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Is it Me or The Technology? [long]
Old 02-06-2013   #1
CK Dexter Haven
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Is it Me or The Technology? [long]

I'm 45. I got semi-serious about photography when my father let me borrow his Minolta XG-M my last day of high school, freshman year, when i we were about to move out of state. Shortly thereafter, he bought me my own Minolta, and i started shooting for the new high school's newspaper and yearbook. Learned BW developing in the school's darkroom. This was all just after discovering Fashion photography *first, by Richard Avedon and Irving Penn, and then guys like Bruce Weber, Steven Meisel, Herb Ritts, and Peter Lindbergh captured my attention. I left high school still with that Minolta (that i never really liked i coveted a Nikon....), planning to be a fashion photographer.

In the years after college, in NYC, i tried to shoot fashion toward building a portfolio. I bought (consumed) ever issue of Vogue and Bazaar, and knew all the photographers, their equipment, and could easily recognize their work.

Later, the internet came into being, and later still, sites like Flickr stole a lot of my time, as i was constantly finding more and more images to inspire me. I wasn't limited to print magazines anymore. I could obsess over countless images from amateurs and pros from all over the world, every day, all day. And, i did.

Then, something odd happened. Digital photography took over. It became easier for amateurs to get great results. It made it easier to eliminate technical issues in lighting and composition (just reshoot, on the spot), processing and printing (WYSIWYG, on the spot). It democratized the process. There were MORE images to see. All technically 'perfect.'

And, gradually, i've been losing my interest in photography. Not because it's easier. Not because i wasn't always, previously, frustrated by technical problems. But, for a few reasons:
1) Homogeneity. You used to be able to look at an issue of Vogue, and every editorial photographer had a VERY recognizable signature. They all used either a Pentax 67 or Mamiya RZ, but their film, processing, exposure, and printing choices made the results quite different. Now, everyone shoots with a Hasselblad H or Canon EOS, and hands the processing over to a tech, and the techs probably all float around, doing the same work for the next guy.

2) Equipment. I've owned just about every film camera in 35mm and medium format. I've loved something about each and every one of them. With digital, i've had the first two Canon 5Ds, and then, very briefly, several compacts. I've never even LIKED any of them. The 5Ds were cool they did what they were supposed to do. But, holding them, using them there's nothing. There was LUST for a Contax, Hasselblad, Mamiya, Leica, Nikon.... But, a digital camera is just a computer in a plastic package. I'm no luddite *i love technology. But, like an Apple product has a soul, i need my other tech products to have something more than bits and composite resin. You've got to hold the thing... put it up to your face. It should FEEL good to use it. The closest thing to that with digital cameras comes only if you spend above $5,000 for the high end EOS or Nikon or (maybe) an M, even though i did NOT like the M8 when i briefly held one after being used to an M7....

So, whatever. I don't bother with Flickr anymore. Most of the images are digital now. If you peruse the galleries, the photography is top-notch. But, there's something missing. I hesitate to compare it to digital versus analog audio, when there are whispers of voodoo in the chatter about bitrates and whatnot... that you PERCEIVE the difference in 'stepped' audio waveforms versus continuous analog waves..... But, it seems... 'analogous.' There's something just not 'deep enough' in digital imagery. I think. Maybe. I dunno. There's just less character in it.

I go through M Monochrom galleries and see nothing but pristine files. I look back at my collection of images culled from the interwebs, and see MAGIC in Tri-X and HP5. I look at pictures made with a D800e and see pictures. I look back at images shot with an F3 and Ektachrome or Superia and see magic. I'm not interested in the chemistry versus the programming. It's just there, in the photographs. Something NOT there in the digital pictures, which are - fine i guess. They're just not compelling. Look at a grainy Anton Corbijn photograph, shot with Tri-X in a Hasselblad and lith printed. Then, at an M Monochrom photo, in which the photographer probably endeavors to demonstrate the prowess of the machine, more than make a statement with his 'art.' The former has tons/tonnes of character. The latter, none. Even the simulations, of which i've tried many *they're close, but, not quite. It's inexplicable. I have no idea even how to characterize the difference other than what i've just written.

