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  1. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Nadvornick View Post
    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.
    Well, if you're more comfortable allowing some nameless chemical engineer's emulsion formula to perform some physical transform on the photons that create "your" image, go with that.

  2. #32
    holmburgers's Avatar
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    I feel kind of bad hijacking the OP's thread, so I'll be brief.. Also, I think we should applaud him/her for sharing it.

    *clap *clap *clap...

    I can see the distinction you guys are making between a photograph and a digital image, and I agree that there is a fundamental difference. However, I guess my biggest point of contention is that going around saying "a digital image is not a photograph" paints analog enthusiasts in strange light. I don't think most people will see it as the intellectual argument that it is, and will instead just think you're the ultimate luddite, film-hold-out.

    The truth is, I think most people think of a photograph as an image formed by a lens and its recording, period. That's the colloquial understanding.
    If you are the big tree, we are the small axe

  3. #33
    Aristophanes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Nadvornick View Post
    Careful here...

    The digital image does not exist in nature. The imaging abstraction has been carried to the point where the very physicality of the medium itself has been removed. The image exists only as an idea. A non-physical logical pattern. A pure abstraction.
    Tell that to the photons

  4. #34
    Aristophanes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Nadvornick View Post
    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.
    I can't let these curmudgeonly ramblings go untested

    By this logic post office derived pen pals are real and natural because the paper exchanged between them is tangible, but Facebook friends are not real or natural because they exist in an electron cloud and not manifest on a physical medium derived from the periodic table and run through a pulp mill and paper press.

    I think people can distinguish and see these sorts of one stop thermodynamic differences as not facts, but opinions. The photographic spectrum now adds Flickr and Facebook photographic exchanges to the self-labelled "traditional" mix.

    And if I take a digital photo and EyeFi it to my Mac which then automatically prints a 4x6, how is this any different than a Polaroid?

  5. #35
    Ken Nadvornick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by moose10101 View Post
    Well, if you're more comfortable allowing some nameless chemical engineer's emulsion formula to perform some physical transform on the photons that create "your" image, go with that.
    Dang, moose... Been chasing my tail and going nowhere with the above logic. I do think you've got me with this one. At least until I begin trying my hand at making my own emulsions. (Headed in that direction, just not there yet, maybe come this fall?) Nicely done.

    But on the larger point of the differences between real and imaginary in photographic image making, I do still think there are significant differences between the two methods. Whether any of those differences are important is up to you - and everyone else - to decide.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aristophanes View Post
    Tell that to the photons
    But the photons are not the image. For either film or digital. The photons exist pre-image. Quickly replace the camera with your eye before they arrive and they will still be "captured," and an image will still be "created," but it will be neither a film photograph nor a digital image, existing instead only as a sensation in your mind.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aristophanes View Post
    And if I take a digital photo and EyeFi it to my Mac which then automatically prints a 4x6, how is this any different than a Polaroid?
    The digital image, regardless of how it was eventually rendered, was not physically present at the moment the image it depicts was realized. The image itself is composed only of an abstract sequence of scalar numbers copied onto an electronic data storage device for later rendering.

    The Polaroid photograph was present at the moment of realization. It's a real thing. You can hold it in your hands. You can't "hold" a computer data file in your hands.

    This physically traceable connection from the photograph back to the original subject - I have been referring to it here as "provenance" - is what has traditionally made real photographs admissable as evidence in a court of law. And gave newspapers and magazines their deep visual impact. Used to be if you saw a photograph of it, you knew it was so.* And so did the jury.

    These days the images you see might be so, or they might not be so. Or more ominously, you no longer realize you should even be concerned... **

    Again, whether this - or any of the other - distinctions matter to you, only you can decide for yourself. They do matter to me.

    "Curmudgeonly ramblings?" Hardly..

    Ken

    * Yes, I realize the arguments regarding darkroom manipulations. But I'm not referring here to the Jerry Uelsmanns of the world. I'm referring to everyday, regular film photographs. The rule, not the exceptions to the rule.

