Quote Originally Posted by Sparky View Post
presumably because things like 'detail' are easily replaced by 'jpeg aliasing' - the photograph has become largely uninteresting to the gentry except for the values/fashions it connotes... well I hope it's not THAT bad... but I wouldn't be so surprised if it does soon...
I have to say, I think people have always thought that. Not about JPEG aliasing specifically, of course, but it's a truism that the history of photography is full of convenience triumping over image quality, and corresponding wailing and gnashing of teeth from the old guard about what IGNORANT PHILISTINES the dry-plate/film/medium-format/35mm/p&s/d*g*t*l/d*g*cam/phone people were and how it would all lead to THE END OF THE ENTIRE WORLD. (I hope the hyperbole is obvious---I don't think you're being nearly that distraught really.)

And on the one hand, it's true; there's a significant loss of image quality between an 11x14 wet plate and an iPhone. On the other hand, for most viewers, and not just naive or uneducated ones, subject, light, and composition will trump technical image quality every time, and a photo that was shot is always better than one that wasn't. (I'm looking at a personal favorite of mine, a spontaneous candid of my 4-year old son, taken in a restaurant in Malaysia; 35mm Tri-X in Diafine. Lots of grain, lots of contrast, dynamic range limited by the push to EI 1250, resolution and tonality limited by the miniature format---but well lit, decently composed, and a badass portrait of the kind of living-in-the-moment concentration that only small children display regularly, if I do say so myself; and of course utterly impossible to take at all on that 11x14 wet plate!)

On the other other hand, I have one of my great-grandfather's prints on the wall at home; it's an 11x14 contact print on Azo, and to the educated eye it looks like it---it has that almost-3-dimensional Azo thing, you can just plunge into the detail, and so on. And people notice that even though they don't know what they're noticing. More than one person has spontaneously said "Holy sh*t!" out loud the first time they saw it; non-photo-geeks, I'm speaking of, people who have some sense in their heads and can make their own aesthetic judgements, but people who wouldn't know a contact print from contact dermatitis if they had one in each hand. So the tools can make their virtues known through the strength of the image, which I think we all believe or we wouldn't be here.

Bottom line---I just think that, as people who perpetrate images, we assume the responsibility to make our tools work for the image. And that goes for the painters and the mixed-media assemblage artists and the iPhone photographers as well as for the film folks. Sometimes that means something unique to the tool (think of cyanotypes---you couldn't really produce that look with any other technique), sometimes it's just a strong image made with what happens to be the artist's toolset of choice. I don't see that the increasing convenience and popularity of certain tools changes that responsibility in any way.

</soapbox>

-NT