four curtain [deleted] 3:05pm, 10 March 2006
Perhaps to help clarify some recent discussions here, this interesting perspective is offered:

Not the answer of course, but certainly interesting, and directly applicable to those who wanna talk about all the ins-and-outs of digital.

I love my digital camera. Just not for art, as like Araki suggests, their dry brightness results in a commoness that is increasingly all looking the same.
s2art Posted 13 years ago. Edited by s2art (member) 13 years ago
» could that dry brightness not also be Photoshop?
s2art 13 years ago
» my early thoughts on the matter
_barb_ 13 years ago
I don't know... I think he might have seen too much poor quality digital photography. I know plenty of digital photogs who don't work in this unsubtle way at all.
s2art Posted 13 years ago. Edited by s2art (member) 13 years ago
» this is to my mind a classic example of what araki is suggesting, not that it's not good photography, just very bland and similar, mostly sharp mostly very saturated very very tightly composed
_barb_ 13 years ago
because there are no expenses involved in digital photography after the initial investment, people take a lot more shots with their cameras compared to using analog.
hence you end up with a glut of images like the above, someone walks past, grabs it and thinks "could be arty, I guess".

A photographer in the pre-digital age would be more likely to have a serious interest in his location, technique etc and carefully put his shots together. back then, there was far less opportunistic snapshotting and hence less bland run-of-the-mill photos that are carelessly slapped together and all look the same. the stuff that was around was overall better quality because it took money and effort to attain.
this could explain why Araki noticed a difference of quality.
s2art 13 years ago
» I don't read it as a "technical or conceptual" lack of quality maybe more of an emotional one, the description dry brightness sums this lack of emotion beautifully I feel.

This image I feel is FULL of emotion

but your right barb the ease and speed of digital photography opens up the gates for a lot of people, who don't realise the emotional, cereberal, historical or political effort that goes into a great photographic work 13 years ago
Well the photographer is always going to be analog, so photography is never going to be truly digital.

I thought he was talking about gamut. My monitor won't/can't display real cyan, for example, and having read that article I do feel like I'm missing out. I'm not sure my camera can capture it either, which is a rather disconcerting thought.

I'm sure there are other things as well.
s2art 13 years ago
» mmf, what "colour space" are you using, sRgb is big but seriously clips cyan if my memory serves me right, bruceRGB is a more "even" space so better suited
digiboy84 13 years ago
pfff..only 8 replies to Marks thread...
you guys def. need a shake up!!!
eyecatcher Posted 13 years ago. Edited by eyecatcher (member) 13 years ago
@barb, "the stuff that was around was overall better quality because it took money and effort to attain." Spending more money and effort does not necessary produce great pictures. It all depends on the attitude and the creativity of the photographer.

@s2art, showing a 'classic' photo (digital I assume) that is 'bland' and another analog one that is 'full of emotion' does not prove anything. I could have easily quote some examples to prove otherwise(think of pre-digital sunsets postcards). In fact whether a picture is bland or not has nothing to do with digital photography. A good photographer is a good photographer whether he/she shoots analog or digital. Many National Geographic photographers have switched from analog to digital without dropping their standards.

My interpretation of Araki's lament on digital photography is that it is too perfect and there is an antiseptic quality about digital colors. It misses the nuances of analog films i.e "colors don’t turn out the way you want them to be, that’s what so good about them."
digiboy84 13 years ago eyecatcher...too drunk right now...national geo...give me a break!!!
s2art Posted 13 years ago. Edited by s2art (member) 13 years ago
So eyecatcher, while National Geographic photos are very good photos, their 'intention' has nothing to do with the sorts of issues that Araki is discussing.

eyecatcher said:-
"Spending more money and effort does not necessary produce great pictures. It all depends on the attitude and the creativity of the photographer."
You left out sensitivity, understanding, knowledge, passion. A good photographer will pursue their passion regardless of costs, and do it with sensitivity and knowledge of their equipment and of their place in the bigger picture of humanity, not to mention sensitivity to their subject matter, knowledge of their subject matter, sensitivity to their materials, on and on I could go.

So don't get me wrong I am neither anti digital nor anti film, a successful image is a successful image, regardless of who made, it or how it was made, or why it was made. Whether or not it is art is a whole other kettle of fish, and I'm not even talking about 'good' art.

