Interesting Article on Digital Photography in the SF Chronicle


“Digital is “just a different animal,” he says, “a totally different medium.” Instead of the warmth of subtlety of film, “What’s there oftentimes is a hyper-reality.”

He mentions two artists, both extremely successful, who bend that hyper-reality to their advantage: Loretta Lux, a German artist living in Monaco who creates surreal, highly manipulated pictures of children in front of backdrops that look painted; and Gregory Crewdson, an American photographer who makes elaborate, highly cinematic images in huge formats. “

Thanks, David!

3 Replies to “Interesting Article on Digital Photography in the SF Chronicle”

  1. Seems that most if not all of the ‘experts’ who gave their opinion on digital capture are holdouts who have not or are resisting conversion from film to digital. I don’t buy their assessment that: (Instead of the warmth of subtlety of film, “What’s there oftentimes is a hyper-reality.”) or (Gray and others contacted for this article believe digital images can’t compare to film.) These statements are rather biased and in my opinion just plane false. There are endless examples of photographers who have been shooting digitally for many years that have produced prints comparable and in some cases superior to that produced by the traditional film and chemical print process. I do agree with their assessment that it is significantly more expensive to be a photographer in the digital age.

  2. You may want to read the lastest PDN — Crewdson talks about the fact he shoots everything with FILM — and that digital in no way gives him the richness that film does… The person writing the article in the Chronicle should do their homework…

  3. From article: “I was really resisting buying a digital camera, partly because it was $5,000 for a Canon 5-D and then you have to have a $5,000 printer to support it.” Being a photographer, she says, “costs much more than it ever did, and it takes an enormous amount of time to process the pictures. I have to own a variety of fine printers or let my standards slip entirely.”

    From Jeffh: “I do agree with their assessment that it is significantly more expensive to be a photographer in the digital age.”

    Allow me to disagree, but I think the assessment on the costs of digital is complete hogwash. From an hobbyist’s point of view, digital is much cheaper. My camera body cost me 1000$. Some cameras in the same class cost more, so let’s say it’s worth 1500$. I used to work neg and slide with a canon A-1, which you could buy for 200$ (body only) at the dawn of digital. Let’s be generous and say that I could go on e-bay right now and buy a body for 100$. In fact, let’s imagine that the price of film bodies is negligible (even though a good film body before digital was mature was still substantial). Developping C-41 in a commercial minilab was 5$ for 36 exposures. I’m not talking about quality work here, just the automated cartridge-in film-out minilab machine. My counter right now says 2250, after 3 months of use. This would have cost me over 300$ to developp. At this rate, I’ll have taken over 11 000 images one year after having purchased my camera. That’s slightly over 1500$ in processing costs.

    Yes, the initial investment is expensive with digital. I have to basically pay one to two years of processing costs initially for a body. My body will last me more than two years (maybe some people here are much more technology happy than I am and change body every 6 months, but then you have to evaluate how much you can sell the old body for.) In any case, it’s simple to see that within the life of your equipment, even if you were to own two bodies because you can’t afford to switch lenses (in which case I would hope you shoot more than I do) you will have repaid your investment.

    Maybe there’s something I’m missing about professionnals, but professional costs were quite high back then. They may well have all forgotten what it used to cost to get a professional lab to print one of your images. That would be hypocritical of them. It was definitely not cheap, believe me.

    And time? I remember how long I used to spend in the darkroom working on a project, breathing toxic fumes (although I’ll be the first to admit it was great being a little stone after the darkroom sessions). Maybe it’s because I wasn’t that good, although everytime I read the biography of a photographer that was famous before 1990, they all talk about the long hours they would spend in the lab, trying to get exactly the result they wanted.

    I’ll agree that the results you get with digital are different than with film. They’re different mediums. But the bit about costs and time spent working on images is just hogwash if you ask me.

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