Thoughts on Life, Art, Photography, Technology, Teaching and Travel…..

Best of Both Worlds – Analog / Digital

I was thinking how incredibly lucky I’ve been to have started my photographic career working with film and traditional photographic processes. In just a matter of a few years digital technology has literally hijacked all aspects of the Photographic Industry. Students entering the field of photography (in most cases) are not exposed to the magic of the analog “wet” process and that’s a shame in my opinion.

I can remember making my first print 40 years ago in the darkroom of New York Institute of Technology like it was yesterday. It was one of those “AHHA” moments for me, and to think many photographers have only worked in the digital realm and may never have experienced the mood and mystery of the darkroom with its smells of Dektol, Stop Bath and Fixer making prints under the glow of an amber safe light.

Just like everything else in my life I blinked and those days are long gone. I do most of my photography digitally now and post-production on the computer with Photoshop instead of the darkroom. I still get in the darkroom on occasion to print with my daughter who loves shooting film and working with traditional processes, however even though I’m nostalgic for those days I do embrace all aspects of digital imaging and the wide spectrum of creative options it affords me for personal expression.

I remember the first time I worked with Photoshop back around 1993. I attended a workshop at the Center for Creative Imaging sponsored by Kodak in Camden, Maine and I must admit I experienced that same “WOW” moment when I started manipulating images in Photoshop 2.5. Yes…2.5. Many versions ago! I came back to my teaching job and proceeded to order some Mac computers and Photoshop in order to incorporate digital into our Photo Program.

That was 18 years ago and yet we have to remember that digital photographic technology is still in its embryonic stage. I can’t even imagine how its going to look 10 years form now. The technology has advanced so rapidly it is mind boggling. Its also important to remember that the art of painting has been with us for 35,000 + years and photography has only been around since the 1830’s – about 170 years. In that relatively short period of time it has undergone many transformations.

All I can say is I feel very fortunate that I was able to be exposed to and work in both worlds. I’ve been going through my thousands of negatives and slides to catalog and digitize them and the one thing that strikes me as I look at them through a loop on the light table is the difference in a negative or slide compared to a digital file.

It is an intangible difference but a difference nonetheless.

When its all said and done photography is still about seeing the world and translating what we see with our camera no matter what type of camera we are using and what we use to process the images. I am still as excited about making photographs today as I was 35 years ago as a military photographer.

Its not a hobby. Its not a job. Its a way of life. A way of seeing. A way of relating and connecting to the world around me.


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This entry was posted on September 28, 2011 by in Keough Journal, Photography and tagged , , , .
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