Analogue V Digital

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Deleted user Deleted user Post 1 of 3
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Hello everyone and welcome to this my first attempt to express my thoughts on Creativity and Technique and how I tire of the analogue v digital argument.

Before I begin let me give you a little of my background:

I am a professional photographer working and living in Solothurn, Switzerland since 2009. Before 2009 for 6 years I worked as a photographer and art director in London and before this since 1989 as a creative/designer.

I started earning money as a photographer in Swindon (north of London), England in 1989. I had just completed my HND qualification in Illustration, design and photography at the school of art (college). It was here that I was shown how to load film into a camera, what exposure was all about, loading film into a film canister in the dark room... the mechanics scared me and the 'depth of field' science was beyond my comprehension then. Despite this technical mine field, I persevered and embraced this new world of the dark room. I started making test strips and soon the magic of the latent image revealing itself pulled me further into the creative labyrinth. From then on I practically lived in the dark room and constantly smelt of HC110 developing solution and fixer solution. Ammonia was always there. My awareness of how I looked was not:

I started buying second hand cameras (student budget) like: Minolta XGM, Olympus 20, Yashica Mat (twin lens reflex camera), Cannon A1 (inherent squeaky mirror box!! sound effect used in Duran Duran's video 'Girls on film'), Leica. In 1994 I purchased the Nikon FM2 which was still in production from the 1970's. The body was made from solid brass and to hold if felt like the Rolls Royce of all cameras.

Whilst studying I shared a house with 4 others on my course. We built a dark room under the stairs and shared a Jobo unit for developing film and prints which was set up in the kitchen. It meant we could develop at home all of our colour and black and white roll films,(35 & 120mm negative and slide) and all associated print papers like Illford's contrast variation selection,(black & white)and the Fuji Ceberchrome papers (colour). We used colour filters on the enlarger to colour balance the colour negatives. We made negative and positive masks from lithographic film and made our own pin register boards so we could use several slides or negatives to make one final print. My life was consumed with technical analogue problems like; if the water in which the Jobo canister unit rotated was 1 degree too warm or cold it would cause the developing colour print inside the rotation drum to affect a colour cast. This was hard enough to correct in the dark room using plastic filters before you got to the developing stage. Hours and days were spent trying to get one decent colour print. The print would fog (turn grey or black all over) because the fixer solution had expired. The colour chemicals alone were a discipline to control and manage.

Even then with what seems so archaic by todays technology, we still managed to produce award winning photography and won our college the first prize of £2000 for the Polaroid competition entered. We were presented the prize from the late Norman Parkinson (prolific and eccentric royal photographer).

At college during the weekdays I mastered black and white developing and printing and found a way to guarantee the May Ray effect which the artist stumbled upon by accident in 1945, I think. This is basically the solarisation of B&W 35mm negative roll film by reversing the development of the silver halide on the celluloid so that blacks become white and whites become black and all 18 percent or mid-tone grays have a dividing line. I did this by exposing the developing film in the canister to a fraction of a second of tungsten light. I still have the resulting prints and they could of been made by Man Ray himself:)

Towards the end of my course I had built up an extensive library of images ranging from my girlfriends bottom (influenced by Bill Brandt) to an egg. One weekend at the house we used an elephant riffle, a flash trigger made from cardboard and silver foil (2p cost), balloons, and a big piece of plywood to photograph a bullet passing through a balloon. After regaining our hearing, and nerves, we descended to the dark room and developed this adventure from the Kodak T-Max 35mm film (T grain which was the finest then). It actually worked!! It was brilliant, you could even see the explosive gasses from the balloon as the bullet passed through.

My favorite roll film to use was HP5 (400 ASA/ISO)as it had massive grain and could be pushed to 1600 ASA/ISO. I liked Pan F (100 ASA) for its's high contrast - although the varying red filters and papers could also increase the contrast. T-Max was good but I was not interested in producing the finest and sharpest print images.

After leaving college my first photographic commissions were for the Dance studios and theatre in Swindon.