It's not about a love of 'imperfection' as many people describe it. I don't care for 'the wait, to get film back from the lab,' and i don't love that experience of opening the package to see what you shot a day/week/month earlier. I love digital's immediacy. The chance to fix or improve right there. But, on screen, or in print, or on a wall i don't get the same 'charge' i get when viewing digital photography. I'm thinking maybe i'm just getting old, and i've exhausted my interest in viewing photography online. I've seen SO MUCH. But, even when i come to this forum, daily, and look at the last pages of the various digital threads, i come away with nothing. Then, when i see that someone has added to the Medium Format photo thread, i find it again.

I have a pretty significant library of photography books. I recognize now that all of them feature film photographs. I haven't yet bought a book with digital captures. Even the photographers i worshipped in the past who now shoot mostly digital *i don't like their new work, even before i know how it was created. So, i don't think i'm imagining all this....

I know i'm critical and persnickety. But, isn't that what this pursuit is all about? Being demanding and discerning? And the gear lust, isn't that all about gaining that 2%? If so, isn't a '2% difference' between film and digital enough to be significant? I'm sure a lot of us have embraced digital because we were initially curious, then appreciative, and now we have little choice. But, isn't anyone else regretting the 'compromise?' Convenience in lieu of that 2%? The MAGIC 2%?
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Old 02-06-2013   #2
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I get what you're saying, but you can still shoot film.
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Old 02-06-2013   #3
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I don't get what you are saying, because you can still shoot film.
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Old 02-06-2013   #4
CK Dexter Haven
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Sorry to have written so much in order to ask this [simplified] question:

Is it just me, or does anyone else acknowledge/notice/care about the subjective, qualitative differences?

I realize I can continue to shoot film. I'm asking about others' appreciation for the photography as you practice it, and with you as the audience. No change? What you see from others still motivates and inspires you as much as it used to?
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The Burden of Reproduction
Old 02-06-2013   #5
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The Burden of Reproduction

Paul Cezanne said it best, my goal is to represent nature, not to reproduce it. The obsession with technical perfection is a dead end, because photographs can never be as big or as real or as three-dimensional as the real world. The problem with the pictures that leave you cold is that they are cold; the camera did all of the work, we learn nothing about the photographer's feelings.

There is a superb irony about photographing a homeless person with a Leica M9 to make a statement about the human condition. Yes, a statement has been made, and very strongly, but it has nothing to do with the photograph, and everything to do with cultural colonialism.

Great photographs are still being made, they are just not as visible because of all of the junk. The camera is a machine, and it is hard to transcend its "machineness", but it is not impossible if you are a sincere artist. I recommend Vilem Flusser's "Towards a Philosophy of Photography"; it's a concise, but challenging, look at how and why photographs acquire meaning.

It is always hard to pursue a truly creative path. It is full of uncertainty and risk, and the rewards are tenuous; it has always been that way. But what is the alternative if you really care? I never want to boldly go where every one else has been. Spare me the drunks, and the homeless people, and the street musicians. Show me something new.
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Old 02-06-2013   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CK Dexter Haven View Post
Sorry to have written so much in order to ask this [simplified] question:

Is it just me, or does anyone else acknowledge/notice/care about the subjective, qualitative differences?

I realize I can continue to shoot film. I'm asking about others' appreciation for the photography as you practice it, and with you as the audience. No change? What you see from others still motivates and inspires you as much as it used to?
Yes, I see the difference. And like you, I have no idea of it's underlying cause. There is something about a photo shot on film (even a scan of one) that just grabs me in a way that a digital photograph (generally) does not. That's not to say I haven't seen gorgeous digital photographs, or taken digital photos that I thought were very good.

But there is a 'life' to a film photograph that isn't there in digital, even a VSCO'ed digital (and I think VSCO is a very, very good product).
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Old 02-06-2013   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CK Dexter Haven View Post
Sorry to have written so much in order to ask this [simplified] question:

Is it just me, or does anyone else acknowledge/notice/care about the subjective, qualitative differences?