    ** Very interesting to hear the earlier calls for "photos" of the deceased Bin Laden in order to "prove" it was him and he was indeed dead. This curiosity was a vestigial cultural throwback to the days when photographic provenance was real because the photographs were real. I'm not really sure what a digital image of a deceased Bin Laden would have "proved" in these days of PhotoShop. Remember the fake?
    Last edited by Ken Nadvornick; 07-07-2011 at 02:47 AM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: Removed uneeded word...
    "They are the proof that something was there and no longer is. Like a stain. And the stillness of them is boggling. You can turn away but when you come back they’ll still be there looking at you."

    — Diane Arbus, March 15, 1971, in response to a request for a brief statement about photographs

  6. #36
    Aristophanes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Nadvornick View Post
    But on the larger point of the differences between real and imaginary in photographic image making, I do still think there are significant differences between the two methods. Whether any of those differences are important is up to you - and everyone else - to decide.
    Digital is not "imaginary". It is scalar, and therefore authoritative.

    But the photons are not the image. For either film or digital. The photons exist pre-image. Quickly replace the camera with your eye before they arrive and they will still be "captured," and an image will still be "created," but it will be neither a film photograph nor a digital image, existing instead only as a sensation in your mind.
    The photons are from the exact same source regardless. They are simply radiation which we arrange as information. A digital sensor does so electromagnetically and a film plane does so electrochemically. This is all your essay boils down to: a preference for the latter. The "natural" distinction you draw between the two has no basis.

    And images in our mind are not "sensations" They have tangible, measurable, physical properties of electrochemistry. Your facts are wrong.

    The digital image, regardless of how it was eventually rendered, was not physically present at the moment the image it depicts was realized. The image itself is composed only of an abstract sequence of scalar numbers copied onto an electronic data storage device for later rendering.
    Yes, they are physical in that there is matter involved. You are buying into the non-existent virtualization hype.

    A sensor and its data is not abstract at all. Where are you getting your information? Hubble uses sensors.

    If anything, a digital sensor is the opposite of abstract. Film is afar more abstract in that it relies utterly on some chemist getting the mix right for your batch of emulsion. Lots of randomness potential there. Digital sensors are ruthlessly clinical in their ability to arrange photon radiation into precise image captures. That's a reason why there is a growing nostalgia for film and its variability, idiosyncrasies, imprecision, discipline, and interpretations.

    The Polaroid photograph was present at the moment of realization. It's a real thing. You can hold it in your hands. You can't "hold" a computer data file in your hands.
    Semantics over the arrangement of molecules.

    I can take a photo on my DSLR and have it printed faster than an instant from my Fuji Instax will self-develop a shot.

    There is no loss of fidelity nor scalar authority along the way for either. Both result in a print which is the best way to transimt that information to me eye in a tangible form. Photons hit an electron and are interpreted and arranged by chemistry or pixel bins and off we go.

    And let's not forget all the additional photonic and chemical steps a negative has to go through to get to a print. The LCD screen on my digital cameras is far more "present at the moment of realization" than any negative.

    This physically traceable connection from the photograph back to the original subject - I have been referring to it here as "provenance" - is what has traditionally made real photographs admissable as evidence in a court of law. And gave newspapers and magazines their deep visual impact. Used to be if you saw a photograph of it, you knew it was so.* And so did the jury.
    Provenance still exists in digital photographs. Do your legal research before assuming generalizations about jurisprudence and chains of evidence.

    Again, whether this - or any of the other - distinctions matter to you, only you can decide for yourself. They do matter to me.
    Then the OP is not an essay, but a personal commentary. So be it.

    "Curmudgeonly ramblings?" Hardly..
    They are curmudgeonly when you use the analogy that Facebook friends are less than real friends. You are judging other people's relationships based on your personal experience of friendship. There is a tone in your essay that the old ways are better and more natural and real.

  7. #37
    Ken Nadvornick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aristophanes View Post
    Photons hit an electron and are interpreted and arranged...
    I can see the time has come (passed?) for us to simply agree to disagree. There is a tendency around here to continue deconstructing objects until eventually some level of presumed equivilency is reached, then claim it as such.

    Sure, I suppose that at some subatomic level of resolution all real things begin to look the same. But at the scale we humans exist and practice film photography or digital imaging, reducing it all to the level of a Higgs boson doesn't really provide much of a useful framework within which to draw meaningful conclusions. Or even meaningful opinions.