Araki is an established artist. He understands the nuances of colour, they form a large part of his artistic work. The dryness referred to in the initial article is apparent in the first photographer's link I gave.
This is an idea I have been grappling with for a while and I am pleased that others feel the same way, I'm also pleased they have managed to articulate it better than I could. The second link I gave uses the same kind of subject matter but contains a kind of emotion that seems lacking in the first.

With refernece to the second image I linked to above, this is by a photographer called Stephen Shore, a well known, influential and important photographer in the history of photography. It is not digital. I suggest you read up about photography, it's History at a Chronological level, as well as Conceptual level, not to mention it's Politics and it's Philosophy? [I reckon if you covered all the major texts you'd be finished in about 3 years. ;) ]

In this shot I referred to, he used a type of camera that contradicts all that appeals to most about digital cameras and photography; an 8 inch by 10 inch film camera. It; not only is a film camera, but it is a format that requires upwards of 20 minutes to set up and compose an image. It has no built-in light meter, you must not only technically know what you are doing with that kind of camera but have some conceptual idea of where your image fits in to the history of photography what kind of message or idea it may or may not convey political philosophical or otherwise.

This image is no accident no chance stumbling across a certain set of elements that "made a good shot" this is a shot that expressed an idea that Stephen Shore had about the streets of El Paso about the formal qualities of a photograph. Something that may have required several visits to the location and an understanding of light and materials as well as the ability to exploit the the camera's way of seeing. This image forms a part of a larger body of work where as an artist, he explored many issues revolving around cameras and how they were used and perceived at a time when only B&W photography was considered 'Art'.

The final print has a colour that has to be seen to be believed, all achieved with careful exposure and printing. Colour in fact forms a large part of Mr Shore's work. The images are as much about colour and light as the other ideas I have mentioned. Not about being a "good photograph" whatever *that* is?

eyecatcher said:-
I could have easily quote some examples to prove otherwise(think of pre-digital sunsets postcards). In fact whether a picture is bland or not has nothing to do with digital photography.

Indeed you are right, but Araki is not talking about blandness he is talking about dry brightness, different sublty but different none the less. Postcards function as a map an indicator, a life raft to lost souls, a contributor to the corporate machine that now drives our lives, post cards say not much else. If ooh look at that pretty sight is your idea of emotion then you do not understand the true power of any of the images that have propagated our visual culture for the last 200+ years.

When you talk about postcards, you are talking about subject matter I am not. I am talking about photographic surfaces or appearances, it seems to me that photographers like the digital guy I referred to, strive to produce clean looking images that have some preconceived idea about how a photograph should 'look'. 'Google' Joel Peter-Witkin
and you will see what I mean. These images from have minimal content which is fine if you are interested in 'postcards', I want emotion raw overpowering and total, I want to see images that speak to me on a variety of levels historically, culturally, emotionally, conceptually, even politically.

If I want sunsets I stand outside at the right time of day.
eyecatcher 13 years ago
@s2art, "a successful image is a successful image, regardless of who made, it or how it was made, or why it was made." That's my point exactly. It could be digital or analog.

But then you go on to say that the picture from is inferior to Stephen Shore's because it's digital and therefore lacks emotion. This seems to contradict your first statement.
Thingo Posted 13 years ago. Edited by Thingo (member) 13 years ago
Thanks for this interesting discussion. s2art, a most thought-provoking set of links.

Dry/Bright vs Humid/Dark. I strive to capture (embed?) that "extra" something in my photos. That essence beyond technical perfection, that feeling. (Not that I always succeed. <vbg> )

I think this is less about what tools we use, and more about the results. Recognising some tools are more suited to a particular type of result.
s2art 13 years ago
» I made no such judgement call at all, I used it a case to demonstrate the dry brightness argument 13 years ago
The question seems to be a very simple one: can you achieve the result that Araki is talking about (presumably this is a kind or quality of colour) with a digital camera?

If the answer is yes, then I'd be very interested to hear how different people go about achieving this, because it doesn't seem at all easy. If the answer is no, then there's no escaping the conclusion that if you want to achieve that result, you shoot on film. And in that latter case, the digital photographers here will just have to find some way to live with themselves*.

