Re: An Actual Photograph; was list minders

From: Joe Smigiel ^lt;>
Date: 03/15/05-10:22:21 PM Z
Message-id: <>

>>> 03/15/05 10:00 PM >>>

>>How are they not true photographic prints? How are they not formed
the direct action of light?<<

A digitally captured image (via ccd, cmos, scan) requires a electrical
transcription and signal and decoding. The resulting image is not due
to the direct action of light. If you can somehow print that image file
so that the action of light forms an image on the print substrate, then
you would have a final photographic print. Otherwise, you just have a
print of some sort (e.g., inkjet print) that is not truly photographic.
OTOH, I can take any number of salts of silver, chromium, iron, etc.,
coat them on a substrate, and subject them to exposure of light and they
will directly be affected by the action of that light upon them and
darken. They form photographs. Ink is not photosensitive (except in
regard to fading which is an anti-image) nor is it photographic.

>>I shoot both digital and film, having been a film purist until June of

last year--but even my film has been edited digitally for seven or so
years. My ethical line is that I don't do anything digitally that I
couldn't do in the darkroom; i.e., I don't create images digitally, I
edit images digitally. (My own personal standards--not imposed on
anyone else, mind you.) And every image is made with a camera (film or

Using a camera is not required to make a photograph. Examples include
photograms and the curious method some Scandinavian astronomer
/Photographer (Sindberg?) had of exposing glass plates directly to the
night sky by holding them in his hand and letting starlight fall upon
them. The latter probably are not very intersesting images, but they
are nonetheless, photographs.

>>So what are they if not photographs . . . ?<<

Heck if I know. I just know what they aren't. They aren't photographs.

>>Light strikes film and excites silver ions in certain pleasing
arrangements. Or, light strikes a photosensitive chip and excites
pixels in equally
pleasing arrangements.
The point of the art has nothing to do with technology, no matter how
ancient or advanced. The point of the art is the aesthetic quality of
the final print; be it silver or not. I would much rather have a
numinous print in finger paint than a mundane silver print.<<

As would I, but I wouldn't call the finger painting a "photograph."
Would you? I'm not saying an image captured by a digital camera and
then printed using an inkjet printer cannot have aesthetic merit or be a
work of art. I'm just saying it can't be a photograph. And "pleasing
arrangements" may be a criterion for Feng Shui, but not for photographs.

>>Some of my most exciting (for me, if for nobody else) recent works are

nudes captured on 4x5 Polaroid 55p/n through a modified zone plate
camera. I break all the rules with the resulting negatives and get
really nice effects (Okay. . . . I like them). Weeks later, after
they've been totally abused, I scan the negatives, edit them a bit, and
print them digitally--either as direct prints or as digital negatives
for contact prints onto various media, most of which are often
discussed in this group.

Are these not true photographic prints?<<

The original 55s and the latter alternative prints are. The digitally
printed images are not.


OK. How about this distinction: Every week my local news station runs
a video piece about something captured using a video camera by someone
they refer to as "our photographer." The scenes are usually very
beautiful, have aesthetic merit, show a degree of expertise by the
creator/editor of the piece who may be very talented in the field, etc.
But the fact they refer to the person doing the capture as a
"photographer" irks me. That person is a videographer, camera operator,
video editor, etc., but they are not a "photographer" at least not in
reference to the piece coming through on a CRT.

I see no problem making the distinction between a videographer and a
photographer and don't rank them against each other on any hierarchical
scale. I have a great deal of respect and stand in awe of some very
talented videographers (and cinematographers, painters, lithographers,
sculptors, musicians, illustrators, ...) and a select group of
artists/imagemakers who use digital cameras, inkjet output devices and
software, but I don't consider them "photographers" when they do that
voodoo that they do.

Received on Tue Mar 15 22:19:22 2005

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