Friday, May 10, 2013

Chasing Tech or integration with analogue?

Good Friday from Prospect.

I want to start this post by saying one thing. I am and always will be a student of photography.

With that said I choose what I post as a statement that is always IMHO but built of the facts and experiences I compile.

Set-up for the shoot. I'm shooting Ilford PanF50. Gotta get it quick with those rain clouds looming.
Canon 580IIx through 36 inch umbrella as main light

So, todays piece. Allot has been said about the death of film and the wonders of digital photography. Without the maturity of digital photography I would not be where I am today in my craft. The cost associated with photography has always been high but until recently you needed a ton of money to move forward. You still need cash just some of it is far more affordable. Good glass and cameras come at a cost and if you aren't wealthy or a busy full time photographer it seems, at times, unjustifiable to invest that much money.

But with the growth of digital photography and the price reductions, due to that popularity, practically everyone can have decent gear. Especially with the resurgence of the range finder design of cameras (mirror-less they call it) . That's what a range finder always was, it has no mirror. ( A mirror is used in a SLR to reflect the image in the lens through a viewfinder. A range finder has  it's viewfinder separate from the lens plane so you don't see exactly what the camera will capture.)

What I want to point out is with all the available gear, we've found ourselves chasing the latest and greatest.  Which IMHO has pushed photographers into tech geeks and pixel pushers.

Mind you I love chasing tech. I am a geek when it comes to electronic toys and I can't get enough info about them. Doesn't mean I want what I see, I just appreciate the technologies themselves. 

Using a digital camera as the polaroid
to test exposure and comp (Canon G1x set to 6x6 format)
Manually set with hand held meter
(BW conversion with Silver FX 2 as Ilford PanF50)
(Side note: did you know that medicine is exploring the use of our new sensor technologies to correct many effects of macular degeneration. Yup, they are experimenting with transplant surgery to replace/enhance the human retina with the sensor technologies we use to capture images with our cameras…cool!)

Today, everyone needs that next new toy to be a great artist. Yes, great gear makes life easier and in many ways allows us to explore more creative avenues. But, and here it is, I believe it has watered down the true expression that is photography. Images express stories not pixels and sensors. I do believe the megapixel race is over. The sensor itself, how it processes the images we capture, has a bit more to go. But that's all about fine tuning. A 35mm DSLR at 12MP is more than enough for the average photographer. 21+MP is plenty for a professional full frame DSLR. Now don't get me wrong, higher MPs are great for HUGE reproductions, but as a whole we don't need them to resolve DMax and fidelity (larger sensors do that). Available B&W sensors don't need to deal with moire along with the new crop of Fuji sensors with the new pixel arrangements that eliminate pattern caused moiré. Funny, just like the ability of film. BTW, offset printing resolved the same patterning/moiré issues with line screens many years ago with the use of stochastic screening (random patterning of variable sized dots to generate a printed image) similar to Fuji's solution.

The photography industry has found a way to get us in this chase. Prior to digital photography you found a great camera that shot film. You saved for that great glass and used it until you wore it out. When you wanted the advantage of a new sensor, you switched out one film for another. And although the resolution was the same through the lens you picked a different ISO film for both sensitivity, grain size as well as colour balance (manipulated with on lens filters and tweaked in the darkroom). In case you don't see it, that drove the manufactures crazy. How could they sell you more stuff if that stuff just lasted? The only money making part was the consumable end…chemistry and film.

I am going to take a step forward and offer an opinion here. Film is not dead but in fact is the next great MEGA PIXEL sensor. Oh wait, it always was. I guess that's a step backward? I'm confused.

Here it is. All forms of photographic media can express the story telling I mentioned. If you've read any of my recent posts you'll already know that I've gone back to film. Not tossed out digital, but reintroduced film into my work flow. I feel that the love of photography for me has always been about the taking of images and telling my story with those pics.

The camera, for me, is my inspiration. The process of picking it up, studying my surroundings, observing the light, thinking of the subject matter and expressing the story with my camera in hand. It seems to make me a part of the moment. The act of taking the picture is just as important as processing and viewing the image I was after. Having that result appear before me only completes the experience. Hell, lets be honest, I just dig the sound of mirror slap and shutter action.

I guess my point is this. Stop chasing gear and bashing other mediums you don't use, I drive myself crazy when I chase new stuff. Just find what inspires you. That thing that drove you to a camera in the first place. Get your hands on that and go capture those stories.

Remember whats new is old and whats old is new. It's all good.

Thanks and enjoy, Derek

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