"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. Fred when you say stuff I always listen. However the thread is about name calling and insults towards the kid. I do not want to call a fellow photographer insulting names because he has an opinion that differs from mine. Anyway I am not going to post again. Good luck.
  2. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    Never mind this film/digital debate. I am still trying to figure out which is better - Canon or Nikon.
    ted262 likes this.
  3. Luckily, it seems everyone else has made up their minds on that issue :rolleyes:
  4. Travis Mortz is perfectly correct. Photography is making pictures out of light-sensitive materials. Other picture-making methods such as painting, drawing, and contemporary digital processes do not make pictures out of light-sensitive materials. Different is not the same.

    Digital picture-making, insofar as it delivers hardcopy, is technology assisted realist painting or drawing. The parallels between paintings and digi-graphs are remarkable.

    Both start with an illuminated subject being imaged by a lens onto a megapixel sensor. The sensor can be in the back of a camera or in the back of a human eye. The eye sensor is called a retina and it runs to about 100 megapixels though not all pixels are equal. Some are rods and some are cones.

    The camera sensor and the retina are both transducers and they transform the real optical image that falls on them into a stream of electrical pulses that is sent up a cable. The camera cable is a wire. The eye cable is the optic nerve.

    The pattern of pulses is stored in a memory. It could be a computer memory made of doped silicon. Or it could be a biological memory made of neurones, axons, and dendrites.

    A brain then edits the picture memory. Some things may be deleted, some added, or some rearranged. Several picture memories could be stitched together. Old and new memories could be used in entirely optional ways. The final picture memory formed as a result of processing is only arbitrarily related to the original real optical image that fell on the sensor.

    Output is via a device that puts visible spots of paint on a substrate. The device could be an ink-jet printer controlled by a "printer driver". Or the device could be a painter's hand with a paint loaded brush in it. The "painter driver" is a set of skills that may take a few years of art-school to acquire.

    Photography belongs to an entirely different class of picture making and is not a version of painting, drawing, or digi-graphy. The restricted class of methods that includes photography is based on direct physical interaction between subject and picture. Some other members of this class are death masks, life casts, brass rubbings, wax impressions, coal peels, and foot prints.

    Painting, drawing, and digital methods are very versatile and can make pictures that look like anything. Sometimes they are used to make pictures that look like photographs.
  5. I am sorry, I can't watch his moving talking digital picture file because it is not record on motion picture film with a player piano going in the room.

    I can play the moving pictures purist card too. lol.

    Now I will go back to my hobby of digitalimagegraphy using my strange image capture data converter box thingy. Do you think Canon, Sony, Nikon, Leica, Hassleblad... realize they no longer make photography cameras. lol.

    Glad the nice young man schooled us all from a book written in 1923. It is on the internet, it must be true.

    I wonder if he realizes by his logic that when he scans his photo to share over the internet, it is no longer a photo, it is only 1's and 0's in computer files. He should no longer call it a photo.

    Opinions are like backsides, everyone has one. He is not hurting anyone.
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2017
  6. Mark . . . LOL!

    This now insipid debate is missing one important ingredient. Before defining what a "real photograph" is, I think it's incumbent upon us to define what "real" is. For, after all, how can we know what a real photo is before we know what is real?

    Therefore, or as some of us prefer to say, ergo, in order to further participate in the discussion, each future contributor to the thread must submit a paper (typed and double-spaced, minimal use of white-out permitted, but none of this typing on a keyboard nonsense) of no less than 10 pages fully defining reality. I'll be submitting a freshman Philosophy paper I wrote under the influence of a preferred substance of that era about 46 years ago when I can dig it out from decades' worth of mighty fine dust.

    Oh, and Maris, yours has to be written in Elizabethan English, preferred meter to be iambic pentameter.
    Mark Keefer likes this.
  7. Say what? A direct physical interaction of the subject with the picture? That's what photography does/is? Can you expand on that a little please, as I am lost? All of a sudden the "photo-sensitive material" is replaced by a "direct physical interaction between the subject and the picture"? How is that interaction accomplished, I wonder?

    "Digital photography" results from light impinging on a sensor creating an electrical signal that is processed to yield and image. "Real photography" uses light impinging on film to create a latent image by interacting with silver halide crytals (initiating a chemical reaction involving electron transfer); that latent image then needs to be developed in another chemical process to create the final image. Aside from the details in the two processes, I don't see a major difference here; the fundamental image creating step consists of light interaction with something that is photosensitive (in both cases, a camera is involved). The details how the image is then "fixed" to be presented are just that, details. No fundamental diffference means the entire discussion on digital vs real is pointless. If anything, then the digital process is more direct, avoiding the cumbersome chemical processes involved in film developing. I think the closer one examines the differences, the more similar the two become. One could even argue that digital also creates a "latent" image (the direct sensor output) that then needs to be "developed" to be visible to the human eye.
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2017
  8. Darn 15 minute editing limit!