If we're talking about colour, then this is a purely technical discussion. Inspiration or artistic value or whatever has nothing at all to do with it. An image with Araki's dark, humid colour is not somehow inspired and worthy just because the colour is better, just as a 'dry, bright' digital image is not artistically worthless because of the colours in it.

*God alone knows how, though.
rainy grip [deleted] 13 years ago
Gosh, this is dispiriting.
Mine are dry brightness defined.

(Appreciate the link Skorj.)
thomask 13 years ago
i like my photies the way i like my martinis. the drier the better. the dying rays of a digital sunset arcing through a tiny lens hitting the gridded sensor are probably too humid.

give it to me straight.

go join technique.
yeled 13 years ago
I totally love the dry/humid terminology. I'm with Araki (no prizes for guessing that).
english monkey 13 years ago
Isn't it just that a lot of people only ever see their digital images on a monitor?

My next purchase is a printer. I suspect I'll "see" a lot more in my photos when they're ink on paper on a wall.
yeled 13 years ago
i think if you can't find the lack of humidity in your digital files, compared to say, something like this, then printing may only help you slightly.

no it has nothing to do with water.. just a bad example.
english monkey 13 years ago
I'm going to post here the email I just sent to Skorj, in response to his email to me which I won't post here as it's not my prerogative to do so.

Flame away.

== It wasn't sarcasm. I meant what I said.

Perhaps it wasn't clear. People make all sorts of comments about images not being "alive" when they're taken digitally. I know there's a lot of romance in the old film way, and I think people can be blinded by that. However, the simple fact is this: an image captured on film and printed and an image captured on a digital sensor and printed will look exactly the same, provided that the colours provided to the two print processes and the colours printed on the paper are identical.

Me, I don't see why digital should preclude me from doing this: that is, creating exactly the same image, colour dot for colour dot, on a piece of paper. It all depends on the printing mechanism.

When that is the case, romance aside, my image will look the same as if I had taken it on film.

My point is that images on a computer monitor do not have this appeal; they appear "flat" on screen, due to the technology used to reproduce the image. Ink is ink, however.

j. ==
Kent Johnson 13 years ago
Hi s2art!~ This is one hell of an important & very CRAZY string!

Look If it's a good shot your in!!! If its un-fucking believable (conditions apply)... Your Immortal.

Thanks s2art. glad I could drop by to help sort this out. I have been to life drawing tonight & have been drinking beer.
yeled 13 years ago
@monkey: there is *no way* that ink is the final argument. your little Canon/Nikon CCD is no match for some E100 GX scanned via a drum scanner. it's not romance.

this has been argued so much - but your opinion is misguided AFAICT.
english monkey Posted 13 years ago. Edited by english monkey (member) 13 years ago
sorry, i should have included as an additional caveat that the size of the image capture device is also, of course, important.

given 35mm film and a 16.7mpx 1DsII sensor, my argument - as far as i'm concerned - stands.

drum scan a 6x7 and you will, of course, get more detail. for any given area, however, colour is still colour. ink is still ink.
yeled 13 years ago
your argument is still thin. ink is not ink. pixels are not grains. sharpness in a digital photo is not the same sharpness in an emulsion layer.

• what ink technology are we talking about?
• do you know how sharpening was originally done in a darkroom - and now how it is digitally emulated?
• do you understand that the size of the CCD is not actually that important once you hit a ceiling of about 40Mpx?
english monkey Posted 13 years ago. Edited by english monkey (member) 13 years ago
re: size of the CCD @ 40mpx. it depends on the size of the CCD, of course. 35mm? yeah, 40mpx is reaching the limits of lens resolution and the individual pixels on the sensor will be too small and hence too noisy. larger? then we have to look at the upper limit of printed dots per inch that the eye can resolve and make distinct. past an upper limit, there will be no discernible difference to the viewer. i guess what i'm saying is that scanned/printed 35mm film and a 16.7mpx digital image are so similar in dots-per-inch resolution that the eye can no longer distinguish between them.

re: digital sharpening. yes, i understand the concept and understand why it is necessary.

