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01-09-2007, 07:59 AM   #1
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where is digital photography going..??

a few years back when i first used a digital camera.. the camera took and produced the pictures.. my computer was simply a quck and convenient means of viewing my digital photographs.. a very quick and convenient sytem..

that and the cheap cost of "digital film" is what sold me on digital photography as opposed to film..

the camera was the photographic tool.. it took the pictures the computer was simply a quick and convenient means of viewing the end results..

over a very few years things have changed.. changed to the point where the camera isnt the main photographic tool any more the computer is.. its ceased to be a simple viewer and become the thing that actually produces the pictures..

the camera is in danger of being relegated to the position of a remote data capturing device for the main photographic tool.. the computer..

somehow i feel the art of photography has been downgraded..

does anybody else feel this way or is it just me.. ???

dont get me wrong i have no desire to go back to film.. but the real reason i shoot jpegs for example as opposed to raw is connected with my feelings that the computor is taking over from the camera as the main photographic tool..

with a jpeg its easier for me to convince myself that its me and the camera doing the job and not me and the computor..

i know i am trying to do the impossible and hold back the flow of time.. but its how i feel.. he he he

trog

01-09-2007, 08:21 AM   #2
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I have to agree with you, but I think we'll be in the minority. I also shoot in JPEG and do very little post processing (usually just cropping). That's not to say that I have never tried to "save" a picture with some post processing, but my goal is to get the best picture possible out of the camera.

I really don't understand the people that shoot with the intention of making it a good picture with post processing...
01-09-2007, 08:24 AM   #3
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I think of Aperture (which is the software I use) as having a darkroom without having to pay for the extra plumbing. While I can do some things with the computer that I couldn't do in the darkroom (and it has been a loooong time since I stank of fixer) I do not really see any difference. I know that with Photoshop I could do darn near anything I want to an image. I see that as the realm of the graphic artist; it is art to be sure but it is a lot more work than I care to do.

As soon as Apple adds RAW support for the K10D I'll be back to shooting RAW files but whether I shoot JPEG or RAW I see them as negatives. There is very little with respect to contrast, white balance, shadows, highlights et al that I can do with Aperture that could not be done by someone who is really good with filters and an enlarger. I confess, I never printed anything in color and I never did anything with filters on the prints I did do, but not having to deal with processing film has made a big difference for me.

I always shot slides and, since I am cheap by nature, my mantra was "do not waste film" so I spent a lot of time composing and metering and I did not take a lot of risks (motion, night shots etc). Now I can take hundreds of shots, throw away 99% of them and keep the ones I like. I don't do much more to the images than I did back in the darkroom in college and I really enjoy what I do. That's what's important to me.

I heard this once, attributed to Ansel Adams: "How do you take a great photo? Take 1000 crappy ones."

Last edited by Mark Castleman; 01-09-2007 at 08:38 AM. Reason: Punctuation fixes
01-09-2007, 09:05 AM   #4
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I've been shooting JPG a lot more recently as well with the DS, but I think it just has to do with me getting better at exposing correctly in the camera first of all. Plus I like to have an understanding of the tool, the camera, at the time of taking the picture. It's nice to have RAW though, as you get a sense that for making large prints you can retain as much data as possible. Silkypix also gives me some cool color and white balance options which in a way is like shooting with a different type of film. The adjustable "fujichrome velvia" in the DS is great for many kinds of pictures, but it's nice to have options.

01-09-2007, 09:37 AM   #5
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I think post processing is the same now as it was in the film days. It's just that now the tools are far more accessible. You can process the heck out of a bad image and you still have a bad image. Something about a silk purse from a sow's ear....
01-09-2007, 09:39 AM   #6
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The flow of time

I remember the screaming and outrage when digital cameras first began making inroads in photography. Anyone who was serious about photography stated emphatically that digital would never replace film and to say otherwise was blasphemy. Now they're all shooting digital, either 100% or for at least part of their work.

Now we're talking about images right out of the camera versus post-processed images. I thought the idea was to make pictures that pleased us, regardless of how we got there. Going from jpg, right out of the camera, to RAW and all of it's post-processing is as natural as film to digital. Whatever it takes to get the result we want.

