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Thursday, 02 June 2011

Comments

De-mosaicing of a bayer array does not *have* to be complicated. And they higher the resolution of the sensor, the less complication is required:
http://www.stark-labs.com/craig/articles/assets/Debayering_API.pdf

I think the black-and-white inkjet prints are dreadful, i make digital black-and-white fiber-based prints from Elevator Digital in Toronto.

Lovely image Mike. Reminds me of Caponigro. I would love to see a print of this on Baryta paper (preferably "air dried F surface"). This image transcends its first glance. I think it would make a good TOP print.

Definitely a red apple Mike. Not an onion. I keep looking at it, though.

For over a year from mid 2007 I went on and on and on about how digital cameras would never replace real cameras, how they were the invention of the devil and would never be as good. All that time I was waiting for the price of the Pentax K10D to drop low enough so that I could afford it.

When I first brought the camera up to the pub I was asked, "who are you and what have you done with our Roger?" and also called various rude names. This was the plan all along. Heheheheh.

The only part of the plan that didn't work was that I ended
up spending more that I'd planned on the K20D, not the K10D.

I still use film cameras too.

PS
Heheheheh.

Mike - another interesting and thought provoking essay! It's certainly one I can easily relater to, I just turned 50 and just bought my first (and only) DSLR last year.

To my way of thinking, the film/digital discussion should be more personal. It should focus more clearly on what an individual wants as well as the intended use.

Thanks to many articles posted here, as well as reading the comments, and some thought, I have arrived at my own conclusions (as we all should).

I shoot both film and digital as a hobbyist and not as a professional or artist.

Film work tends to be B&W, so I can process and print it myself. Subjects tend to be the people in my life, so it gives me great satisfaction to have one of my prints on my wall, or to be able to gift a print to a friend. Occasionally, if I am feeling creative or artistic, I'll expand my B&W shooting to include things that I think would look good in B&W. More misses than hits, but encouraging enough that I don't feel like chucking my gear. The same with darkroom work - I'm not obsessive enough to be great at it, but I have managed to be fair-ish with it. So far, I've been content enlarging 35mm up to 8x10, but I think I would like to try taking some of the better ones to 11x14.

Digital covers what I want to shoot in colour. For some odd reason, it also seems to be what I share the most. Well, maybe not that odd - I tend to shoot digital when it's something I want to share immediately with others. Snapshots, flowers in bloom, record shots, pictures that are taken to be used on-line (FaceBook) or emailed to friends and family. In short, the equivalent of a drugstore print. The largest I've ever had them printed is 5x7, usually posted to the web, so, contrary to Ctein's advice, I shoot JPEG.

I made my choices based on my needs and intended uses. My heart may be with film, but work with the tools available to me, and choose the tools based on what I perceive the end result to be. So far, I'm not as good as my tools.

"And actually the picture couldn't have been taken on film, or at least not nearly so conveniently. Because I tried various "virtual filters" to get the values (the words refers to the lightness and darkness of tones) to match." - Did you know you could use "virtual filters" with color film, too?

This may be off-topic but I hope that there are sociologists and (or) psychologists somewhere studying the kind of online rudeness that you mention.

It's one thing for conversation to break down into verbal assault when discussing topics of obvious controversy, such as abortion, the free-market, politics, but why do people get angry over their choice of camera and related equipment? Why do people choose to form "tribes" based on such trivial differences? What is wrong with our cultural upbringing that we think that our brand choice of consumer goods matters?

I know that marketers rely on that self-identification, but I see it as a failure. Something in our culture encourages this pathological behaviour. I think we should try to understand it better so that we can eliminate it.

As a recent example, there are sites where people are currently insulting each other over the pricing of that new Sigma D-SLR model. Why would anyone feel that they have a personal stake in its success or failure? It's a camera, people will either buy it or not. Why care so much.

