Would Ansel Adams Have Gone Digital?

from the random-speculation dept

Roland Piquepaille writes “After viewing photographs by Christopher Burkett, which are not digitally manipulated, Peter Lewis wondered what place have digital cameras and image manipulations in the art of photography. And a question hit his mind. If Ansel Adams, one of the most famous photographers of the 20th century, was still alive, would have he gone digital? Lewis talked at great length with Richard LoPinto, vice president for SLR camera systems at Nikon Inc. to find an answer. And guess what? LoPinto thinks Ansel Adams would have loved digital cameras. The article also discusses digital camera resolution and the future for film camera sales. My blog contains more details and a small photograph by Christopher Burkett.” By the way, I’ve been to an exhibit of Christopher Burkett photographs, and the versions on the web do not do justice to the work. They are positively stunning. The detail and the color are incredible. When I saw them, some people thought they were paintings, because the colors were so bright.

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Comments on “Would Ansel Adams Have Gone Digital?”

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Roland Piquepaille (user link) says:

Small JPEG images have nothing in comon with real

I agree completely with Mike. Small JPEG images don’t do any justice to this work. I haven’t had the chance to see real photographs by Christopher Burkett. But just by viewing snippets of his photographs on the Web, I understand why they carry prices from $1,500 to $10,000 for 30′ x 40′ prints. These photographs are outstanding.

Ed Halley says:

No Subject Given

Paraphrasing Ansel, “Photographs are not taken, they are made.” More than half of the work in Ansel’s photographs is in perfect lab work on the raw image. Calibrate the films, enlargers, baths. He developed the Zone system to ensure perfect artistic exposure at all points in the image. Dodge and burn.

Today’s point-and-shoot digicams produce highly saturated, oversharpened JPEGs with deep field of view. This gets the best possible image (with those assumptions) 90% of the time. That’s what pedestrian photographers want: instant results.

A lot of photogs are buying the Canon 10D and Digital Rebel, assuming that it costs more, so they should get even better results right out of the camera. Many are disillusioned when they see soft, natural tones and detail, and a smaller depth of field, thinking the camera is defective or overhyped. Some break through that mould, and realize the artistic potential of doing digital darkroom work yourself on your desktop, instead of with the narrow choices made by an underpowered camera processor.

Ansel would like today’s Canon 1Ds or the 22MP digital medium format backs, and would go nuts with the endless possibilities of digital. Resolution, precision and fidelity will go up, even past today’s affordable lens optics. But it will still take an artisan to realize the potential.

mike says:

Re: darkroom work

to me, the difference is that with digital, you can reproduce the picture as many times as you want.

spend any time in the darkroom, and you’ll find that every print is at least a little different. leave the negative in the enlarger, expose a sheet of paper, burn and dodge, send it through the chemicals. do it again and the print will be different. that’s why traditional photography is art. at least to me.

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