Absolutely yes. In both cases.
Originally Posted by Sim2
The difference is that the light values represented in the negative are quantified by varying accumulations of physical grains of reduced silver. A metallic element on the Periodic Table. Real stuff.
Electric light values stored in the digital file are abstractions quantified by a scalar count which is substituting for the real thing. A value is not a thing. It's a description to be applied to a real thing.
Both are being used to represent something else (the image), but absent Photography, silver still exists as a physical thing in Nature, but the number '8' used to quantify a light value never did exist physically. It's an abstract concept.
Again, absolutely yes.
Originally Posted by Sim2
Both processes are capable of creative expression limited only by the imagination of the person doing the creating.
If one's definition of Photography is based around image creation alone and nothing more, then they both would fit that definition. But if one's definition incorporates the physical nature of the original photographic process (see Maris' signature), then no, they are different. One is Photography, and the other is another form of post-Photography imaging.
It all depends on each individual's working definitions.
I note with interest you felt the need to place the word "exist" in quotation. This is where it really gets interesting. Most people would not do that...
Originally Posted by Sim2
The physical meaning of "no space left" is that a containing volume is physically full. That the void defining that volume is now completely occupied in space and time. The water glass was empty, but now is full of water. There is no more space in the glass for additional water, and two volumes of water cannot occupy the same space at the same moment.
But in the case of a hard disk with "no space left," what does this mean? There was no physical void to begin with. An "empty" hard disk and a "full" hard disk subtend exactly the same volume in the real world. Same size, same weight.
What has changed is only the pattern of magnetised spots on the rotating platters that define the hard disk's physical reality. There are no physically "full" or "empty" conditions. A "full" disk weighs no more than an "empty" disk. There was no void to begin with, and there is no lack-of-void later.
The hard disk is a virtualized abstraction of a real world, physical container. It is designed to "hold" (there's those quotes again) nothing more than abstract data values which represent real world things. Not the real world things themselves. The abstract data itself is indirectly manifested by the patterns of those magnetic spots. The spots themselves, although physical, are also not the original real world things.
Even the physical patterns on the platters are arbitrary. If you save a digital image to a hard disk twice, the physical distribution of the spots (which platters, which tracks, which sectors) will be different. Because you have now crossed back into the physical realm of persisting those spots representing the virtual values, the constraints of space and time again apply, meaning the patterns - the physical distribution - must be different.
I've done software development and engineeing for almost twenty-five years now. And I've watched with facination as computerized virtual reality has slowly replaced physical reality in society to the point where many individuals have lost the ability to distinguish between the two.
Most people - those who would not use quotes - really do believe they are typing onto a sheet of paper. But it's not paper. It's a white rectangle generated by an electronic viewing device which is hooked to a computer which is running Microsoft Word.
Most teenagers think they have a large circle of friends. But they are not real world, physical friends. They are virtualized checkmarks next to virtualized boxes highlighted with the virtualized printed word "Friend."
A lot of people in the world can no longer distinguish between these sorts of differences. Sadly, I think, a lot of those wouldn't care even if they could.
And that, in a nutshell, is why my own preference is for the physical reality of Traditional Photography, and not its virtualized cousin. My preference is for things I can touch. True photographic negatives with a real world provenance back to the subjects they depict. First generation renderings of The Thing Itself.
Originally Posted by Sim2
If only everyone would...
My problem with this discussion is the need for something visible or tangible. What I hear (no what I read) is that if you cannot hold it it does not exist. I don't think that is a valid reason to divide digital and analogue as not photography and real photography. If you do that and stick by it then how do you explain the fact the nothing floats around? You can't hold gravity, you can't see it so it is not real or it doesn't exist? Digital image is stored using magnetism. I don't need electricity to keep the the files intact. You can't see the file that is true but it doesn't mean it isn't there. You just can't see it or touch it they way you are used to. But it doesn't make it less real.
When a particle is magnetized a certain way on a hard drive it cannot be magnetized differently at the same time (serious lack of the English language or technology to put it into better words) so therefor that particle occupies a space and time in that certain state. It is just to small to see or hold it. And humans are not sensitive enough to feel it.
And again you don't have a negative if you don't introduce the film in developer and fixer first. So therefor in analogue photography you will never get a photograph or negative straight out of the camera. And in that regard both are the same.
(I seem to remember you from Usenet rec.photo.equipment.35mm days gone by?)