I realize I can continue to shoot film. I'm asking about others' appreciation for the photography as you practice it, and with you as the audience. No change? What you see from others still motivates and inspires you as much as it used to?
There are differences. In the process and the look/results. All capable of producing good/interesting work. For me, it isn't so much about what you use as what you do with it.

With all due respect to others, I don't buy into the, "Film has soul, life, magic" thing.
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Old 02-06-2013   #8
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I think that what you mention had quite an impact on low and middle level professional photography. I am talking stock, food, real estate photography and maybe even wedding which in the old times was shot uniquely by professionals and now not always. But as soon as you need a certain quality level all is still as before. The skills involved are still the same: compose well, light well, shot properly, print accordingly and know your gear's strength and limitations... Photojournalism is even more as before: have the guts to be there where things are happening!

As for the digital vs film stuff I just don't understand what are you talking about, fortunately digital did NOT kill chemical photography, on the contrary made quite affordable MF and LF which were once damn expensive, so just shot what you like best and have fun!

GLF
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Old 02-06-2013   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CK Dexter Haven View Post
Sorry to have written so much in order to ask this [simplified] question:

Is it just me, or does anyone else acknowledge/notice/care about the subjective, qualitative differences?

I realize I can continue to shoot film. I'm asking about others' appreciation for the photography as you practice it, and with you as the audience. No change? What you see from others still motivates and inspires you as much as it used to?
The MM is a tool to capture light. Still it's the photogs decision how to use this tool. The camera itself doesn't take a single frame by itself (any camera I guess...).

Technically the result is different from film. This says nothing about the content. Implying anything different would be like judging a painting for a cotton or linen canvas.

If a picture is a great capture of an interesting scene most viewers might be tolerant to film grain.
If your shot is just average then technical perfection might help to get some positive feedback.
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Old 02-06-2013   #10
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Yes, I too notice the differences, and it's the reason I went back to shooting film exclusively a few years ago. It was the best thing I have ever done with regards to my photography. I don't try to over-analyse it, but I know I am much happier now.
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Old 02-06-2013   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CK Dexter Haven View Post
Sorry to have written so much in order to ask this [simplified] question:

Is it just me, or does anyone else acknowledge/notice/care about the subjective, qualitative differences?

I realize I can continue to shoot film. I'm asking about others' appreciation for the photography as you practice it, and with you as the audience. No change? What you see from others still motivates and inspires you as much as it used to?
Some people don't care what medium they use. Very few, though. Otherwise, people would use watercolours, brushes, airbrushes, oils, digital and halide photography, all impartially. MOST artists (not all) care about the medium too.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 02-06-2013   #12
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If your shot is just average then technical perfection might help to get some positive feedback.
How the image is used also makes a difference: a picture which must be printed in a newspaper with very limited print quality doesn't need to be as perfect as, say, a jewel picture to be print 6x8 feet and posted in a classy shop. Still the second picture could easily be more "average" in many senses than the first one.

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Old 02-06-2013   #13
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I have not been into photography very long, just a few years, so I've maybe not had long enough to grow tired in the way you have. However, I will say that I have very, very little interest in digital photography. I don't know what it is, but for some reason, I'm not interested in looking at digital photographs. When I see an article on a blog, and it's about the latest digital camera, or photos taken with the latest digital camera, I just mentally turn off. I'm just not interested.

Now many will say that it's the image that counts, and the process does not matter. Well, it matters to me. I can't say a lot more than that, as I can't truly explain why it matters, and why I find digital photography so uninteresting. I know you can make digital photos look like they were taken on film, but you can make them look like oil paintings too, but I'm not interested in that either.

What I will say is this, if you only like film photography, only like looking at film photos, then that's fine, I'm with you.

If the homogeneity bothers you, then turn away from it. I felt the same way with computers. When I first became interested in computers, there was an ocean of different types of computer, Acorn, Atari, Amiga, Sun, SGI, HP, VAX etc. and new ones on the horizon like BeOS, QNX, NewDeal, NeXTStep. But whilst many have lived on, on the desktop, we're basically just left with two, and in tablets a few more. Homogeneity seems to blight everything eventually, but you can choose to ignore it.

