"What Makes A REAL Photograph" (according to ForesthillFilmLab)

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by shannon_t, Apr 26, 2017.


Is There's Such Thing as Digital Photography?

  1. Yes, photography encompasses both film and digital.

  2. No, photography can only be done on film, light-sensitive paper, and wet/dry plate.

Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. All the kids out there will all grow up to be fine cell phone picture takers so there is no need to worry about it. They will decide what to call it all by themselves..
  2. Was there really a need for that?
  3. We should all care, because Mortz's exposition is a good example of non-critical thinking. Today, in the world of politics and commerce, we are exposed to lots of statements that are inherently fallacious, and many people believe them to be true statements because they have not learned about logical fallacies and critical thinking.

    Mortz's argument is based on at least three fallacies (two of which are closely related).

    Argument from silence (argumentum ex silentio) – where the conclusion is based on the absence of evidence, rather than the existence of evidence. He justifies his position by limiting his references to material published before digital photography existed or had become widespread.

    Etymological fallacy – which reasons that the original or historical meaning of a word or phrase is necessarily similar to its actual present-day usage. Mortz ignores the broadening of the meaning of "photography". Words are not now and never have been static in meaning. This is closely related to metonymy:

    Metonymy – Ignoring the contiguity between concepts. Animal horns were once used to make musical instruments. Now such instruments are often made of brass but are stilled called horns although they do not contain any animal horn. Likewise, photography, which once was based on wet-plates or film now uses light-sensitive sensors. However the concept of capturing images by collecting light on a photosensitive substrate is common to both technologies.

    What Mortz does is build what appears to be a logical argument on a fallacious foundation that may easily dupe a careless or non-critical person.

    Obviously, Mortz's misuse of logic is of very little import in the grand scope of things. However, in politics and commerce, the inability to separate statements based on reasoned logic from those based on fallacious logic is very dangerous and can cause us great harm.
  4. So it is a good example - are you going to show him the errors of his ways? Are you going to teach him critical thinking?
    It is also very widely spread. Or to use another term: ubiquitous.
  5. Similar to Dr. Ben's second point is the logical fallacy sometimes called "no true Scotsman." If someone comes up with an exception or contradiction to your point, you eliminate it by redefinition. Of course there is no such thing as "real" digital photography, because you can simply define "real photography" to exclude it.

    Silly? Of course it is. If I take a slide and scan it and print it digitally, is it a photograph? If I take an image on film and take the same image digitally, and the two look alike, is one right and the other wrong? How hard must you work to perceive a difference before it is unimportant?

    When a VIP appears in town and a reporter takes a picture, and the newspaper prints the half tone on the front page, at what point did it stop being a photograph?
  6. I suppose defining what a "real photograph" actually is would help in making the determination in what is or is not real in the many methods of photography. However it's not an issue that is important to me as a photographer.. I tend to think about what is rewarding to me in my quest to obtain nice photos in the world. Currently I enjoy medium format film photography and cell phone photography. Both camera's are just awesome for different reasons.
  7. The guy wants to be Ken Rockwell, but lacks sense of humor.
    shannon_t likes this.
  8. Irrelevancy is alive and thriving on this thread.
  9. I'm in the "who cares?" camp. If someone wants to claim that "real" photography can only be done with an 11x14 wet plate, fine.
  10. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    On "The Simpsons" TV show every time a questionable topic comes up a woman runs around saying, "What about the children? How will this affect the children?" If they wanted to change the street parking from diagonal to parallel parking she go around yelling that. But that is off topic. As for the main topic, I don't care. Besides, "photography" is an archaic word. I prefer "picture taking" as in "I done got me my pitchure took."
  11. I would say it is quite a stretch to say that digital photography is not real photography, of course it is.

