The Digital Age

When I went to see Ed Weston at the High Museum and Ansel Adams I was looking hard at the photograph. When would I ever have an opportunity like this again to see the works of great photographers?

Someone had asked me about Ansel Adams work. They asked, “Was it the original?”

The mat board was yellowing and the paper that one would use for film is definitely different from digital printing mediums. Different methods, different products, different results. Yes you can dodge and burn in photoshop, but if you did it in the dark room, the results would vary from one print to another. The dark room may take hours to make that perfect Ansel Adams print. Whereas on the computer, once you have that original  perfected, you can print out many copies.

“Yes, it was the original and it was beautiful!” I replied.

To the non photographer that only dabbled with their smart phones and posted their photos on Facebook, I feel that the digital age has cheapened the work of a photographer. It’s up to the photographer to show their customer how important is a final print. I look at my family’s old photos and think how blessed I am to have this print. These prints are far and few between. Can you imagine how expensive a photo was to an individual back in the early 1900s! No one had smart phones, and to create that one photograph was a lot of work.

Although I am a modern day photographer, I feel there is value to my photos because I create that value! Everyone wants the digital files, all of them. What does the client do with all of those digital files? Put them on Facebook? Do they print all of those files? Do they put these digital files up on their walls to enjoy? (Now that’s a good idea if I do say so myself!) We live in a world of “stuff” that we don’t even use. Do we feel more comfortable surrounded by stuff? Check out the show, Hoarders, and see how comfortable those people are living. It’s more relaxing to see a photograph of my family on the wall. 🙂

If my parents didn’t have these picture printed out then I would not have known what they looked like in their younger years. That cd/dvd that is stuffed in your drawer collecting dust will eventually become invalid and you will no longer be able to see those photos anymore; the technology will be outdated. Then you will be stuck with a warped cd that will deter woodpeckers from pecking on the side of your house. Sure, you’ll have all the originals, but no pictures. Then you better start praying that your photographer has your original picture that you can no longer see. Facebook might be gone too, along with your pictures. Can you imagine if Ansel Adams said, “Eh, what’s the point of printing out these photographs when you can view them on my negative?!”

Yes, the negative is the equivalent to a digital file. Developing equipment is not as easy to come by. Can you imagine trying to print out an Ansel Adams photograph today? Negatives come in all different sizes and you will have to find the technology to print out large format negatives. You have to figure out what areas need to be dodged and burned.

Exactly…you wouldn’t be able to do this to get the perfect high dynamic range that Adams achieved. Technology can emulated this look today, but it is definitely not the same.

I’ve heard people rant about how the photographer won’t let them have the digital file? For what? So it can sit in a drawer? Walmart does a terrible job printing out a photographer’s hard work that is still not finished. Cheap paper and ink doesn’t cut it dude. My best piece of advice to you is this: allow your photographer to print out high quality prints that will last for hundreds of  years. 🙂

These are some of the images of Brett Weston that I was able to see. I thank Brett for printing these out so my son (an myself) can see these magnificent pieces of history.

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P.S. There are so many different types of prints and finishes offered today that will knock your socks off. But you will never know that because you choose the digital file over a print.

The Digital Age

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