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DPChallenge Forums >> Photography Discussion >> Digitals vs. Film Values
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06/28/2015 02:11:24 PM · #1
For the life of me, I can't understand the logic of this subject where most photographers (older ones the most) still think creating photographs using old methods such as pinhole, wetplate, polaroid or other film cameras have more values then digitally created ones.

Old days, they tried to improve pictures and we came this far with digital cameras, which create far superior photos than old cameras. Yet, when new generation also create similar results using digital filters and layers, they become less worthy!

My motto is... Process doesn't matter, when end results are stunning.

Is it because process is more difficult with old styles, and not produced a lot like in digital?

In the future, our cars will drive itself... is that mean those who don't know how to drive stick shift will be less valuable people when it comes to going from point A to point B.

psychology today: you look at an image and really REALLY like it until someone tells you it was done in PhotoShop! then, you just go "meh... Everyone can do that now"...

...then show me that "Everyone"!

Most of you know, I am pretty much a digital person when it comes to creating FineArt. The other day, I was looking at this wonderful abstract painting in one of the salons I celan... I said to myself, how sad... a wonderful artwork, done by one person and there is no others like this for world to see but only a handfull people. So, I assume that painting would be more valuable than even a film photograph because there is only one in the whole world and can't be copied other than taking photo of it and share it online. Even then, that photo of the painting would have more value vs. if I created a similar art using digital tools.

Value here is not money but value that person feels to the artwork.

I am not sure if I am the only one thinking this way. I still value old photographs a lot, it's not because how they were done, but the time they are coming from. But the ones taken today vs Digitals, I only value those by results, not by the equipment or process!
06/29/2015 05:07:40 AM · #2
i was having a similar conversation with my son just the other day, and the general conclusion we arrived at was that today, anyone can use any number of filters to nearly instantly make an image that replicates a style that took years to develop while working on images that took long hours of preparation, execution, and production to create. a lifetime of trial and error work can be reduced to a handful of preset sliders.

we concluded that today, for us (he and i) to truly appreciate a new digital photographer using these tools, they would have to not only demonstrate their mastery of the tools, but their ownership of them, in that they were not using them to replicate the works on which they were founded, but instead to use them as a foundation for developing their own distinct visual voice.
06/29/2015 08:58:20 AM · #3
Leo, how much darkroom work have you done?

I ask because without that experience it's hard to understand just how much more work goes into the creation of such images.
06/29/2015 09:14:17 AM · #4
Originally posted by Cory:

Leo, how much darkroom work have you done?

I ask because without that experience it's hard to understand just how much more work goes into the creation of such images.


Actually, I'd maintain that is not the case... I think that it's a fallacy to say, in general, that "if you haven't done it, then you can't understand it." In fact, I do think that it is entirely possible to comprehend the difficulty and labor content of a task without ever having performed the task.

With respect to the differences between creation of "art" in the analog (film) vs. digital photographic realm, I see no qualitative difference. The skills required are somewhat different, and the results are still correlated to the skill and effort of the artist. There is no magic button or slider. A skilled practitioner will always produce superior output, and a skilled observer (no matter if they have ever done the process) will still tell the difference. To put it more succinctly, great artists will always find a way to distinguish themselves, no matter the medium.
06/29/2015 09:23:06 AM · #5
Photo as object. Until you've held a fiber print or plate in your hands... I do a lot of darkroom work. I've gotten no pleasure from making digital prints. But it's probably because I'm after something a little bit more or different than most of my counterparts here.

Message edited by author 2015-06-29 09:40:47.
06/29/2015 09:56:57 AM · #6
Originally posted by kirbic:



With respect to the differences between creation of "art" in the analog (film) vs. digital photographic realm, I see no qualitative difference.


I can easily see differences between traditional darkroom prints and digital prints, particularly in B&W prints where a good fiber silver print has a depth that digital B&W prints have yet to match.
06/29/2015 10:09:33 AM · #7
Digital is faster, of course, and by any objective measure, better, for the usual definition of better. But with film and alternative processes, it's about the print, not about how it looks on a screen. You can get close with digital filters, possibly even good enough that if you're not going to print, it's a good enough imitation. But when you're holding that chemical print in your hand or looking at on the wall, it really is a different thing.

