Traditional / Digital / and 'Art'

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Sean, Jan 15, 2003.

  1. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member

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    It took a long time for photography to be accepted as a legitimate art form. I suppose the vision, expertise needed, and the hand made craft behind photography drove this acceptance.
    Now digital is emerging. The vision may be similar, expertise is different, and 'hand made' aspect disappearing. Will digital photography undo the acceptance of photography as a legitimate art form if there is no human craft involved? If anyone with a 30 megapixel point and shoot can snap well exposed images and make vibrant ink jet prints all within a few minutes, what will this mean for photography as an artform? If this new form of photography is going to eventually loose respect as a valid art form, then maybe traditional photography will be solely recognized as art. Maybe digital will eventually elevate traditional photography to another level? Will be interesting to see.
     
  2. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Yes, time will be the determiner of the future of photography as we know it. The condition that gives me great hope, however, is the tremendouse resurgence of the somewhat more antiquated expressions such as PT-PD, Bromoil, Albumen, Azo, among others. This tells me that the art of photography is alive and well.

    I, for one, am looking to moving more toward ULF with one of the contact printing processes. Why would I consider doing that? I think that the further one distances themselves in methodology and result from the digital result, the greater the apparent disparity between digital and conventional photography. Quality is apparent...

    I think that there is one other determiner of the future and that is the quality and the vision of what we portray. My five minutes on the soap box is over. I cede the balance of my time to the next practicioner of our art.

    Regards,
    Donald Miller
     
  3. Robert

    Robert Member

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    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Ross @ Jan 15 2003, 08:33 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> &nbsp;If anyone with a 30 megapixel point and shoot can snap well exposed images and make vibrant ink jet prints all within a few minutes, what will this mean for photography as an artform? &nbsp;</td></tr></table><span class='postcolor'>
    But is that art? I know well exposed is important but what matters is what the artist wanted. What might be considered a badly exposed photo from a techincal standpoint might be good art.

    I spent a few minutes looking at the photos of one person over at that place. All the comments went something like badly exposed. Crop out the overly bright sky. Etc etc. Now honestly they were right but let me describe the picture. An older couple [you can't tell how old. The real serious problem is the underexposed shadows-)] are walking towards the camera. They are walking on a wooded path. Behind them is a large bush or small tree. The tree is lit up I guess by the rising sun. The section above it is also fairly bright. If it had been done better what it would have said to me is an older couple refusing to surrender to the white light at the end of the tunnel.

    All I'm trying to say it's not the techincal that really matters. It's the image and the feeling that's created. What you're talking about are just snapshots. Nothing wrong with that but it's not usually art. Perfect technique is important to have but it's not what makes something good.
     
  4. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    It is certainly apparent to me that there are any number of interpertations in printing a negative. The first time that I saw a 11X14 contact print by Brett Weston I was dismayed. It violated everything that I had chosen to accept by the so called elite of the Zone system mentality. How dare he print something as so low in value that it showed no detail within portions of the image. That was over twenty years ago now and my sensibilities have somewhat improved...(his images certainly haven't changed). He was already dead at that time and his negatives had been destroyed so it is likely that the changes that occurred were within my sensibilities and my ability to appreciate what was there before me then. So to take an example that is posted on the internet, and probably poorly scanned at that, would seem to be poor parameter to be judging "snapshots" on.

    Yes, I was talking about craft and while craft can never substitute for artistic expression, it (artistic expression) could not be expressed at all if it were not for craft. A true artist will seek the best possible means available to him or her to express that which is within them. Whether those are what some to deem as inappropriate or inadequate expressions or not. I appreciate the right of all to their opinion. Mine have been a long time in coming and fairly well thought through.

    Regards,
    Donald Miller
     
  5. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    This one is a though one. Every time I see one of my 12x20 contact prints I wonder why would anybody want to sit behind a screen and do prints? IMO part of the enjoyment of the prints is the creating process, the magic of seeing the print appear. I compare digital to a tv dinner versus a home cooked meal. Both are edible....but somehow putting a tray in the microwave does not feel the same. Like tv dinners which have become quite good (some at least) I see digital becoming better and better, the work by Fokos and Burkholder is a good example. But I think there will always be people who enjoy the process as well as the end result. tv dinners did not do away with restaurants, and I dont see digital doing away with traditional photography, at least as an artistic medium.

