Subject: A Binary Dilemma
Zeroes and ones….ones and zeroes…zeroes and ones…. Is this what I created? Numbers? Numbers that put in an intricate order translate to an image shot in a medium invented over 150 years ago?
I came to this realization not too long ago in my studio as I was talking to a colleague of mine and as the discussion on photography progressed, the disturbing thought that my work of the last four years consists of a series of ones and zeroes condensed in a digital file. Nothing tangible unlike film where one can SEE the negative and TOUCH it as well and go through the process of developing negatives and prints (B&W I’m referring to here as an example). Not only is it tangible but there’s a tactile connection between the artist and his/her creation. Not so much with digital photography. Setting up and capturing the image is similar, but what comes after is vastly different with the image files captured in the memory card of the digital camera downloads into your computer, disc drive, etc where its stored, then processed through software programs (Photoshop, etc) and saved and formatted in a specific file and folder, then printed where THEN it becomes something tangible.
Do not get me wrong as I love digital as much as film and it has its advantages as it is more practical and less expensive than buying rolls of film, getting them processed and developed. You can do all that in the comforts of your studio, office or home right on your computer and it also gives you more creative control over your work. I guess the scary part of digital images is how easy they can be lost by a simple errant click of the mouse, a drive crashing, etc. I back everything up in discs and external hard drives, but never gave it thought till that night at the studio on how “fragile” one can lose their work.
Does this mean abandon digital and go back to film? No, I believe in progression, but I might “rediscover” the value of using film as there is now very good dedicated film scanners that will give great resolution to those images captured on those negatives and slides! I just purchased 3 rolls of Ilford infrared film not too long ago and am waiting for the right setting to use them. Good timing with the realization I had.
(Image is of Elephant Seals shot in Sam Simeon, CA in 2002…with film).