re: ink technology. i confess, my knowledge is limited. surely you're not telling me that there's no ink invented that can match photographic paper for hue, saturation, etc.?
yeled 13 years ago
the size of CCD's is already (in some experts opinions (cf. hasselblad)) affecting color balance and quality. to be able to regulate such a thin charge of electricity so evenly over 40000000 pixels is an engineering feat. however you need more pixels to combat issues of moire (of which i know little about). also - do you want a RAW image that is gigabytes in size? no. (enter s2art and his "photography is about tradeoffs" and you'll see that digital technolgy is even more so)

Understanding the concept of sharpening then, you'll understand that digital will never be the whole thing - just a sample, a representation to trick the eye (ala my reference to the darkroom effect of sharpening). Like a CD, 44100 samples each second does not make a smooth transition. Add to that - digital is never just a logical gate of OFF or ON. You need CRC in there and all sorts of ways to figure out what the current is trying to produce.

Paper/Ink - check them out. At the end of the day though, your source:output ratio is important. Have you ever seen the dpi/lpi a billboard poster uses?
yeled Posted 13 years ago. Edited by yeled (member) 13 years ago
anyway that is my opinion. digital photography is like digital anything else. it wont replace jack shit, except maybe like dictionaries being published on paper, and microfiche having to be hand/eye scanned.

im off to bed. thanks for the argument, english monkey. will check replies tomorrow.
english monkey 13 years ago
a girl came round so i couldn't reply. now i'm too tired. no, not like that. :-)

don't get me wrong, i adore film and am frequently astonished at what it can do. i approach these "arguments" as a physicist, trying to take the rational approach, trying to put emotion - because let's face it, people get emotional over film just as they do over vinyl - aside. from my pure physicists "dots of coloured ink on paper" point of view, i find it hard to see why digital can't one day equal or surpass analogue film.

that said, as a hi-fi freak, i do prefer vinyl. i had to leave my separates back in the uk. i miss them terribly; mp3s just don't cut it. try explaining it to someone who's never heard a record played on a proper system and they think you're nuts. i guess that's how i must sound to you, in which case i fully understand.

'night. sleep well. 13 years ago
Could it be the way the two media behave at their limits? A badly-taken digital photo seems to look nastier than an equivalent film photo - grainy shadows look nicer than the nasty half-the-sample rate blue-channel noise that tends to show up in digital shadows, for example. Any photograph is going to have marginal areas in it, and if these tend to render more appealingly on film than on digital, then film would tend to have an edge.

For example, see the samples on this page. Although the article concludes that the digital images are more accurate, the film images give me more pleasure to look at.
Jellibat 13 years ago
" their dry brightness results in a commoness that is increasingly all looking the same. "

I don't agree with that statement.

maybe that has more to do with the artist rather than the camera?

different digital cameras give different results
just as different film cameras have different results
give two photographers the same cameras and the same subject and im sure they can create 2 very different images, ( depending on thier creativity :)

also post production is as important in the digital medium as it is in the darkroom with film and paper.
Kent Johnson 13 years ago
I was once told that the effect of light on silver halide is at a sub atomic level. That is very small (and unsubstantiated) Still millions of sensors... That is probably not many compared to fine film and fine film in a large sheet. Nothing will ever be the same as 8x10 analouge. Not 5x4 not digital. Of course there may be something similar.

It is a bit (OK a lot) out of context but Joe Stallin said 'Quantity has a quality all its own'. When dealing in large format photography, the bits that make the image (not subject) are there big time, lots & lots.

Digital will and does have its own quality.

The 6 shots that survived Robert Cappas camera, D Day Landing; have a quality all there own. legenday. But would this be the case if 20 other magnum dudes had all got off awsome shots too!

As far as I am concened the colour papers avaliable today are fantastic. If you ever had to go through getting the lab to get your side printed right, I am talking pro labs, you will apprecciate just how much more acurate in many ways digital is!

Now why do you want a big camera?

Oh dry brightnes. I think tis can be compensated for a little by choice of paper, Fuji have a new one (chemical).

S2art is right though, those Stephen Shore images are amazing but the camera, the print, they are all tied to a philosophy that makes the overall image.