Hmzzz, your not the only one asking those questions:

http://www.foam.org/whatsnext#

Greetings, Ed

Mike, I mentioned in earlier comment that I came late to digital. The reasons I used to put off making the change were sound, but disingenuous. The truth, for me, was that I just wasn't ready. Now that I've switched I can't see myself going back, but interestingly I have kept all the film gear, darkroom stuff and all.

Now, I wonder what all the fuss was about. I've always had a problem with that "you're either for us or against us" attitude, and it applies here, too. To borrow from Rodney King, "Why can't we all just get along?"

Let's stop squabbling about which is better (neither), and have fun making photographs. Life's too short and there are too many photographs to make.

I see no reason to advocate or side with one over the other.

Even if you only use one medium, there is no reason to hate the other. I'm sure artists who use watercolours or oils don't have similar arguments. I expect there are even some who use both!

Hi Mike,

I am not an expert however I do want to say that I love using both film and digital. I grew up using Film and I still enjoy it and I also enjoy shooting digital. I do hope that people still shoot film since these days it's hard to find places to process films especially non C41s like the 120/220s.

Thanks,

Armand

One interesting thing I've noticed about the film-vs-digital discussions (I shoot both, in as equal amounts as possible):

The arguments that digital photographers cite for why they shoot digital often are quoted verbatim by film users to justify their choice: "Each digital shot is virtually free so there's really no risk in taking hundreds or thousands of pictures." "It's much easier to make digital prints than darkroom prints." "With digital you know immediately whether you nailed the shot, with no anxieties." "Changing ISOs from shot to shot is a breeze with digital." "With digital, making multiple identical copies of a photograph is a cinch." "You don't have to reload a digital camera after 36 or fewer pictures." "Digital is a 21st-century technology." "Digital photographs are much easier to manipulate without detection of those manipulations by viewers." "After it's taken, a digital photo can be converted to almost any look imaginable with relatively little difficulty."

Similarly, the arguments that film photographers cite for why they shoot film often are quoted verbatim by digital users to justify their choice: "A lot of film techniques haven't changed at all in decades, and many photographers process their photos the same way their grandfathers did 50 years ago." "You have to commit to a particular look (including b&w vs. color) and a single ISO each time you load film; you can't significantly change either of these without reloading the camera." "Post-processing film images is often time-consuming and an inexact art (or science), with the making of identical copies often being very difficult." "Becoming really skilled at making traditional prints from negatives involves spending a lot of time in a darkroom." "Most film cameras in use today are at least 10 years old." "When shooting film, you can't be sure whether you got the shot until quite awhile after you took it."

Perhaps the film-vs-digital debates don't reveal differences in opinion about the capabilities and challenges of the respective mediums so much as they reveal differences in why each of us photographs.

Actually, I didn't know what the colours were, I correctly guessed that the apple was red, but I imagined the grass to be yellow and dried, more like straw. I could also imagine a scene which actually had those colours, a cast iron model of the apple, etc.

I like the photo, but I wonder if perhaps you (who has seen the colour version), actually sees it differently to the rest of us (who have not). More layers...

Interestingly I also guessed that it was digital, just from looking at it. I think perhaps the lack of grain and precisely controlled tones gave it away, but perhaps it is because with my (digital) camera, I do see in black and white. I generally set my camera to RAW + high contrast, black and white jpeg's. This allows me to see the tones in the image more clearly while composing, and of course I can see the colours by looking at the actual scene.

I shoot film. Once in a while I shoot with dslr (nikon).
My digital images are fine but they have no flavor. I prefer an apple that is sweet and tart.
Not one that looks good but taste flat.

“[DSLRs] are tri-color devices ….each photosite, if it were naked, records only luminance, but they're overlaid with red, green, and blue filters … the interface—all we see—is in color. They're black-and-white devices adapted at considerable complexity to become color devices.”

The most fabled of color films, Kodachrome, ‘saw’ only in monochrome. The color was added in dyes during processing. There’s a certain irony there – what goes around, comes around.

