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This blog is intended to showcase my pictures or those of other photographers who have moved beyond the pretty picture and for whom photography is more than entertainment - photography that aims at being true, not at being beautiful because what is true is most often beautiful..

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« urban ku # 76 ~ July 4th | Main | urban ku # 75 ~ Sunday afternoon sky »

ku # 478 ~ lichens (only god can make a tree)

Lichens on bark and rockclick to embiggen
I have been reading entries on a few blogs dealing with digital workflow. On one in particular, the author stated that, in the digital domain, at no point between pushing the shutter button and getting a print is there anything which is fixed. There is never anything which you can see without the filter of a piece of software and a monitor.

Frankly, I don't see how this is at all different from the good old analog days. Between pushing the shutter button and getting a print there was always the multiple "filters" of film type, a zillion processing variables, a zillion paper choices, diffusion/condenser/cold light head enlargers and not to mention alternative-process printing and etc.

Sure, you could put a negative or transparency on a lightbox and, in and of itself, it was "fixed" but you still had to make a print. Give the same negative to 100 different photographers and you'll get 100 different prints. other than the mechanics involved, I just don't see how this all that different from the digital domain.

Sure, different RAW conversion software does produce different results, in some cases very different results. Add to that the variable of different workflows, and, guess what? If you give the same RAW file to 100 different photographers you'll get 100 different prints.

Moral of the story - there is no 'standard', there is no 'ideal', there is no 'perfect', and, nothing is 'fixed'. When it comes to RAW software, do your homework, make your choice, put your money on the table and then get on with it. Make prints that express what you have to say but always keep in mind that you are making 'traces', creating worlds, you are not making the 'thing' itself.

Consider yourself a poet and always remember - Poems are made by fools like me, But only God can make a tree.

Reader Comments (2)

I read the same "fixed" article earlier, and had the same conclusion you did. Maybe it's some kind of Zen thing.
- JR

July 4, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJoe Reifer

Agreed. To my way of thinking, photography has always been a process thing where an image moves through various stages from the original reality of the scene to a final rendered form (whether that is a print, web posting, or what have you). At any stage, the use of different tools, materials, media & techniques (all driven by the photographer's creative choices) can influence the interpretation shown in the final result.

Any photographer can choose to "fix" an image's interpretation at a certain point. But really all that means IMO is that he or she has chosen not to exercise creative control beyond what the designers of the tools, materials or media in use at that stage chose to embed within them.

What digital brings to the table that is different is a much finer degree of control to far more people who, in the past, would not have messed with much creative control during development and printing.

Some photographers talk in terms of "getting it right in the camera", fixing the interpretation (allegedly) at the point of capture. Some don't mean anything more than that, while others mean that only image interpretation done in camera is "right". Personally I think just in terms of getting it right, period, where "right" means achieving my desired interpretation using whatever combination of tools, materials, media and techniques that seems appropriate.

Who knows... just as a poet may revisit the same thematic element in an attempt to refine its treatment, I may revisit the same scene -- even the same image -- to refine my interpretation of it...

July 4, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRoyce Howland

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