An Opinion for Discussion

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by crotograph, Dec 1, 2005.

  1. crotograph

    crotograph TPF Noob!

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    Last year I broke from my own film reality and bought a Nikon D70s. Digital IS the up and coming usurper of film, correct? So, I have shot a myriad number of exposures with the digi and had some great results. I have learned most of the manipulation of all the buttons and menus. I find it a lot of fun. That's the rub. It's fun. I am not taking it seriously. I CAN"T take it seriously.

    I have spent many years taking photos with my Nikon FTN and Mamiya m645. I've sold a few and done a lot of self-education through books such as "The Negative" and "The Print"(Ansel Adams), NYIP and a few LARGE Kodak photography tomes. I have worked in the darkroom for many,many hours. Developing highlights after exposing for shadow. Burning, dodging and inhaling the sweet nectar of hypos, developers and stop baths; all for an 8x10 print of a dead tree. Go figure.

    Last week I took a look at my Nikon Digital, shrugged, and went out and bought a Mamiya RB67 Pro SD. I love film and every aspect of it. I love the manipulation of the lens, figuring f stop for the latitude of the film, loading the film, winding the film, hearing the click of a precision MECHANICAL shutter and toting that camera up into the hills or down into the city. I love to wait for processing and I love to watch the image start to show in the developer solution. I love drying a print and hanging negatives. This, to me, is photography. The whole process. Now, I haven't had to make a living under pressure of deadline to get my work out and I realize that I have a luxury not afforded the professional photographer. But, for me, digital was an experiment that did not pan out. There is no chemistry, no darkroom (don't bring up the Photoshop digi DR, not quite what I mean here) and very little chance of applying all the accumulated knowledge that I have spent so much time learning.

    On every forum I attend there is a general rule that is either overlooked or not known by beginners. It always starts out with, "What's wrong with my camera, the photos didn't turn out?" (or the like) And I always advise them to pick up a book on photography and learn the basic principles that apply to taking photos. To a great many there is an attitude that has come about concerning digital cameras that all one has to do to make a great photo is spend a passel of money ,aquire an expensive digital camera and voila, you are a photographer. This bothers me to the extent that there is much to know other than the pushing of a button(s).

    My uncle, when I was a little guy, was a professional photographer. Uncle Steve was a master at the zone system and, thus, the darkroom. I would place his B and W prints up to Weston or Adams any day. He taught me the basics and I try to pass that principle on to beginners on these forums. Just the obvious, you can't take photos that are good unless you understand how the camera, lens and film, whichever medium, interact with each other. At least, on a basic level. If you buy a digital computerized camera that does everything for you you have shortchanged yourself from the larger world of photography and photographic success, even if that success is your own personal satisfaction. I just feel that film and camera IS photography. Setting up for an exposure that, at most, needs to be burned or dodged to bring out or hide detail. Not digitizing and photoshopping a group of pixels until one corrects all the mistakes that should not have been made in the first place. I'm sure EVERYONE agrees!;) __________________
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I think there are more than a few members here, who will share your opinion. I, for one, respect it, whether I share it or not.

    Film is film...digital will never be what film is. To some people, like yourself, the whole process from start to finish...is what photography is to you. That's great. Hey, at least you gave digital a try...some 'old timers' just act ignorant and dismiss it as cheating. (I don't mean to imply that you are an 'old-timer')

    To the younger generation, who grew up with computers...Digital photography is just as natural as film is/was to photographers of yore.

    One thing that I don't agree with...
    Yet at the same time, you say that you like to burn & dodge etc. in the dark room.

    To me, it's almost the same thing. There are people who have just as much knowledge, talent & technique with the Digital Darkroom, as the masters do/did with the chemical darkroom.
     
  3. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I'm with ya on the romance and "feel of photography" when you're involved in the entire printmaking process from start to end. I love it and feel I have more vested in the image itself - it feels more like something that came from my soul when I've nurtured it from negative to finished print.

    I can't argue with the business side that allows digital photography a place in the sun, though. For those in a rush to make a deadline, why not take advantage of this great new way to quickly pass on a captured image? From freelance photojournalists to busy wedding photographers, digital makes a lot of sense.