Mike,

Digital Silver Imaging is located some 2 miles from where I write this comment. Eric, the owner and printer guru is a great guy who clearly cares about his craft. And it says something about him that he set up a B&W printing shop in this day and age.

I get all my printing done there and have been extremely satisfied with both the prints and their service. I hope you are too.

As for the theme of your post today...I do think we should all get together sometime, hold hands, and sing Kumbaya, because this BS about film vs digital (or JPEG vs RAW, or colour vs B&W) hurts us all. It's about the photography!

I love film - but I love digital too. For a while I was creating Van Dyke and platinum prints from digital negs and having a blast. Then the Pictorico transparency material came harder to find and more expensive. Now I've stopped bouncing around alternative processes and finally settled on wet plate.

Since I started coating my own plates the world could just melt away and I couldn't care less. I'll still use B&W film as long as I can but it no longer dictates the direction I travel.

But then there's the price of silver ... Maybe my whole thinking is flawed. Oh well.

Mike I'm a couple of years older than you and certainly have been around long enough to be "an old film guy". Truth is I became interested in photography about 11 years ago with a Coolpix 900.

I'm sure I'm not telling you anything new but the digital/film arguments really heated up back in 1999 or so when a brand new group of enthusiastic digital, internet photographers formed their own websites and had brand new catchwords and technologies. A lot of these folks wanted nothing to do with film at all and even then considered film a past relic. The "real" film photographers of these days often bashed early digital pioneers because of the less than stellar quality the early digital cameras produced. The war was started.

(BTW I like that apple in the grass.)

It seems the only use the 'v' has in the debate is for each side to flick it at the other. It's just silliness, like apples v. oranges. Just prefer, practice or pursue one or the other, or both. The 'v' debate really is a load of misguided 'p'.

Dear Mike,

And once again I suggest that if you ever get a print of that that makes you happy (in whatever medium) and offer it as a TOP sale, you would do very, very well.

pax / Ctein

Although I obviously didn't see the comments you excised, I think I can understand the impetus behind them. It's frustrating to have a medium that you like to use only to have someone repeatedly tell you it's a dead end, when they don't really know for sure.

It reminds me of being a Mac user back in the early 1990s; all the commentators said Macs were toys, they didn't have enough market share, they were doomed to die. It was incredibly annoying to read about all the gloom and doom and, as it turned out, it was wrong. I'm typing this on my Macbook and my trusty iPhone sits nearby and Apple is doing just fine.

That may not be what happens with film, of course, but I agree with you, Mike--I use and enjoy both film and digital and right now I have full access to both.

All this talk about film reminded me of the Chamonix Whole Plate camera Mike purchased.
Might be a superb apple in the grass photo machine. Any chance of a review of this camera ?

As I was reading this I was already formulating in my head a comment about printing. Then I saw your last paragraph, and that sent my mind reeling in another direction.

Regardless, here's my comment: As much as I welcome digital cameras for all their economy and convenience, the one place I miss film is in printing. Yes, there are many options for digital printing, but that's part of the problem; there are too many, and none of them seem quite right.

With optical/silver printing, you start with a few simple questions: (1) do you want it to be archival? (yes); (2) glossy or matte? (depends); (3) warm tone or cool? (usually warm). After that, it's all craft, craft that improves with practice, better knowledge of the different papers, chemicals, handling practices, etc. There's a real hands-on feel to it.

With digital, it all happens in the head and in the wallet. If you want archival you need to use special papers and inks (which papers? what inks?) and you need to run it through a printer that you use frequently so it doesn't clog (which printer? how frequently?) and your images need to be tweaked for sharpness and noise reduction just so (how so?).

I feel like there is a huge barrier to entry for someone who does this on a fairly casual and not-for-money basis. How much time and money would I waste going down the wrong road before I find what I'm looking for?

This is an issue lately because for the first time in a decade or more I want to make some B&W prints, and I want to make them from my digital images. They must be archival (that's a matter of principle) and they should be large (20 x 20ish) but I haven't a clue where to even begin.

