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View Poll Results: Is digital B&W or Iphone photography any less creative or important than traditional means?

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Thread: Digital B&W Photography

  1. #1
    Member DSG's Avatar
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    Digital B&W Photography

    NOTE: the word "Less" important" is missing from the poll.....sorry I coudn't change it. FIXED -Rick

    I was recently perusing an Australian photographers website whos name I won't say, he specialises in B&W photography and insists on the Silver Gelatine print which I admire in this day and age and think it is great for those that can afford it. I was quite inpressed by his prints, especially some of his Infra red work with Figures. I continued on through his website and all of a sudden out of nowhere in bright yellow half way down one of his "blogs" (the rest of his script was in light grey on a black background so it stood out like a pink elephant at the Opera House), was a quote of his that stated


    “Digital black and white prints are as fake as IKEA furniture or instant coffee”.

    I found this a little offensive and few days later was watching a documentary for Uni about Ansel Adams and in the interview he is quite amazed (even in the early 80's as he died in 84) and excited about the possabilities that digital enhancement was about to offer the world. This is comming from a man that invented the very tecniques that 99.99999999% of B&W photographers still use in the darkroom today.

    My question is this, when did the creative process begin and end in the darkromm with chemicals? Don't get me wrong I come from a darkroom background myself, but that dosnt mean that I need to be arrogant about the process and demean new technologies just because theyare new in terms of a creative process; I mean some of the best street photography exhibitions at the moment are taken with an IPhone, is this any differant and should it be valued any less than those street shots taken with a $5000 kit? I dont think so, after all its al about the end product and what it brings to the audiance, not how it was done. Food for thought......
    Last edited by ricktas; 18-09-2011 at 6:45am.
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    Moderately Underexposed I @ M's Avatar
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    People have been doing greyscale imaging for a hell of a long time.
    Charcoal seemed to be the weapon of choice to start with and some of those adherents were probably repulsed when the pencil was invented, just as the pencil users hated paint, just as some painters wanted to burn photographers at the stake.

    Give me an agreeable image to look at and I won't become snobbishly pedantic and worry whether it is a true black and white (if there is actually such a thing) or grey scale, created on a sheet of glass, plastic or a silicon chip and then developed/manipulated/enhanced. The end result is all that matters to me.
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  3. #3
    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    Seems to me this is a common issue across the board with people in society. "My way is better"! Unfortunately they don't own the rights to the Brain Trust, and in my experience, anyone who says 'my way is better' is generally wrong and there is a better way out there, already being used or not yet 'discovered'.

    I wonder if your photographer has ever tried digital monochromatic photography or whether his statement is to try and create his own sense of 'elitism' in his own mind, to fit with his 'my way is better' idealogy?
    Last edited by ricktas; 18-09-2011 at 7:46am.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ricktas View Post
    I wonder if your photographer has ever tried digital monochromatic photography or whether his statement is to try and create his own sense of 'elitism' in his own mind, to fit with his 'my way is better' idealogy?
    It really came accross as 'elitism' to be honest rick, he also removes all replies or posts on his facebook page if he dosnt know you, even if they are complimenting his work

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    From an artistic standpoint, a traditional B&W print is going to more valuable and "special" than a digital B&W print to a collector or gallery buyer. Just the same as you pay more for a piece of handmade furniture than you do for Ikea. The print made in the darkroom is a one of a kind, and although you may be able to reproduce the print several times, there will always be differences. This is especially true when you start to print more technically challenging images that require burning/dodging with separate split tone sequences. All things being equal, the prints should look better also, but it is a lot more difficult to produce a stunning print in the darkroom than it is on the PC.

    Having said that, I have recently had some digital black and white images produced with the Giclée technique, on German rag paper and I'm wrapped with the results. I would not have the skill to produce these images to a similar standard in the darkroom. Those that do have the skill have my respect.

    So whilst I agree with the photographers general beliefs, I disagree with his attitude.

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    Well, from one MM to another...

    This way of thinking is also evident in the digital world. There are people who believe that film is dead and we need to move on from the archaic world, but the film buffs say they are superior to digital, and that digital is fake. Creativeness can come from any form be it digital, iphone, film, or even charcoal (as said above) ... it doesn't matter where it came from, just how it ended up.

    In the darkroom you dodge and burn, in the 'lightroom' you dodge and burn!! Duh, seems the same to me!

    I have seen some amazing shots taken by an iPhone and marvel at their creativeness. CREATIVE is the key word. They aren't happy snaps but thought out images with different approaches.

    I am only recently starting to dabble in the darkroom. I like the 'tactileness' (is that a word?? ) of the film camera (esp old cameras) and I love the end result BUT I would never give up the digital camera for it certainly has its place in the world. Horses for courses! There is also those in the Art World that think Photography shouldn't be a part of it - just another form of elitism; which is so very apparent within that World - for example: oils v's acrylic!!

    It is sad this guy doesn't step down from his very high pedestal - he may just get alot more accolades than he does now.
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    I guess the bottom line is that even if the medium is digital, you still need to be able to pre concieve the outcome, have the ability to get the required exposure that will give you the outcome you want, and have the post processing skill in the digital workfolow to get that outcome in print. The creative process is the same, its just expressed differantly.

    Its interesting that Tom brings up the 'Giclée technique', and I agree that the results can be stunning, my printer (I do not print myself digitaly) uses pigmant inks with a true black and true white, and I insist on Cotton Rag paper which gives an amazing tonality, really rich blacks and bright whites.

