June 22, 2010

Cover your eyes. Rant on MF

Today I was editing some images I took over the weekend with my $2600 Canon. Half the images are out of focus due to a "micro-adjustment" somewhere in the lens and sensor. We never had these problems with film. Now, it's a common problem that's very frustrating. So, with that said, I sent an email to my good friend Nemo telling him of my hatred for digital. He's a MAJOR digital lover and a great photographer. To save all the details of our lengthy conversation, here was my last response to his "pro-digital" rant. Mom and Dad cover your eyes and read no further. Brave readers, see below.Two "digital" images from long ago... (as a buffer before my shit-storm rant)
I hear ya brotha. However... I like the fact that when you shoot film it is what it is. Unless you use graduated ND filters your sky is washed out. But that's real. Photographers are adding clouds and making skies unnatural and fake. Like over retouching skin to make it look flawless. We all know it's bullshit. Even the French (or Italians) are starting to think over retouching is bullshit. Everything you see is fake. Where's the realism? What happened to waking up at 5:00am to get a good sunrise? Nope, people are shooting at noon, burning in the sky, adding clouds... it's all bullshit. And, HDR? It's bullshit too. Looks so contrived. Yes I think digital has its place... like snake churches. It's so dark in there you need latitude. Yes, you're right. But, that's more documentation than making/creating art. I think the image is almost secondary in photography, it's the process, the love of the organic quality, the waking up early and waiting for that perfect sun or waiting for that last bit of light at dusk. How organic is sitting at a screen sipping coffee and adding clouds that really weren't there? Might as well get a job with Pixar. Why leave the house? Create images from stock photos. Shoot landscapes out the window of your car? Why bother to walk past 20 feet from a scenic overlook? Might drip some of your Starbucks. Fuck that... make a sacrifice. Get up at 4:00am, hike into the woods with a Hasselblad, slap on a 50mm and shoot whatever it looks like. Film doesn't lie for the most part (until it's digitally scanned), digital is the great visual lie. Most of today's photos are lies... mine included. I felt like a photographer when I would shoot Polaroid type 55 or 665 and look at the image and see those edges, the chemistry marks. I felt like a photographer dipping that paper in that liquid and watching the print come up. Now I feel like everyone else.... There's no sacrifice. It's all related to the general laziness of our society. Take the easier route... no fuss, no muss, no dirty hands, no cleanup, no hiking, no waking up early, no nothing. It's all bullshit. And, I'm as guilty as the next guy. Oh, it's fun, it's entertaining, like Pixar. You want "Toy Story" or "Gone with the Wind"? "Monsters Inc" or "The Wizard of Oz"? "Raging Bull" or "Shrek"? Digital is a lie... it's all fake. I'm going to go shoot a roll of 120 since my fucking 5D piece of digital shit won't focus. Rant on motherfucker... rant on. I feel better.


  1. I agree. Sure, you can't beat the immediacy of digital--especially when the client wants it NOW--but I miss the excitement and anticipation of getting up early to shoot, processing the film and watching as an image becomes visible in the dimness of a safelight.
    But I still think a real photographer "sees" differently than all those wanna-bes with a point & shoot (or the rich wanna-bes with a 1DS Mark IV)and can create a beautiful image whereas the P&S crowd are just snapping pretty things. The photographer thinks, plans, feels and sees; the snapper just points with no thought, no awareness, no creativity.
    Sure, I miss the "craft" of photography that digital has diminished, but a pro will still create a better image, be it with film or digital equipment.

    Now, let's hear your rant on how digital has "dumbed-down" the editorial world to a point where it's often about getting inexpensive images at the sake of quality/creativity because the end viewer doesn't know better and can't tell the difference anyway.

  2. "Film doesn't lie for the most part"
    What about dodging and burning in the (real) darkroom? That's not lying?

    "Digital is a lie... it's all fake"
    Film can (and sometimes) do be faked too.

    You did nothing but make the film photograph community sound more like a fanatical cult.