Photography Podcast

PhotoNetCast #6 – Some Thoughts on Analog and Digital Photography

Posted in PhotoNetCast Shows on 23-06-2008 | 12 Comments

One of the most interesting discussions going around the photography world is the differences between shooting analog or digital. Both have advantages and disadvantages, and in this episode we dwell into this discussion and share some of our thoughts on the issue.

In my opinion, this is one of the best episodes we have released so far, mainly due to the healthy discussion that came out. It was good and got long, so only one main topic for today.

Is analog photography dead? We don’t think so, but listen to the show and take your side.

Also, we tried to (again) improve the sound quality of the podcast. How is it working for you? Did you notice any improvements? Please tell us something about it.

We hope you enjoy it and, as always, we’d like to know your opinions on the subject. Do you shoot mainly film or digital? What influences your decision? Share your thoughts with us and help the discussion grow.

Show Notes

Thoughts on Analog and Digital Photography

Links

Selected from the Web

Links

Comments (12)

I’m an analog and digital person. I shoot in both and find that each has its place and purpose. To me, it’s more akin to saying I only shoot with an SLR or a point-and-shoot. Each is good in its own right and has a place (so I have film SLRs, film point-and-shoots, DSLRs, and digital point-and-shoot).

A few comments on the podcast itself:

The sound has been fine for me since day one. I haven’t had any problems with this.

I think, though, that you should limit the podcasts to one topic. In the first few, you went from topic to topic to topic. Find one and focus on it each episode.

Please limit the time. An hour is a lot of time to devote to one listening period. There are few podcasts that I will listen to for that long (ok, there are only 2, but that’s because I was listening to them on the radio before podcasting was ever considered).

The topics are great. There is some interesting subject matter. It’s coming from respected members of the community. I think, with time, it will get better and better. 🙂

Hi dawn,

Thanks for the comment.
I’m glad you are enjoying the shows.
We usually tend to have two main topics besides our “From the web” regular feature. But sometimes, and due to the nature of the show, discussion tends to expand a little.
As for the time, ah yes… Believe me that it’s always a fight to keep it short. We try, we try… Let’s see what comes out of the next one. Probably it will be shorter.
Again, thanks for your words and keep coming back.

I enjoyed the podcast discussion on analogue and digital photography very much, and I’m glad that you are prepared to give things space to breathe.

However, I thought that overall you were rather unfair to digital photography, and mostly because of the “digital makes you take too many photographs” argument. Gary Winogrand, a great photographer and photographic innovator, took thousands of photographs and selected from those. The results are remarkable. What I think you missed is that for some photographers, the ability to shoot and shoot and shoot as you work your way into something is an important extension of the repertoire of tools and techniques available to them. Digital can bring a fluidity, an almost dance-like quality, to one’s relationship with the subject.

Before digital, when I did a lot of my own B&W film processing and printing, I’ll admit to being a static, self-conscious photographer, much more a wannabe Adams than a wannabe Winogrand. Now, having come back to photography in the digital era, I “shoot first and ask questions later”. Liberated from the need to worry about the cost of exposure, or even if I might run out of film, I find that when I sit down to review what I’ve shot, often weeks later, I see things in frames I would never have even pressed the button on in my analogue days – and that’s not just a happy accident, it’s because I knew something would come out of that particular dance, even if I couldn’t tell what at the time. The choice was the occasion, the music, the partner, not each single step. I also see things that I took a lot of care over at the moment of exposure that are simply going to get thrown away because they are dull, dull, dull.

It’s about the use of time. That moment when one has something in front of one’s eyes will never come again, in that form, with the light, with those faces, with that juxtaposition of elements. That is the precious moment, the one to use to dance with the subject. With enough pictures from that “in the bag” one can come back to meditate on what has been, to select, to edit, to tune. This is the gift of digital.

Pre-visualising is /not/ a substitute for this.

The corollary, as Winogrand demonstrates, is brutal self-editing afterwards. That can happen at the print stage, when one re-engages with the physical world. I agree it’s harder if you only ever distribute and see your work digitally.

Now, it’s possible to argue that all this says is simply that I am a bad photographer who manages what little he can get in the way of merit by using the imaging equivalent of a machine-gun. In the end, that’s unknowable, and so such a response is rather pointless. It doesn’t matter. Any one of us might become better with a different discipline: I can certainly think of photographers who might be better if they were much more liberated and kept pressing the button until something emerged. There’s possibly a point at which I will need to go out and scrounge a 5”x4” or even an 8”x10” and spend half an hour making a single exposure, to become a statue and not a dancer for a time, if my photography is going to get any better or if I’m to achieve a particular objective I have in mind (although it’s easier to develop 8×10 habits of work with a digital camera, a tiny capacity memory card, a heavy tripod and diving boots than it is to flow gently through a city street with an 8×10).

But I’d always argue that you have to look at the /whole/ journey that someone takes when they make a good photograph, and not just concentrate on the mystical moment of exposure.

I’m sorry, this is too long. But you see, you did get me thinking.

great episode – thanks ;o)

Hi guys,

first of all, thanks for doing that great podcast!
On topic: I just listened to epi 6 and while some of you seem to be great fans of film photography, none of you ever did the development himself. DO IT!

I have been shooting film for years and I have been using Photoshop since about version 5.0. That means, sometimes I took a positiv, scanned it and did some edits in PS, but I always felt a bit dishonest about doing so, because editing this picture meant I failed to create a great picture with the means given to me beforehand (i.e. my camera, the film I chose, my eye, my experience to judge correctly). I have been shooting a lot of b/w and just gave the negatives away for development.

About 6 years ago I clicked a basic but complete set of b/w development equipment on ebay. For the next two years I spent a lot of time in my bathroom (its door sealed with black duct tape to stop the light coming through). What I learned in there was basicly that there is no such thing like an unedited photo. The enlarger is just a second camera (reversed). Again you make a choice about crop, aperture, exposure time etc. In addition to that, by using multigrade paper, you make a decision about gradation, grain and maybe by that about the whole atmosphere of your picture.
It is essentially like taking the picture twice, only that now you have all the time in the world to think about what you want it to be.
When you like the results you get, when you give your b/w film away for development, fine. But what this industry-size lab will do is simply to choose a soft gradation (like 2) and an exposure time that will show you most of the details on you picture in a fairly equally well lit fashion. For some pictures this is just right, but given what you could do by youself, in 90% of the cases the result is just boring. It stays well below its potential.

Today I shoot digital most of the time, as film development consumes way more time (especially as I moved an now have a window to tape shut in my bathroom). Still there are two lessons learned:
1) If someone tells you “I do not edit my photos, because only like that they are genuine”, this guy is a moron. There has never been something like an unedited photograph, just a photograph edited to some default settings. Not editing just means to stay below the potential of you picture (in ~90% of the cases).
2) At the time writing there still exists no filter for Photoshop that is able to recreate the look and the phantastic results and variations you can get out of b/w film and developing/processing said film by yourself. Which is the reason you should still shoot film and learn to develop yourself. I sure do, when I find the time.



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