If only film photography interests you, follow that interest, if digital bores you, walk away from it. I doubt you'll lay on your death bed years from now and think "I wish I'd done everything the same as everybody else".
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Old 02-06-2013   #14
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I get what you're saying. If I see a good film photograph I get a "click" inside. Never had that with digital photos. Sometimes I'll see a titstagrammatic phake polaroid and at first I'll get that click, but then upon realisation that the film effect is fake, the click turns to a sour bitter sensation.

Yeah, I'm totally objective...
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Old 02-06-2013   #15
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Sounds like the OP needs a break from photography. It might be a healthy move. Outside of that, I fall in love with content first and processes last. Without interesting content and framing, technique / medium don't matter much to me. That said, I'm fully digital and feel it's "perfection" and clarity is exactly its strength.

For those of you who hate digital, I gotta ask, are you a fan of photography in general or just in love with film?

What's funny is that we will all look back in 20 years at current digital files and wonder how we all thought they were so perfect.
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Old 02-06-2013   #16
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It sounds like the fire is out. Maybe a new hobby is in order. I love film but but it seems to me even the hard edge Leica users have went digital. Personally I like where digital photography is right now. To me it's less of a challenge not so much that I have better equipment but more now I know what I am after and also the best way to pull it off.
I too am amazed at the photography I see when I go to Flickr Explore. There are a lot of people out there with a lot of talent. If you seek to be famous you have picked a hard hobby to do so. It's all about who you know not how good you are.
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Old 02-06-2013   #17
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Sounds like the OP needs a break from photography. It might be a healthy move. Outside of that, I fall in love with content first and processes last. Without interesting content and framing, technique / medium don't matter much to me. That said, I'm fully digital and feel it's "perfection" and clarity is exactly its strength.

For those of you who hate digital, I gotta ask, are you a fan of photography in general or just in love with film?

What's funny is that we will all look back in 20 years at current digital files and wonder how we all thought they were so perfect.
Why?

" I know i'm critical and persnickety. But, isn't that what this pursuit is all about? Being demanding and discerning?"

Yes.

"And the gear lust, isn't that all about gaining that 2%?"

No. The 2% is about learning to use what you choose to use. Gear lust is all but completely irrelevant. Note, "What you choose to use". Not "What your fantasies are about, or what you use to excuse the fact you're no good."

Cheers,

R.
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Old 02-06-2013   #18
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I was looking at a thread yesterday about Dr. Somebody Or. Other- the guy that designed all those expensive lenses- and a couple really jumped out simply because they were Kodachromes. The pictures were nothing special but the colours and tones were, well, delightful. Is this what you want? Base sentimentality?
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Old 02-06-2013   #19
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Why?
He seems to have had it with the current state of photography. When that happens, you either figure out how to make it "fun" again or you take a break until it becomes something you crave to do again. That's my opinion and may not work for others. I feel breaks are healthy sometimes.
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Old 02-06-2013   #20
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I was looking at a thread yesterday about Dr. Somebody Or. Other- the guy that designed all those expensive lenses- and a couple really jumped out simply because they were Kodachromes. The pictures were nothing special but the colours and tones were, well, delightful. Is this what you want? Base sentimentality?
It's a good start. What is better? And why? Warning: the latter question may be harder to answer than it looks...

Cheers,

R.
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Old 02-06-2013   #21
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It's all about who you know not how good you are.
I hear this all of the time, but does someone know an example of a truly horrible photographer who is universally panned yet is making a living in photography?
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Old 02-06-2013   #22
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He seems to have had it with the current state of photography. When that happens, you either figure out how to make it "fun" again or you take a break until it becomes something you crave to do again. That's my opinion and may not work for others. I feel breaks are healthy sometimes.
Hmmmmm... Okay. Yes. You're right. If you don't want to do it, and your income doesn't depend on it, why bother?

On the other hand, I'm not sure that I can imagine such a minimal interest in photography. As you say, "That's my opinion and may not work for others."

