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Author Topic: I Saw the Light... Finally  (Read 27913 times)
Ace Fury
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« Reply #20 on: March 14, 2008, 11:40:56 PM »
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"Of what use are lens and light to those who lack in mind and sight?"
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mfunnell
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« Reply #21 on: March 15, 2008, 05:41:55 AM »
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Digital is another animal, the film is the camera, and appears to me, to be in the region of rapid change. Will it flatten, sure in the not too distant future, the wall will will be hit with changes beyond being economic[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=181107\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
For me (and it may only be me) that point is getting close.  I "forgo" upgrading from my 30D recently, to get myself a better printer.  I figured the camera was "good enough for now", so I'd get more value improving the output side.  I now get great (to my eye) 13"x19" prints from my "only" 8MP camera.

There are a few more things I'd like in a camera (including, within reason, some more megapixels) so I'm not "done" yet. But I can see a not-too-distant future when I'll be off the upgrade treadmill.  I wonder what'll happen to the industry when lots of us end up there?

    ...Mike
« Last Edit: March 15, 2008, 05:43:37 AM by mfunnell » Logged

Some digital cameras, some film cameras, some lenses & other kit.

Day-to-day photos on [span style='color:quot']flick[/span][span style='color:quot']r[/span], some of my better ones at [span style='color:quot']d[/span][span style='color:quot']A[/span].
Phinius
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« Reply #22 on: March 23, 2008, 08:48:04 AM »
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Let's not go overboard. Mr. Reichmann does a lot to add some professionalism to the web. I don't think he was doing anything other than giving us an opinion about where the technology is going. I agree wholeheartedly that photographers spend far too much time reading and talking about the technological aspect of our art and not nearly enough time reading and talking about the aesthetic purpose of our art. However, technology does matter somewhat and Mr. Reichman's opinions are worth more than most because he isn't in the pay of any one company and he is a professional photographer. In the end, when I consider buying a piece of equipment I need to know whether it will suit my artist purpose, and his opinions are very helpful in this regard.

Ron
violetcrownphotographs.com

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I don't know about any of the rest of you, but reading Michael Reichmann's newest 'think piece' on PMA 2008 entitled "Reading Tea Leaves" left a gnawing in the pit of my stomach. The post-gnaw epiphany didn't come until the walk I was compelled to take after reading his piece, with my trust Australian Cattle Dog Matilda and my trusty old Leicaflex strapped to my shoulder.

I had seen the light.

I must say at the outset that I deeply appreciate Mr. Reichmann's erudite essays on everything photographic. I have benefited greatly over the years from his photographic insights, equipment tips, and good humor. He serves a need and does it well. Which is why what I'm about to say is so disturbing to me.

To put it bluntly, I was completely turned off by his Tea Leaf essay. I thought to myself, Is this what we've come to? Weighing the relative merits of 30mp's vs. 60mp cameras and processors? Where did we take a wrong turn? Two roads diverged in a yellow wood and we took the one *most* traveled by.

The trouble with any large trade show (PMA, Comdex, etc.) is that it preys on our worst instincts as artists. The Tyranny of the Now pervades our very being, and before we know it, we're writing things like:

"20+ MP files (whether from a DSLR or a medium format back) are only needed in the work that I do for my most critical landscape work and some commercial projects. (For example, I have a commission to document a major urban renewal project, and in addition to an eventual coffee table book have been told that wall-sized blow-ups for a presentation center will be needed. So, I'll be shooting much of that with a 39MP medium format back.)"

Come again? Did he actually say "20+ MP files are only needed in the work that I do for my most critical landscape work..." and "I'll be shooting much of that with a 39MP medium format back"?! Huh?!? Makes me wonder what kind of shoddy work Mr. Reichmann must have been resigned to producing back in the prehistoric days (aka eighteen months ago) of  10-12MP cameras. And poor Cartier-Bresson, stuck with @#$%^& film!!

