The digital revolution has not happened (yet?)

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we have not even started to assess what digital photography could do once we stop treating it as a slightly improved version of analog photography. Digital photography essentially is not well understood at all. Our thinking of digital photography conforms to our thinking of analog photography, even though in actuality the inherent properties of the two often are very different.

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There Are 17 Comments On This Article.

  1. I would love to hear specific examples of how the two are different. I know the obvious ones. This needs more “fleshing out” than just being a heady sound-bite.

  2. I question calling digital photography a revolution! Digital photography, just as analog photography is just a means to an end in the human creative process, a technology that will continue to evolve. One day it will be replaced by something else, a new technology a new experience. Sometimes we talk too big.

  3. I think two of limits are bandwidth, and the fact that we are on the cusp of affordable super equipment. For example, I could imagine a high res image like you might get with a Red camera, or Nikon D800, but the viewer might be able to roll over it with mouse (or finger on a tablet) for a super slow-mo view of the scene as the shot changes (moon sets, or bike passes by, for example); but this would require everybody involved to have fibre broadband, fast computer processors and high res screens. In my opinion, technology isn’t there yet, for enough people, at least in my Australian backwater…

  4. I have been thinking about this issue for quite a while and addressed it on my blog a few years ago. I believe the main thing to keep in mind is that digital is a construct, while analog is not. Digital is purposefully programmed and manufactured to mimic analog photography. Digital could just as well output music or some entirely different thing. As we move more and more towards digital and quit comparing it to analog I am convinced that those making digital ‘cameras’ will start utilizing the inherent possibilities of the science and technique available to digital to make ‘products’ that we can’t even imagine at this time.

    http://chrislh.wordpress.com/2008/11/19/digital-is-a-construct/

  5. Are we really conceding that digital is a “slightly improved version of analog photography”? Because, I for one don’t think so… Unless your defenition of “slightly improved” is ease and convenience. Then yes, I guess it is.

    The rest of the equation (the most important part IMHO) is Vinyl vs CD, at which point we’re talking individual tastes (I’ll take vinyl every time).

  6. Andre Friedmann

    For this photographer, my minor epiphany was digital finally replacing film when the resolution became fine enough to no longer see pixels. For my publishers and clients, their major epiphany was distribution.

  7. “stop treating it as a slightly improved version of analog photography” – I’m not sure I understand what the author is getting at. Is there a link to the longer article that I’m missing?

  8. Joerg has missed the point all together. Or has missed that there is not point to his argument. Digital is neutral, its binary, its just a machine device for doing pretty much anything; as I was reminded while watching a Doco on Alan Turing a week or so ago.

    The real reason photography exists is the lens (or the pinhole) and a desire to mimic the binocular view of our eyes. In this case the medium for carrying this view (film or digital sensor) is not the message; though it informs the aesthetics of that message.

    Digital is meaningless, neutral, until you provide it with data to process.

    Photography is making or taking pictures..

    Digital photography has already turned photography on its head in ways I am not going to go into here. Lets just say its very subtle yet it has had a sledge-hammer-on-the-walnut affect. A fundamental change to photography practice people seem to have missed due to its innate subtlety.

    Yes I read the whole article.

  9. Off course they are different. With analog you would have to actually think and know what you doing, on top of worrying how to compose, etc etc. There will be no digital camera to surpass Tri-X and go ahead and argue if you wish. They are also different that if I want to upgrade to a 36mb (nikon 800) and shoot Raw, I would need to throw my computer out of the window and get a new one in order to support the file load. Digital if good but it has killed photography. There are not any real gutsy, raw photography anymore. In a sea of billion images online, 99.9% are overly retouched and corny. So I guess my digital revolution you mean that that the visual pollution will continue? Cause if that’s the case I don’t want to see it. Yes I shoot digital for the most part. I just can’t stand this geeky talk about equipment and digital anymore.