Well Donald you certainly have the right to your own stupidity and to remain in ignorance, if that is what you choose to do, but on the same token I also have the right to express my opinions about the misleading digital statements without being labeled antidigital, digital hater or afraid of digital.
As I have said before among the prints I have purchased I have two by Dan Burkholder, he uses digital means and I really like and admire this prints.
I know Dan from circumstances outside photgraphy and it was not until later that I knew he was a photographer. Once when I was visiting with him, he told me how long it took him to make a digital composite and let me tell you it was not easy at all. WHich is the core of this topic, is traditional printing any harder than digital? From the responses I would say most in this forum do not beleive it is. So to label us insecure about the future of analog photography as you implied to Sean or to say we are "against" digital simply because we or better said I try to make some distinctions and clarify some issues is unfair.
So you certainly have the right to remain in your own stupidity, nobody is trying to take that away from you, but on the same token allow those who do not wish to follow your example to read opposing views and make their own judgements.
Yes, if there is a market for digital cameras or knock of Rolexes people should allowed to stupidly spend their money. Caveat emptor and all that. But if we are to allow a free market to work we need good information about the product to make a decision and we are being consistently mislead about digital.
I have been unpleasantly surprised after picking up that book "Silverpixels", and confused by the various analoge process terms used to describe a digital process. These terms are being used to mislead just as Rolex is being used to describe a counterfeit watch. They are lying and they are doing it on purpose because they feel that the product won't sell on it's own merits. I happen to believe that digital doesn't need the lie to sell but I also believe that when they lie they should be called on it at every turn.
You may be comfortable knowing that you have a real Deardorf but if you saw someone being sold a counterfeit as real I hope you would let him know he was being cheated.
I don't know whether it's more difficult to make a good traditional print than a good digital print, but what I do notice in my experience is that people working digitally seem a lot more prepared to compromise on quality than those working traditionally.
It can take years - if not a lifetime - to hone your craft in the darkroom, so how come people expect to be able to produce a digital print immediately upon plugging in the printer? Or a decent scan from an eighty-quid desktop flatbed?
I see inkjet prints submitted to our magazines that are clearly a very, very poor representation of the original, and as a result they don't get used, because we don't have the time to get in touch with the people concerned and ask them to send in the original slide/print to us. I'm amazed that the photographers concerned have looked at the inkjet (or indeed the quality of the scan, if they are submitting a CD) and thought, 'Yup, that's as good as it can possibly be,' and placed it in an envelope.
As for youngsters and their attitudes to digital or traditional photography, a friend of mine, who is a lecturer on a photography course locally, recently told me something very interesting. He says that most of the students he teaches (around 18 years old) have very little interest in digital, and far prefer to do their printing in the wet darkroom. My theory on this is that this age group comes from a generation that has grown up with the computer, they know everything it can do, and it holds no surprises for them. Stick them in a darkroom though, with a tray of dev and a 10x8in piece of paper that's been exposed under the enlarger, and the age old story of the magic of the picture appearing in front of you still holds true.
Very insightful...it is interesting to here this from a magazine editor's perspective. I know several, maybe 20 or 30, people that are now fully digital. Most if not all are producing VERY NICE work. They tell me it is as much work in digital as is there is the with traditional processes. The one thing all these people have in common is that they come from the traditional processes and were expert printers in black and white before turning to digi. They know what a good print is and what it is supposed to look like. This is, in my opinion, the single biggest asset they have over someone coming from a purely computer background. They have a real point of view and are mature in the image making process. They have made all the beginning photo 101 images and have moved past this. Some of the people have books to their name. Ironically, no one that I am aware of has a book deal yet shooting digital. Several have made homemade books as "mock-ups". One of the main proponents of Digital is Pedro Meyers, a Mexican photographer. Pedro was into digital before digital was cool.
A while back I heard about "Holga" filter that is available for Photoshop.
Just think. For an investment of a mere few thousands of dollars in hardware and hundreds of dollars in software you can effectively imitate the results that you can get from a 10 dollar camera
Another example of better living through technology.
That is called grain. It is supposed to be there.
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I agree that when we were young we started out with the 35mm printmaker, and the Patterson tanks and reels etc. Of course we had no choice. I guess what I am saying is that if you have a computer, printer and scanner for negatives or just a digital camera, or it is all your folks gear and you are in high school, you are more apt to begin learning digital methods assuming you have an interest in photography. One reason is because it is familiar. For most kids, working with a computer at an early age is pretty common. Photography is just another set of perephrials and software to learn how to use.
Second, as has been pointed out, digital is immeadiate feedback. See the image on the viewer, edit you work, plug the camera into the the computer and print the picture. Of course to "master" digital there is a whole world to learn but for many of today's kids, that is a lot easier then loading a reel in the dark, inverting the tank for several minutes, waiting for the negs to dry, contact printing, proof printing, setting up the darkroom, cleaning the darkroom etc.
There are many students who want to learn traditional methods and there has been a noted increase in interest in LF and ULF. But kids today have very limited attention spans. Digital allows quick feedback and I think more important to these people, the ability to stop and start your workflow without major hassles. Working on the computer and it's time for Friends on TV? Just walk away and come back in 30 minutes.
And what this all leads to is a lot of people making garbage images because they have not the patience to learn how to see and learn a process. I think the person who has the ability to take the time to learn a process and understands that photography is a life long learning process will gravitate towards traditional. It really seems to be about personality types as much as anything.
Jim I understand what you are saying, and probably given that computers are most prevalent than darkrooms you are most likely correct when you say a kid will pick digital to start.
Why does anyone need a class to learn digital phtography? As you correctly pointed out, the classes are about learning photoshop and how to digitally manipulate images. That is one of the problems. People becoming involved with phtography for the first time and doing it through digital quickly believe that the software will cure any problem or enhance any image and make it a masterpiece.
I have seen some truly wonderfull digital imaging in both color and B&W. All the photographers had one common thread between them. They learned traditional phtography first and thus already had an understanding of composition, vision, unique optical traits of the medium etc.
But the majority of the people who take digital photography classes will never do any more then print there own family photos or send post photoshop files to Shutterfly for prints. Any many of those will never really use anything other then the proprietary imaging software that comes with the camera or scanner they purchase.
A lot of this discussion reminds me of watching my father woodworking. It seemed so effortless for him. His only power tools were a table saw, scroll saw, drill press. he did everything else by hand with hand planers, chisels and specialized hand saws. Later he added a very good router. He took his time made few mistakes and wasted no material and created beautifull things.
Today, people watch a 30 minute program on ETV or Showtime, buy a woodworking magazine, take a couple of shop classes buy $10,000 worth of woodworking tools and wonder why they still can't consistently cut a board straight or make anything that does'nt look like crap after a few weeks of trying. My dad said it took him 30 YEARS of woodworking off and on before he felt he could call himself accomplished. It was a hobby, I figure it would take a lot less time if he had done it for a living, but you get the idea.
The best tools, the best teacher, the most money can never make you a master or even competent at anything. That takes time lots of practice and patience.