Allow me a little perspective. A relative of mine (my uncle's  sister's husband ~ what does that make him?) is the publisher of the Robb Report (for the uninitiated, the Robb Report sells Falcon X7's and Gulfstreams with the same casual swagger that other 'high-end retail' magazines sell Patek Philippes and...well, Leicas... Anyway, for a few years I worked with Mr. Bill on some of his ventures), and if there were ever a magazine that has perfected the art of pretentious obsession, it is the Robb Report. Sadly (for me, anyway), 'Reading Tea Leaves' had that same patina of overindulged asseveration to it. In defense of Mr. Reichmann, though, he is hardly the only one blinded by the Fashion of the New. But here's the rub. I came to expect more from LuLa (my pet name for this site). After all, isn't this the same guy who raved a few years back that

"After some 35 years as a photographer, printer and teacher I can say that the Epson 1270 along with its new inks and papers is the first inkjet printer that can claim to supplant traditional wet process photographic printing!"

and

"I believe that its fair to say that with the 2200, and its larger brothers the 7600 and 9600, inkjet printing has now reached a level of maturity that requires no excuses or apologies. Ultra-high quality archival inkjet printing has truly arrived!"

and

"The net of all of this is that I intend on printing with SuperPhoto 2880 mode for my exhibition and sale prints..."

Where does it all end? Certainly not at 60MP's, that I promise you, because as quaint as Mr. Reichmann's ebullience about the Epson 1270 reads now, imagine what his rhetorical waxing about 60MP's will look like two years from now. Clearly, the years he was using his SuperPhoto 2880, his customers were getting short-changed. Or no, wait a minute... might there be a difference between relative quality and a trained eye?

The bottom line is this: a great photograph is 10% the right equipment, 90% a discerning eye. Like the old Mastercard ad campaign put it:

A Nikon D3 plus an AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4G ED VR with nanocoating lens technology: $15,000.

A good eye: PRICELESS.

What Mr. Reichmann doesn't appear to realize (nor do the bevy of other photo-technophiles) is that essays like Reading Tea Leaves have become a parody of themselves ~ and symptomatic of an industry that has lost its soul in service to the Hype of the Latest Gadget. You see it in all the photog magazines, which have become nine parts glorified product endorsements and comparisons to one part photographic art.

I always used to say that having a 600hp engine in a $300k car couldn't be supported by the infrastructure (read "speed limits"), and thus only suitable for power- and image-obsessed car geeks  who were very, very rich (and likely very, very bored), like many of the people who subscribe to the Robb Report. Of course, it always went without saying that the net-worth of a car had no bearing on the skill-set of the driver.

Which takes me back to my walk with Matilda and my 45 year-old all black Leicaflex (yes, 5 stars on the Leica rarity scale for those who actually give a damn), with its trusty Summicron 50mm 1:2 lens and a roll of expired Kodak Tri-X 400 Pro film in its belly. When I get done developing my pics and get to see the fabulous grain of that wonderful film, I won't lose a second's sleep wondering about high-resolution chips and new industry standard 39MP sensors. I'll have the satisfaction of knowing that if B&W emulsion was good enough for the likes of Mssrs. Adams and Cartier-Bresson, it's certainly good enough for me.   

Does that mean I'm going to throw away my Fuji f30? Of course not, because it does just what digicams do best: satisfy my cravings for decent photographic quality and immediate gratification. But when I want to test the limits of my art and try to capture just the right light at just the right moment, will I go to the newest and latest DSLR? Of course not. I'll just grab my old Leicaflex and my trusty Matilda and head out the door for another late afternoon walk in the crisp, clean February air.
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LightCapture
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« Reply #23 on: March 25, 2008, 02:33:43 PM »
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I don't think it was so much I that was going overboard as Mr. Reichmann was in his assessments of the latest gadget, and along with him much of the rest of the world of photography that seems more fixated on megapixels and image sensors than the decisive moment, or the composition of subject, or the use of the frame, or... or... or.... These are artistic considerations, not technological specifications.