Or as I have started saying lately,

'Show me a camera that does everything & I will show you a fool'

yeled 13 years ago
all, please read and stop making out as if film specs and megapixel specs are comparable!
s2art Posted 13 years ago. Edited by s2art (member) 13 years ago
» Thanks to everyone who has commented here, this whole 'discussion' has clarified several 'issues' in my mind and I am now moving in a direction with more focus than ever. [Thanks also to One Thousand Words, and the chat we had the other day, it helped greatly as well.] I even learned some stuff thanks to the tangental discussion about pixels and CCD's.

Suffice to say that to my mind there *is* a *visual* difference between digitally captured files via a camera such as a DSLR [printed OR onscreen] and analogue prints from film. Not one that is measurable in a pixel or scientific way, and I am not making a judgement call on the differences as "everything in photography is a trade off" but it exists none-the-less.

As for what constitutes a good photograph that's a whole other never ending debate, and the ground rules of which need to be better defined before we can pick that one up. [Which I am more than happy to get involved in BTW.]

*Wanders out to darkroom to make more test prints and start other projects too long on the back burner*
science 13 years ago
What about people like me who take photos on 6x6 or 6x9 film and then scan it? I'm sure I'm not scanning individual film grains or bits of dye.

I guess it all comes down to squashing or re-shaping spatial and dynamic resolution into different spaces, and the "edge effects" of each process - how they all react at the extremes.
Timmy Toucan Posted 13 years ago. Edited by Timmy Toucan (member) 13 years ago
The MP thing has nothing to do with this discussion; nor really does printing method, artistic talent or camera quality: he is talking about a fundamental quality of digital photography as a method of producing images.

The easiest way to decide would be post a picture and see if people can tell if it's colours were produced by digital or film.

Either on screen or in print, if the two are discernably different - that is, if they can be told apart, repeatedly and with a high success rate - then Araki is correct. If not, then he isn't.

(As an aside, his talk of colours not being made up of 'the three primary colours' presumably means he discounts all printed material not produced by photographic means? All images in books, magazines, printouts, copies and scans?)
science 13 years ago
Except that you can't actually post a print to the internet.

Screen is RGB etc etc.
s2art 13 years ago
» Colour spaces in PRO cameras/pro backs are improving dramatically, I'm told they now surpass the colour space of Ektachrome film, which has long been used as a bench mark for colour after human vision.

However what everybody has missed I think from the origianl article is *the emotional* aspect of colour and image making, when I read the article I sense between the words that Araki, is not talking about things that are measurable, but ehtereal, poetic, quiet, subtleties that are quasi-religious in their appearance and require a level of dedication and practice that is the antithesis to "digital"
Raiden256 13 years ago
P.S. S2art your links at the top of the page seem to be broken (or borked even)...
digiboy84 Posted 13 years ago. Edited by digiboy84 (member) 13 years ago
However what everybody has missed I think from the origianl article is *the emotional* aspect of colour and image making, when I read the article I sense between the words that Araki, is not talking about things that are measurable, but ehtereal, poetic, quiet, subtleties that are quasi-religious in their appearance and require a level of dedication and practice that is the antithesis to "digital"

Stu, totally mate. Anyone who has pursued photography with a passion would realise this.
johncarney Posted 13 years ago. Edited by johncarney (member) 13 years ago
I know I'm coming late into the discussion, but I find Araki's comments to be arrant nonsense. Basically he is castigating digital because it doesn't behave like film. Both mediums have their limitations. Both fail to capture colours the way our eyes perceive them. Trying to say that one is intrinsically "better" than the other is plain stupid. I don't get why some people are unable to simply say that they prefer to work with film rather than digital, or oil rather than acrylic, or charcoal rather than pencil.

This is the "is photography art" debate all over and Araki is just another arrogant tool unable to admit that certain media escape his talents.
johncarney 13 years ago
digiboy: wind the clock back a century and you will find people spinning exactly the same line of superstitious rubbish about photography.
s2art Posted 13 years ago. Edited by s2art (member) 13 years ago
» firstly let me reiterate that I'm neither pro nor anti either medium, all I am saying is there *is* a difference like there is a difference between oils and acrylics, particularly when handled by someone who doesn't appreciate the nuances. I in fact enjoy working with both, I enjoy the ease and speed of digital, I enjoy the contemplativeness of analog the "feedback" I get from a 2 and a quarter square of glass is different to the "feedback" I get from a small LCD screen, not better or worse just different, and I like the allusion of the metaphor dry brightness, which sums up the whole process of digital compared to analog in a rather poetic and succinct way.
johncarney Posted 13 years ago. Edited by johncarney (member) 13 years ago
Well put s2art :)

However, I think "dry brightness" is a narrow view of digital photography, which is very much a fledgling medium.

