thestrange thing is that many (who knows .. most) of the state archives have been only accepting digital files for habs/haer recordations for a handful of years now ... it is always difficult to het an archices /state hist pres office to accept film because of storage issues, or because it has traditionally been difficult to find someone to make archival prints at a reasonable price ... and the federal government push for digital over traditional has been intense.
while it is well known about digital rot or how film and paper will last forever ... often timesvitdoesn't matter
Threads like these never resolve anything. The masses are lazy and, to a large degree, uncaring of their past. Joe Blow is not going to keep a RAID 10 stack running in his basement to safeguard his images; he's going to dump from his cameraphone to a consumer grade USB disk that's small enough to get lost in his pocket and go through the wash. Or he'll buy cloud storage that costs a fortune, is under the control of strangers and might very well be lost by them with no responsibility (It was right there, on page 16 of the EULA). Digital for capture is not going away because there's too many situations where digital kicks film's ass, and it's convenience appeals to time-constrained masses who are excessively prone to advertising and peer pressure.
Now, if you want to talk preservation, if not by Joe Blow then for him, the only sensible course is to take Thomas's advice and print, print, print and then give them away, like Johnny Appleseed. I've many times seen the crudest of my prints of something being given a place of honor on somebody's dresser or an end table or on the window sill above the kitchen sink; looked at every day. You love Photography, Joe likes looking at himself, film needs buying; it's a win-win-win. I think because both sides of the fence use "cameras" we get side-tracked by arguments like these. Digital and analog are two completely different things once you get past the equipment hangup, and you should. When I give someone a print it's not always about what I think of them but what I think I'd think about their great grandchildren.
I photograph things to see what things look like photographed.
- Garry Winogrand
And just what do you think the miracle of "cloud storage" really is?
Originally Posted by Arctic amateur
It's just someone else's computer, real or virtual, sitting in some depressing data center somewhere on the planet. And by using it you are now handing total control and responsibility for the preservation on your priceless images over to the strangers who run those depressing data centers. Strangers who are driven by their own whims and faults. And profit motives.
Do you really think they care about your images as much as you do? They'll tell you they do. Do you believe everything you're told?
Computer-based companies come and go like weeds in your front yard. So does the software and hardware they use. The last six I have worked for have all crashed and burned. All it takes is a momentary interruption in business, and they are out of business.
And your images when that happens? They won't give a rat's ass about those. And they won't legally have to. Read the fine print. Smart people keep local backups of their cloud backups. Read that last sentence again.
Photography began in 1827. This is 2013. Do you really expect that Dropbox and Google+ will still be around in another 186 years? I can still see the View from the Window at Le Gras today...
"Hate is an adolescent term used to stop discussion with people you disagree with. You can do better than that."
—'blanksy', December 13, 2013
Well, after Irene the digital files still exist, and are accessible. Even after one of the drives was underwater for days the back-ups (offsite) survived. Yes, there are some prints of some of those lost negatives too, but the proof sheets? mostly gone as well. Nothing is perfect, and nothing will last forever. I walk in a graveyard regularly, many of the stones are completely illegible. I have watched the emulsion on glass plate negs fall away as the envelope was opened, looked at daguerrotypes that have barely anything left to see, opened a negative book to find a very faded or stained negative and had a few digital files which cannot be opened. It's all tenuous, just not equally so.
I shoot plenty of film, don;t get me wrong here. I'm just not convinced that it is by it's nature a necessarily superior system for long term storage. It all depends on too many variables and, of course, luck.
Freeze? Can? Pickle? Dry? Which really is best? Too many variables.
Last edited by sepiareverb; 09-04-2013 at 09:54 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Sitting here today, it doesn't seem unreasonable to think that the Google data cloud will still be around in 100 years. Facebook too. Smaller players (Dropbox, etal)? Not so much.
But then, Google could be dead and gone in 10 years. Or five. Anyone log into Myspace lately?
But anyone who thinks any of that is the issue is missing the point.
Ok, so you have a bunch of bits (bits aren't photographs...it takes some intervening technology to create an image from bits) sitting at Google.
30 years later, one of your progeny decide they'd like to dig up your old photos.
Tell me how the fact that Google's data still exists is going to help. How are they going to access the data? How are they going to recover the password? (What is the name of your great great grandfather's first pet?)
Same thing with "home" based digital storage. Earlier in this thread a process was described of continuous refreshing of backups to the tune of $1000/year.
Ok, so you have a bunch of bits sitting on your home storage system.
30 years later, one of your progeny decide they'd like to dig up your old photos.
How does that work? Who maintained the archive (spending $1000/year in direct expense, not to mention who knows how many hours of work to keep the storage refreshed)? Where is your hardware at? Best case it was all stuffed into a box and stuck in a storage locker somewhere. Or else it was stuffed in a box in someone's basement. And then they moved, and maybe the stuff was moved with them, or maybe not. Maybe the cables are still with it. Maybe not. Even if they get it all put together, does it power up? Are all the bits still there?
