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Bill Burk
12-02-2012, 02:23 PM
I don't want to focus too much on definitions because I know how they have waylaid us in the past...

But I am intrigued by the feeling of validation and mutual admiration, rather than divisiveness, that washes across me when I think of "them" and "us" as members of different groups with different manifestos.

Let each group come up with their own manifesto.

artonpaper
12-02-2012, 03:12 PM
Wow, what a great thread, I hardly know where to start. First, I think f64 formed as a later result of two diverse reactions to the invention of photography. First there was, ''That's end of painting, painting is dead,'' and there was, ''Photography will never replace painting. It's monochrome and lifeless.'' Baudelaire referred to photography as ''The humble servant of the arts.'' But for many pursuing photography, it gave them a chance to produce images as well defined and rendered than those produced by drawing, panting, etc, and they emulated the art forms they saw, which by the way, in the 1850s onward werepretty corny and pretentious by later standards, the impressionists not withstanding. The F64 group was right, I think to call for more integrity in using photography in a way that imitates no other art forms.

Today art movements are not so popular, I think, because everything goes. I teach in Brooklyn College and we have a vibrant MFA program, where one sees everything from straight painting to strange video techniques and conceptual installations and performance art. And of course digital photography.

And here we have the paradox, that digital photography, in conjunction with Photoshop and other software, is more like painting than ever, and that's what a lot of us have always been taught was undesirable. I do believe anything goes and I have the wonderful human trait of accepting some things and rejecting others. And I respectfully disagree that digital photography is not a medium. Color slides had to be projected to be fully appreciated and digital photo files look great when projected. And while the image may exist in a latent state before being projected or printed, that is very much true of analogue photographs until they are developed. And in case of negatives, while we photographers can read them, they are not usually the final medium, but, like a digital file, an end to a means.

I one time said that I take pictures so that I will have something to print. That's how much I like the analogue medium. I do use digital photography, and I teach it. I know that Ansel was interested in what was then thought of as electronic photography, and one of his students told me that Ansel said, had he been born in later times he would have pursued video. That is apocryphal, but I believe it.

Darkroom317
12-02-2012, 03:18 PM
Not really. All those involve chemically light sensitized materials, chemically converted to viewable forms. The sensitization and chemicals are different, but it's an inherently chemical process. It has no electricity used from outside (had to throw that in before someone started talking about ions and such.)

Just out of curiosity. Not trying to make a point. How would you classify this?

http://wildernessoverload.com/home.html

cepwin
12-02-2012, 03:43 PM
You've got an excellent point. With technology like the lytro still in it's infancy (change focus points after the fact and from what I hear now perspective to some degree) it will be interesting to see where digital can go.


I think you touch on a good point there. It is maybe a little early to see the full potential of the digital movement. With sensors ever increasing in potential, maybe it is not the prints we should be looking at. The images digital is likely to be able to capture very soon will be far beyond the latitude of film. But that is not common yet, so maybe it is a little early to adopt a separate vision on digital shooting. I hope the manufacturers don't think the same way however, there might be some work left in lens technology and printing to capture all of that in a final print.

But it is most definetely a very exciting time.

I will be sticking my head in the sand for a few years though. Getting back into film until digital has made a firm stand and looks like something that suits my style. If not I can at least buy Fuji with the savings I made by not buying new equipment every two years and keep shooting Velvia.

Rafal Lukawiecki
12-02-2012, 05:14 PM
It is an exciting time in photography, not only because many of us are about to witness the adolescence of a significant new medium of expression, that digital is going to evolve into. What excites me even more, is the freeing of film-based, print-oriented photography, from the chores it had to perform for over a century, perhaps as painting had to do two centuries ago. As a film photographer, who prints, I am now free. My darkroom, and what I do in it, can more easily stand on its feet, no longer having to defend itself from the constant confusion with commercial photography, or a fun way of avoiding 1-hour photo labs. The more digital evolves and perfects itself, the stronger, and less popular, analogue photography, as an artistic pursuit, becomes.


I know that Ansel was interested in what was then thought of as electronic photography, and one of his students told me that Ansel said, had he been born in later times he would have pursued video. That is apocryphal, but I believe it.

Adams was clearly thinking what electronic means could obtain from his negatives. In his wonderfully direct, and honest autobiography, in chapter 23, 'Resolutions', he wrote, while referencing his archives about to be housed at the Center for Creative Photography in Carmel:


"In the electronic age, I am sure that scanning techniques will be developed to achieve prints of extraordinary subtlety from the original negative scores. If I could return in twenty years or so I would hope to see astounding interpretations of my most expressive images. It is true no one could print my negatives as I did, but they might well get more out of them by electronic means. Image quality is not the product of a machine, but of the person who directs the machine, and there are no limits to imagination and expression."

pdeeh
12-02-2012, 05:17 PM
He seems to have been a much more open-minded man than many are now

Maris
12-02-2012, 05:23 PM
Digital pictures do not replace photographs made out of light sensitive materials.

