Re: Crappy/Krappy

From: Ryuji Suzuki ^lt;[email protected]>
Date: 01/03/05-10:49:50 AM Z
Message-id: <>

From: Christopher Lovenguth <>
Subject: RE: Crappy/Krappy
Date: Sun, 02 Jan 2005 19:19:58 -0500

> I think it might come down to the idea that many years ago when
> photography was so new that it was all about tinkering until you got
> what you wanted and that is how it has continued to be discussed. I
> still do it, even though I try not to, because it's so ingrained in
> me from it happening all around me. I don't see painters saying "I
> used a #3 round head brush" and measuring with scales exactly what
> combinations of paint they used to get that color or timing how long
> they let their canvas dried before applying the next coat. But I
> will here a debate on this lens being better then that one or that
> the image should have been shot with Portra instead of Superia when
> photographers are discussing an image.

If painters *believed* paint X would be superior to Y, and the
difference could only be seen with the skilled eyes, often with some
delay between the time of its application and emergence of visual
difference, they would talk about the paint X all day long. Well, it
doesn't have to be exactly like this, but it is not the actual
importance of X but the believed value of X that matters.

Photography has one difference in that it is heavily dependent on
technology. It became possible only after people sought light
sensitive materials suitable to record images and finally got them
under the control of the photographer's hand. Since then, improved
convenience, photographic speed and image quality depended on great
many scientists and engineers' effort. It is just that end users do
not necessarily have to be conscious of the backgound of this
technology thanks to very successful commercialization of the material
and equipment. At least until near the end of the 19th century, only
those who were knowledgeable in physics, chemistry and generally
skilled in many things could practice photography but the situation
changed greatly. While the basic photographic material and equipment
bacame accessible to the mass, the basic technology remains the same
and a split second error in exposure time, or fraction error in
practically anything has *potential* to make visual difference. This
different scale of temporality, requirement of precision and limited
room for correction after exposure, etc. are very different from
painting, but perhaps closer to printmaking.

Photographers know any variable is of some *potential* meaning, and it
*possibly* deserves precise control. Some are legitimate, but many are
void space. It is too easy to get trapped in the void space and
mystery of fine tuning variables that do not make any difference
greater than statistical error or psychophysical detection
threshold. And unless there is objective evidence, people are often
afraid to say there is no difference. In this context, people are more
comfortable in accepting the difference that does not exist than
risking incorrect rejection when there is some difference. Thus
unnecessary but deceptively meaningful technicality is maintained. So
photography has a lot of legitimate technical elements to begin with,
to which there is a huge room for unnecessary technicality.

I don't know why people generally talk more about equipment, film,
etc. in front of actual images than what the image expresses. It may
be that the instancy of brief camera exposure makes some images more
easily interpretable. It may be that many photographers believe in
that the particular image can be made only with the equipment used and
nothing else.

Ryuji Suzuki
"People seldom do what they believe in.  They do what is convenient,
then repent." (Bob Dylan, Brownsville Girl, 1986)
Received on Mon Jan 3 10:50:43 2005

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