But maybe I'll start by Googling Digital Silver Imaging and seeing what they offer... (thanks for the tip)

Dalmatian Lab in NC also prints b/w on fiber paper from digital.

"Any chance of a review of this camera?"

Fred,
Yes, but not until I finish my 50 sheets of film, and at the rate I'm going that might not happen this year.

I just hope the technology doesn't change too much in a year's time and obsolete the model I have...oh, wait, right. [g]

Mike

Please, please, please write that essay on the aesthetics. Please. I'm not an advocate for either side (I shoot and process both as well) but I'd love to hear your thoughts

Dear Terence,

I have plenty of extremely discerning clients who would disagree with you. Including moi.

Not saying the black and white inkjet prints that you've seen aren't dreadful and also not saying you shouldn't prefer a silver halide print. Just suggesting you should be careful generalizing from your limited experience or assuming that your taste is absolute.

~~~~~~

Dear Rob,

Well, if we're going to get nitpicky, that is true of every single color photographic material, save Lippman plates. They all see monochrome, use filters to expose different parts of the emulsion to different colors of light, and then generate the colors as a result of chemical processing. Kodachrome creates the post-exposure colors through a different chemical path than chromogenic materials, but there is no color in the film save what the chemistry provides.

That's why you can develop color films in black-and-white developers and get black-and-white negatives (usually of pretty lousy quality, but the principle holds).

~~~~~~

Dear Brett,

As I commented in the previous column, many people in the world feel a compulsion to objectively justify their preferences. It's not enough for them to simply say they like or prefer something, they have to make it some kind of rule of nature.

Don't let them get to you. That's their psychological problem. You don't have to own it. Just blow them a raspberry and forget about them.


pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
======================================
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 
======================================

I started shooting on film around 1963, developing it myself. Always hated it. Messy, time-consuming, too much dust, too many scratches, expensive.

Digital is wonderful!

I do make a distinction between film, which I hate, and film cameras, which I love. (I have a terrific collection of about 70 of them.)

Love the sinner, hate the sin?

I tend to shy away from religious arguments. They always end badly.

What you use to capture pictures, IMHO, is entirely dependent on how you eventually want the final image delivered. The reason film is dying off in the marketplace is not some deep technical failing or because digital cameras have auto-iso or automatic panoramas (although those things are cool: off topic... here is a pano done entirely in my iPhone: http://www.flickr.com/photos/79904144@N00/5710154630/in/photostream).

The real reason the majority of users are moving away from film is because they want to post pictures on facebook, or twitter, or e-mail them to their friends, or make CDs out of them, or whatever. These things are all an order of magnitude harder to do with film.

Of course, *you* may not want to do these things, and it's understandable to be frustrated to have your tools dictated by the needs and desires of people you don't know and perhaps don't share any interests with. But there you go. The problems of modern life.

I wish that I had the time to write a more in-depth comment, but I'm in the midst of putting together a solo show that will be all digital prints, about 50/50 color and B&W.

The only thing about this general discussion that really bothers me is the assumption that good B&W is not possible in digital; it's really best used for color. I started serious work in 1965, with film, of course. I shot slides because I didn't have a darkroom, and I could get lab prints. I got my own darkroom in the late 70's and did my own B&W and a very, very small amount of color. Most color was sent out. I was probably not too different from most folks. When digital got to my level of acceptance, about 2004, I embraced it, sold all of my darkroom stuff, never looked back. It just worked for me. I think that I make much better B&W prints now then I ever did in the darkroom. One thing that we must remember. No one leaps from the womb a stellar print maker. I'll bet all of us worked a few years perfecting our abilities. We tried films, papers, grades, filters, chemical combos, compensating development, etc, etc. Why is digital any different? Why do we think that it doesn't take time, testing, studying to perfect this medium. I've got 7 years into it so far, and it's finally starting to look decent. Put the same type of effort into your digital B&W as you did your darkroom and I think you will see improvement. Treat the mediums equally. Easy buttons only exist at Staples.