    One argument one could make is that the digital sensor is reusable whereas the film sensor is not; IMHO that counts just as an disadvantage of film but not as a fundamental difference between the two (just demonstrating that film photography is the less direct way to a final image).
  9. This isn't the first time Maris waxed poetically about how there's no such thing as digital photography. In a 2013 interview with The Large Format Blog in Australia:

    "There is no such thing as digital photography. It's digital picture-making. Photography is the production of pictures out of light sensitive substances. Digital picture-making consumes no light sensitive substances; therefore not photography. And the thoughtless chorus of millions of digital picture-makers doesn't legitimise the "digital" equals "photography" fallacy. Aristotle listed this kind of fallacy in his perceptive analysis of informal fallacies. In philosophy itโ€™s usually referred to as the argumentum ad populum fallacy."
  10. Maris, you are hilarious!!

    "eye cable" ... OMG!

    Let me tell you a story. A few days back, I took a couple of pictures and left them in the camera without transferring to the computer. Now when I view them, the camera has edited my pictures and changed them completely. Modern digital cameras, go figure! Never would have happened with the good old film ones.
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2017
  11. I still remain very worried about the effect all this is having on the kids...so vulnerable, so likely to be perverted and led astray. Next they'll be using their phones and calling it photography...the horror.
    Mark Keefer likes this.
  12. Dieter, I agree. I don't care about gear, digital or film, I am more concerned about the image the photographer produces. Gear collectors wring their hands over gear, photographers about the image. Gear is only a means to an end. Dieter gave me some great advice on a lens in another forum the other day, but that lens was not an end in itself, it was a remedy to issues I was having with other lenses that prevented me from attaining my vision for a shot. No offense to the guy who is the subject of this thread, but I am from that area and knew most pros and amateurs and I didn't know him so checked his website. Take a look and see if this is a guy you would rely upon for expert advice.
    shannon_t likes this.
  13. See, I knew Man Ray was a dolt. He was one of the very few "real photographers" and yet he called what he made "rayographs." Now, thanks to Maris, we know that rayographs are truly photographs and most photographs taken by cameras are merely technology-assisted painting or some such thing. I stand enlightened. And, Man Ray, you are hereby vindicated and your work is henceforth and forevermore stripped of the name "rayograph" and divined with the superlative and very precise and unmediated, unadulterated, uncontaminated "photograph."
  14. If direct physical interaction is required, then a print is no more a photograph than a printout. If the subject dies or flies away, have we lost our photograph? At some point, light rays hit something, and an analogue of those rays is translated into an image. What else does a photograph need to be?
    sjmurray likes this.
  15. Lets try for some common sense..... Just have to use that grey stuff between your ears.

    You do not put yourself in a situation of conflict....Yes, its about common sense. If you must go there.. or ,caught in that situation try using something called personality.....chat and charm. If you struggle with personality and chat try train spotting, or, rocks and flowers like my mate Edward who is now Eddie.. Eddie.sort of feels more of a hip name and cooler than Edward.:) Could not resist Edward. Hope you find the humour my friend.

    Be happy.
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2017
  16. For your amusement and curiosity:

    Photography - Original Manuscript - Sir John F. W. Herschel.

    A facsimile by scanner of the very first time the word "Photography" was written down by the very first man to say it: Sir John F. W. Herschel.
    The occasion was at a meeting of the Royal Society at Somerset House in London on Thursday 14 March, 1839. Meetings of the Royal Society were great social occasions where the glitterati of the day could meet famous figures of science and industry. The best part was a lavish banquet set for approximately 8.30 pm but before that lectures and presentations were on the agenda. The last presentation before the feast was "Note on the use of Photography or the application of the Chemical rays of light to the purpose of pictorial representation." It is not known how many of the attendees realised that when they heard the word "Photography" it was for the first time.

  17. Apropos of the taxonomic question of what to classify image making / capturing and preserving it for view. Memory. When I was in high school I got interested in one of Dr Edwin Land's inventions. Called Vectography. Which sort of translates if I recall to images created by something like vectorial inequality in a polaroid field. Full range of tones. Iodine chemistry involved when we played with imbibition printing films.( It got pretty messy and costly fast).. So the image was not silver based nor dye based, but still an image that looked great. Come to think of it holography is another means of light capture. Is a puzzlement if one looks at it with that kind of squint. Pictorial representation casts a large web I guess.
  18. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    The first response to this thread should have been "The man's a jerk". That would have saved everyone a lot of writing.
  19. He has no website other than YouTube(www.youtube.com/channel/UCbDG7XYhdWuSrRvhMcFxSeQ www.youtube.com/user/bobcat802003), Flickr(www.flickr.com/photos/photosbytravis), Instagram(www.instagram.com/killindreams), and Facebook(www.facebook.com/travis.mortz).
  20. You are right, I forgot, in trying to be as tactful as possible, deleting a couple of initial uncharitable comments, that his website listed, Pause photo is non existent. I ended up looking at the photos there. Looks like the I have a camera therefore I am a photographer concept we see today, the gwc guy/gal with a camera. Perhaps the question should be "what is a real photographer?"
    shannon_t and sjmurray like this.

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