Cheers,

R.
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Old 02-06-2013   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CK Dexter Haven View Post
Sorry to have written so much in order to ask this [simplified] question:

Is it just me, or does anyone else acknowledge/notice/care about the subjective, qualitative differences?

I realize I can continue to shoot film. I'm asking about others' appreciation for the photography as you practice it, and with you as the audience. No change? What you see from others still motivates and inspires you as much as it used to?
I'm about ten years older than you. My photographic career has been a very different journey from yours, but I find myself bored to tears with the majority of photography being produced today. I've thought about that a lot, and I'm convinced that the medium is irrelevent... digital or film... what's changed is the overwhelming amount of it; most of it poorly done. The "problem" with digital in general isn't that it's not "film" but that it's available to everyone, everywhere who then feels the need to publish every result every time they push the shutter release, or whatever serves as a shutter release. And then there's some blog or social media site that puts it out there. Very little is original any more. We're overwhelmed and overloaded with images... some of them even very good images, but because we're SO bombarded every day, it's tough to find the joy in them.

In the "old days" we waited breathlessly for Nat Geo, or Vogue, or Life, or Look and saw images of things we knew we'd likely never see in person. Big images. Some color, some B&W. They expanded our world. They inflamed our imagination. They somehow made the world seem challenging and somewhere we wanted to explore. We knew that those images were just the tip of the iceberg about what was really out there and we wanted to grab those experiences for ourselves.

For those of us in the U.S. mid-west, New York and L.A. seemed so cosmopolitan, and so exotic and romantic... London, Paris, Bombay, Cape Town... may have all been on Mars, but we got to see all those places through the lenses of the magazine photographers. And the images were stunning... or gritty... or whatever emotion they evoked... but evocotive they were! They all spoke of lives we could aspire to live... someday.

Today, we're bombarded with images. iPhone images... p&s images... poorly done images... if you want to see something, you just type the place into Google, and there are more images than you can stand to look at in one sitting. And most of them are, frankly, not worth looking at. We're overloaded... bombarded... tired of seeing them.

The old images still talk to us as they still spark those dreams. If they'd been digital they'd still have done that because they were new and fresh, and the world was challenging and exciting. That, is what I believe the problem to be. There are still amazing images out there. There are unexplored places. There are images yet to be made, but how to differentiate those images from from noise is what has become the problem. Places and fashion and art are all mundane because we're inundated with them. That makes images of places and fashion and art mundane because little is new and fresh any more.

Sometimes it's good to take a break for a while. Take the opportunity unload some of the noise... re-evaluate what you want to see, and then really begin looking again with fresh eyes.
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Old 02-06-2013   #24
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Hmmmmm... Okay. Yes. You're right. If you don't want to do it, and your income doesn't depend on it, why bother?

On the other hand, I'm not sure that I can imagine such a minimal interest in photography. As you say, "That's my opinion and may not work for others."

Cheers,

R.
You may be talking about me. For me, it's hobby, not an art, not a calling, just a hobby. My interest is relatively strong at the moment, but probably as distraction from other things.
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Old 02-06-2013   #25
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Originally Posted by CK Dexter Haven View Post

Is it just me, or does anyone else acknowledge/notice/care about the subjective, qualitative differences?
No. You are not alone in that boat.
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Old 02-06-2013   #26
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I'm about ten years older than you. My photographic career has been a very different journey from yours, but I find myself bored to tears with the majority of photography being produced today. I've thought about that a lot, and I'm convinced that the medium is irrelevent... digital or film... what's changed is the overwhelming amount of it; most of it poorly done. The "problem" with digital in general isn't that it's not "film" but that it's available to everyone, everywhere who then feels the need to publish every result every time they push the shutter release, or whatever serves as a shutter release. And then there's some blog or social media site that puts it out there. Very little is original any more. We're overwhelmed and overloaded with images... some of them even very good images, but because we're SO bombarded every day, it's tough to find the joy in them.

