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05-22-2013, 08:21 AM   #1
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The ever present analog vs digital debate - but on a personal level

So, I'm not trying to discuss the merits of either here, they are both pretty awesome. But lately I find myself a little bummed at my skill level when it comes to digital.

See, I used to be one of those die hard analog nerds. Pinhole cameras all the damn time. 35mm black and white film for life!

and then I finally admitted to myself that the industry just will not allow you to survive if you don't know digital. I had a bad case of denial. All those years I spent studying and practicing traditional black and white analog film seem to have been wasted when it comes to practicality. Granted, I will never say I truly wasted my time because I still love playing with pinhole cameras, but when it comes to my education I kind of wish I had jumped on the digital bandwagon from the start and played with analog as a hobby.

Nowadays I meet photographers that have never touched a film camera of set foot in a real darkroom and while I scoff at their lack of analog knowledge I also envy their digital skills. Hell, I'm only 27 and I feel like an old maid when I open up a new editing program and try to learn. It seems like the best photographers I've come across lately have been first computer engineers and photographers second (I mean this literally, I know several photographers with degrees in computer fields who do photography as a hobby - and they do it damn well because they use digital to it's extremes)

Does anyone else here have this nagging feeling like they are old before their time when it comes to photography?

I keep telling myself I just need to invest in a really sweet negative scanner and combine the two aspects of my interests - but funds do not permit and I'm still not sure this is the solution anyhow.

05-22-2013, 08:34 AM   #2
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Digital and analog aren't as far apart as they seem. I think you might do better by just taking some digital images, and then playing with one of the programs. I did my own black and white many years ago but unlike what I hear you saying, I did not enjoy the dark room work. I don't enjoy the Light room work any better, but I do basics. One of the things I found most helpful was to take a few images and then try out the digital room. Just play with it and see that instead of waving a dodger, you use a brush. Same things, different controls. I'm sure that once you get into it, you won't find it all that difficult.

I am a computer nerd, but my nerdity (not a word, I know) is in database management systems, not graphics. Graphics was a whole new game for me. I hate computer mice, but had to learn to use one because my Trackpoint just doesn't work well with graphics.

What I have ended up with is DxO Optics Pro which does most of the work for me when I use my DA lenses and Lightroom for everything including my 36 year old M lenses. Lightroom replaces the hanging folders of negatives and slides and index books and notebooks to keep the data on the pictures.

You have a pretty steep learning curve ahead of you, but you can adjust. You can even drill a fine hole in a lens cap and do pinhole work. That's not my area of interest, but I enjoy looking at the results from those who do.

Welcome to the club. You can find more help than you ever thought of on this forum. Great bunch. They switched me over. I got my K10d in November of 2007, and spent a long time learning about it and what to do afterwards.
05-22-2013, 08:38 AM   #3
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Digital photography, although digital, is still photography! So when it comes down to it, it's still about creative vision and the know-how to capture that vision through the camera.

No amount of computer or software skill will make up for a lack of creative vision, and hours of photoshop will not make a poorly captured photo into a masterpiece. You see, even those computer engineers who wish to get good at photography must invest their time in learning the skills required for photography, they have the "advantage" that they use their software skills as a crutch to help them correct their mistakes, but it becomes a double edged sword in the sense that you can become accustomed to the crutch and not progress to where you should.

In the same way, you who already has knowledge about exposure and other aspects of photography, you must invest time in learning the digital darkroom tools, and you can rely on your knowledge of photography to get good photos that require minimal tweaking in post processing.

In either case, an investment of time into learning new skills is required. Learn Lightroom or some other digital darkroom software, you'll find that once you do, the photography skills you have gained with analog will not have been in vain.
05-22-2013, 09:26 AM   #4
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I've been film-camera binging of late, mainly due to a depressing reality: I don't get all that excited about ANY digital camera, be it one of those hip Fujis, full frame Nikons, or the latest Pentaxes. But I have some gift dollars burning a hole in my email account and will at some point have to give in.