    That's where I'm done with it, though. ;)

    Maybe what you bemoan is the pervading sense that we ALL must ultimately go digital, that we ALL must learn to enjoy sitting in front of a monitor, that THIS is going to be the only way to be a printmaker. That this attitude has grown is one of the sorriest aspects of photography today, for me anyway. I love traditional printmaking and I'll always want to practice this craft.

    I hope those who feel like I do, and those who want to shoot digital and use editing software, can just learn to respect one another's sense of enjoyment, and the digi/film debates will die out. Lots of people turn back to film or are suddenly excited by the idea of working in the darkroom, while those PJ's and wedding photogs are happy to turn to a new medium that gets their workflow out faster.

    It's all good. :) Me, I can't wait to get a MF system so I can start routinely printing from bigger negatives. I feel I have so much to learn, so much to do. :love:
     
  4. Marctwo

    Marctwo TPF Noob!

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    To some people it's just about producing an image - imagine that.
     
  5. crotograph

    crotograph TPF Noob!

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    First of all, I am merely stating the opinion that digital photography has, at least from my experience, been lauded as the be all end all of becoming a photographer. I am not saying that I am the last word on this subject. Lest there be any doubt. Nor am I saying that digital photography and the digital darkroom do not have their place as the newest advent in an old craft. Photoshop is an amazing tool and young prople who are "naturals" at computers will eventually, if not immediately, have a justified impact on the world and craft of photography.

    What I was attempting to relate is that too many "young and older" folks have gotten the idea that a digital camera is the answer, by itself, as indicated by so many posts here and elsewhere on the photo forums, to becoming a photographer.

    Nor, am I stating that film photography and learning to dip and dunk is the only way to become a good (great) photographer. It isn't. However, what I am saying is that, There are no shortcuts, in photography or any other medium, to the end result of becoming an accomplished artist or craftsperson. It takes at least a basic knowledge of every aspect of the particular medium to become competent. Di Vinci didn't become what he was and not know how to stretch a canvas or mix colors of paint. In other words, he had to learn, from the ground up, every aspect of his craft to become even marginally successful. No shortcuts could he take.

    Lastly, this post is just for the purpose of discussion and input and, perhaps, a bit of verbal jousting. After all, I didn't throw my Nikon D70s in the trash. (I don't think...let me go look...):mrgreen:
     
  6. Marctwo

    Marctwo TPF Noob!

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    I don't think there's anything less valid in getting a digital camera and printing snaps on one of those lovely little printers compared to getting a film camera and getting prints from one of those lovely little highstreet labs.

    I don't think the format has anything to do with how valid it is as an artist's instrument.
     
  7. crotograph

    crotograph TPF Noob!

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    Validity is not what I am speaking of. Of course digital is valid. Of course Photoshop is valid. It is all part of photography and choice. Again, what I am saying is that the Principles Of Photography are many times overlooked or short cut to the degradation of the photographic experience. This is why so many cannot figure out why they are not taking the photos they want to take or not getting the results they thought they would get. For example: You go on a trip to Yosemite. You get the view of Half Dome you want to shoot. You have viewed Ansel Adams photos a hundred times and think you can get close to what he did by snapping the shutter at the exposure suggested by your cameras light meter.You snap the photo. Whether digital or film doesn't matter. Your photo will NOT be anywhere close to Ansels even though it could have been had you studied the basics of photography. Exposure and light values, placing shadows and highlights in their proper zones etc. This is attainable. You can do this. Anyone can if they take the time to make use of all their camera, whether point and shoot or an inexpensive SLR, has to offer. For instance, do you know how to utilize the feet (meters) scale on your lens barrel. If digital, do you know how to read same on your monitor. Do you know what and how to set your depth of field to obtain a suitable zone of focus for the photo you want to take? This is basic. It is what one doesn't understand if one relies solely on the camera and not ones knowledge of basic photography.

    And no, I am not stating that I or you can come close to Adamses expertise. Only that one can do better at their own photography by simply learning and applying the principles that make a camera a tool for personal expression. Does this clear it up at all?
     
  8. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I completely agree with that point...I didn't even mentioned it before.