    I think that the fact that you can press a button and get 1000 prints the same, will elevate those prints made the old fashion way. Much like furniture, pieces made by hand command a much higer price than the ones you buy at any store. It is not that the handmade stuff is necessarily better. I think that people recognize that there is certain amount of love for the craft involved in making something which requires time and effort and care. Although both pieces can be quite beautiful, somehow I think the love for the craft is "transmitted" when one sees a well crafted image or piece of furniture. there is no virtue in difficulty, but there is virtue in loving what you create and seeing the entire process through.
     
  6. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    No matter what the process, you still have to communicate a message, or a mystery to the viewer. you must make the viewer want to look again and again at the work and take time to contemplate its meaning. This takes vision, skill, knowledge and feeling on the part of the artist. People gravitate towards images that move them, nag at them and stick in their minds for a long time.
    Digital will provide some of these images. The only probelm is you will have to sift through a lot of garbage to find them.
     
  7. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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  8. Nige

    Nige Subscriber

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    I'm not sure if I understand right, but he shouldn't be trying to print an inkjet on "regular photo paper". I'm sure that wouldn't be formatted to suit the inkjets requirements. I've printed some pics on my Canon S900 and comparing them to the original lab prints, I'd give the nod to the S900.
     
  9. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Well Aggie, I checked your instructors site and it just comfirmed my suspicions. Give anybody who can put together a web site a digital camera and they all of the sudden become "masters of photography". His images are some of the most boring and trite pictures I have ever seen, specially his "travel" pictures. This guy should have that digital camera cracked open on top of his head after that Stonehege picture he took.
    My opinion, learn how to use your digital camera from him, but do not listen to any photo advice he has to give, it will make your photography worse.
     
  10. Guy

    Guy Member

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    Folks,
    I'm a new member to this site and so far found much interest here. I am hoping this does not turn into a "digital is satan" kind of forum.
    I'm here because I use film and like to discuss issues relating to it, as well as general photographic technique. However, I don't see a reason to narrow-mindedly pigeon hole myself into an "analog only" niche.
    Many of the great masters (most notably the grand poobah Ansel Adams) spent their lives diligently modifying and retouching their images, contrary to may purists of their day. They used the tools available to them then and there's no reason we would not use the tools available to us now.
    To me the very thought of placing a limitation on artistic expression is an oxymoron.
    I'm a great believer in using the right tool for the right job. I use a 4x5 view camera for most of my work to get the best neg/chrome possible, and I do use digital technology to process and print my work. I would challenge anyone who thinks that creating a fine art print using Photoshop is any less demanding or requires any less skill than traditional darkroom techniques. I will often spend hours and days agonizing over a drum scan to get it exectly the way I want.

    Guy
     
  11. Guy

    Guy Member

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    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Aggie @ Jan 15 2003, 09:35 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> I feel better and half the people in the classs commented on how digital will have to go a long way to ever beat one of Gary's prints. </td></tr></table><span class='postcolor'>
    If you talk to Gary you'll find out that he prints using a LightJet 5000 (it's mentioned on his site as well). This printer does indeed expose traditional photo paper but does so from a *gasp* digital file that's carefully and meticulously edited... *gasp* digitally before being sent to the printer.
    This printer achieves more accurate color and better tonal range than most traditional processes thanks to its *gasp* digital profiles. The paper is exposed using a computer-guided laser and automatically developed. There is no darkroom involved.

    Digital doesn't need to beat Gary's prints. Gary's prints *are* digital.

    Guy
     
  12. Robert Kennedy

    Robert Kennedy Member

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    Yes, but Mr. Crabbe also seems to have decided to run photo paper through an INKJET PRINTER (if I am reading what Aggie posted correctly).

    That alone deserves a smack!

    I don't think anyone here has a problem with Lightjet or Frontier prints. I use Frontier myself. I shoot analog, just have the negs developed, then scan the negs. This saves me $$$. If I just want a print, I crop and touch up in Photoshop, burn to CD and have a bunch of prints made. I can get them done in bulk on a Frontier for just a few bucks per 8x10 that way.