If I had the time and space, I'd be doing wetplate. I love that look, and I enjoy the craft of it. But using digital filters to imitate the wetplate look doesn't do it for me at all.
06/29/2015 10:30:35 AM · #8
What Ann (my new best friend) said.
06/29/2015 10:54:21 AM · #9
I did dark room development (in BW only) when I was young, with a large Russian made enlarger... It was not a toy I tell ya!

Polaroid, pinhole, wetplate or photos from older days which faded on the edges, discolored etc... Those are the ones I am talking about the most here. Not something like Gyaban's arts, which can't be done with any style of photography but digital editing of digital photos only.

I love layers, filters to give more dramatic look to my photos, but I am afraid most people (again, older photographers the most) don't think they have equal value with the originals when it comes to the "end results". It "might" be a fact that if I show you an aged photo, and ask you what you think about it, your view would change 180 after you found out it was done in PhotoShop. It doesn't matter how stunning the photo is, value goes from 100 to say, 40.

Only reason might be because they are easier to make, and others are done with more work...

Here is a sample, and tell me if I am wrong about my thinking here...

Say you have a car, needs a painting job, the whole car needs to be sanded and painted. You take your car to a painter, which does the painting by hand, sanding by hand, everything done by hand... And charging you 4 times more than a car painter cross the street which does everything with machine... Car goes from one end, comes out from other, painted... Same paint, same job.

Still, there are people going to the hand painting shop because of how it is done, not because of how it comes out.

Why not take advantage of the new technology? Why always value the older styles, slower styles, more painful styles? I mean people out there trying to make things easier for us, inventing many tools so we wouldn't be worying about learning actual dark room stuff with many chemicals, but be creative with similar results and be proud.

Is your money coming out of an ATM machine has less value than if you go to a real teller, chat a little bit and pull same amount of money?
06/29/2015 11:04:07 AM · #10
You're trying to reduce photography to image-making on a computer screen. That's not how all of us work. Not all analog materials are archival -- hence your fading photos. And I'm not in the habit of admiring my money.
06/29/2015 11:26:07 AM · #11
Originally posted by FocusPoint:



Say you have a car, needs a painting job, the whole car needs to be sanded and painted. You take your car to a painter, which does the painting by hand, sanding by hand, everything done by hand... And charging you 4 times more than a car painter cross the street which does everything with machine... Car goes from one end, comes out from other, painted... Same paint, same job.



No, it won't even be close.

The machine's advantage is only in play if you want a large quantity of identical cars painted identically. Manually spraying a car is how you get finish on your vehicle that makes people go "WOW".

The machine is the new Earl Scheib
06/29/2015 11:26:57 AM · #12
Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1158177.jpg

Take a look at this photo... I will tell you something about it later
06/29/2015 11:31:40 AM · #13
Originally posted by Spork99:

... Manually spraying a car is how you get finish on your vehicle that makes people go "WOW".

...


Strongly disagree... I am NOT talking about styling a car, I am talking about one color painting. There are no WOWs for one color paint, it's the same paint, same coating, same everything, one is done by hand, other with machine.
If you want to style your painting, like putting flames on the side, shades on the edges, or other artistic stuff, then hand painting is the only way they can be done. I just wanted to give a sample about how we value (feel) about the results thinking about the process...

Message edited by author 2015-06-29 11:33:15.
06/29/2015 11:37:40 AM · #14
Originally posted by Skip:

...we concluded that today, for us (he and i) to truly appreciate a new digital photographer using these tools, they would have to not only demonstrate their mastery of the tools, but their ownership of them, in that they were not using them to replicate the works on which they were founded, but instead to use them as a foundation for developing their own distinct visual voice.


