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  1. #1
    Sean's Avatar
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    I was reading the latest issue of Black & White Photography (by the way -way to go Jorge! loved it! and thanks Ailsa for the copy!)

    All was well until I turned to the Letters to the editor section. I haven't seen issue 24 but apparently some poor guy mentioned in that issue, that he believed digital imaging is a different art form than photography. The digital camp of course went berserk and wrote several letters defending thier medium in this current issue. But the one thing that stood out and almost gave me a migrane, were the comments regarding some of their mentalities for going digital. I got the impression that many went digital because they could not cope with or have any success with wet methods. I can't understand this. I processed my first roll of film when I was 16 with zero experience, and I also made a rather nice black and white print in the highschool darkroom of that image. I did not find this hard, cumbersome, inconvenient, annoying, frustrating, or difficult in any way! I actually found it magical. I ummmm, simply followed basic directions to achieve this result! BASIC! Mix this with that, pour this into that for x minutes. Wow, that is soooooo hard isn't it??? But apparently scores and scores of "photographers" can't produce work they are satisfied with by using these methods, and thanks to digital one reader says they have a "new lease of life in photography". I'm dumbfounded that people find wet methods so difficult that they must rely on computers to give them the means to be "photographers". I am no master in the darkroom, but the results I achieve are my own and that means a hell of a lot. If computer aided photography can improve my results shouldn't I go with that? Never.

    (as usual thanks for letting me blow off some steam)

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  3. #3
    Sean's Avatar
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    Many good points Donald

    "I found the ability to obtain the result that I want to be too difficult with traditional means and that digital is easier"

    I guess that's the main thing I can't relate to. Sacrificing handmade craft for convenience. It's too much of a sacrifice for me to stomach..

  4. #4
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    Digitoids are suffering through a transition period akin to that experienced by watercolorists and acrylic artists. I imagine it took a while for oil painting to become acceptable as it began to put icon painters work in egg tempera out of business. Nowadays, tho', there are probably more egg tempera painters working in the iconic and free art styles than ever before in history.

    As soon as a few individuals become leaders in the digital field - whether by assuming the role or being shoved into it - the rest of the pack will cease feeling so defensive; which is precisely why they tend to respond as they do and to appropriate traditional film photography terminology such as "carbon" inkjet/whatever printing. As soon as they have a champion they'll relax and just go back to being photographers.

    I find the two media as similar and as different as the painting examples I mentioned earlier. Having done both - b&w traditional darkroom since age 8 or 9, digital for several years - I have pretty solid opinions about which I prefer and the reasons why.

    I simply find traditional film and darkroom work more rewarding, despite the mess and smell. For similar reasons I found myself gravitating from a preference for painting in watercolor to using oils, tho' I don't paint much at all these days.

    Even if the output was truly indistinguishable (and it ain't - yet - no matter what anyone claims, at least not from what I've seen), I'd still prefer the hands-on approach over the digits-on (that's a finger pun) approach.

    From an entirely practical POV, traditional photography practically demands a dedicated darkroom for best results. In my makeshift darkroom/spare bathroom/laundry room I can compromise on either quality or time. I don't like to waste materials so I won't compromise on quality. Instead I limit my darkroom sessions to when I can be sure no laundry needs to be done, the air is as dust-free as possible, I can devote the tub to the fiber print washing cycle for up to 12 hours and I don't have to worry about distractions. That means I can develop film a couple of times a week but print only about once a month.

    Digital photography, OTOH, requires highly specialized equipment and practically demands up to date equipment. Before getting back into the wet darkroom I'd had high hopes for transitioning to all-digital. Then I realized I didn't have the budget to keep pace with the ever increasing demands for more megapixels, better sensors, compatible lenses, faster processors, the latest type memory, being unable to even carry over basic peripherals and add-on cards from one obsolete computer to the next, ad nauseum.

    To make it worse, I wasn't enjoying it anymore. Sitting at a computer and making art don't go together in my thesaurus. I don't understand the terms "computer" and "art" in the same phrase and I don't get the fascination with digital photography. God bless those who do but I understand them about like I understand folks who drink Dr. Pepper first thing in the morning instead of coffee, the damned heathens.
    Three degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon.

  6. #6

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    Sean, It's not apples and apples (or should I say apples and Mac's) they're comparing. The computer work has it's own personality as does the wet practice. I just finished a project for a couple of interior designers who wanted 15 16x20's and 17 11x14 b/w fine art images for some high end model homes. They said they wanted cheep.(always cheep! rrrrhhh) so I showed them samples of one image, printed 3 different ways; fibor based photo print and printed on my epson 7600 with 2 different papers one thicker and one thinner and cheeper. This was my first experiance at providing this service and boy I learned alot! It's just as complicated to work the images through photshop as it is the wet photographic process. And to my own suprise the images had a completeally different feel to them, even the client noticed. So yes, the self development of an intuitioned based response to the wet process is a complicated path. But so is creating computer assisted imagery that does not look like a gimmick. Commercially the two can go hand in hand but from an intuitively artistic standpoint their way apart and have their own markets. If these people are looking for the easy way to create, then I'm sure their work will reflect that, no matter which process they use.

  7. #7

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    The other thing I get from new digital photographers is that they can trash any picture on their storage card that they do not like, with the push of a button. In fact the sales people push this feature. I am certainly not a master printer or photographer, but I feel that with time and film I am getting better, and one thing I enjoy doing is pulling out last years contact sheets and prints and comparing them to recent ones. I can see what I've improved on and what I still need to work on. I've even gone back to places with a print I wasn't happy with and tried different angles, or waited for the light to change. If I was to trash all the photos I didn't like how would I have a reference point to judge my learning?
    Brian McDowell

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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sean
    many went digital because they could not cope with or have any success with wet methods.
    Now that's the best name suggestion that I've heard yet for Aggie's Mag: "WET photography". Sexy, yet perfectly legitimate and descriptive. After all, H2O and computers are pretty much mutually exclusive and yet we can't make a picture without the stuff.
    I can imagine the wink and nudge I'll get from my mailman when my new issue of "WET" magazine is delivered in it's plain, brown wrapper.
    That is called grain. It is supposed to be there.
    =Neal W.=

  10. #10
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thomassauerwein
    If these people are looking for the easy way to create, then I'm sure their work will reflect that, no matter which process they use.
    I think this is the real point in all this.

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