    I'm sceptical of the idea that digital cameras have increased access to photography but I will concede that access to post processing has increased via pirate copies of photoshop. The pirating element is probably one of the most significant cost savings. I think the real increase in access (I don't think this can be called 'democratisation' - perhaps saturation) has come via mobile phones with built in cameras which I suspect will render the idea of having one device to take photos obsolete in many people's eyes.
     
  24. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    i don't know ...
    plasticky rubbery look ?

    i have shown digital and d/r prints to
    people who are both part of the digirazzi and neo luddites
    and neither could figure out which images were which.

    it doesn't matter to me anymore which camera i use.
    i used to think that it would kill my creativity, and make me dull
    light room dark room its all the same to me ..
    my problem is i have a hurt back from a series of unrelated accidents
    and light+darkrooms aren't as much fun as they could be ...
     
  25. MaximusM3

    MaximusM3 Member

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    The masterpiece part was sort of a tongue in cheek joke. Even if there is masterpiece, I wouldn't be able to find it (talent dilution, as mentioned before). I hear you about the processes but, personally, I do like to torture myself and never look for the easy way. That's just me. The answer to that dilemma is, of course, to give everything to a lab or a talented printer so one can concentrate on shooting. Oh well...can't have everything, pick your poison, you know, all that..:smile:
     
  26. MaximusM3

    MaximusM3 Member

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    That's right master Nanian, which goes back to the quality vs process argument. I think that the arguments about quality are futile at best. I have also printed loads with Piezography inks on Epson Pro printers and they are fantastic prints, from film and certainly from M9 digital files. I don't enjoy the process but the quality is undeniable and, in many instances, indistinguishable.