In the "old days" we waited breathlessly for Nat Geo, or Vogue, or Life, or Look and saw images of things we knew we'd likely never see in person. Big images. Some color, some B&W. They expanded our world. They inflamed our imagination. They somehow made the world seem challenging and somewhere we wanted to explore. We knew that those images were just the tip of the iceberg about what was really out there and we wanted to grab those experiences for ourselves.

For those of us in the U.S. mid-west, New York and L.A. seemed so cosmopolitan, and so exotic and romantic... London, Paris, Bombay, Cape Town... may have all been on Mars, but we got to see all those places through the lenses of the magazine photographers. And the images were stunning... or gritty... or whatever emotion they evoked... but evocotive they were! They all spoke of lives we could aspire to live... someday.

Today, we're bombarded with images. iPhone images... p&s images... poorly done images... if you want to see something, you just type the place into Google, and there are more images than you can stand to look at in one sitting. And most of them are, frankly, not worth looking at. We're overloaded... bombarded... tired of seeing them.

The old images still talk to us as they still spark those dreams. If they'd been digital they'd still have done that because they were new and fresh, and the world was challenging and exciting. That, is what I believe the problem to be. There are still amazing images out there. There are unexplored places. There are images yet to be made, but how to differentiate those images from from noise is what has become the problem. Places and fashion and art are all mundane because we're inundated with them. That makes images of places and fashion and art mundane because little is new and fresh any more.

Sometimes it's good to take a break for a while. Take the opportunity unload some of the noise... re-evaluate what you want to see, and then really begin looking again with fresh eyes.
Nice. My wife said this morning, "All the places I still want to go, and haven't seen, I want to visit 50 to 200 years ago." The places we dream of -- the South Seas, Egypt, wherever -- are the images that were constructed before we ever read or saw them, and they no longer exist. Do we actually want modern Lhasa, Tahiti, even Delhi (which I first saw 30+ years ago)?

Cheers,

R.
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Old 02-06-2013   #27
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Nice.

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Paul Cezanne said it best, my goal is to represent nature, not to reproduce it. The obsession with technical perfection is a dead end, because photographs can never be as big or as real or as three-dimensional as the real world. The problem with the pictures that leave you cold is that they are cold; the camera did all of the work, we learn nothing about the photographer's feelings.

There is a superb irony about photographing a homeless person with a Leica M9 to make a statement about the human condition. Yes, a statement has been made, and very strongly, but it has nothing to do with the photograph, and everything to do with cultural colonialism.

Great photographs are still being made, they are just not as visible because of all of the junk. The camera is a machine, and it is hard to transcend its "machineness", but it is not impossible if you are a sincere artist. I recommend Vilem Flusser's "Towards a Philosophy of Photography"; it's a concise, but challenging, look at how and why photographs acquire meaning.

It is always hard to pursue a truly creative path. It is full of uncertainty and risk, and the rewards are tenuous; it has always been that way. But what is the alternative if you really care? I never want to boldly go where every one else has been. Spare me the drunks, and the homeless people, and the street musicians. Show me something new.
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Old 02-06-2013   #28
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It's a good start. What is better? And why? Warning: the latter question may be harder to answer than it looks...

Cheers,

R.

None is better. Many of my pictures are motivated by base sentimentality. Pictures run the gamut, do they not? This is why the OP is tilting at windmills.
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Old 02-06-2013   #29
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Nice. My wife said this morning, "All the places I still want to go, and haven't seen, I want to visit 50 to 200 years ago." The places we dream of -- the South Seas, Egypt, wherever -- are the images that were constructed before we ever read or saw them, and they no longer exist. Do we actually want modern Lhasa, Tahiti, even Delhi (which I first saw 30+ years ago)?

Cheers,

R.
Well, you're right, Roger. Even Ansel Adams' work, love him or hate him, can't be duplicated today because of air quality issues. I can't tell you how many times over the years in the '80s and '90s I tried to get a shot of Half Dome... and got haze instead. The world has changed, and although we may be more physically comfortable in many ways (at least in the industrialized nations) I'm not sure all of those changes have been for the better.

