Sunday Musings: progress in photography isn't the move to digital, it's the reduction of standards

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by kdghantous, Feb 4, 2017.

  1. Not too long ago, there were quite a few standards that photographers and publishers had to keep in mind:
    - Transparency film (compulsory for certain applications)
    - Labelling of mounted transparencies - e.g. even vertical compositions had to be labelled the same way as horizontal compositions
    - Strips of 4 or 6 negatives
    - 35mm - 8-perf only, by default
    - 6x4.5
    - 6x6
    - 4x5
    - 8x10
    - Physical media between computers, such as SyQuest or Zip disks, which eventually got reduced to 12cm optical disc
    Now, for most people, it has reduced to just two or three:
    - JPEG (and TIFF where relevant)
    - SD card (and USB flash drives where relevant)
    This is of course assuming a purely digital toolset. Software doesn't matter, because you are delivering JPEGs. You could be using a PowerPC Mac for all your editors or clients know, but that's irrelevant because all they want is the JPEG file (or the TIFF).
    --
    P.S. You can argue that it has all become too easy with digital tools, and I might agree. But that's a different discussion. :)
     
  2. Just not sure what your point is. What would you prefer?
     
  3. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    Meanwhile the standard of photography - as measured by the number of people able to make good photographs, show these to others and get good, affordable prints of their work- has increased markedly.
     
  4. Software doesn't matter, because you are delivering JPEGs. You could be using a PowerPC Mac for all your editors or clients know, but that's irrelevant because all they want is the JPEG file (or the TIFF).​
    Karim, to me, that's like saying that if Hemingway had used a computer instead of a manual typewriter, the quality of For Whom The Bells Tolls is somehow compromised. Or, in the world of 19th century painters, that the standards of art are compromised by photography.
    I think the standards of photographic art are ultimately determined by the finished product, not by the process of creating it. Now, if we want to talk about JPEG vs. Tiff... ;-)
     
  5. The nice thing about photography is that multiple standards (I might prefer the term "format" or "medium") exist at any one time. There is nothing to stop you making daguerreotypes or collodion or carbon or cyanotypes if you wish and there is a very small fraction of photographers who do so and other old plate camera formats are still in use by some. What you call "standard" may be the prevalent medium or format at any one point in time and this may well be the cellphone in the very near future. For digital capture sRGB and RGB are two of the different standards for color rendition, whereas orthochromatic and panchromatic silver films were and are available for B&W film photographers. These are "standards" that are subject to change or modification over time, but the interesting thing is that pretty well all the formats, media, recording standards and equipment and materials are stil around and you can choose to project slides or show pictures on your tablet or smartphone.
    Vive la différence, as our Gallic friends would say!
     
  6. Very large numbers of people are making photographs nowadays. Most are untrained and have had little practice. It may be that good photographs as a percentage of all photographs are now fewer than they were: but good photographs are still being made, and perhaps their absolute number is larger.
     
  7. Standards are standard because they serve a purpose in manufacture or in publication. There were fewer standards than your list above. The ISO was a standard. I am still thinking of what more I used to be concerned about. I guess now that we have communication and transfer of images via data it is nice to have a standard by which the transmitter can send and the receiver can receive. And storage that permits retrieval. Standards are only relevant as long as they are useful in the practical world. In that sense,standards follow funcition, just like form is designed to do, Karim. Nothing to sweat is my response to standards or even to length of skirts.
     
  8. Without standards, we cannot have civilization. However, in specific areas, sometimes there are very few, or they are taken for granted and are transparent.

    if Hemingway had used a computer instead of a manual typewriter​
    But that's kind of my point. Photography has become more like text publishing. Hemingway's editor would not care about the brand of typewriter, only the way he typed (e.g. double-spaced, single-sided). Before digital, editors did very much mind how you presented your slides.
    I think the standards of photographic art are ultimately determined by the finished product​
    Try submitting 10-perf 35mm slides to a stock library back in the '90s. Now, you can shoot 10-perf 35mm, or anything you like, scan it and deliver the JPEG or TIFF.
    It may be that good photographs as a percentage of all photographs are now fewer than they were: but good photographs are still being made, and perhaps their absolute number is larger.​
    I would bet that this is true.
     
  9. Speaking only for myself I can say that standards have changed. In the news business it wasn't unusual at all for me to burn 40 rolls of Ektachrome and Tri-x every week, more if it was a big news week. A roll of 36 exposures would generally produce 5-25 keepers. When that business went digital I probably increased my exposure count by a factor of 3 but the count of useable work was not much higher and still isn't. I've noticed a few changes. There is a lot more crap being published. I spend more time editing and photoshopping images now than I ever did in the darkroom. I have often seen it said here that the camera is merely a box and nothing about it matters which is nonsense. I suspect that Hemingway had a routine that included the typewriter he used. Louis Grizzard certainly did though he was no Hemingway. Many photographers are the same. I've made a few good photographs in my time and hope to make some more. The camera I used helped in that it didn't get in the way. I can't say that for the digital age. Nikons now are not as easy to use or as intuitive as they once were. So yes, I think standards have changed.

    Rick H.
     
  10. As far as I know, publisher's still have format and formatting requirements (standards) for submissions to them. So do all sorts of venues for photography. I'm still not sure what the OP is asking. Is he railing that photography is now communicated digitally? What does that have to do with photographic standards.
     

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