    I see it all the time, inexperienced people buy cameras (mostly digital these days) and think that they will get great images just because it is an expensive camera. (And camera companies sure as heck want them to think this).

    For me personally, thinking about shutter speed, aperture, focal length, depth of field...are all part of what makes photography fun & challenging for me. Having the background knowledge helps and makes it more enjoyable for me. To go even further, it can be fun to be thinking about composition and artistic values...which goes beyond photography, into any visual art form.

    All that, however, does not solely give someone the ability to make 'great' images. Great being a subjective term, of course. Some people just pick up an automatic camera, snap some shots and take the film to Wal-mart....and come up with unbelievably spectacular images. Some people learn every detail of the process but can't make it look good....I guess that's part of the allure and challenge.
     
  9. Marctwo

    Marctwo TPF Noob!

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    Yes, if you want to be able to do something better then you learn how to do it better. The first step toward this for some would be to recognise that they aren't as good as they'd like to be. The second step, in this very modern age, would be to seek advice on improving. A good place to find such advice might be a photography forum. ;)

    People tend to turn to the internet before the library these days - and quite rightly so IMO. From here you can assess the need to visit the library or sign up for a course.
     
  10. jstuedle

    jstuedle No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I too started in the realm of film at the tender young age of 14. I am now 50. I had a darkroom even then, processed all my work and consumed countless 100' rolls of plus-x and tri-x, boxes upon boxes of paper, and a few 100' X 36" rolls of Agfa paper making murals. Along the way I have gone through a couple dozen Nikon bodies from the FTn Photomic I started with to the F4 collecting dust on my camera display. (the F3 HP my favorite) I am of the opinion (one many are tired of hearing) that the only proper way to learn photography correctly is with a manual camera, handheld meter and no automation. In 1999 I turned digital and seldom shoot film any longer. Sometimes a little B&W just to keep my finger nails stained a little. Digital has it's own learning curve, a big learning curve if you are not very computer literate. I believe digital can be a better medium if you have that film foundation and apply it, and it can be applied. Light is still light, and it makes no difference in the final result. Dodging and burning still have the same meaning, just a different process. Digital has had certain limitations, but those are rapidly disappearing with the new sensors and technology. The glass is basically the same, just packaged differently than it was 20-30 years ago, some a little better, some not. What you have learned and mastered over the years is not in vain. Believe me, it just needs to be applied in another way. As far as your digital camera being fun, heck ya! Digital has reinvigorated me and my craft. After 30 years, it had gotten a little stale, digital has put a fire under my butt that had gone out long ago. Today, photography consumes me, just like it did in my youth. It's great to be in love with my craft all over again, almost like getting married all over again!
     
  11. crotograph

    crotograph TPF Noob!

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    Nicely said. You took all my meanderings and put 'em in a nutshell.
    :mrgreen:
     
  12. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    I don't quite understand your point. You seem to be saying that newbies need to practice and develop skills, and somehow digital keeps them from doing that. As for many other aspects of photography the phrase "it's not the camera" springs to my mind. I see no important difference between a Canon Rebel 2000 set on Program or a Canon Rebel XT set on Program. Creative photography has very little to do with the gear, and everything to do with the photographer.

    The easier and more convenient the camera manufacturers make photography, the more people will be interested in photography. Some of those people will become passionate, and study it further. Most will not, because they aren't interested in putting in the effort. If it isn't easy, they aren't interested.

    The more I study the history of photography the funnier I think the whole film vs. digital debate is. Almost all the arguments, opinions, and attitudes are very similar to those that were voiced when film itself was introduced. "Film makes photography too easy!" "Now any amateur can pick up a camera and shoot without knowing what they are doing!" "Film is for newbies; real photographers shoot on colloidian plates!" As fancy as the technology gets, photography remains basically the same. What makes any particular photo good or lousy occurs in the mind of the photographer, not in the camera.

    EDIT: Something I see posted a lot all over the web is photogs saying saying something along the lines of "I shoot digital for fun, and film when I'm more serious." It's fine if that works for the photographer's style, and produces results. But don't blame the equipment; that perception is merely smoke and mirrors within the photographer's mind. It's completely possible to do "serious" photography with a $200 digi-cam, and have "fun" with a Nikon F6.
     
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