On Edit... one more thought... I had the opportunity to visit the east coast of Australia in 2006. I expected... well... to see things Australian. And I did, in fact, get to see a few things that were natively Australian, but Sydney, Melbourne and the Gold Coast are, for all intents and purposes carbon copies of southern California from Morro Bay south to the border. Burger King, MacDonald's, and the Hard Rock Cafe were everywhere. Culture, at least in the English speaking world has become very homogenous.
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Old 02-06-2013   #30
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The OP is responding (I think) to the tension between those who see no significance in process and medium, and care only about the "final product", and those who know that the process is an integral part of what is created. The process is where the "magic" lies.

This is a debate that appears on RFF in various guises, usually film vs digital, but also "real human relationship" vs social media. I think it is a central issue of our time, and I appreciate the OPs thoughtful take on this .

Randy
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Old 02-06-2013   #31
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Is it just me, or does anyone else acknowledge/notice/care about the subjective, qualitative differences?

I realize I can continue to shoot film. I'm asking about others' appreciation for the photography as you practice it, and with you as the audience. No change? What you see from others still motivates and inspires you as much as it used to?
I see it big time, a lot of style has been lost in the transition, especially from some of my long time favorite NG photogs. You could *really* feel their style and knowledge of the materials they used at a near-subconcious level, now...not so much.

But I hear ya' man, that is why after using both mediums for a long time, I have gone nearly all back to film and darkroom work, and I make a full time living off of it. It just feels so good to fully get back to what my gut instinct tells me is the way forward.

And it is a combination of the journey, the way you arrive at a finished photograph and the photograph it self, staring you in the face with that look that film use can give so consistently.

In this day and age, there is the computer and all the little devices that are also one...

And then there is everything that is not a computer....thank god. So keep using film, it is the future of many a great artist.
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Old 02-06-2013   #32
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Well, you're right, Roger. Even Ansel Adams' work, love him or hate him, can't be duplicated today because of air quality issues. I can't tell you how many times over the years in the '80s and '90s I tried to get a shot of Half Dome... and got haze instead. The world has changed, and although we may be more physically comfortable in many ways (at least in the industrialized nations) I'm not sure all of those changes have been for the better.
Possibly. Did you try HEAVY orange filtration?

Cheers,

R.
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Old 02-06-2013   #33
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Possibly. Did you try HEAVY orange filtration?

Cheers,

R.
It was mostly a function of particulate diffraction. Air standards were much more lax in the 1980s, and smog from the Bay Area and Sacto was blowing into the valley and piling up in those days. The valley even had smog alert days back then. Even 'clear' days had smog. It's probably better today than it was then.
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Old 02-06-2013   #34
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It was mostly a function of particulate diffraction. Air standards were much more lax in the 1980s, and smog from the Bay Area and Sacto was blowing into the valley and piling up in those days. The valley even had smog alert days back then. Even 'clear' days had smog. It's probably better today than it was then.
Point taken but I never cease to be amazed at what heavy orange or red filtration can do.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 02-06-2013   #35
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Sounds like the OP needs a break from photography. It might be a healthy move. Outside of that, I fall in love with content first and processes last....That said, I'm fully digital and feel it's "perfection" and clarity is exactly its strength.

For those of you who hate digital, I gotta ask, are you a fan of photography in general or just in love with film?
Well, that's an interesting way to phrase the question. Because i began in the Film Era, i began as a fan of photography in general. But, now that there are two media, there is now an issue of 'which type' you're a fan of.

I can't say i'm "just in love with film." I do see digitally-created images that i like/love/respect. But, never nearly as much as the film stuff. I'm not trying to look for a digital/film argument. I'm not trying to discern between them.

It just happens that i noticed a trend my diminishing interest in looking for new work, online, especially. And, that seems to coincide with the domination of digital images. I used to spend so much time on flickr and several others, and saw so much fantastic work... and now, those same sites leave me cold.

On one hand, perhaps it's just that there was a great rush to use those sites, and most of the worthwhile photographers have already put up their work and i've seen it. Or, it's that the old work they put up is what was interesting to me, and now the new digital stuff... isn't.