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    Ausphotography irregular Mark L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DSG View Post
    ..........
    “Digital black and white prints are as fake as IKEA furniture or instant coffee”.......
    IKEA furniture is furniture to a lot of people, and I actually like instant coffee.

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    Meh, I personally think that way of thinking is bupkis.

    There's no less value in a digital black and white than there is in a film black and white. If you're approaching it in the same mindset when taking the photo there is actually NO difference between the two. You have to think in tones, not colours. I take some photos for the specific purpose of turning them black and white (like the images of my dog recently posted), I'm thinking tones. Shadows and contrast and not hue and saturation. Same thing when working with B&W film. Same. Bleeding. Thing. [insert growl here] And those images taken in colour that just happen to look better in B&W? Not much of a difference there either; you can still print a b&w image from a colour negative - I've done it...

    Geez, you can't half tell that pompous, elitist attitudes towards this sort of stuff bothers me just a tad. lol

    Now... Iphone photos... that's my personal bugbear and not something I believe should be part of this particular conversation. It has it's uses for quirky pictures but that's about it, IMO. I guess it's Polaroid for the digital age. Fun but no real substance. At least not until the image quality gets much better but I can also tell that there are people who get a lot out of the medium.

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  10. #10
    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DSG View Post
    ......


    “Digital black and white prints are as fake as IKEA furniture or instant coffee”.

    .....
    You should find a comment like this to be offensive, and treat it with the contempt that it deserves!

    This is a simple case of elitism from an idiot!(and I really don't care who this photog is, such idiotic notions will be labelled as accurately as possible).

    EDITshould have read all the the replies B4 posting. Seems DSG and I are on the same wavelength )

    Also, I think there is a repeated pattern amongst those that denigrate digital photogrpahy, and that is they they themselves have yet to master it, or they feel threatened by it.
    Same situation probably existed over a hundred years ago when gelatine/cellulose films were overtaking wet plate photography as they were also much better in terms of usability, quality and proficiency.
    Last edited by arthurking83; 19-09-2011 at 8:32pm.
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    Wow such strong opininions on this one, I agree with you all.

    As far as iPhone, I think it has its place in certain genres, especially street photography. There is a great set of images called "iDubai" all taken with iPhone which is stunning, unfortunately its hard to find the images on the internet as its is hevaly copywritten and is print by the photography book printing company 'Steidl'. There was also a great exhibition in Melbourne by Misho Baranovic, it might still be going somewhere but here is a link to his blog gallery, he takes the photos, processes them with an iPhone app and uploads them directly:

    www.mishobaranovic.tumblr.com/archive his earlier stuff, if you keep scrolling down it keeps loading, is better

    PS: I drink Coles brand LOL
    Last edited by DSG; 19-09-2011 at 8:54pm.

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    Quote Originally Posted by arthurking83 View Post
    EDITshould have read all the the replies B4 posting. Seems DSG and I are on the same wavelength )
    No prob Arthur

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    The poll question...
    Is digital B&W or Iphone photography any less creative or important than traditional means?
    is a legitimate and often raised question. However I don't think it much relates to the quote presented by the photographer (emphasis here is mine):
    Digital black and white PRINTS are as fake as IKEA furniture or instant coffee
    The photographer hasn't mentioned digital photography, just digital black and white prints. He might be happy to use digital for colour or even for B&W capture (although I doubt it) - point is, we can't tell from that statement alone.

    We have some stools from Ikea which are capable of supporting my hefty buttocks, and also some bookshelves which we can put books into where they will sit quite well until we take them out. So in my experience Ikea is real furniture. I checked a jar of instant coffee and it stated it contained coffee beans, so it appears that it is not fake either, at least the brand I checked (unless the photographer is saying that the "instant" part is fake? ). So to rephrase the photographer's statement from my own experience: "digital black and white prints are as fake as two things that are not fake" .



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    If this was 100 years ago, he would say that cars are also no good and the only good travel, is that done on horseback.

    Just think with today's population, if we only used horses for transport.
    Could you imagine what our streets would look like under a mountain of horse****?

    This guy's brain is under THAT pile!

    I used to lots of darkroom work with my father, both colour and B&W, and I'm glad I do it on computers now, as his lungs aren't anythihg like they should be because of all the chemicals used in the darkroom and my father is a virulent non-smoker!

    I guess you can say that a B&W done in the darkroom is something like riding a horse.
    Good fun for an hour or so, but when it gets down to actually going somewhere, give me an air conditioned car anyday!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bennymiata View Post
    If this was 100 years ago, he would say that cars are also no good and the only good travel, is that done on horseback.

    Just think with today's population, if we only used horses for transport.
    Could you imagine what our streets would look like under a mountain of horse****?

    This guy's brain is under THAT pile!


    I guess you can say that a B&W done in the darkroom is something like riding a horse.
    Good fun for an hour or so, but when it gets down to actually going somewhere, give me an air conditioned car anyday!
    I lolled and nearly lost my coffee reading that, thanks Benny, love it

  16. #16
    I am older than I look. peterb666's Avatar
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    It is the end product that is important. The means you get there is little more than a curiosity.

    Quite frankly, such a statement is stupid. Are negative film prints any less creative or important than wet plate images? I am sure that argument was big about 120 years ago.
    Cheers

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    He is just a photographer with an elitest attitude trying to bignote himself and his statement that he insists on the Silver Gelatine print proves it as this is only a standard B&W print paper.
    Keith.

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