+1

I think you're right Leo that from the perspective of the viewer, as opposed to the creator, there may not be much difference between a handmade print and a digital print, particularly for those (the majority) with an untrained eye. But the downside is if everyone can do it, it loses its impact and originality. So, as Skip and his son rightly (imo) concluded, the digital process, like the darkroom before it, needs to be a jumping off place, and if all someone does is replicate what's gone before, its not that impressive, regardless of how easy or difficult the process was to create it.

ETA: Oh, and btw, there is nothing like driving a stick! The google cars will never compare. :-)

Message edited by author 2015-06-29 11:39:00.
06/29/2015 11:42:20 AM · #15
Originally posted by FocusPoint:

Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1158177.jpg

Take a look at this photo... I will tell you something about it later


This is actually is a pencil drawing...

Now, after you heard that, did you feel any value change from say 100 to 500?

Just asking a question, I want to find out if value of a photographer, or artwork related to process rather than end results for many!
06/29/2015 11:43:26 AM · #16
Originally posted by Spork99:

Originally posted by FocusPoint:



Say you have a car, needs a painting job, the whole car needs to be sanded and painted. You take your car to a painter, which does the painting by hand, sanding by hand, everything done by hand... And charging you 4 times more than a car painter cross the street which does everything with machine... Car goes from one end, comes out from other, painted... Same paint, same job.



No, it won't even be close.

The machine's advantage is only in play if you want a large quantity of identical cars painted identically. Manually spraying a car is how you get finish on your vehicle that makes people go "WOW".

The machine is the new Earl Scheib


IMO, this is simple to explain, using an analogy.

I have seen many films where absolutely CRAZY awesome things happen, and it looks real enough, special effects are amazing these days.

But, I'm still WAY more impressed when I see a real video of something awesome that actually happened.
06/29/2015 11:57:26 AM · #17
Leo, when it comes to car painting, your are evidently not familiar with the name Earl Scheib. Why Zeiss lenses and not Samyang? Why organic food, and not artificial ingredients?

I believe those who have not used film, can understand the work required. What they miss is the appreciation for the experience. Some never appreciate it. Some love it. One is not "better" than the other, any more than blondes are better than red heads or brunettes.

If you are shooting production work, weddings etc., you will starve with film. Work flow is much faster with digital.

I also know woodworker craftsmen, who never touch a power tool. Their work is beautiful. For them the result is not the point. The point is found in the journey. The hands on control, the feel, the smell, every tiny bit that makes whole greater than the sum of the parts.

Fly or drive? Interstate, or back roads? Depends on the individual. Your right may be my wrong, and vice versa. Both are valid for each, and invalid for the other.
06/29/2015 12:14:08 PM · #18
Art probably started because lack of equipment in the past. Everything was done manual, woodwork, metalwork, paintwork and photography...

Styles continued because of uniqueness, but little by little by technology did catch up with the "end results"...

Yes, easier, yes most can do what was done with more difficult work in the past... but in my opinion, result should't be downsized because of the process!

I love painting, and suck abot it. I found a way to create painting-like artworks and now I am more proud of my pictures. One guy told me, they are just processed snapshots, zero value. Are they?

Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1158182.jpg

I have many photos like this one, but just because it wasn't done by hand, do you think this photo has lesser value?

Message edited by author 2015-06-29 12:21:19.
06/29/2015 01:07:56 PM · #19
Originally posted by FocusPoint:

.....
I love painting, and suck abot it. I found a way to create painting-like artworks and now I am more proud of my pictures. One guy told me, they are just processed snapshots, zero value. Are they?

Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1158182.jpg

I have many photos like this one, but just because it wasn't done by hand, do you think this photo has lesser value?


To me, the difference between this and a real painting is the same as the difference between whiskey flavored vodka (I'm looking at you Absolut Amber), and a fine 30 year old scotch. The artisanship, chance, uniqueness, rarity, tradition, and sheer effort combine to make something this cannot be replicated via any other means. And yes, damn right that makes it more valuable.
06/29/2015 02:36:22 PM · #20
Originally posted by FocusPoint:

Originally posted by Spork99:

... Manually spraying a car is how you get finish on your vehicle that makes people go "WOW".

...