To tell you the truth (since my K10 hasn't shipped yet) I've never shot in raw since my Panasonic FZ20 is jpg and tiff but I'm really looking forward to it. It'll allow me to explore and hopefully progress in photography, and that's what it's all about.

This all reminds me of when audio went from analog to digital. The purists were screaming that the "digital" sound was cold and analytical while our high-end turntables were clean and warm. Progress to digital was questioned and condemned. Now, I think I have the last turntable in the world (not really). Everything is digital and we all use cd and dvd players. And, very little music is produced today that isn't manipulated to one extent or another. Like it or not - it's progress and it's usually for the best.

Of course, I could be completely wrong.

Dan
01-09-2007, 09:47 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by trog100 Quote
over a very few years things have changed.. changed to the point where the camera isnt the main photographic tool any more the computer is.. its ceased to be a simple viewer and become the thing that actually produces the pictures.

the camera is in danger of being relegated to the position of a remote data capturing device for the main photographic tool.. the computer.

somehow i feel the art of photography has been downgraded.

Trog, not sure whether it's just you. But if it isn't, then you and all your friends are mistaken. :-)

The main photographic tool has always been - and remains - the camera.

I'm not an ace at Photoshop or Lightroom, but I have associates who are. These are the kinds of folks who can give Lance Armstrong a woman's breasts, under his biking suit, who can remove the dirty plates from a dinner table shot, who can create a cyclops by taking a picture of politician and giving him just one eye in the middle of his forehead - and make it look absolutely "real." I get a kick out of this stuff. But it's something altogether different from normal post-processing. It involves software tools and skills that most of us don't have, aren't ever going to have, don't want to have. And even these folks cannot take a lousy photo and turn it into a prize winner.

Far less is done in the world of photography to "lie" than is done in the music studio (about which I know a little bit). Singers with very mediocre voices are routinely made to sound pretty good. Singers who can't sing on pitch are helped with pitch correction. For a long time, a singer has been able to accompany herself while singing, or to play several instruments. My background is mainly in classical music, and we're generally regarded as purists about performance; but even in the classical world, decades ago, pianist Glenn Gould was doing things like "fixing" his recording sessions by rerecording snippets of a piece and inserting them into the recording in place of the original. Nowadays, it's possible to notate and perform a symphony without touching a single REAL instrument. You think Photoshop is powerful - you should look into Logic Audio (now owned by Apple).

Anyway, back to photography. It has never been WYSIWYG, because what the camera can capture has never been identical to what the human eye can see. Early photographers did their messing around more on the front-end than the back end. They had to pose their subjects and ask them to freeze for a minute in order to take pictures. There are reports of (American) Civil War photographers dragging bodies on the field to produce better photographs - or to produce usable photographs. We don't usually think of posing as false or somehow wrong, but if you can tell General Smith to move two feet to the left and lift his chin up, why can't you tell the late Pvt. Jones to move about 10 feet to the right and turn his head this way? Oh, he's dead? Fine, we'll help him. Photographers are still posing their subjects, or climbing mountains or trees or radio towers to get views of reality that nobody else has ever had. Photography isn't just about recording what was seen by normal folks (although it is about that for a lot of people and that's fine) - but it's also about SEEING reality with a fresh eye, that eye being the camera's lens.

As for the "dangers" of post-processing, they're greatly exaggerated. If I make the water in the lake bluer than it really is, either I succeed by creating an artistic effect that is striking and interesting, or I fail by wrecking my photo. If I'm not trying to be truly creative, I have to be restrained in my post-processing, because people KNOW what color lake water is and it's not Royal Blue.

The latest post-processing software shows where photography is going. Raw workflow apps like Bibble Pro, Aperture, and Lightroom are taking a lot of the post-processing heavy lifting out of Photoshop and as they do so, they're leaving behind most of the tools in Photoshop that are really scary. Aperture does have a spot-fix tool, but at the moment, Lightroom does not. This will probably be fixed before release next month, but at the moment, Lightroom does not even have a red-eye fix tool. Lightroom has no area selection tool at all, other than the cropping tool! These new programs are mainly about fixing color. And there's a very legitimate reason for wanting to do this: to make the pictures TRUER, not to falsify them. Our eyes can see way more shades/levels of color or light than the camera can capture, and while Raw helps capture more color info, there's still the problem of DOING something with that info, because you've got to convert that 12-bit Raw data into 8-bit JPEG data sooner or later.

