Thursday, September 1, 2011

Observations on Art 9.1

A friend of mine posted something on Google+ in which she asked the question “do you think Black and White photography specifically has gained more than it has lost in the digital age and why?”

I had to think about the answer to that because it really is a hard question for me. The first affordable digital cameras emerged in the late '90s and the first Adobe program in 2003 so by the time I began to take photography seriously the world had already begun to change. I never had much formal training and only ever toyed in a darkroom but I did take a lot of analog photos with a pair of OM10s I own. It's something I would like to get back into someday but who knows if I'll ever have the time. I'm torn because my photos are almost exclusively monochrome but a large percentage are color shots I changed with software. The different methods of doing that is something I have in the back of my mind to write about and something that came up in the seminar I just took.

I first fell in love with
black & white when I discovered the portraits of Robert Mapplethorpe and the landscapes of Ansel Adams almost twenty years ago. To me color records the scene in front of you while black & white interprets that scene and there aren't any better at it than those two. Maybe this is a little arrogant of me to say but the way I feel is that a color photo is a photo but a black & white one is a work of art. I try to limit using software myself but to me software is just another tool to use in creating that work of art. I'm sure photography has lost something in the digital age but I also think it has gained just as much or more than it has lost. One thing I'm not quite sure of is if the ability to take hundreds of shots in search of that one great one is a good thing or if it takes away from the original composition of the photo. Than again I'm as guilty of that as anybody

Software isn't used in just digital photography today but all kinds and even without software a purely analog photographer has any number of ways to change a photo including film speed, exposure, and soaking time. So I guess my total cop out answer is you can't take the digital out of photography anymore than you can take the acrylic paints out of contemporary painting. One thing we both miss are the scents and smells of the old styles.

I don't know if I answered the question or asked more but thanks for making me think.

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