    I mean, if the essence of every object is defined solely by the Standard Model particles it contains, then boys and girls and cows and mousetraps are all the same. Of course, at our human level of scale and experience we know that not to be the case. Certainly for the boys and girls...

    So I'll leave you with the following illustration,

    I'm sitting out on my backyard deck one afternoon when the US Government calls. They want to test an atomic bomb. For reasons never fully understood, they have decided my backyard is the best place to perform this test.

    However, before they come over they give me a choice. They can achieve the exact same test results by either setting up a supercomputer in my garage and running a software-based virtual explosion, or they can build a shot tower and hoist up and detonate a real plutonium bomb core.

    Since I will be allowed to watch the test from my deck, they ask me what is my preference?

    All protestations to the contrary, there is a difference between virtual descriptions of real things, and the real things themselves. The description is an abstraction of the real thing. The real thing is... well, The Real Thing.

    Further, I believe this very distinction is fundamental to the difference between a digital image (a virtual data file) and an analog photograph (a physical negative). As always, YMMV.

    Thanks for the excellent discussion, sir. Very enjoyable. I will continue to respect your differing point of view on this topic. Should you feel it necessary, the floor and the last word are yours...



    Ken
    Last edited by Ken Nadvornick; 07-07-2011 at 08:07 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    "They are the proof that something was there and no longer is. Like a stain. And the stillness of them is boggling. You can turn away but when you come back they’ll still be there looking at you."

    — Diane Arbus, March 15, 1971, in response to a request for a brief statement about photographs

  8. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Nadvornick View Post
    All protestations to the contrary, there is a difference between virtual descriptions of real things, and the real things themselves. The description is an abstraction of the real thing. The real thing is... well, The Real Thing.
    Right. However your analogy is a big fail because it is not analogous. It would be analogous to a film/digital recording of Nelson Mandela giving a speech compared to a Computer Graphic simulation of such a speech. Nice straw man you demolished.

    Both film and digital photography are real things. Both record real images. The real images are the latent images created by the photon on the sensor/film as they knock out electrons. In both cases, the real image must be transformed into a visible image by conversion. In one case the conversion is chemical. In the other case the conversion is electro-mechanical.

  9. #39
    Aristophanes's Avatar
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    My last word is to say that I got back into film because I dug up my old Minolta when moving and out of curiosity bought some film and snapped a few rolls off. My 5 year old son could not conceive that a sheet of plastic could hold an image, and furthermore than one would have to wait to see it by sending it off to a lab for processing, waiting a week or two for return. When the prints came back he went nuts arranging them and sorting them, hanging them on the wall. It was great fun and real relief not to have to sit in front of the Mac to enjoy photos. He totally got a kick out of the surprise aspect, but he also noticed some shots turned out very poorly and worried we'd have to pay for them still. Now he wants more of the "old fashioned photos". But he still also likes the digital camera for instant gratification (and practise; digital is a Godsend for practise). He likes the instant Fujis as well, but he has noticed the better quality from the SLR and Mamiya. I could have just printed more digital photos, but what my son grasps is that there are different means to an end.

    I was never arguing that film photography is not tangible. I was arguing that both film and digital are real, viable, and informative regardless, and it is a futile exercise to thump the book down on one side of the table and argue that one is "real" and the other "imaginary". Both are representations. Enjoy them. My 5 year-old got that intuitively.

  10. #40

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    As I said before I am missing the acknowledgement that a negative has already been processed. Digital photography doesn't produce a negative. The positive print can be made directly using a computer and printer. A negative is not the purpose of photography it is a means to get a positive image. THAT is the end result. I can print a digital image on photographic paper and develop it in chemicals to get an image. Is that a real photo then? If not why not?
    I don't think the used technology defines what "real"photography is. I mean that in the same way that a train run by electricity is still a train. Just like a locomotive is. Or a mag lev train is. The last one doesn't have an engine on board that is located in the track.
    The fact that you call it digital is just to distinguish between the two different techniques used to get to the some end result. A photograph.

    The analogy with the atom bomb is not correct. If I see an image on the computer screen that would be the same is your virtual explosion. If I print that same image that would be like the real explosion.
    Reality is whatever stays when you stop believing in it.
    darkroomninja.blogspot.com

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