Al Benas, I would love to hear more about your digital B&W printing. In my comment above I was lamenting not that digital B&W is not potentially beautiful, but that it is difficult to start over and to assimilate so much new information about the image, the processing, the printer, the ink, the paper, etc.

In the chemical days it wasn't a big deal to try a different chemical or a different packet of paper. But now there are so many variables that it seems like you could spend months of time and mountains of dollars and find yourself on completely the wrong path.

Or maybe I'm just a bit thick. :-0

Mpix will print on Ilford BW paper. They use a matte RC and I'm sure they do nowhere near as good a job as DSI, but it's nice to see that the option exists at a (relatively) mass market outlet. (I have not used their service.)

"And it's an apple."

sorry to dissent. it isn't an apple. it's the picture of an apple.
especially within the context of this article, that's quite an important difference. at the same time, it gives me a chance to refer to Rene Magritte: 'Ceci n'est pas une pipe'.

;-)

cheers, sebastian

Mike - I suspect you'll be very happy with the print you get. Eric and I chatted at Photoshop World in 2009 and I commented that a picture I'd taken at a pre-conference workshop was one of 5 photos displayed at the keynote (from which the audience picked their favorite; I didn't win that day, but the photo won photo of the year at my photo club). He asked to see the image (http://www.photoshopuser.com/members/portfolios/view/image/169887) and offered to make a print. I ended up with an 11 x 14 print that's simply gorgeous, with grays that transition smoothly to black, with black blacks and white whites. It's certainly--by far--the nicest B&W print from any of my images and makes my inkjet prints disappointing (and I consider them pretty good). And that's the print quality, not the content of the image. I strongly recommend Digital Silver Imaging.

I can but echo Ctein. Find a print that makes you happy Mike, and we'll buy it. I'm not one for apples, but I'm pretty sure I'd have at least one copy of yours on my wall (well, actually, it'd be on my 'must get it framed and hung one day' list, but you get the idea).

Mike, I am set up for darkroom prints but really enjoy the chances I can take with digital. Apart from that comment from me I'll add nothing since I am no good at writing or talking about photography. Loved your picture.

Some reassuring words spoken to me by a radiographer:

It's unlikely that x-rays will go completely digital in the near future - doctors and dentists will still want hard copy films.

So I guess that, as a black-and-white enthusiast, I can always fall back on trimming down x-ray films when the photographic stocks run out!

It boils down to the fact that right now we have a choice between two major ways of imaging. Nothing to "fight about" at all.

Film has at least one huge advantage over digital - you don't have to clean it before you take a photo

Consumers care about gear and identify with it - they are what they buy.
Artists care about the the image - they identify with what they create.

Photography has become a consumer business, a market largely dominated by consumers instead of artists - viz. the new category of "pro-sumers", an ugly but telling word describing "those who consume assuming their consuming makes them pro", or "those who are professional consumers". I don't see any "pro-sumer" paintbrushes or paints over at the artshop...

And if Black and White looks different in digital vs film, so what...? Why should one be "better" than the other? They look different - so find out what you can do creatively with those different looks. For some images film will be better suited, for others digital.

New technologies add to the palette of available techniques. We should actually be glad a new expressive technique was invented instead of whining about how much "better" the old one was.

"Better" is not an inherent quality. It is only meaningful relative to a purpose. I suspect that only those without purpose can claim that film is inherently "better" than digital or vice versa.

"Film has at least one huge advantage over digital - you don't have to clean it before you take a photo"

I'm betting lots of large-format photographers would take issue with that statement (fighting dust when loading sheet film is a constant battle).

Mike

"...describing 'those who consume assuming their consuming makes them pro', or 'those who are professional consumers'. "

Gino - I think you're reading way to much into that word. My take is the pro-sumer is just used to describe cameras whose price or specs fall in between low end "consumer" cameras and high end "professional" cameras. It's about the camera, and says nothing about a person.

