Friday, April 23, 2010

The Name Remains The Same

And so does the science and the art...of photography, that is!

Yes, there's a 'D' (digital) added to cameras and lenses, and indeed the capture media and post production are now digital, but photography is still photography. That is recording light and shadow. The tools have changed a bit, and all for the better in my opinion.

That wasn't my opinion when digital was first gaining a hold of the market, but improvements in digital media and printing has come a long way, baby! I worked with film for over 20 years, and most of that film was medium format, so I was used to the results of a larger negative. It's been ten years now since I made the switch to the digital format and printing.

I won't go into a comparison of film to digital here. That's for another blog...and it's been done endlessly...And I've engaged the subject before. Suffice to say that Kodak has announced it will be retiring film in just a few more years.

The thrust of this post is that even though the media has changed, photography remains photography. True, digital cameras do have advanced metering, faster focusing, and better program modes, and all that does improve the chances of making a good photograph even if you don't know any more than to point the camera and press the shutter release button. But all that would be true now even if we still used film rather than a flash card. It's just the result of ongoing development.

What makes a great photograph? 1) A great subject; 2) Great composition, (framing); 3) Great Lighting, and : 4) Perfect exposure. Other things can play a part such as focus and depth of focus, and of course post production. All these factors are exactly the same as they have always been.

Post production even remains the same as before digital, except that the tools have changed. Where before digital, one would have to make test prints and adjust the color balance and density by the use of filters and length of exposure on an enlarger, now we use computer programs like Photoshop and Lightroom, etc. And where retouching and dodging and burning to get the look one was after, with film all that was done by painting on the negative and using dodging paddles and masks in the enlarging process. Now with digital, all that is again done with computer programs. Digital is a lot "greener", that's for sure!

The thing is that the tools have changed, but great photography still requires working knowledge of how to make a perfect exposure with your camera. It still requires knowing how to manipulate light, and an "eye" for composition. And if you're working with people, it still requires knowing how to help people pose and be at ease in front of the camera.

The Digital Revolution in photography has made it so that the photographer can have control over the entire process of image making without spending time in a dark room with smelly and toxic chemicals. However, creating great photographs still requires the skills and artistic talent that it always has. So, the name remains the same, and so does the science and art!

For more articles on photography, and to see my take on the whole "Digital VS Film" thing, go to and click on Articles & Links. Feel free to leave your comments! ALOHA

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