Thursday, December 1, 2011

Keeping The Magic In The Box

Often I am asked why I shoot film, why I haven't gone digital.  There are a series of inevitable questions and answers that follow;  that I love to print in the darkroom is one, that I know my film and how it responds to light and how it prints on my graded Oriental Seagull Paper, that I absolutely love my Hasselblad and my Leica and know them well enough that they are an extension of my minds eye, that I absolutely love the color Palette from Velvia- are a few reasons why I am an analogue shooter.

There are also a myriad of reasons why I am not a digital shooter.  The first being that I just fundamentally disagree that it is a photographic process, that I think it takes the artist out of the world through and in front of the lens, and instead back to some LCD screen where images are pointlessly refused or accepted, while what happens in front of them goes completely unnoticed and therefore unrealized.  Did I mention the fact that I then would have to spend countless hours at a computer screen, on my ass, with too many decisions and options to facilitate my form of photography, which is for the most part, completely un-doctored after development of the film.   The small value changes from development and exposure as well as dodging or burning, or changing contrast of the image are in no way analogous to the 'doctoring' of photographs that takes place today, and that pedantic argument will not be had by me. 

That the digital printing process consists of a series of key commands is gross to me, not to mention the fact that trying to sell me on the fact that is easier won't work because a) I have done it and know it is not any easier to print well digitally as it is to print well in a darkroom, and b) it is way easier for me to print in a darkroom(assuming they continue to make the materials), easier not just because of the process, but that I can spend 12 hours in a darkroom and enjoy every minute of it, whereas I  have to struggle and endure to work tirelessly and monotonously in front of a computer screen, waiting for all the machines to the work that is suppose to be the love of my life.  And even after I have achieved a master digital print, I put it alongside my master wet print, and am told that I should hail how close it has come, like close counts in anything other than horse shoes or hand grenades.  Yay! I can endure hell and high water to achieve something that is 'close' to what I love doing, only, without the love!  To me this is analogous to being heartbroken after a break-up and have a friend say,'look how close she is to so-and-so,' I meet such a statement with disdain and disbelief, both because of the relationship I had, and because of my knowledge of the subtleties that others miss, others that are selling me on the similarities, because they are unqualified in their inability to notice the differences I am speaking of in the first place.

But when I really break it down to what I feel that digital cameras and the digital 'workflow'(don't even get me started on that term) are missing, it is that they fail to retain something essential, something spiritual, something elusive, amorphous and wondrous-They take the magic out of the box.  One needn't take my word for it-just look at the state of contemporary photography, it's one big digital love fest.

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