_barb_ mentioned that the lack of processing costs essentially means that digital photography is currently dominated by amateur "snappers". I think this is partially true (and I consider myself just such a snap-happy hack), but at the same time it is allowing truly talented artists to take on cutting-edge subjects that they simply would not have considered in film, or to revisit "traditional" subjects with innovative treatments.
Akcelik Posted 13 years ago. Edited by Akcelik (member) 13 years ago
what do the film buffs here use for transfer to digital?

i picked up a cheapo MZ50 pentax from CC's for a $100 with the sigma 28-80 zoom but that would be a waste in a wonder land full of afforable 50mm SMC Takumars! (my enthusiasm is full frame!!!)

anyway, i didnt buy the lens yet. just testing. after first roll of film, the transfer to digital done at kodak scratched half of the film at a RRP $36!

the canon lide500 is $200 and comes with film tray!!!
affordable and light weight! i dont want to spend too much because i dont know if i will continue using film.. i have never done without swivel display for waist level viewing.
i would love a hasslblad 500CM purely for this reason but how much is the film? realy???

back to 35mm.. what brand/type of film has no curves and gives plenty of detail in the shadows and is not going to cost like $10 a roll?

i might buy another film camera too but i am more inclined to go with pentax for their cheaper going classic primes.

thanks in advance for any help or suggestions!
s2art 13 years ago
» I scan my prints and negs on an epson 1680 or prints only on a Canon fb6300, and only for web/screen, I have access to a flextight for serious projects.

I am currently researching the option of a Hasselblad too, [second hand approx $1200.00 to $2000.00] my old TLR Mamiya was a great cheap student medium format when I bought it but now it gets pulled out only on bright contrasty days like today, the lens is too soft for my liking, I needed film too so I bought, a pro-pack of Kodak T-Max 400 cost me $29.00 at Vanbars [5 rolls], a 6 x 6 camera like a Hasselblad has 12 shots on a roll. While we are on the subject of medium formats, why not look at a Rollie TLR or Mamiya TLR, each has limitations compared to a Hasseblad but they are good cameras none the less at a fraction of the cost to buy, and both are waist level cameras

As for films and curves this is what makes analog analog and digtal digital, digital is a straight line period, whereas ALL analogue films have curves, any fillm will give plenty of detail in the shadows if exposed enough, always overexpose neg films they are very forgiving, particularly if you process your films your self.

As for film types  well, I've been using T-Max now for a long time and while it's a great film it's not for the faint hearted, it is the least forgiving of poor development of any film I've used ever, then again I've NEVER used a lab to process my films always done it myself so i know in advance after extensive testing what's going to happen when I overexpose a film, I usually underdevelop.

As for film types/costs, sadly I think that the costs of these kinds of photographic items are not going down so maybe a bulk film loader is an option, or going shares with someone in one even? Bulk film is substantially cheaper than roll film but the chances of scratches are increased dramatically, "everything in photography is a trade off".
digiboy84 13 years ago
I currently reside in Osaka, Japan so space IS a problem, so I take my films to pro lab. Lately I only shoot film, mainly T-Max 400 B/W...because it has a good latitude/strong film.

I just bought an 6x6 camera Yashicaflex,
although havent got round to testing it yet.
Cameras I use to date are
Holga 120N
Polaroid 600

I rarely shoot color these days, though when I do prefer Fujicolour 800 or 400 ASA.

I use an Epson scanner to scan my proof/contact sheets.
I always scan at 1200DPI.
digiboy84 13 years ago
Oh...and shooting film is EXPENSIVE imho. I just spent over 10,000yen at the lab today ($100AUD). But I like the results I get, it does mean that sometimes I only get one good shot out of twelve, sometimes more, sometimes less...but hey I eat rice everyday :)!!!
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