    Now, if I want a REALLY GOOD print....I mean an ART print, I have it done by hand on fibre paper at the shop. It is VERY expensive. But the quality is amazing and the print should last a VERY long time. I also like the softness of fibre.

    Point being, I use what works and fits the situation. Mr. Crabbe on the other hand seems to be of the "Film is dead" school. Digital is the future! Burn your Deardorff now!

    Well this isn't true. Film cameras still outsell digital. Film sales are still very high, and film is a very valid medium. It always will be. Especially with B/W.

    I just don't have any truck with those who say otherwise.

    Besides that Crabbe REALLY needs to find a vision. I agree with Jorge. This isn't to say I am any better or anything. But at least I don't try and sell my trite crap. In fact I have maybe 2 or 3 images that I would even CONSIDER selling and only one that I have. All are better than what Crabbe is selling.

    And I suck!
     
  13. Guy

    Guy Member

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    I hate to say it, being the new guy, but your recent post sounds like unfounded mud slinging to me. Do you know anything about this person and his opinions to make such observations?
    I'm hoping Gary finds the time to weigh in on the discussion personally. From what I know he does use film and I have never heard him speak out against film cameras, let alone burn anything.
    As for vision - you can't really judge that from a stock showcase of someone who makes his living off photography. His site contains images made to sell, which tells you nothing about his personal "vision".

    Guy
     
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  15. SteveGangi

    SteveGangi Member

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    Interesting. Film is dead, digital is king, Crabbe used up an entire package of paper trying to prove it, and came up empty. Just for grins I looked at his website, and basically it's mediocre. One shot is an almost direct copy of the cover of Popular Photography from last year, and too many of the others look like he simply copied the framing techniques of other better photogs. Blah. I bet most people right here on APUG throw away better work than what I saw there. My approach is the usual... take the "snap" on film, print it on paper, and then scan it and burn a CD. It works. It sounds like this "professor" needs to come down from his ivory tower, learn some humility and rejoin the real world. He also needs some basic lessons on the proper use of different materials and media. There is room for traditional and digital both, but too many of the anti-film folks really annoy me with their superior attitude. Too bad some of his students will take his word as Gospel.
     
  16. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member

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    " I will often spend hours and days agonizing over a drum scan to get it exectly the way I want."

    So what happens when photoshop version 12 has the new "photographers filter set"? You take a digital pic, load it into photoshop, apply the Ansel Adams filter, then print out 100 identical copies. I'm not saying you will use that filter, but it will sure be tempting to most. Maybe even better you have a wireless digital camera in the field. You snap 500 pics, choose the best 3, then it's wired directly to your printer which then applies your filter of choice. You get home and the fine prints are there waiting for you. I think at this early stage of digital a lot of tweaking is involved, but in the not to distant future we'll see an age of click image, apply filter preference, print, done. I'm not anti-digital, I just like to explore how the two mediums will continue to evolve. I use a digital cam for family snapshots and it's been a real cost saving device and is good enough quality. I can't see using any digital for fine art work because I enjoy the craft of it so much. Anyway, gotta run! Ross
     
  17. Robert Kennedy

    Robert Kennedy Member

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    Guy - I will admit that I am going off of what Aggi says. But in my mind anyone who talks about discontinuing analog classes and runs the wrong paper through an inkjet, needs to reasses their outlook.

    My statements about his work stand though. I don't see anything great about those pictures. They seem trite and sort of "been there done that". This isn't to say I haven't done similar things. I will sometimes take a picture that reeks of cliche'. Mostly to play around with a technique or something like that.

    I would never though sell them. Especially as "art". I mean 'Colorado River canyon from Navajo Bridge, Arizona' is NOT a particularly good landscape. I would never ask money for that.

    Then again the only time I have sold anything, it was because someone saw the image and liked it, not because I offered it. I am not claiming to be "better" here.

    But I am miffed about the continuing decline in the quality of work out there. It seems that people have bought into the concept that a digital image is INHERENTLY better than an analog one. Get a digicam, shoot some pictures, Photoshop the colors and make a webpage. Better yet, Add a bunch of surreal and extraneous crap and you will be lauded by some as a 'genius'.