You and I are hobbyists. We're free to do whatever we like! We don't have to do anything just because everybody else does. That's surely a good thing.

Will
01-09-2007, 09:56 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Photodan Quote
I remember the screaming and outrage when digital cameras first began making inroads in photography. Anyone who was serious about photography stated emphatically that digital would never replace film and to say otherwise was blasphemy. Now they're all shooting digital, either 100% or for at least part of their work.

I remember thinking it was a milestone of some sort when a pro photographer friend of mine about five years ago sold all his old film equipment and went entirely digital - and that was before he could afford a digital SLR. I think he switched to using one of those funny Nikons that had the body that swiveled.

That was just before my wife and I went to China and his decision had a lot to do with my decision to buy a good digital camera for that trip (the Olympus Camedia C-3000 Zoom) rather than a film camera. My wife wasn't persuaded that I was right, so she bought a film camera for herself (Nikon N65). About $1500 in equipment at the time! I took hundreds of photos, my wife took only a few, and mine were better - both because I'm a better photographer and also because my wife was busy. (We were there to adopt daughter #3.) I still have both cameras. The Nikon was a very nice camera. I may even buy some film and play with it, if only to see how it stacks up against my Pentax K100D in terms of output. But even if the prints from the Nikon are noticeably better than those from the Pentax - which I do not expect to be the case - I am not going back and can't see myself starting to use the Nikon film camera routinely. I'd sell it, but it has very little market value these days!

Will

01-09-2007, 10:13 AM   #9
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A little different view

My feeling have alway been that the camera is just a tool and that the person, the eye and brain, behind it is the essence of the photogragh. The darkroom whether smelling from chemicals or your computer are just other tools.

Photography is an art just like painting but we use different brushes to create the image. Mona Lisa is spectaculor whether hanging on a wall of on a computer screen.

RON C
01-09-2007, 10:40 AM   #10
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I understand that film photography was manipulated in the dark room, levels, brightness etc., and that is basically what the computer is for also. What I don't understand are the people who say to always shoot in raw or don't worry about the lighting,exposure, etc. because you can "fix it" later. To me that means you aren't very concerned with your photography skills, but you are good at computer skills. I've seen pictures of 70+ year old women who had their skin smoothed because they supposedly look better, but they don't look like themselves. It's one thing to use PP to try to correct WB or exposure problems, or even to erase non-permanent blemishes like acne, but when you start correcting things like crossed-eyes, your going a little too far in my opinion.

I could very easily take a self-portrait, smooth out my skin, change the color of my eyes & hair, lop off 50 or so pounds, but would it still be a picture of me?

I guess it's just a distinction between digital photography and digital art.
01-09-2007, 10:50 AM   #11
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I used to (and still do) take slides, so my work was always in the camera. The processing was done by Kodak, or Agfa, or whoever. I just projected them, or occasionally did a bit of masking (cropping).

Many of my photographer friends in the past were darkroom workers. They considered that clicking the shutter was only the tip of the iceberg. The best of them spent hours and hours perfecting an image, printing it many times, before they were satisfied enough with it to even show it to others to ask an opinion!

Since I started with digital in 1999 I have, to some extent, jumped camps in that I often do a bit of work on an image after the original capture. The most however I have ever done on a single image is probably only an hour or two.

For me at least the taking is still a much higher proportion of the final work than it is for the dedicated darkroom worker.
01-09-2007, 10:58 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by xfraser Quote
I have to agree with you, but I think we'll be in the minority. I also shoot in JPEG and do very little post processing (usually just cropping). That's not to say that I have never tried to "save" a picture with some post processing, but my goal is to get the best picture possible out of the camera.

