David Goldfarb - you and I are on EXACTLY the same wavelength as to digital usage and intrinsic print qualities. You may now have a reason to be very, very scared.... heee.....heeee....heee....
Steve, I think there is one point you have not stopped to consider. The response comes from a person who does large format, and as such the differences in the way you process, print and the intrinsic connection to the finished product is much different than someone working with 35 mm or MF.
You will find in this and many other forums, how people are surprised at the way their photography has chnaged by merely changing formats. Those who had the all powered Nikon zip guns and shot 6 or 7 rolls, now find themselves shooting maybe 4 or 5 images. LF is a more contemplative process where the "connection" to the image, in my opinion is greater. This same feeling translates into the darkroom and the emergence of a print that is truly magnificent. I beleive this is what Ross was thinking when he mentioned the "soul" or essence of a print.
The perfect example I have is my friend who gave me a job at a camera stiore when I was unemployed, he had a masters degree in photography and as such he felt the need to learn PS and digital techniques. Normally he shot 4x5 to 7x17. So after he took his PS shop course I asked him, how did he liked it? He told me, PS and digital is fine but working on the computer to produce a fine print did not fullfill me.
I hope Ross does not mind but I think a little of his background should be explained so that you understand where he is comming from. Ross works for IBM and is or was on loan to a bank in NZ, his background is in IT and I really think we will be hard pressed to find anybody in this site who is more knowledgeable about pc, digital processes and the advantages of these materials. A good example is the speed and thoroughness he had forming this site, I beleive from his initial idea to having the site going all it took was one month. So when he speaks of the process loosing its "soul" I beleive he does so with a perfect understanding of both processes.
I think I can speak for many here when I state that the reason we are here is not that we dislike digital, it is that the debate of "analog" vs digital does not interest us anymore, we are happy to accept digital as a medium perfectly capable of producing beautiful work, and that it is able to stand on its own. Actually I think it is those who have moved to a digital darkroom who are firmly entrenched in the beleif that digital should be embraced by everbody and that it is the replacement of wet or "analog" techniques.
As I have stated I have seen the work done on digital by the best, and I own a couple of Burkholder prints, so yes I am able to accept and admire the work done by them. But there is no doubt in my mind that digital is not the same as "traditional" photography, it does not produce the same feeling and does not evoque the same emotions and response.
This in itself is not bad or good, it is just different, I wonder why if we are able to accept this, the digital community is not able to do the same for us who prefer the "old fashined" way?
In every debate I have read of digital vs analog, I have seen stated by those who prefer digital that the "final product" is what matters not the path taken to produce it, but then they go and argue how much "easier" better, faster, etc it is to do so with digital. This to me is a non issue, I can only speak for myself but I am not interested on faster, better, or easier, I am interested in the end result that imprints my vision on a print, and that for me is done better by traditional methods.
I'd like to ask your opinions on making enlarged negatives via digital for use in alternative processes. Since digital is only an intermediate stage and the rest of the process is wet photographic, has the image lost it's analog "quality" and become too perfect at that point - and its soul is lost forever?
Judging from the couple of Burkolder prints I have, my response would be a guarded yes, in a way the prints are too prefect and in some way they are surreal, even though they appear to be "traditional" prints, if you examine them closely you start seeing things where you think " there is no way he just found this by coincidence" . Have the prints lost their soul? nope, they are beautiful or I would not have bought them! But you see the prints transmit the vision Dan had, and he is perfectly comfortable and happy working on a computer to produce his vision, I am not. Is that simple.
The reason this discussion was placed in the ethics and philosophy forum is because, at least in my case, I beleive there is a "special" connection with the prints as we see it through all the steps, and I beleive this comes as part of the message that comes across in the finished print. Again these are "personal" views, for all I know I can give you one of my negatives and you can make a great print also. But it wont be the same or have the same feeling.
I have not discussed it with Ross, but I have the feeling some of my statements are the reason we did not take you up on your suggestion to add a digital forum. Digital is a fine medium capable of producing beautiful work, but it is different than traditonal photography, I have come to learn and accept this, and only wish the proponents of digital media would extend the same courtesy to those of us who wish to continue to pursue our vison a different way.
I think we are wandering a bit here....
Jorge summed it up well. The problem starts when a Foveon chip starts being touted as "Better than medium format!" or a Digital Platinum print is considered to be "Better than analog".
I use a mix myself. All my images are analog when they are taken. To save money, I just get the negs done and then scan them in to proof them. Saves me a bundle.