A true pro could use a "pro-sumer" camera (and many of them do). So could a hobbyist with no aspirations of being a pro (and many of them do too).

"I'm betting lots of large-format photographers would take issue with that statement ...."

Hehe - true. But what's a few specks on a 10 x 8, especiall when they're lost in the creases and scratches

Kelvin mentioned,
I can always fall back on trimming down x-ray films when the photographic stocks run out!

Over on The Large Format Photography Forum, there's a set of current threads on using x-ray film. It turns out it is very cheap - 3 to 9 CENTS a sheet, and is available in 8x10 and LARGER sizes. The ULF and alternative process/platinum-palladium folks seem to really like it. It is fiddly - most are double sided, soft emulsions. ISOs can range from 50 to 200, depending on if it is blue or green sensitive. However, you can cut and load it in red light!

I would not count on it lasting long in the US. My local hospital, the urgent care center, my dentist and my vet have all switched to digital. The benefits are considerable - not just the usual digital ones, but the ability to lower the radiation dose to get a good image. There have been some scandals lately with inadequately trained radiologists burning children in the effort to get better negatives.

The moral to the story: if you want to use it, buy and freeze some now. It's cheap enough, yet still vulnerable to being discontinued.

"churlishness"

Mike, I credit you more than anyone else in the expansion of my vocabulary...

I fought "the battle" internally for years but I fight no more, forever.

I have digi-cams, DSLR's, u4/3, 35mm, 120 & 4x5. They're all cameras. I use them to make photographs. There really isn't much more to it than that.

Jim

Looks like An Optical Paragon to me!

Ian,
You have an admirably long memory.

Mike

Dear Gino,

It's been said that the opposite of pro-sumer is con-fessional.

Not original with me, but way too good not to repeat.

I'm with you, I hate the word. It's one butt-ugly portmanteau.

(Am I even allowed to have "butt-ugly" and "portmanteau" in the same sentence? Seems to me it should violate some rule of aesthetic consistency.)

~~~~~~~~

Dear LM,

Not just an issue with sheet film, but an occasional one with roll film, too. Especially if one does long exposures that gives a chance for the air inside the chamber to settle down.

That said, as one who spends way too much of his time spotting prints (dye transfer!), I'd rather spot it once on the monitor than forever in repeated prints.

~~~~~~~~

Dear Gregg,

You must understand that editors are intimately familiar with churls.

(Editors and authors will parse that sentence very differently. [g])

pax / Ctein


Thanks Mike, fixed ;-)

Thought provoking image as although I can appreciate the tonality of this image I feel nature subjects are generally better in colour, but then if it was in colour I wonder if I would appreciate the textures as much. B&W pictures of rainbows are something I feel are wrong, but B&W can be great for nature's patterns.

I wonder how a non-photographer feels about this image? Are we as photographers seeing the technical side more than the subject?
I think it works for patterns and shapes in nature as we see in monochrome at twilight or in moonlight.

I think B&W is great for man-made objects however, below is someone on Flickr who seems to have it pretty well nailed (digital camera);
http://www.flickr.com/people/tjintjelaar/
On his photostream he gives info on software used (Silver Efex Pro2). (he also points out how Flickr loses a lot of the tonality).
http://www.flickr.com/photos/tjintjelaar/

As an aside digital imaging has allowed artistic people to express themselves in ways impossible a few years ago, below are a couple of images by my better half where digital and colour is intrinsic; the ring-a-ring-a rainbow wouldn't work on film or in B&W!
(on a camera-phone);
http://www.flickr.com/photos/35905801@N03/4018830844/in/photostream
http://www.flickr.com/photos/35905801@N03/3338135656/in/photostream
Not to every photographers taste but non-photographers love them.