I really don't understand the people that shoot with the intention of making it a good picture with post processing...
yes.. i even felt guilty about broachng such a delicate subject.. i pretty much knew what the popular view would be..

back in the "old" days i never had the luxury of my own darkroom.. my photos had to go off to the chemist for printing.. if i didnt get them right in the first place that was it.. quite often i didnt.. he he

for those who did have their own darkroom i can acept the analogy of the computor being just a fancy darkroom.. even thow i think its a bad analogy.. there is very little comparion between a real darkroom and todays modern imaging software..

as i have got older i have become less "progressive" i even dare to argue with the commonly held belief that "progress" equates with "better"..

its impossible to "uninvent" technology and ultimatley we have to adapt to the changes new technogy brings about..

but i see the merging of photography and the art of digital imagery coming together.. with the art of photography pretty much losing out..

i wonder what the oft quoted ansel adams would think to it all.. he he

i have a sneaky suspicion he would agree with my thoughts and fears..

trog
01-09-2007, 11:20 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by trog100 Quote
the camera is in danger of being relegated to the position of a remote data capturing device for the main photographic tool.. the computer..
Bunk!

Photography is still about someone with a camera in their hands, translating what they see (through composition, lighting, proper exposure) onto some medium to produce an image that conveys their view of the world to others, at least if they're any good at it. Yes, the computer allows you to do all sorts of weird and wacky things to those images, but most of that's just window-dressing. If you haven't taken a good picture to begin with, you'll still end up with crap.

I think the vast majority of people who are shooting raw and spending time fiddling with those files are doing exactly what they would have done to film, had they wanted to take the time and effort in the wet darkroom. I stopped developing and printing my own b&w because I didn't like the stink and mess, and the enormous time investment. I never learned colour processing because it was more technically demanding and required yet more expensive equipment or the expensive rental of darkroom space in a commercial lab. Now I can do all that stuff, quickly and cleanly, under normal lighting, without stinking the house up or staining my fingers. I'm glad I learned film processing and printing, but I'm also just as glad not to be doing it any more.

Just as in the past there were those who took their film to the lab to be processed and those who converted their bathrooms to darkrooms and did it themselves, there are now those who shoot jpeg and those who shoot raw and muck around on the computer. It's perhaps more noticeable, because more people are willing to spend time on their computer than are willing to spend hours in the dark breathing fixer fumes, but it's the same division between results-oriented and process-oriented people. Some like to get to the result with a minimum of fuss (jpeg), some like to immerse themselve in the process (raw). They're just as likely to be taking excellent photographs, they just differ in how much interest they have in getting from initial vision to finished product.

I'd say my time investment per photograph is waaaaaay lower with digital than processing my own film, and much more rewarding. I don't think I do anything that couldn't be done in the wet darkroom (I don't like the look of heavily processed images) and I'm particularly happy when my only task is to convert from raw with minimal tweaking. It's not about the computer at all, it's just part of the process of getting from what I saw to what you see. And the main tool in that process will always be the camera.

End rant.

Julie
01-09-2007, 11:48 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by xfraser Quote
I understand that film photography was manipulated in the dark room, levels, brightness etc., and that is basically what the computer is for also. What I don't understand are the people who say to always shoot in raw or don't worry about the lighting,exposure, etc. because you can "fix it" later. To me that means you aren't very concerned with your photography skills, but you are good at computer skills. I've seen pictures of 70+ year old women who had their skin smoothed because they supposedly look better, but they don't look like themselves. It's one thing to use PP to try to correct WB or exposure problems, or even to erase non-permanent blemishes like acne, but when you start correcting things like crossed-eyes, your going a little too far in my opinion.

I could very easily take a self-portrait, smooth out my skin, change the color of my eyes & hair, lop off 50 or so pounds, but would it still be a picture of me?

I guess it's just a distinction between digital photography and digital art.
I think you are failing to distinguish between two different things: post-processing, and editing. You're also confusing THAT issue with the Raw vs JPEG issue.

__________


I have heard people say "don't worry about white balance when you're shooting Raw, you can fix it on the computer." Yes, you might be able to fix it on the computer, but I don't subscribe to that view and I don't think that any professional photographer would set his camera on, oh, flourescent WB and leave it there with the idea that he will fix all his photos later. You should always take the best picture you can take in the camera, regardless of what you may or may not do later.

SIDE NOTE: If there was a pro photog so stupid as to do that, fixing the white balance on 200 photos could be done in Aperture or Lightroom or another Raw workflow program in about a minute.