There is a deep and somewhat abstract philosophical reason for deliberately choosing not to look at digital pictures but rather actively to seek out genuine photographs. It is precisely the same reason for preferring photographs over paintings, drawings, and digital print-outs of one kind or another. All those non-photographs (paintings, drawings, digi-pix) have the identical property that they are assembled piecemeal by a mark maker device working according to coded instructions. The coded instructions may be entirely or partially synthetic and their relationship to the subject matter of the picture is in the nature of description or testimony. We believe the picture only if we believe the picture maker.

There is a very small set of alternative image making processes that do not use coded instructions. These include life casts, death masks, brass rubbings, coal peels, wax impressions, and photographs made of light sensitive materials. In every case the relationship between image and subject is direct and physical and has the nature of evidence rather than testimony.
I believe photographs, the real ones, the ones generated by light altering a sensitive surface, because I believe that the laws of laws of chemistry and physics run their course reliably when no hand or mind intervenes. Testimony doesn’t come into it because a photograph has a genuine indexical relationship to its subject. In consequence of this a photograph constitutes an existence proof of the thing photographed. Not so with digital...or painting, or drawing.

Importantly, none of this well founded belief in the indexical qualities of original photographs grants me leave to be foolish or simple minded about what I think I see when looking at them.

CPorter
12-02-2012, 05:24 PM
He seems to have been a much more open-minded man than many are now


How true, but would hope that he would still prefer the smell of fixer on his hands............:D

JBrunner
12-02-2012, 05:39 PM
Digital pictures do not replace photographs made out of light sensitive materials.

There is a deep and somewhat abstract philosophical reason for deliberately choosing not to look at digital pictures but rather actively to seek out genuine photographs. It is precisely the same reason for preferring photographs over paintings, drawings, and digital print-outs of one kind or another. All those non-photographs (paintings, drawings, digi-pix) have the identical property that they are assembled piecemeal by a mark maker device working according to coded instructions. The coded instructions may be entirely or partially synthetic and their relationship to the subject matter of the picture is in the nature of description or testimony. We believe the picture only if we believe the picture maker.

There is a very small set of alternative image making processes that do not use coded instructions. These include life casts, death masks, brass rubbings, coal peels, wax impressions, and photographs made of light sensitive materials. In every case the relationship between image and subject is direct and physical and has the nature of evidence rather than testimony.
I believe photographs, the real ones, the ones generated by light altering a sensitive surface, because I believe that the laws of laws of chemistry and physics run their course reliably when no hand or mind intervenes. Testimony doesn’t come into it because a photograph has a genuine indexical relationship to its subject. In consequence of this a photograph constitutes an existence proof of the thing photographed. Not so with digital...or painting, or drawing.

Importantly, none of this well founded belief in the indexical qualities of original photographs grants me leave to be foolish or simple minded about what I think I see when looking at them.


Hi Maris,

I do more than a little interpreting in my darkroom. Basically, if you believe my photographs you'd be wrong, as they usually bear only passing resemblance to the actual scene. My world is more moody. How do you think that fits in?

Bill Burk
12-02-2012, 06:16 PM
It is an exciting time in photography...the freeing of film-based, print-oriented photography, from the chores it had to perform for over a century, perhaps as painting had to do two centuries ago...

Yes! Now it no longer "must" be used to provide the illustrations for the times... Now we are free to use it to provide for images of leisure and emotion. (to badly paraphrase Moholy Nagy).

Bill Burk
12-02-2012, 06:42 PM
There is a deep and somewhat abstract philosophical reason for deliberately choosing not to look at digital pictures but rather actively to seek out genuine photographs. It is precisely the same reason for preferring photographs over paintings, drawings, and digital print-outs of one kind or another.

Hi Maris,

I always enjoy your philosophy, though I wonder if I am sophisticated enough to prefer the "light formed" image versus the "marked" image. I am sure I enjoy both.

Because I have history as a printer, I have always been aware of the difference between something I prepared plates for to print as reproduction... and the original. Even if the "original" was itself one of an edition of prints.

A serigraph by Henri Matisse could captivate me. I would accept a detectable silk screen pattern, knowing it as signature of authenticity*. But halftone dots would immediately reveal it to me as a ruse if the example was a lithographically reproduced poster.

*I know Matisse' simple shapes could be easily forged, I'm not that talented an art assayer.