For output, I do a couple of things -
If I just want a picture to hang on the wall or give away, I scan everything in at high resolution, crop it, get rid of the dust and crude, play with the contrast and saturation, and then have it done on a Frontier. I usually get batches done since the cost drop to $4.00 per 8x10 when I have a whole directory just done. They will last 60 years or so.
But if I am looking at doing a "serious" piece, one where I am making the image, it is done in the darkroom (not mine, since I don't have one yet....). For example I did a triptych of images taken from a friend's wedding. I wanted these to last and have a very specific look. Since this was a gift, I figured longevity mattered and I wanted an arty look. So I had them done on fibre paper to spec. Very pricey compared to Frontier, but the look is very soft and gentle. Plus the image will last probably close to 100 years.
In the end everything has it's place. I just refuse to accept though that digital is "IT". Digital can NOT duplicate a Pt/Pd print for longevity and overall look. It can NOT duplicate a gum print.
I just wish people would stop saying it can and that output from their Epson will last 200+ years and "film is dead".
My other beef is with non-disclosure. I've seen too many images that have been digitally altered beyond all reality, called "photographs". An example would be the infamous POW on Photo.net which was allegedly a "REAL" image of a protest, but turned out to be just a handful of images cloned in Photoshop and altered. It is not a "REAL" image. It is a CREATED image. Both have their merits, but one must disclose. In my mind if it goes beyond traditional methodology, one should say "digital composite" or something like that.
Official Photo.net Villain
[FONT=Comic Sans MS]DaVinci never wrote an artist's statement...[/FONT]
Well Jorge - as someone who has used view cameras for over 35 years, I too think I have SOME small, teeny-weeny appreciation of the difference between large format and other formats. Maybe more than most people. In fact, I worked exclusively in large format from 1965 until 1982. I don't need to be lectured on the difference between large format and other formats. Been there, done that, own multiple tee-shirts. Own multiple large format cameras.
As someone who has a graphic arts background, a fine arts background, as well as a photo background - I really think I can appreciate and, most importantly see the differences in printing processes - and with all deference to Ross's background - maybe better because I specifically don't approach it from a digital perspective, but from a print making perspective.
My first experience with graphic reproduction came in high school where I ran an offset press four hours per day, including making plates. Later, I was a graphic designer at a small firm and had to do the process camera work for both black and white and color reproduction. Yeah, I know all about screening angles and figuring dot gain. I know all about "bump" exposures, and what it takes to at least get close to an original reproduction in color and contrast. So please, don't give me another spiel on "process" and how the process makes something lose it's "soul."
Again, with all deference to Ross's background, a good web designer does not necessarily translate into a good photographic print maker. I am not denigrating Ross's photographic capability but you brought him up as the example on this one. He has certainly done a magnificent job on this web site and is unquestionably a talented, consumate professional in that area.
However, I wouldn't go to a proctologist for a tooth ache and both persons are doctors. As such, I wouldn't necessarily unequivocally trust Ross's judgements as being unassailable because of his background - sorry. I do think his comments are valuable and interesting and that's what I'm here for - a healthy interchange of ideas.
I really know how and what happens in analog processes of all printing types - including fine art lithographic printing because I did that too. Which included fine art photo-lithographs. On top of that, I have done custom color photographic printing of both negatives and direct reversal processes.
I got a pair of eyes on me. I know processes better than most. I know how to discriminate and unemotionally judge print quality and image translation to prints at a professional level.
I don't really give a flying fanny-chat about the digital versus analog debate as such, but I do think the strictly analog people often act as though analog is the holy grail of photography, and adamantly refuse to consider other means of print reproduction as being equal because that somehow threatens their self-constructed tower of photographic purity.
I just like pushing the debate as far as it can go, as it often is far more entertaining than getting into a group-hug and self congratulatory society about how wonderful it still is to truly be an analog virgin - and NOT consider certain digital aspects to be totally equal for fear of losing not only my virginity but my photographic "soul."
Steve, it was not a lecture it was an observation. I am attempting to look at this through Wisner's eyes.
There seems to be some hostility from you to those who dont agree with your point of view, this is exactly of the kind of thing I am talking about and of which I am tired.
You have decided that digital fullfill your needs better, that is fine and I am glad for you, but allow those of us who feel differently the same respect and validity to our opinions.
As far as I am concerned there is no "debate" and I am not in fear of loosing my "virginity" I am merely not interested in the digital process, I am very happy with the results and process I use, and have no need to prove my way is "better" as you seem to think of yours.
The responses here are not because we enjoy a group hug, merely they are an example of minds who are in accord and enjoy they process they have chosen. We really dont need you to "push" the "debate" to the limit as there is nothing to push. At least in my case!