    However for people like me who still DO shoot a lot of film, mostly in medium format, I will categorically say that for those of use who started doing photography in the early 70's like I did, when there were no such things as auto ANYTHING (except for auto-diaphragms on lenses) we had to be much better and far more knowledgeable photographers to produce outstanding images. I am floored by how little so many "Generation D" photographers actually know about the technical side of photography. They usually shrug it off and ask "why do I have to know that?". Because, God forbid, you might actually have to focus MANUALLY. To be a truly great photographer you have to be well versed not only on the artistic side of the craft but the technical side as well. Ask a "Generation D" photographer what hyperfocal distance is and how you use it and watch their eyes glaze over and their EEG trace go flat.
  12. I was just about to say that he makes Ken Rockwell look sane and knowledgeable.

    But on a more serious note, it's one thing to have your own opinions, it's another to aggressively present your opinions and bigotry as facts. Travis is doing nothing to help film photography. In fact, if anything, he's hurting it by making the film community(especially the ones who shoot film exclusively) look like an exclusive clique of badly-dressed millennials. Stuff like that makes me want to swear off film forever...
  13. Ben, Mortz is of no consequence. I could not care less about what he thinks or says. I champion everyone's right to think and speak as they wish. Everyone has the right to be stupid and irrelevant. It is not my job in life to point out how stupid or irrelevant they are. This is one reason so many prefer the companionship of a dog over people.
    Dieter Schaefer likes this.
  14. Agreed.

    As a matter of fact, Mortz would likely laugh if not snivel at the specter of his arguments actually being dissected. Their significance is not in terms of their validity, but rather in terms of their efficacy at being provocative and self promoting.

    This is the 21st century where, in so many cases, logic and truth have given way to bombast and bullying.
  15. Well how someone defines "real photograph" makes no difference to me. I just dont care. However he at least came up with his idea and supported it with his old books and such. Outside of unsavory comments about his person knowbody has presented a reasonable rebuttel
  16. Ross, did you read Dr. Ben's post above? What would qualify as a more considered and reasonable rebuttal than that?

  17. No I had not read it but I just went back. I would say that he made an attempt at a rebuttel but it was more of a discredit to the kid's point while using language intended to impress rather then to communicate. . Dr. Ben did not provide us with his logical and critical thinking to demonstrate what a "real photograph" actually means or is. .

    I think the main lesson here to be learned is that the kid has an unpopular opinion among digital photographers and in this thread the members have responded with insults and name calling rather then demonstrating what a "real photograph" actually is and why a digital file is in fact a "real photograph".

    However I shoot film and digital and they eventually wind up as an inkjet print. Real or Fake I enjoy them. It's just taking pictures is all. I figure family members can check them out for a couple hundred years if they feel like it or they can toss them in the fireplace. My hard drives will quit working or get lost.
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2017
  18. Ross, the point I've been trying to make is that the debate over what is a "real" photograph is a distraction and not important to me, so it would be a little disingenuous of me to make a case for what I believe is a real photograph when what I believe is that the debate itself is the problem and I won't play what I consider to be a fool's game of defining what a "real photograph" is. I'll let others speak for themselves, but I sense from many of the comments that it's not the particular argument that's at issue as much as a general tiring over such ultimately nonsensical and pointlessly divisive debates.

    My understanding of the word "rebuttal" is that it's a refutation, which is what Ben offered. And he did it with, to me, unquestionable critical advantage. A rebuttal may include, but is not necessarily, the putting forth of a different or personal position on the issue as much as it is a denial of an argument already put forth. A rebuttal is precisely what you say it's not. A rebuttal, in fact, does discredit an opposing point of view without having to put forth an alternative.
    rossb and Dieter Schaefer like this.
  19. Why are we doing this?

    I do think that is an appropriate question to a discussion that simply repeats essentially similar arguments going back two centuries.

    So, yes, I do think my invoking of Godwin's Law was timely.
  20. I use and enjoy both equally albeit differently. When using film with the goal of printing in the darkroom, I feel 100% like I am engaging in photography in it's most accurate form. With digital I am producing digital "images" that can give the viewer the same emotional reaction as a darkroom print.

    Some 10 years ago this kind of argument mattered to me more than it does now. I'm so happy to be earning a living shooting both that I just can't slam either when they play so damn nice together.

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