Friday, April 4, 2008

Against the Grain

The Stranger
Originally uploaded by Apocaplops
There's a lot of agreement out there about where digital photography goes wrong and what it's doing right. People love the instant feedback that the digital camera gives them, and you've undoubtedly seen many people "chimping" as they look at the photo they've just taken. Hell, I do it myself, and why not? It's an easy way to see how the photo can be bettered, and it's a necessity with some of the godawful viewfinders packaged in with these dSLRs nowadays.

People like the live view offered by most P/S digitals, as it allows them to see what the photo will look like before they take it, and take it from a different angle. This is one area I think camera manufacturers have got it wrong - packaging cheap digicams with no optical viewfinder at all. An optical viewfinder doesn't drain the batteries like a LCD does, but the real difference is in stability. No way can you hold a camera stable out at arm's length. With the old viewfinder style, you brace the camera against your body, anchoring it against shaking.

The big think lots of people are currently going gaga over, however, is the reduction of noise. I talked about it a few posts ago myself, and I must admit there's a lot to be said for a nice noiseless image, especially at low light levels. But I miss grain. Good old black-and-white film grain. Lots of you won't know what I'm talking about, but soup up a roll of Tri-X and you'd understand right away. It's dirty, it's gritty, and the disparate elements of image and process meld together to make meaning.

Maybe this is all just reminiscence, but a great grainy black and white can bring a lot of emotions to an image, and enhance an aesthetic. Sure you can add it digitally, but is it the same? If you someone who has got it down, let me know.

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