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  1. #1
    cliveh's Avatar
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    Defensiveness about film photography

    I sometimes see on APUG and other areas on the net related to film photography a defensive explanation for using film against digital and new technology. Should this be the case? Film photography has had a run of over 100 years, during which time the process has produced a multitude of iconic and classic images. Digital has yet to do this and prove it can do it, so why do some film users feel they have to justify their methods? It’s a bit like Claude Monet apologising for using oil paint instead of using a different medium.

    “The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”

    Francis Bacon

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    well, quite.

  3. #3
    Ken Nadvornick's Avatar
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    A great deal of the dislike of digital photographic technology is rooted in the zero-sum game played by commerce. One doesn't really dislike digital technology as much as one resents it. A resentment arising because of what it has done to the analog equipment and materials markets that film practitioners still value and require.

    In other words, film photographer's available choices have become either drastically reduced, or gone totally extinct, as a direct result of digital's rise. So film photographers denigrate the digital market in a desperate attempt to preserve what little remains of their shrinking analog market.

    If miraculously the rise of digital technology had not resulted in the loss of the heart of analog technology, there would be nary a cry of protest from the analog community. Both would be peacefully coexisting in non-zero-sum harmony. Kumbaya around the campfire...

    Ken
    "When making a portrait, my approach is quite the same as when I am portraying a rock. I do not wish to impose my personality upon the sitter, but, keeping myself open to receive reactions from his own special ego, record this with nothing added: except of course when I am working professionally, when money enters in,—then for a price, I become a liar..."

    — Edward Weston, Daybooks, Vol. II, February 2, 1932

  4. #4
    cliveh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Nadvornick View Post
    A great deal of the dislike of digital photographic technology is rooted in the zero-sum game played by commerce. One doesn't really dislike digital technology as much as one resents it. A resentment arising because of what it has done to the analog equipment and materials markets that film practitioners still value and require.

    In other words, film photographer's available choices have become either drastically reduced, or gone totally extinct, as a direct result of digital's rise. So film photographers denigrate the digital market in a desperate attempt to preserve what little remains of their shrinking analog market.

    If miraculously the rise of digital technology had not resulted in the loss of the heart of analog technology, there would be nary a cry of protest from the analog community. Both would be peacefully coexisting in non-zero-sum harmony. Kumbaya around the campfire...

    Ken
    I agree and commerce is a large part of this equation.

    “The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”

    Francis Bacon

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    cliveh, resentment of the effect digital has had on the viability of companies making film/darkroom products is likely all the defensive position is about. If we are honest with ourselves it really has nothing to do with art, or quality. We simply prefer the darkroom process. Anything beyond that and you know you're dealing with a BS-er.

    I don't agree with your assertion digital has yet to prove it can produce iconic and important images. The technology is no more or less capable than analog. It simply hasn't had the >100 years analog has had, throughout which, by the way, the vast majority of images have not been iconic, classic or important. It is like that in any medium.

  6. #6
    jnanian's Avatar
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    it sux that chemical photography is a memory to so many
    and a boutique sort of thing nowadays, but to be honest
    i kind of like it this way because that means it will be elevated
    even more "as an art form" because so few people are doing it.
    all this anger about digital taking over and having no history
    should be put towards making great analog photographs,
    something the electronic folks and others will be in wonder about.

    i used to be cranky, i don't really care anymore.

  7. #7
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    In my daily life I use both analogue and digital and have no cause nor reason to be defensive about either: they are both great mediums to use in skilled hands. There will always be those who want to beat about the bush over digital vs film and vice versa. I seriously don't take any notice of them.

    Why did you say digital has not proved anything in terms of iconic imaging? You might want to consider that the iconic images of 9/11 were all made on digital of that day, with only a small number on film. It is a bit hollow to throw punches at the striking achievements of digital (my printing is analogue-to-digital) when it is the prime mover of chipping away at the epitaph of analogue.

    By the way, Monet didn't just use oils.

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    Digital photography was an inexorable step in the evolution of the medium. Many of photography's technological developments along the way (e.g. faster, smaller film, smaller grain, instant film, etc.) bear the hallmarks of a medium slated towards the advent of digital photography and all the advantages (or disadvantages, if you'd like) that digital has to offer. Looking backwards, it's hard not to see the teleological seeds of the digital revolution in each historical movement along the way. In this light, the defensiveness of analogue photographers regarding their material choices seems to betray an underlying anxiety in the face of a quickly evolving medium. When forced to confront the nature of this anxiety I suspect it's easier to simply complain about the discontinuance of Super double x or some other, hallowed and unavailable material.

    Art and quality, As Michael states, has nothing to do with it.

  9. #9
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    Part of the reason for a defensive explanation for using film may be because digital people have given analoguers some grief, one way or another.
    One day out shooting, I had some guy using the very latest techno-marvel DSLR ask me why in heavens name would I still use film? He really made an issue of it, telling me about how much better digital was, higher ISO, etc, etc, automatically assuming I'd never held one in my hand.
    When I told him I shoot all my colour with a DSLR and all my black and white on film, he started up again about how digital could make great B&W pictures, there was software for that, etc, etc. Actually, HE seemed to be on the defensive.
    This was certainly the most extreme situation, but not the first, and won't be the last.
    It's funny though, virtually every person like that, (all men), were in North America, I can't recall a single time here in Europe.
    I can honestly say I've never walked up to a complete stranger and asked him why he uses digital, and start telling him how much better film is.
    I have a large business-style calendar on my desk, full of notes, reminders, lists, ideas for automotive articles, and the odd appointment. A number of people have wondered why I don't use the Google or Mac calendar, instead. It seems if something isn't done electronically now, it's not as good, out-dated and inefficient.
    Anyway, I tell them I like having it on paper in front of me, and then point to my package of 3B pencils. That really appals them.
    Last edited by hdeyong; 06-29-2014 at 10:51 PM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: additionn

  10. #10
    CHX
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    I think Ken knocks it on the head. It doesn't bother me whether people use DSLR, Digital range finders or a smartphone with attachable plastic lens blu-tacked on the end. Hey, whatever works for you, right? But I do resent that it has totally trashed the supply of film materials/equipment/services, no doubt in much the same way a lot of vinyl fans resented the rise of "soul-less, boring, samey" tape and CD, computer geeks resented the rise of "spul-less, boring, samey" Wintel clones, or in the future maybe how petrol-heads will resent those "soul-less, boring, samey" electric cars.

    If I could get Aerochrome, Kodakchrome and easy repairs or replacements for film equipment, I would doubtless geek out over all the potential tricks you could do with software, but it is indeed a zero sum game. (that said, I *do* like many of the things photoshop can do to save a mucked up negative, and I do like being able to print from scans, not having access to a dark-room of my own)
    ~ Sign the petition: We want Aerochrome! ~

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