I agree with the gist of what is said above -- one does not have to do auto everything with digital, when it comes to focus and exposure etc. This actually was a hurdle for me, and I felt great relief when I found I can go all manual myself.

05-22-2013, 10:17 AM   #5
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To me, it's kind of like working out at an old sweaty gym, then going to a different newer one with glossy new stuff. Some of the equipment is different but a lot of the basic principles are the same.

The only way to get comfy in the digital world is to dive in and take shots and make mistakes. For everyone if you want take great shots with a DSLR or an SLR there's a learning curve, but you are ahead of the game by knowing the principles involved from your film experience.

The thing that's really great about digital is you don't have to wait to view your results. Instant feedback. And if you make a mistake, hit the Delete key.
05-23-2013, 08:55 AM   #6
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for me it's not so much the difference in cameras but the post process - programs and file conversions and other random features that keep popping up that I'm like "wtf I thought I was doing this right and now it seems I should have done it this other way..." I freak out over archival quality and other things because I really just don't trust that I know what I'm doing with these digital files. Trying to DIY when it comes to learning digital workflow is a total mind whereas DIY manual darkroom is waaaay less complicated (the only fear there -forme- is chemical exposure and disposal)

Basically, I wish I had paid to take digital photography classes instead of paying for darkroom time. While I know my manual experience helps me out tons, I'm not able to relate any of that to Photoshop (aside form the obvious burn, dodge, crop.. but that's like .0001% of the work)
05-23-2013, 08:57 AM   #7
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and don't get me started on output!

I can't tell you how many times I've been in the digital lab spending hours printing and each damn image comes out the wrong color for some unknown reason. Drives me insane!
05-23-2013, 09:12 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by mallory Quote
and don't get me started on output!

I can't tell you how many times I've been in the digital lab spending hours printing and each damn image comes out the wrong color for some unknown reason. Drives me insane!
You need to calibrate your monitor so you see what the printer thinks it sees. I calibrated mine using MPix calibration image. It's a CD image and a print. Cheap. Works for me.

Then you make sure that your software is controlling the printer rather than the printer doing its own thing to your careful work.

05-23-2013, 09:16 AM   #9
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sadly I don't own a printer of any value - I used to use my schools printers - I guess having a bunch of random users changing settings made it nearly impossible to get the correct calibration. I gave up ad started sending my images to outside printing companies to save myself the headache.
05-23-2013, 09:33 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by mallory Quote
I'm not able to relate any of that to Photoshop (aside form the obvious burn, dodge, crop.. but that's like .0001% of the work)
I felt the same way a few months ago. I used Lightroom and got quickly overwhelmed. And I am a computer guy by trade and I used to support desktop publishers, so I know Quark Express and Pagemaker and Photoshop well.

I read a few really good books on the subject and I think I'm starting to get comfy altering images "post", or after taking the shot. For me, I find Scott Kelby a good writer to seek out - he has a website, seminars etc but I think the best book I found I could relate to was his book "The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 Book for Digital Photographers".

Give it a read and it might help you as well.
05-23-2013, 09:48 AM   #11
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I just gave Office Depot a try mainly because I use them for office doc printing and there is a store close by.

Up to 6 by 8 they do in store printing for pick up, above that the prints can be mailed back or picked up in store after a few days.
I sent a mixture of files from ist ds (camera jpg) , K-01 (ufraw jpgs from dng) and Medium Format film (tifs white balanced in Gimp)
in the morning and picked up in-store 6 by 8s in the afternoon.

The default gray balance and color accuracy is rather good, compared to the files viewed on the Eizo here.

The expensive prints of professional school photos we just received, one is good, but one has a yellow cast!
05-23-2013, 10:29 AM   #12
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The key to consistent output is having a good monitor (with a wide color gamut) and having it properly calibrated with a colorimeter. For printing, any good lab or print house will have icc profiles for their printers and their stock, they should give them to you upon request and you can proof what the final output would look like in Photoshop. Color space is very important so if you save using ProPhoto or AdobeRGB you retain a lot of the original color gamut but it you send to print using that color space in a printer that does not support it you will get lousy results.
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