Even the people i used to love, who are still working for the same magazines their pages just aren't as interesting.... Haven't seen an interesting Meisel or Testino or Lindbergh image in years. I used to worship those guys. The quality of what they do is still high. It's just that the character their personalities are no longer evident. Too much sameness.

There's great value in the new tech. Being able to shoot at low light levels without noise is fantastic, for example. Back in the (near recent) day, you wouldn't even bother trying to shoot color if you couldn't use an ASA under 400. That opens a lot of opportunities. People are learning photography more quickly. MORE people are learning photography. That should all be positive. But....

Back to the Audio analogy. There was reported to be some sort of listening test, where an audience was presented with a digital recording of music. Then, that same recording was mixed with a small percentage of noise/hiss. Listeners preferred the 'less clean' version. That was from a while ago, and perhaps it was just familiarity with analog that affected preferences. We like what we know. I wonder if the results would be different today, when so many people have only known digital audio.
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Old 02-06-2013   #36
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The OP is responding (I think) to the tension between those who see no significance in process and medium, and care only about the "final product", and those who know that the process is an integral part of what is created. The process is where the "magic" lies.

This is a debate that appears on RFF in various guises, usually film vs digital, but also "real human relationship" vs social media. I think it is a central issue of our time, and I appreciate the OPs thoughtful take on this .

Randy
Ooh. Well said. Thank you.
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Old 02-06-2013   #37
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There are still amazing images out there. There are unexplored places. There are images yet to be made, but how to differentiate those images from from noise is what has become the problem.
I only look at photography on the web when I need to research something, otherwise, I get a headache and often a bit of reflux with all the never ending circles of praise with the False Admiration Societies.

I had a conversation with an art director in NYC this morning who I am working with on a really fun ad campaign. She told me congratulations on a nice magazine cover......I asked her how did she see it in NYC? She replied that in order to keep her sanity, she relegates her intake of photography to the "Venues", not places like Flickr, etc. Can't say I blame her, regardless of how many diamonds there may be hidden in the rough...

The internet presence of photography is simply too much of a good thing surrounded by a lot more not-so-good things...
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Old 02-06-2013   #38
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Wonderful thread on complex issues. I have only a penny of a comment.

Ultimately you get to the point of having seen basically everything, and you want to see something new and stimulating. But very few brave people dare to produce "new and stimulating" because either (1) it doesn't pay the bills or (2) all they will get is abuse from the veteran "experts" (who want "new and stimulating" as long as it looks the same as they've been loving for the last 50 years).

@OP . . . I think you need to get away from looking at other people's work for a long while, meditate on the mountaintop and come down with your own new ideas. Film or digital . . . whatever.
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Old 02-06-2013   #39
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Nice. My wife said this morning, "All the places I still want to go, and haven't seen, I want to visit 50 to 200 years ago." The places we dream of -- the South Seas, Egypt, wherever -- are the images that were constructed before we ever read or saw them, and they no longer exist. Do we actually want modern Lhasa, Tahiti, even Delhi (which I first saw 30+ years ago)?

Cheers,

R.
Exactly! Most of the places I go disappoint me, as I have seen photos taken there before I was born, and when I get there
It is all a tourist trap. Maybe I need a Tardis instead of a new camera...
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Old 02-06-2013   #40
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I once sniffed at a digital camera, handled it, switched it on, looked through the viewfinder, marvelled at all the completely unnecessary (to me) gizmos and doodads therein and thereon, shrugged and walked away.

I'm an amateur film-only photographer who doesn't feel the need for a digital camera, although I fully understand the reasons that compel an increasing majority of photographers, especially professionals, to use them.

I, however, prefer the simple, angst-free life of a film user.

To me, nothing beats the pleasure of using 60, 70, 80 year-old Leica cameras and lenses with today's amazingly good B/W and colour films and seeing the high image quality that this craftsman-made equipment is really capable of producing.

I'm constantly astounded at the quality I manage to wring out of my ''golden oldies'', just as I constantly marvel at the skill and ingenuity of the experts who designed and made these exquisite mechanical masterpieces.

Compared with these jewels, digital cameras are technically marvellous, emotionless, plasticised computermabobs... (!)
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