So part of my manifesto is that I will not produce work with halftone dots, including the stochastic patterns that can simulate grain and make it seem "real". If you see grain in my work it will be magnifiable to the limit of a lens.

c6h6o3
12-02-2012, 08:10 PM
The other day I went over to Photoworks in Glen Echo, MD to cut down some 20x24 sheets of paper to 8x10. I don't have a RotaTrim which can handle that big a sheet.

They have a show up by Harvey Kupferberg (http://www.glenechophotoworks.org/gallery/harvey-kupferberg_-ubehebe_crater/), a gentleman whom I remember taking a workshop with some 20 years ago. This show is quite apropos of the current discussion as Harvey has digital prints hanging next to gelatin silver ones made from 4x5 film negatives. The subject matter and lighting conditions are virtually the same for all the photographs. Harvey is quite a masterful printer using either technology. I was able to pick out the digital prints by looking at them without reading the technical data. The silver prints were always just a teeny weeny bit better.

I have always said that when digital technology produces prints as fine as wet chemistry does, I'll go exclusively digital. It's not quite there yet, but it's close. If you're in the DC area, go see Harvey's show. It's quite instructive, and also inspiring as Mr. Kupferberg does beautiful work in both mediums.

eddie
12-02-2012, 08:51 PM
It is an exciting time in photography, not only because many of us are about to witness the adolescence of a significant new medium of expression, that digital is going to evolve into. What excites me even more, is the freeing of film-based, print-oriented photography, from the chores it had to perform for over a century, perhaps as painting had to do two centuries ago. As a film photographer, who prints, I am now free. My darkroom, and what I do in it, can more easily stand on its feet, no longer having to defend itself from the constant confusion with commercial photography, or a fun way of avoiding 1-hour photo labs. The more digital evolves and perfects itself, the stronger, and less popular, analogue photography, as an artistic pursuit, becomes.

This is very well said. I don't do any digital work, but think it has freed (forced?) me to alter how I see my personal film work. Rather than embracing the repeatability aspect of photography, I am now more drawn to make images which are, by design and technique, one of a kind. Hand-painting, hand-coated emulsions, bromoils, selective toning, and distressed negatives have been my primary interests, for a few years.

Also, rather than disparaging digital, bear in mind that the technology advances have had a positive effect on keeping many alternative processes alive; indeed, the ability to create a hybrid negative has helped keep many of the contact processes viable and, I would guess, there are more practitioners than there were 20 years ago.

It is an exciting time for photography. Those of us using traditional methods will be more appreciated as our work is recognized as being produced by "craftsmen" (in the most gracious use of the word), while digital imagery becomes more closely associated with "technicians".

welly
12-02-2012, 09:50 PM
Silver gelatin, oil paint, bronze, are media. Digital files are information; a digital file could just as easily be a representation of a symphony or a text or a 3 dimensional world or anything. Digital photography may be a discipline but the media 'digital photography' does not exist.

Rubbish. Of course it exists. The very fact that a digital file could store all those things demonstrates digital IS a form of media like analog tape, like acetate or like paper. Digital photography is a discipline and a digital photograph IS a photograph. Media - a tool used to store and deliver information or data. Look it up.

Darkroom317
12-02-2012, 10:05 PM
A digital file is just information. However, a digital photograph when printed is an object like a painting. Negatives are objects as well as information as are prints.

artonpaper
12-02-2012, 10:21 PM
To Maris, If one were to make a photogram of a twig, laying flat on the paper, that might satisfy your definition of a photograph as factual evidence, easily read for what it is. Of course the photogram would leave out all sorts of information about the color and and values of the twig. And a photogram on paper sensitized with cyanotype chemistry would produce colors totally untrue to the twig or the light hitting it. Then if one were to place that same twig on its end, the resulting image would very likely not be read as a twig at all. A photograph is a rendering, even when done in the most documentary fashion, there is always some departure from truth. There are always decisions made by the photographer that are analogous to mark making.

Rafal Lukawiecki
12-03-2012, 04:38 AM
Also, rather than disparaging digital, bear in mind that the technology advances have had a positive effect on keeping many alternative processes alive; indeed, the ability to create a hybrid negative has helped keep many of the contact processes viable and, I would guess, there are more practitioners than there were 20 years ago.

Eddie, I agree with you, very much, that digital, in many ways, has helped analogue, despite leading to the lamentable loss of a prior market, which has equally made analogue life harder in many other ways.

Let me stress, please, that in no way do I disparage digital. I am genuinely impressed with the technology and, above all, its potential. I prefer film and paper, but I very much support and appreciate digital. My remarks are only concerned with my expectation that it can deliver new forms of expression, no longer restricted by the creative/restrictive limitations of analogue, which I think might be slowing its development down. I would not like anyone to think that I was thinking of digital photography, or its practitioners, as inferior in any way—quite the opposite, I hold those in high regard, and I only have the best hopes and wishes for them.