Being a twenty something, I'd say this has less to do with age, but film's modern status as an art material. This is the reason young creative types are drawn to it today.
Originally Posted by DWThomas
I believe traditional photography can be as 'complicated' as you make it. There are some great and thorough technical books by 'photographers', with personal examples that leave you scratching your head - Edge of Darkness by Barry Thornton and Creative Elements by Eddie Ephraums being a couple I own. There's a connection to be made between the lack of depth in the imagery of those books and the pronounced technical virtuosity in the writing. I really believe most of us only have the capacity to be savants in one of these areas, but will forever struggle with the technical/creative balance. As a result, most will never be particularly great in either. There's a bit of a stigma with traditional photography when you don't know your stuff, which I think leads to technical self-consciousness. This has held me back at times and the quality of my work has suffered. It's been talked about a lot, but the left brain/right brain scales have to be precariously balanced to produce great photographs. With traditional photography especially, it doesn't take much of a tangent to tip them.
I suspect this is what many people fear when they call it 'complicated'. Traditional photography requires a certain repression of the creative urge.
I really don't think it has anything to do with the photography, traditional or otherwise. If they ever really move past the "convenience factor" of digital, I think what people really fear about film is working with "chemicals." They are afraid to get their hands too close to some chemicals lest they get the black death or something. Everyone knows that chemicals are "dangerous" and computers are "green", they are safe.
When someone at a local gathering realized I was using a film camera they were interested, and several gathered around to look at my camera and ask questions. Eventually someone asked me where I had my developing done. When I said I did it at home, several asked me how I disposed of the hazardous chemicals! I didn't have the heart to tell them that they went down a rock-filled french drain behind the house. And printing...don't even go there. When I explained the idea of an enlarger and shining light through a negative onto paper they were totally out of their element. Someone even asked if the enlarger sent the image to the printer and what size ink jet I was using. Another wanted to know why I just didn't use the CD-Rom to print my pictures if I was developing my own.
I don't think its' complication...it is really the unknown.
Either can be as complicated or as simple as one would want to make it.
It is no more "complicated" or "difficult" to pop a film in, let it wind it to frame 1, point, shoot, shoot, shoot.... (repeat 36 times), let it rewind it, pop it out, take it to a lab, wait 1 hour, and pay for it to pick it up.
Or, one can spend hours on computer screen or in a darkroom to get the best out of images. "Film photography", or just "photography" as we called it were embraced by masses. Anything is "complicated" and "difficult" when one takes it to art form or to enthusiast level.
Yes, it is far easier to do a "head swap" on digital than film but how often do you do THAT?
I find it a never-ending source of amusement that anyone might think the making of a photograph using traditional film methods is complicated.
Every camera I own requires the adjustment of only four things, and only three of them on a per photograph basis. Speed (of the film, set once per roll or sheet), shutter, aperture, and focus. That's it. The end. No more to do. Or to worry about. Only four. Move along now. Nothing more to see here...
On the other hand, a friend once showed me the owner's manual for his DSLR. Good grief. A tome the size and weight of one of the single volumes of Encyclopaedia Brittanica. A dizzying, mind-numbing dissertation covering endless buttons, switches, modes, settings, menus, and advanced computer science. All designed to attempt the correct adjustment of... the speed, shutter, aperture, and focus.
When I asked how one would go about setting everything to simply allow the photographer himself to control only those four basic essentials, the earnest reply was, "Why would you want to do it the hard way? Using these settings is so much easier."
Easier than just those four?
I think the issue of perceived complexity in traditional photography is at least partly one of a marketing-conditioned response in an entirely new generation of practitioners who want desperately to simply be told what it is they should do. In photography as well as the other aspects of their lives. A corollary of the principle I don't want to know how it works, I just want the answer. Even if that answer is orders of magnitude more complicated than knowing how it works.
It's less a photographic issue, I think, and more a cultural one.
Does it matter?
Most people, now with digital and in the past with film, just want to capture the blowing out of the candles, Dan in his graduation cap, etc. They aren't attempting to emulate some famous photographer. They are using the consumer-grade photographic instrument currently on the market in order to capture those images. It's not because they are lazy, its because they don't need and have no desire to know.