We all form our own working definitions of what photography, or anything else, is. I choose to define it more narrowly in such a way as to include the physical, tangible parts of the process that have been there since the beginning. I do this because for me the very legitimacy of the image - its provenance - springs directly from its physical existence at the moment the original exposure was realized.
Magnetic spots, representing discreet virtualized light levels, arbitrarily arranged on the platters of a hard disk or other medium, do not for me convey the same sense of legitimacy - or wonderment - as an original glass plate or film negative simply held up to the light and looked at.
As well, and perhaps because I have myself spent too many years virtualizing too much reality in the first place, the thought of loading an image abstraction into a computer, then clicking a mouse on some icon and allowing some nameless software engineer's algorithm perform some logical transform on the data bits, printing out the result with another mouse click, then showing the world what *I* just created, simply does not resonate with me.
I've mentioned before that my brother and I discovered over 700 35mm black-and-white negatives made by our late father in the mid-to-late 1950s. I have test printed a few to take stock. As we all do, before starting I hold each one up to the light for a quick guess as to starting contrast, exposure, cropping, etc.
But before continuing, I never fail to pause for a moment and reflect on what I am actually holding and the scene it depicts. That exact negative was in my father's hands 55 years ago. He loaded it into his beloved Kodak Retina Ia, now sitting on the shelf right in front of me, and pointed it at... let's see here... what?
Hey... wait a minute. That's me in the negative! Geez, there I am somewhere on vacation in Wyoming when I was only three or four years old. Out in the snow. And this very negative that I am holding, all those years ago was in that camera, stopped along that road while he made this photo of me and my mother.
That level of photographic legitimacy means everything to some of us. And it cannot be found in the virtualized imaging technology in use by most people today.
One does not need to draw a line at the physical and tangible threshold to define photography. At least for themselves. But for those of us who feel the need to do it, there is likewise no reason not to...
The biggest issue I see here is one of domain.
Some are trying to use a very objective, quantifiable language. Others are comfortable with a more emotive language. And some actively seek the emotive language.
None are wrong, but the domains merely intersect. Neither contains the other fully.
So what domain are we going to choose?
Because I can construct the frame of the argument, my argument is always right.
It is photo-graphy, light writing. One form of photography is no more real or pure than another. The OP's arguments is just a qualification of personal bias without regard to history nor practice.
Silver is not light, nor are data. Stating the quantification light values based on a chemical process is somehow "real compared to an electronic method is just sophism. Both are simply processes. Both are abstract.
And false premisses.
Originally Posted by Jim Noel
Yep. AM/FM. One person transmits using the former, while another person attempts to receive using the latter. Both parties then end up seriously annoyed that all they are hearing from the other side is unintelligible static.
Originally Posted by michaelbsc
That's the problem with these damned abstract virtualized conversations. No space and time are being occupied in close proximity by the conversationalists...
@Ken; I never used usenet so I'm afraid we haven't met online before (wich is according to this discussion not possible anyway ;-) )
I do understand the emotions and feelings that you get when holding a negative. I recently started shooting 8x10 film. Big negative looks totally awesome. However what I do miss in this discussion is the fact that with digital everybody says it is not real because you need stuff to produce an image. However the same is true for analogue photography as well. With stuff you don't get a print or a negative.
Nobody will get a usable archivable negative straight out of the camera. Nobody and never. No matter how much you want it to be true. A latent image is not an image or photo or whatever. You can only let it become an image by putting it in developer and fixer first. In that respect digital is no different then analogue. (only digital uses different techniques)
The comparison with painters and people who draw is not valid either. Those people do not use light in the first place to capture a scene. They use a pen or pencil or paint. Analogue and digital use the same ingredients to form an image: Light, lens (or pinhole) and technique to get that scene onto paper( most of the time).
Side step if used technolgy defines the end result. Is an electric car really a car?
At the level of photons and electrons, the differences on which some D vs. A debaters expend valuable creative time are artistically meaningless.
Anyway, bravo to anyone willing to essay on photographic subjects, and thank you to the O.P. for sharing your thoughts. The essay might be better placed in an blog entry. Posted to the discussion boards, these things tend to work certain people into a lather.
Of course, you would have to edit it to "shred of silver" since "sliver of silver" sounds bad...
Originally Posted by MattKing
More seriously, the bits from the essay that matter to me the most are:
" Yet if the only form of tradition, of handing down, consisted in following the ways of the immediate generation before us in a blind or timid adherence to its successes, "tradition" should positively be discouraged. "
"He must be quite aware of the obvious fact that art never improves, but that the material of art is never quite the same."