Thursday, March 24, 2005

Digital photography

A friend said Erwin Puts' recent article on Respect on the Image at the following link is worth reading: http://www.imx.nl/photosite/comments/c006.html

He also said "From my own experience, the casual attitude that one adopts in taking digital photos does degrade the photographic process somewhat. When you can take as many pictures as you like at no extra cost and knowing that you can do so much post-processing with Photoshop, you tend to take less care in framing the image and making sure that the camera settings are correct. With time, you will forget what it is like to make a perfect photo in one take. The creative spirit and respect for the subject matter will be gone. Such is the price we have to pay as we dive into the digital imaginary world, I'm sorry to say."

This is an interesting viewpoint. We see it almost in every change management cases. There are always something to treasure of an outgoing technology or practice. The beauty of film photography will stay forever, but will live another live, in a more artistic rather than technical arena.

The convenience of digital photography, thus leading to a casual attitude in camera setting, is only partly true. What is the cost of an extra negative? I notice that there are many professional photographers shooting one scene with a lot of films, at various angles and with various settings. The permutation of aperture/shutter is limitless and even professionals have to engage the trial and error method. On the other hand, the advance of digital photography has brought much improvement to image making. The process is an integrated one, from camera setting and shooting to post processing, cropping, colour adjustment, etc., all for the ultimate purpose of a perfect image. There is no one single step that is more important than others. At the top, there is still the artistic taste of human that makes the difference.

Erwin Puts is quite right in pointing out that the potential of digital photography lies beyond making an image. His observation of the camera-phone is correct that photo-taking will become a daily event instead of a photographic event. Nowadays, people compose photo diary and record things they do, for the purpose of keeping history, memory, journal etc. Blogs are now full of daily images. Content and convenience are king, not a perfectly calibrated photograph.

As digital photography getting more powerful, film photography will be upgraded to the professional niche, just like black vinyl discs or vacuum tube amplifiers.

Back to the natural phenomenon of change management, there are several examples.

When the ball pen was invented, people said it would affect the ability to write properly and refrain from letting children use them. Now ball pens are everyday tool and the ink brush is used in the fine art of calligraphy.

When the piano was invented, people said it did not have the elegance of the harpsichord which could produce clearer sound. Now the piano is the basis of music making and the harpsichord is only used to play Baroque classics.

When automobile was invented, people said it was too dangerous and did not provide the leisure of riding in a horse carriage. Now we cannot do without automobile, and horses can only be found in Happy Valley.

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