    Point being it seems the point of photography is getting lost. The tools don't matter so much as the final image. Now it seems to be the other way around with some people. And honestly, when a teacher starts getting into the digital vs. analog debate, they are not doing anyone a service. The CORRECT answer to the "which is better" question is "both can take great images, it is the photographer that matters". PERIOD.
     
  18. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Guy, I have nothing against digital, as a matter of fact I am of the idea that to each its own and use whatever is best to make your art, I dont think digital is the issue, IMO it is the quality of the images shown and the fact that this guy is supporting the "digital is better" when I would have first concentrated in making good images, with a digital or regular film camera. I think I can speak for many people here when I say that APUG is not a "digital is the devil" site, as a matter of fact I think most here have a more open mind about it than those who spouse the use of digital for whom traditional photography is "dead", just give me 5 more years so we can fix the bugs...lol. Seems that every time I see something not working in the digital realm this is the usual response. But that is another thread of which we are all tired about.

    My opinion stemmed from the fact that most of the images shown in the site are very amateurish at best, not withstanding how they were made, digital camera or film camera. We have a person who is in a position to infuence people telling them digital is better and then he tries to print on enlarging paper with an ink jet printer....how silly is that? Fokos, David J Osborne, Burkholder have some of the most beautiful images I have ever seen and I for one admire their use and the taste with which they produce their digital images, but this guy...sorry lets call a spade a spade. If he is going to say "digital is better" then he better have some outstanding images to prove it, just as an example check out the images by our member b.e.wilson in the gallery, IMO his are much better images and he is not spousing the "traditional is better" position, he just goes and does his thing. This is what I want from digital proponents, just go an create art and forget which medium is better.
     
  19. Guy

    Guy Member

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    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Ross @ Jan 16 2003, 09:30 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>
    So what happens when photoshop version 12 has the new &quot;photographers filter set&quot;? You take a digital pic, load it into photoshop, apply the Ansel Adams filter, then print out 100 identical copies. </td></tr></table><span class='postcolor'>
    Not sure I see what the problem is. Are you threatened by other people being able to create images similar to yours with less effort?
    My belief is that a true artists will continue to create original work, regardless of what techniques and tools are available.
    If someone can run a filter in Photoshop and create an image that meets or exceeds the quality of my own work, I would say *I'm* the one doing something wrong, not the other way around.

    Guy
     
  20. Guy

    Guy Member

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    Gary Crabbe's response (posted at his request):

    TO APUG / re: Traditional vs. digital & Art


    uuhh, I think I need to clear up a couple quick facts related to this
    thread, since it's obvious that some here have a very convoluted
    interpretation of AGGIE's post.

    First, I am NOT the digital instructor referred to.


    I've never even USED a digital camera, nor do I have plans to buy one.
    All of the images on my site match my original film transparency.
    I NEVER would be so STUPID as to run photo paper thru an inkjet.

    Second, I am not an "ART" photographer. I am a working commercial and
    editorial photographer, and my images are tailored to that market.

    I do sell high-end commercial photographic prints that I label as "Fine
    Art Prints". If you want to debate the artistic value of my work, fine.
    Call my work amateurish and unoriginal, fine. Even call me an artistic
    whore; I don't care. I use my pictures to help pay for raising my
    family. Nothing more, nothing less. I have a nice long string of clients
    that will pay $2,000.00 - $30,000.00 for my amateurish photos. If the
    client likes them, that's all I'm concerned with as far as viewers go;
    that, and the resulting check puts food in my children's stomachs and
    clothes on their backs.

    Steve, You're right, my shot is almost a copy of the cover, except the
    photos were taken a year before. So how did I copy a shot made a year
    before the one that was published? Maybe it was just two photographers
    in the same place & time.... gee, more than one photographer in
    Yosemite, who'da thunk.

    Personally, I don't try and COPY anyone's photos. I go to a place, shoot
    what catches my eye in a way that I think is marketable to my clients.
    In other words, I just go out there and do my thing (as was said in this
    thread).