all the best, phil

@Ed Hawco
"... it is difficult to start over and to assimilate so much new information about the image, the processing, the printer, the ink, the paper, etc."
Short answer, only (it's not my blog:)) -
Sorry, there's no way around it. But you can mitigate it. If your processing is providing images that work for you, and your system is color managed to translate those images onto paper, then you're halfway there. You need a dedicated photo printer (Epson,HP, or Canon) that uses pigment inks, with multiple dilutions of black, plus the other colors. I print with an Epson 3800, through QTR printing software ($50/lifetime, B&W only, Epson only). The key is to try sample packs of the various papers that fit your aesthetics - 5 sheet minimum, same tyical photo file each time, and see what looks good to you - really study the results; compare them to analog prints that inspire you. You then can modify your processing to work with that paper and your ink - the printer, at that point, is a given. I have been using one matte paper for years, after testing, and one glossy - but, thanks to Ctein, I've put that one on hold for a while, and am using another for now. I change the two papers to suit the mood I'm after. There are other approaches, like "Black only," that you can experiment with that provide filmic looks, etc. If I can answer anything more specific, contact me at albenas2@gmail.com. There are many books out there on processing B&W, but I've found little on actually printing with your specific printer (without using pricey RIPS); It's pretty much self-education. Patience is the key.

"One thing that we must remember. No one leaps from the womb a stellar print maker. I'll bet all of us worked a few years perfecting our abilities. We tried films, papers, grades, filters, chemical combos, compensating development, etc, etc. Why is digital any different? Why do we think that it doesn't take time, testing, studying to perfect this medium..."

This is a key observation and is one of the most important among the reasons that some who cling to film say bad things (that often are quite untrue) about digital photography and printing. It is also a good reason for some who are masters of film-based photography and printing to just go ahead and continue to do their wonderful work in the way they have learned to do it.

When you present a person who has completely mastered one medium to the point that he/she virtually thinks in that medium with an alternative that might arguably be "better," this person must first both unlearn their hard-bought instincts with the old medium (at least many of them) and then become a beginner in a field in which they are already an expert.

I've seen photographers (and practitioners in other fields also affected by the digital revolution) come up against this challenge and deal with it in several ways. Some simply take one look at all the "technical mumbo jumbo" and say "no thanks" or dig in their heels and state emphatically that the old will always be better than the new. (This despite plenty of evidence in human history that such a point of view is very rarely correct in the end.) Others decide that they either must or want to give it a try and they dig in and give themselves over to "being beginners" as they deal with the new approach. Some don't make it. They try, they become frustrated, they give up. ("Why the hell should I buy a new digital camera, get a computer I don't understand, learn photoshop and all the rest, and pay thousands of dollars for a great printer when I can already make great photographs with the setup I know?!") Some persist and eventually develop instincts for the new process that are as sophisticated as those they had for the old, and the majority of them make the switch, don't look back, and produce truly marvelous work.

It is clear that wonderful work can be produced with a variety of technologies including film and digital.

As a thought experiment I like to imagine the following scenario: Photography does not exist. By some miracle, two photographic technologies appear simultaneously on our planet. One is the film/chemical photography as it exists in the year 2011. The other is digital photography/printing as it exists in the year 2011. Without the baggage of prior experience or history, it is hard for me to imagine that many would believe that the film methods were vastly superior to the digital. In fact, it is hard for me to believe that many at all would select film photography.

So much of this is history. Yes, digital does not "look exactly like film" and a darkroom print looks different from an ink jet print. But different does not always mean better or worse - sometimes it simply means different. And old is not always better than new. Sometimes old is simply what we are comfortable with.

Dan

A good quote, albeit an old quote, regarding religious fervor, which applies equally to photography and religion, is Thomas Jefferson's take on the subject (and I'm paraphrasing...) "I never trouble people with my articles of religion, and I don't allow them to trouble me with theirs..."

With best regards,

Stephen

I tried to do digital and film at the same time, and discovered I couldn't! I have to devote all my attention to one medium or the other, otherwise both end up being mediocre. I decided to stick with black and white film for the time being, and I'm having the time of my life as a photographer who's left all the doubts behind!

Thanks for your blog, I really appreciate it.

Chris Richards

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