Word and Image

Digital vs Photography

Digital is free. A memory card holds thousands of images. The cost per image is fractions of a penny. Film was costly. It cost money to buy film, develop negatives, and print a picture. You got 36 negatives per roll. If you were Ansel Adams you carried around a large view camera and a limited number of photographic plates. Each image was a process and they had better count because it was not like a machine gun; you could not just spray and shoot. I learned a while ago, that a motor drive will not get you the critical moment when you are shooting sports. There, actually, is skill involved. If you don’t appreciate this, then keep your finger on your iPhone shutter and blast away. A blind squirrel is said to get a nut sometimes. The majority of results do not respect the process and the images reflect the lack thereof in kind. Too complicated and don’t care, yes, in the universe of bad images, this is the majority. And, even I, admit to taking too many pictures these days. Press the shutter – I will edit or change things in Lightroom or Photoshop later. It is interesting to think upon the process. I am guilty. I fire away and defer the consequences to a later moment. Or, should I take a real picture? Less is more? Do you think about one good image? Or, is it, close your eyes, press the shutter and hope for the best? Black or white? I do a little of both. Experience, there is something to be said for having tools Ansel Adams never had. At the end of the day, did you have fun? For me, digital is my negative. I shot 26 images to meld into a single shot. Ansel would have worked his negative to get all the detail onto a single plate. Today, it’s called HDR. We are both working the problem with what we have in our tech arsenal.

4 responses

  1. Ummm, digital isn’t really free… you just pay for the costs of it upfront, though it does tend to be a whole lot cheaper than film.

    I used to bracket everything when I was out shooting, but not now. When shooting digital, I expose for the highlights and pull huge amounts of data out of the shadows during post-processing. I also shoot just one exposure at a time now, in order to keep my daily total down to something manageable.

    June 25, 2021 at 9:23 am

    • You could go HDR as opposed to bracketing. I don’t. I’m lazy. A roll of Ektachrome slide was about $8 a roll, $4 to develop… and so on. My last 256gb SD card was about $35 and about 10k images, probably more (images). It totally changes my thinking about cost when images cost so few cents. My editing is in Lightroom and, yes, it is onerous to edit hundreds of shot. I readily admit to shooting too much because cost is no longer a limiting factor.

      June 25, 2021 at 12:00 pm

      • I use HDR a lot more these days, especially since it can look a lot more natural than in the early years.

        Yep, film is expensive. Ektachrome 135-36 with a processing mailer is $32.98 per roll via B&H now. Print film is also quite expensive. And expired film is tough to come by, even via eBay… and the days of cheap $3 per roll film appear to be gone.

        Totally agree on all of your other points – as much as I love film, digital is the only way forward for me.

        June 25, 2021 at 5:24 pm

  2. As I said, I don’t HDR. I don’t know why. My daughter could always discern slide from digital. She finally came over to iPhone. I would buy a brick (20) of Ektachrome, or, I bought a bulk roll 100′ and loaded my own. The last slide was my son’s HS graduation in 2004. The freezer had several bricks and I discarded them after about 5 years. Alas, they were frozen good and I could have sold them. I don’t love all the time I spent developing my own slides and enlarging a select few. My very $$$ Bessler MXT45 with color head was just given a new home with my step-daughter. It has a home. Whether she will use it remains a question I will be curious to find out the answer. All my Nikon film cameras from the FTn to the 8008 sit on the shelf. Nikon D70, 200, 610 and now mirrorless Z5 were my path forward in digital. I did not dabble much in Canon nor was seduced by Leica. I was always conscious about $$ though why is a good question. I could have a Porsche also. But, I was satisfied my car got me where I needed to go – safely. I did not get Z7,8,9; it did not fit my budget and was beyond my need. Funny. We only live once. I could. I did not. Your gear is quite extensive and appears well thought out. You carried/used a tripod when you travel. I don’t. I am more come as you are. The only rule for me is to have a camera close at hand when opportunity presents. Fun. I did plenty of work at work. And, I dabbled in medical photography as much as was relevant.

    June 25, 2021 at 5:51 pm

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