Strongly disagree... I am NOT talking about styling a car, I am talking about one color painting. There are no WOWs for one color paint, it's the same paint, same coating, same everything, one is done by hand, other with machine.
If you want to style your painting, like putting flames on the side, shades on the edges, or other artistic stuff, then hand painting is the only way they can be done. I just wanted to give a sample about how we value (feel) about the results thinking about the process...


Exactly, thank you for making my point. If you want an ordinary paint job that anyone can get, get the machine paint job. If you want something outstanding, that will make people say "WOW" the machine ain't for you.

If you want a print just like anyone else can get, go digital. If you want something spectacular, go with handmade.
06/29/2015 02:37:13 PM · #21
Originally posted by FocusPoint:

Originally posted by FocusPoint:

Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1158177.jpg

Take a look at this photo... I will tell you something about it later


This is actually is a pencil drawing...

Now, after you heard that, did you feel any value change from say 100 to 500?

Just asking a question, I want to find out if value of a photographer, or artwork related to process rather than end results for many!


No, but I knew that as soon as I saw it.
06/29/2015 02:37:24 PM · #22
An interesting data point is what happened in the world of painting when photography was invented. Before photography, the great painters were realists. Vermeer, Rembrandt, Caravaggio, etc, who often used a camera obscura to help represent reality accurately. Once photography was invented, there was no need for realistic painting, because photography was faster, more accurate, and if you're the one commissioning a portrait, cheaper. Artists adapted. Painting got less realistic, and we had Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso, and Pollack.

I think what's happening in photography now is similar. Each technology improvement makes it easier and cheaper for people to do things that only masters of the craft could do before. So photography is going in several directions. People who are after realism are able to it better. People like Gyaban are now able to express their vision easier than they could with a paintbrush. There's also a small group of artists working using historical photography methods (Sally Mann, Keith Carter, Tom Baril, etc), who are making art that would be hard to make using digital methods.

As far as that pencil drawing...online, it doesn't matter. It is a pile of bits. A pencil drawing that started life as a digital photograph that was meticulously copied, then photographed or scanned and put online. As a physical object, however....a pencil drawing is a very different thing than a digital print, and it would be obvious from the first glance what it was and how much skill and effort went into it.

06/29/2015 02:52:34 PM · #23
let me give you another example from the anyone-can-do-it stack.

a few years ago my 15-yr-old son took me to his computer and said, "listen to this!" he hit a play button and i listened to a song he had composed. it was pretty cool. (at this point, he'd been taking music in school and playing an upright bass for 5 years).

i told him, "i like it, and i don't mean to rain on your parade, but honestly, anyone with a computer can do that, or come real close. if you really want to impress me, you need to be able to play it live, because that's something not everyone can do."

he was pissed off. i didn't blame him.

four or five months later he told me that his orchestra teacher had made arrangements for the kids in the class to play at a local coffee shop that had live music, and that he wanted us to go. of course i would want to go. his teacher has done amazing things with these kids and they all can play. so we headed out to go see some orchestral performances. there would be quartets, trios, one group of 10 violins, and more.

after about six or seven pieces, the teacher called out my son's name. he and a friend of his came out to play. but my son didn't have his bass. he had a guitar. he looked at his friend and they launched into the song he had written! his friend was playing the melody on a violin and my son was accompanying him on a beat-up six-string. and they played the hell out of that song.

when they were done, he asked me, "are you impressed now?"

i still am.

and he and i can still tell the difference.
06/29/2015 02:59:50 PM · #24
Let's not sidetrack...

I am asking, if you value process more than end-results. Because, if you do not know a photo done by digital process or by an older styles such pinhole camera, wet-plate or polaroid, would your feeling towards that photo change after find out the method?

I uploaded the pencil drawing as a sample. Most people who wouldn't know the difference at first, most likely value the photo (end-result) more after finding out it was done by hand (the process).
06/29/2015 03:00:00 PM · #25
Originally posted by Skip:

...

when they were done, he asked me, "are you impressed now?"

i still am.

and he and i can still tell the difference.


I bet you were! Awesome.
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