But as I also said in my post, I, too, think his thoughts some of the most valuable and enlightening on the web.
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In the right light, anything is beautiful.
dalethorn
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« Reply #24 on: March 25, 2008, 02:52:58 PM »
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A thousand megapixels is still not enough. Don't forget we're taking photos, not painting oils on canvas. Audio tech people have dealt with this for decades ("remember, we're recording the music, not making it".) Same goes here - we're recording, not creating (except in some over-inflated minds.) Digital gives us sky's-the-limit technology in place of the primitives of film and chemicals, and that bothers some folks. I say keep it coming - constant change is going to happen regardless, and as a bonus, change is healthy.
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LightCapture
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« Reply #25 on: March 26, 2008, 06:50:04 PM »
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Dalethorn's views represent everything that's wrong with this cynical new world of photography and the overindulgent hype for the latest gadget, the most megapixels, and the biggest sensors. Everything has become a commodity in these peoples' minds, including now, apparently, the photographer. My goodness. Pretty soon they'll be saying things like "a thousand megapixels aren't enough."

With all due respect to Dalethorn, his views represent a very distorted (and thankfully radical minority) view of photography. I don't know if he's just trying to be provocative, but if we were to follow his logic to its natural conclusion, it means that photography is not an art form (since the photographer is "recording, not creating") and that, therefore, photographs have no place in museums. Is he actually serious?

Dalethorn compares photographers to audio recording engineers who simply "record" something and don't create it. Not only does this betray an ignorance with the music industry (ask any music artist if the producer/sound engineer is simply a glorified recorder and he will laugh in your face), but it also makes a false comparison: the photographer with the audio engineer. I'd be curious to know who, in Dalethorn's mind, represents the musician when it comes to photography? God? The architect who made the building? The parents who "created" the model?

I guess it's time to hang it up, ladies and gents, since your decisions about lighting, framing, subject matter, angle of the shot, perspective, etc. are all reducible to mere technical specs and megapixel count. And while we're at it, we'd better get on the horn to all the art schools around the world to inform them that their photography departments are wasting their time. Talk about a reductionist view of the photography, not to mention of the world. No thanks.
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In the right light, anything is beautiful.
dalethorn
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« Reply #26 on: March 27, 2008, 09:19:49 PM »
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Those who don't remember history keep repeating its mistakes. Remember Neil Young's diatribes against digital? He's gotten better now. You will too when you stop fighting change, or simply pass into history yourself. You don't know me - I'm not a boy who plays with toys. I'm about getting the image, period. But the tools I see coming will liberate many of us from the drudgery you so fondly cherish. And I say fooey to that.
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LightCapture
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« Reply #27 on: March 28, 2008, 01:22:42 PM »
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I'm sure you're a fine photographer and a fine human being, Dalethorn. I was simply bristling against your suggestion that photography has no artistic merit. Don't get me wrong. I, too, love technology, not just for its own sake but because it can improve a whole host of tasks that are presently more cumbersome than they need to be. And let's face it: even manual film cameras like the Leica MP or Pentax LX are a vast improvement over the box cameras of 75 years ago. And if you read my original post, you'll see that even I use a digital camera (perish the thought!) for doing what digital does best ~ spontaneous snapshots.

But taking pictures with a film camera and making decisions about shutter speed and aperture and what type of lens to use and what kind of film to shoot (I shoot B&W) ~ none of those things is drudgery. Far from it. Actually being an integral and organic part of the process is exhilarating and liberating, and calling the process drudgery is like telling a painter that the oils and pastels and canvasses and brushes he uses are drudgery when, after all, he could let a CAD or graphics program do as much in a fraction of the time. I just don't think that way. Call me old-fashioned, but when a processing chip starts to infringe too much on something that is fundamentally an artistic process, I cringe. I've got a good enough processing chip between my ears that works beautifully with the two lenses in the front of my head, which no amount of technology will ever equal ~ and you do, too ~ so I'll defer to those.

You say you're about getting the image. So am I. But I'd also like to be an integral part of the process along the way, and the whole digital fixation around the latest gadget makes it far too easy for too many people to simply rely on a chip to do the work for them, which runs the risk of producing a generation of lazy photographers. The destination (final image) is absolutely important, but the journey (making my own on-the-spot decisions about lighting, framing, etc) is, for me at least, half the thrill.
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In the right light, anything is beautiful.
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