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.