The fragility of digital systems is all about the human factor, not the technology.
Print. Your. Photos!
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Film rules for so many reasons. The first one is because I love to sniff the canister as soon as I open it. Yummy!
And yes, we'll all die soon enough. Geez, that's one parameter I really dislike.
Yes, digital files can be backed up, copied and distributed at will; but the problem with digital permanence is it really takes a surprising amount of work. Work which most people are unaware they need to do, or which falls by the wayside because it really can be time consuming and expensive to do properly (guilty on that count, here). Multi-million dollar businesses with dedicated IT departments even fail at this sometimes.
Most people stick their photos on their hard drive or Facebook and call it done. The more diligent might copy stuff to a CD/DVD or keep a single backup on an external drive and think they're safe. Very, very few will have a coherent backup and ongoing data migration strategy such as nonuniform described above (costing $1000 every year to maintain, not to mention the ongoing effort to keep things current!?! Ouch.)
I've been around computers since 1984. I've had data stored on audio tape, weird 3" disks, 3.5" floppies in a myriad of formats, CD and DVD, SmartMedia, CompactFlash, SD, MicroSD and an assortment of hard drives in different formats. Files which were never copied from tape are gone, the tapes long since deteriorated (though oddly enough I do still have that computer and it still works). The 3" disks, which I found in a box recently? No hardware to read them. The 3.5" disks? My ancient PC was one of the last to have a disk drive as standard and even then only the ones in MSDOS format are potentially readable. CD and DVD? The better quality ones from up to 15 years ago are still OK, but some have failed, in some cases very prematurely and I have no guarantee that others will not follow. Hard drives - which interface? Which format? If I found a SCSI drive in a shoebox today, I'd not be able to plug it into any computer I own without a great deal of extra expense and effort. Even then it might not be readable, or intact, or contain anything worth saving. If I find a PATA drive in a box a decade from now, what are the chances it'll fare any better than the SCSI one does now? The PATA drive installed in my old (and apparently, dead) Commodore A4000 isn't formatted in a way my PC can deal with even though it will plug in. What about the current SATA standard, eventually it too will be supplanted and disappear, as will its replacement and whatever follows that. Is it really going to be worth my grandchildrens' time and expense to access the data stored on some old dusty antique hard disk or near-forgotten type of memory card on the off chance that it's still readable and had any real value to begin with? Somehow, I doubt it.
But they'll be able to pull my photo prints and negatives and contact sheets out of the next box and see what they were without additional effort (they might still chuck them away, but at least they could make an informed decision in doing so!)
Yes, the pace of change is slower than it was when I started in computing, but things still change and "old" hardware, media and data formats fade into unsupported obscurity. Data will be lost if it isn't actively taken care of. I'm under no illusion whatsoever that future access to a TIFF, JPEG or especially RAW file's content is a certainty even if it does reside on media that is readable. Perhaps it will be, perhaps it won't. History would suggest it won't. By comparison, my negatives and silver gelatin prints ought to outlast me and will remain "readable" without obscure hardware or software.
As for keeping things safe from disaster, I could always file the negatives somewhere safer (safety deposit box?) and put up with the loss of some convenience in access.
I seem to recall Kodak stating sometime in the 1970s that color negative materials would begin to show uncorrectable color shifts in seven years or so. Of course, scanning may be able to correct such shifts. At that time Kodachrome was best transparency film for long term storage, but Ektachrome would withstand projection better.
And of course silver based film properly stored will last .... who knows? I have negatives my father shot and processed himself in the mid 1930's that are in excellent condition; BW negatives and fiber prints I shot, processed and printed in the 70's are fine, and I didn't take any extreme archival processing methods, just reasonable care in storage.
The one significant difference between film and digital archiving is that film (for the substantial most part) is a self describing material. There is no encoding, no translation, or other algorithms involved (orange mask stuff really doesn't count). As such it is not prone to technology shifts and can always be recovered/viewed given standard chemical/physical techniques. Physical self evidence combined with a decently highly amount of detail/space occupied makes it a quite good archiving material even if it is prone to minute degradation over the years.
I'd rather take a faded negative over an unreadable digital format (Domesday Book anyone?)
Stop worrying about grain, resolution, sharpness, and everything else that doesn't have a damn thing to do with substance.
I suspect color neg permanence has improved quite a bit. And while some people complained about their negs going bad in a couple of years,
it might have been related to storage conditions, and I've able to print my own twenty-year-old Vericolor negs with no problems. Electronic
storage isn't the same thing anyway. You gotta reproduce it digitally, even if you are lucky enough for your data to still be retrievable. And
ain't there somethin' just so adorable and cuddly about looking at a box of discs, or having some appraiser fondle them on Antiques Roadshow
fifty years hence? Good for nuthin except skeet shooting as far as I'm concerned.