Photographing in Black and white for the contemporary dancers in their 1st and 2nd years. The dancers were a great inspiration to me and I learnt how to wait for the moments when they were not aware of being watched. A lesson that has always worked for me. Again in black and white for the theatre - Jazz musicians (I'm an aspiring musician myself) Because of no light I quickly learnt how to change the roll film in the Cannon A1 in complete darkness.

Over the next 20 years I used photography as a diary, a creative outlet, expression if you like and as part of my design art direction commitments.

Since 2007 I started using........WARNING!!! - to all those analogue freedom fighters out there; I know it's going to hurt, but I have to use the 'D' word – I started using DIGITAL cameras, there I said it, phew!

DIGITAL DIGITAL DIGITAL...somebody stop me or pour some HC110 over me to wake me from this DIGITAL fantasy:))

Now before you start throwing any mantra at me let me add to this that, (if you have not already guessed), I have used Photoshop ever since it came out, I used it in my creative design career before time began. Photoshop is NOT a new invention to maximize the digital frenzy out there.

Let me now say: Technology and technique are great when they serve the creative process and that technique is nothing without vision.

If you are trying to set your self apart from all other photographers that use the digital process by saying that you prefer to use analogue (film) because it has a different and unique quality that makes better pictures (technically), then I feel you have not enough experience or mastery of the new improved digital sphere/gamut.

Back then, many years ago I had interviewed many photographers in my Art Director role and have seen many portfolios by photographers who still prefer to use roll film. Today digital technology as progressed so much, even in the last 3 years that I feel this medium has the quality that can match any print made from 35mm roll film. Please save me the description of pixel sizes and shape from digital compared to analogue (film).

In photographic terms there is something called the 'circle of confusion' on the subject of depth of field. Bear with me... There is a point when looking with the naked eye where even if there were more detail in the image, or less focus than perfect, you would not be able to detect with the naked eye. And since all pleasure comes through your naked analogue eye, well I will let you finish that sentence.

Now I would like to say:

All colour(hue,gamut,tone,alpha etc etc), all pixel(shape, size and sharpness) qualities you get when using roll film and the conventional dark room can be achieved with digital photography either in the camera itself or in post production (photoshop), and believe me, I know because I make a living from this principle.

If you would like to pretend that 'analogue photography' is elitist and makes you a real artist (suffering for your art) in terms of photography and others less because they use a digital camera then read the little joke at the end of my article:

I've spent most of my life so far using analogue and I have built darkrooms and lived in them. I can identify developing solutions from whatever supplier just by the smell. I can make a perfectly exposed print without making a test strip, (hang on what is 'perfect') well I mean from a technical perspective and I know film grain so well I can identify the roll film and the paper.

I am a creative digital image maker.
I am a photographer (analogue or digital).
I am an artist.
I am an observer.

At the end of the day, don't become obsessed with the camera or the process, even though the process is an important part of the journey. It's the vision that's important, your perspective on the world, what message you are trying to give out, if any.

When Jack London had his portrait made by the noted San Francisco photographer Arnold Genthe, London began the encounter with effusive praise for the photographic art of his friend and fellow bohemian, Genthe. "you must have a wonderful camera...It must be the best camera in the world...You must show me your camera." Genthe then used his standard studio camera to make what has since become a classic picture of Jack London. When the sitting was finished, Genthe could not contain himself: "I have read your books, Jack, and I think they are important works of art. You must have a wonderful typewriter."
- Anonymous

Technique is nothing without vision
– Gary Brashier.
Perdos Perdos Post 2 of 3
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nice topic,
menjari hopefully inspiration for all the masters of photography.
gorig26415 gorig26415 Post 3 of 3
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When it comes to the digital age, there are two primary types of media: analogue and digital. The former refers to those methods of communication that rely on a physical medium such as phone signals or radio waves. Here you follow this and get more new things for software. The latter involves transmitting images and sounds on a computer screen over networks such as the internet. There are many similarities between these two forms of media, but there are also some important differences which means you can't just switch from analogue to digital in your business.
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