But white balance is a perfect example of the kind of problem that it makes sense to address in post-processing. It's a problem created by the camera. Film cameras had color correction problems, too, and they could sometimes be adddressed with filters, but they weren't the same as the white balance problems we have with digital cameras. If the in-camera options are inadequate (and they often are), and something can be done later on to improve the TRUTH of the image, then why wouldn't you do it? I hasten to add that I accept "too much trouble for me as an amateur" as a legitimate answer. I give that answer myself quite often. But I don't kid myself that it's a sound philosophical position to take in this debate.

There are other problems created by the camera itself. Red-eye fixing involves modifying what the camera captured, due to problems that the camera itself (well, the flash) created. Post-processing a Raw or even a JPEG original to bring out midtones so that the picture actually shows as much detail as you could see with your own eyes, isn't editing, it's post-processing. In a sense, it's not even fixing, at least you aren't in that case fixing a fault created by your own lack of skill as a photographer. You're fixing the camera's inability to capture the dynamic range of what you saw in real life.

As a matter of my routine workflow, I'm not interested in pixel-editing, other than fixing red-eye. I have occasionally tried to fix acne but I'm not good at this kind of thing and I simply don't worry about it much. I'm not shooting Playboy playmates (alas) and nobody's paying me to make my subjects look better than they are. That's EDITING, not post-processing. And doing things like removing the plates from a dinner table shot, that's going a step further yet, and I'm also not interested in that.

So as far as I am personally concerned: post-processing, yes, editing, no.

__________


Now, the Raw vs JPEG question is logically distinct from the question of whether you "should" do anything to your pictures. I myself am still undecided about Raw. It's still not clear to me that it's worth my trouble. But it is clear - undeniably so - that Raw file stores MUCH more information than a JPEG does. In other words, there's much more truth - and more of my skill as a photographer - stored in a Raw file than in an in-camera conversion to JPEG. I say "in camera conversion" because it's useful to remember that you are shooting in Raw whether you know it or not. It's just a question of how what the sensor "sees" is saved to the SD card. When you shoot Raw, you're simply saving everything the sensor "saw." When you convert to JPEG in the camera, you're throwing away a huge amount of what the sensor saw. That's undeniable. The question is, does what you're throwing away matter to you? The answer does not have to be yes.

Regarding Raw vs JPEG, any one of these positions is perfectly reasonable:

1. I'm going to shoot Raw all the time. I understand that in many, perhaps most cases, this won't give me a better result either on screen or in print than saving to JPEG in the first place would give me, but Raw will be better sometimes, and I want the option of being able to fine-tune the post-processing of those images.

2. I'm going to shoot Raw mainly when the exposure is difficult - as an alternative to constantly bracketing my exposure - and JPEG the rest of the time.

3. I'm going to shoot JPEG all the time. I know that Raw will occasionally give me options JPEG doesn't, but I don't expect to need those options very often and can afford to forgo them now and then, and the hassle of Raw (much larger files, slower captures in the camera, the need to add new software to my life, proprietary Raw formats, etc.) just isn't worth it to me.

Those are all defensible, reasonable and respectable positions. Here are two indefensible positions.

- Raw snobbery. You know, "Raw is better and that's all there is to it. Don't bother showing me the wonderful picture you took if you took it in JPEG." This is as ignorant (in my view) as believing that digital SLRs are always and everywhere better than good fixed-lens cameras.

- Raw-phobia.

The reason that there's a Raw vs JPEG debate is quite simple. Raw has both plusses and minuses, and the same is true for JPEG. If Raw were simply and decisively superior, well, nobody would be bothering to shoot JPEG at all and cameras wouldn't even support it. Personally, I wish this issue would go away - it's making my head hurt - and I rather miss the days when I didn't have to think about this at all, because my Canon S3 didn't offer Raw as an option. But then I remind myself, if I didn't want options, why did I spend three times as much money for a digital SLR?

Will

Last edited by WMBP; 01-09-2007 at 12:29 PM.
01-09-2007, 12:05 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by WMBP Quote
I think you are failing to distinguish between two different things: post-processing, and editing.

So as far as I am personally concerned: post-processing, yes, editing, no.


Will
You are correct, I was lumping everything in together and didn't know the correct words to distinguish one from the other, but the way that you explained it was very clear, so now... I can say I totally agree with you, post-processing, yes, editing, no.
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