As to your comments about Ross, you seem to forget that he is also a photographer, if I use your same reasoning the fact that you used many LF cameras and have many formats does not assure me that you know what to do with them. So please lets not follow in the steps of photo.net and start making innuendos as they are not productive to any discussion.
Sponsored Ad. (Subscribers to APUG have the option to remove this ad.)
The beauty of the internet is that it usually has something to offer for everyone. APUG is offering the traditional, hand made, photochemical approach to photography. I highly doubt we'll ever add a 'digital' or 'hybrid' forum. This does not mean we are anti-digital, it's just that digital is off-topic to most of us,,, doesn't interest us, and we didn't really come here to discuss digital. From what I see, we do have some members that use digital, but they also love traditional and use apug to discuss their traditional issues. You can probably find these same people at photo.net discussing hybrid or digital issues. In my case, I don't think I'm being close minded to digital. I have taken 4 digital photography classes in college and use photoshop7 quite a lot when it comes to web design. I own a film and flatbed scanner for proofing and getting images on my personal site. I use a digital camera for family snapshots, etc. For personal satifaction and artistic expression, I've dabbled in a variety of photograpic processes and find analog the most rewarding and fulfilling (to me). Keeping apug 100% traditional may result in this site always being a tiny niche site, but I don't mind. I suppose if anyone is desperate to seek advice on digital or hybrid use in apug, they can post something in the alternative process or off topic forums. I also find these kinds of debates about analog and digital interesting. As far as my IT career goes, I forgot to mention, that is another reason I don't use digital for pleasure. When working on a computer all day (and nights or weekends on a particular website!, I totally loose the desire to use the computer yet again as an artistic tool. I need a break from the digital world and enjoy a hands on crafty approach to artistic expression. I can't speak for everyone, but I find using computers all day they become more and more 'machine' like. Sure my camera and Enlarger are machines but they become an extension of myself and seem to take on a personality of their own. I find myself naming my camera and enlarger!, feeling sad when I sell off one of my cameras that I've had for years, etc! lol, maybe I am just crazy. I've never made any kind of emotional connection to a desktop computer, laptop, or ink jet printer. If anything I end up hating my computer equipment because it's obsolete 6-12 months after I purchased it. Good lord, I have no idea where I'm going with this line of thought, lol. Anyway, maybe it all just boils down to personal preference, and respecting one anothers choices. I better get back to work!
Think about it in terms of camera breakdowns. I would venture to say that most if not all who frequent the Large Format Photography forum also own, appreciate and use 35mm cameras. The LFP forum was created to discuss those things which are of interest to them without questions about zoom lenses and cleaning SLR mirrors. It doesn't mean that SLR's aren't good photography instruments it is just that the group is focused on something else.
Heck I frequent a Manual Minolta SLR group. Talk about elitist and narrow, but it fits a nich that the members appreciate and I wouldn't dream of talking about 4x5 on that forum as they wouldn't be interested.
Okay --I get the message.
And Ross, I don't even look at my cameras fondly - I have no attachment to them beyond being tools. They're all tools to me along with my computer, PhotoShop, my flatbed scanner, etc. Well, let me qualify that - my Plaubel Makina is one camera I would not sell because it is not easily replacable, and has been my constant source of free form photographic enjoyment for 25 years.
For me, the best possible image translation would be to get all of the equipment out of the way and somehow "beam" the image from my mind onto the film. I haven't mastered doing that - so, I'm stuck using cameras which often just plain get in the way.
Jorge - there is no hostility just excitement. If you get anything more than that I apologize. I'm also sorry that you can't see my facial expressions and hand waving - that doesn't translate over the internet. But, really, this is not meant to be mean spirited - only, spirited.
If you're tired of that. Fine - I quit. I don't have to be right - I just gotta be me!!
This can't be. A discussion of analog and digital not ending in a firestorm of name calling and controversy? What's wrong with you people!
I'm work on a computer all day and have done so for almost 15 years plus many years in school and before (before PC's were invented) I have changed hands I do my "mousing" with due to the pain I get in my preferred mouse hand (bring back DOS and some typing!. Anything that gets me away from the mouse is a good thing!
I do my wet darkroom work for the hands on enjoyment. I don't care if I can produce a better print on my computer, I get no enjoyment out of that.
I bought a new Canon S900 printer thinking I'd like to print a few colour pics... did a few tests, decided they looked great, compared favourably to some traditional prints and haven't touched it since! Even though it prints quite quickly I find it boring. Simple as that.