Most people have no idea what an ALU or FPU is nor why SATA is faster than PATA, yet they confidently surf the web and even create digital content on their computer. Most people probably have no idea that their smart phones may contain 4, 2-way radios that allow them to make phone calls, surf the web, listen to music, and make secure banking transactions yet they use these devices every day without know how cell phones actually work. Most people do not know how the underlying technology works in most of the products that they use because the technology has been effectively hidden from them, made easier to use by the companies marketing the products containing those technologies. Kodak did this with film, as has been stated in this thread. ("Just click the button and we will do the rest," or something like that.)
Kodak hid the processing. Film IS more difficult, or at least more involved, than digital. It IS easier to plug the camera into a computer, download the pictures, and then view them that to develop the film and then scan or print it. To some, film may be overwhelmingly more difficult, at least from the perspective of self developing and printing. My mom never made the leap do digital, but that is because she could not use a computer to save her life. (Not saying Mac or PC, don't want to start a flame war.)
Photography is not about the tools, it is about the resulting image and the intended impact on the viewer.
I started with film in the 70's, switched to digital for a few years, and now use both as the mood and needs require. I started developing B&W last year, having used labs previously, and am fascinated with the range of effects and control (and potential for disaster!) that are possible. Developing ended up being much easier than I assumed it should be. I scan now and don't have the facilities to make my own darkroom prints. I'd like to make my own prints in a darkroom some day, but my desire to do so is the same that led me to rebuild car engines, build decks, and make beef bourginon (sp?). I'd like say I did it my self.
Exactly. I don't have the facilities to develop my own film right now. I would like to at some point. And with my SLR I can pretty easily change the four things.
This past October I was in a state park about an hour from where I live and was quite pleased when a gentleman handed me his DSLR (I noticed it was a Pentax) and when I looked at how it was set, he had it on aperture priority mode. I even commented, "Finally, someone with a camera that isn't set on full auto!" He said "Yeah, my wife says it's more complicated."
I respectfully disagree with his wife. I prefer the ability to choose either the aperture or the shutter speed (or both in full manual!), I get more control over the end result that way. Having said that, I do use auto-exposure 99% of the time, but always in either aperture-priority or shutter-priority modes. Remarkably easy to change between the two, even on an AF Pentax without traditional controls.
If one arbitrarily marks the beginning of photography with View from the Window at Le Gras in 1826 then the medium has been in use for 187 years. If one arbitrarily marks the beginning of electronically automated photography (or at least the beginning of the real electronic automation arms race) with the arrival of the Canon AE-1 in 1976, then the age of highly complicated cameras has been around for 37 years.
The question that then goes begging is,
How in God's name did anyone ever manage to produce any photographs of value—or for that matter any photographs at all—during those first 150 years by using only speed, shutter, aperture and focus?
Given the hideous complexities that everyone is so conditioned to believe are part of non-computerized film photography, I suppose their success must be due to passing through one of those boxes in a process flow chart that says "a miracle happens here"...
Giving Photoshop to people who don't understand the basics of the craft and what's considered good taste in a photograph I.M.O. is like giving an electronic calculator to a person who doesn't know what addition, subtraction , multiplication and division is, and instead of improving their work they make it worse, because the skills and knowledge required to be proficient in Photoshop are as stringent as that of darkroom work.
Originally Posted by BMbikerider
So take crayons away from kids because they don't know how to draw?
Originally Posted by benjiboy
Not at all. Take Wacom tablets away from kids because they don't know how to draw, and give them crayons. I'm a software engineer, and this holds true for any type of software.
Originally Posted by markbarendt
Computer programs always work in metaphors, and those unfamiliar with the metaphor are not going to benefit from it. Mechanical engineers will tell you that those who haven't hand-drafted in school have much less facility with CAD packages, which use many drafting metaphors.
Much of Photoshop is built on darkroom and other physical photographic metaphors, and the same type of connections apply.