Friday, September 14, 2007

Traditional Photography is Dying

I think traditional photography, as I have practiced it for the past 37 years, is basically dying a quick death. But you say that photography is photography whether one uses film, glass plates, direct exposure of paper or with a digital camera (or is it a computer with a lens?). I believe one can rationally distinguish between digital capture and chemically-based capture. As has been said elsewhere, for example by Mike Johnston at The Online Photographer, when light strikes a piece of film, the photons create a change in the film itself. It is latent until developed, but nevertheless, a change in the physical property of the film has occurred. When photons strike a digital sensor, an electrical impulse is created, software converts the 'analog' photons to a digital signal which is stored on a circuit board. Nothing physically has changed. It really isn't much different than a copy machine that you would find in most offices.

Now, I'm not saying this is a bad thing nor a good thing. Photography is just irreversibly changing. However, I find there is a certain quality that photographs produced by silver halide coated film and paper provides that has, to me, a very pleasing effect. Digital does not have the same properties. I don't know how to describe it, but plasticky may be close. I find it interesting that software developers are producing programs that emulate different types of film. I guess other miss that quality also.

I find that digital capture produces better color photographs than any color negative film or transparencies that I have ever used. However, I believe traditional film still has the edge in black & white. Also, I have produced better prints using a computer and high quality inkjet printer, both in color and black & white, then any I have produced in a darkroom over the past 31/2 decades.

Lastly, it's only an image until a print is made. Then it's a photograph. Go print you images. Don't just leave your negatives or slides filed or your digital files in a folder on your computer.


1 comment:

Kathy said...

The picture, however taken, is in the eye behind the camera.