    I've seen Jorge's work, along with some of the others mentioned in this
    tread, and Nothing I've seen is any better or any worse than what I see
    at local camera clubs, and none of which I would call truly impressive
    or original, even though they may be artsy. My pictures may be common
    and trite, but no more so than a B&W mission facade or single lit flower
    against a black background. You may consider it art, but it is totally
    unoriginal; but your "art" does serve it's place to a particular segment
    of viewers. My "work" simply serves a different purpose and segment of
    the population.

    You like chocolate mocha with a pecan carmel swirl, and I like vanilla.


    Finally, I don't consider myself a "master of Photography" or an
    "Artist". I get 50,000 people a month through my web site, and I'm proud
    of my accomplishments. I certainly don't need to label other peoples
    work as crap, trite, or amateurish to make me feel better about my own
    "art". As for what constitutes art, that's a debate that this forum is
    way to small (and perhaps too biased) to properly handle.

    Happy new years to you and yours.

    Gary (one hell of a sucky non-digital artist) Crabbe
     
  21. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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  22. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member

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    Well, I once took an art course from a very talented painter. This guy did a series of pencil drawings that totally stunned us. He created by hand an artificial television screen on paper. Then using a magnifying glass, filled in each rbg dot on that screen to produce a final image. The effect was like looking at a TV screen, but it was a drawing. Each one took him months to create. They sure were something to see and I can't imagine his patience in creating these works. I felt there was a lot of value in his creation. The time involved to create such a work and the subject matter were brilliant. It was hand crafted by a human being. Now suppose some guy takes a digital photo, opens it into photoshop, applies a distortion filter and makes the image look like something that would appear as a tv set. Then he applies a TV filter, and voila, he has an image exactly like my art professor. He prints it out on an iris jet printer. The whole process from image capture to print takes him 1-2 days. Now lets say both images are put in a gallery. 1 is titled hand drawn sketch and the other is titled digital image, iris jet print. Which would you say has more value as a work of art? These are the questions I like to probe. I fear that the digital revolution is removing the human condition from artistic craft and creation. The iris jet may be sharper and more vibrant and have great subject matter, but is it valuable to mankind as a human achievement? Is the human condition not a major step in the making of art? Are we trading our human condition for convenience?
     
  23. Mark in SD

    Mark in SD Member

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    I definitely do not think that film is dead. Nor do I think that digital will demean the art aspect of film. Many of the same arguments could have been applied with the advent of all of the "cheap snapshot" film technologies that have appeared, and sometimes disappeared (remember Disk cameras?) over the years.

    When documenting material failures, I can still do far more in film than digital. Somebody wants to see a quick picture of a failure? Great. Pull out the digital picture, snap a few shots, and send them off by e-mail. I want documentation or help in an analysis? Film all the way.

    Yes, photography will become more available, but having a digital camera and photoshop don't help with composition, exposure, lighting, mood, or emotional impact.

    Digital will, in time, come to compliment film and to expand our art, but it won't displace it any time soon.
     
  24. Robert

    Robert Member

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    Ross is that any different then what photography did when it came out? I thought one of the things that happened was photo realistic painters got shown the door. Some how it wouldn't surprise me the same thing happened to the guy doing cave paintings when new methods came about.

    Certain types of painting ended up moving towards photography. They didn't tend to be art. It wouldn't surprise me if this was one of the things that created the view that photography wasn't art.

    I wonder if the better question would be when did photography become art? What will it take for digital works to achieve the same thing?
     
  25. SteveGangi

    SteveGangi Member

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    Gary, if your photos were created first then I owe you a huge apology! As far as tailoring your photos to satisfy an already established client list, there is no way to say it is "bad or evil". It is simple supply and demand which I certainly understand. Maybe I came off as being harsh, but I had already worked myself up to "get the professor" so to speak. Maybe next time I should make sure who I aim at before taking a shot at him.
     
  26. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member

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    I guess the bottom line is that art evolves, and some of the species choose to remain the same. We've gone from cave man drawings, to digital images. But many still choose to make cave man style drawings, or paintings, sketches, etc. I would imagine the next step will be removal of the medium which holds an image. We'll just have the image beamed directly into our visual cortex. Then we'll experience the scene as if we were actually there, even smells might be included. Even when that level is reached there will still be digital photographers, traditional photographers, sketch artists, etc. Hard to believe a 3 letter word "ART", can be so complex to explore.