What happened to the popularity of straight photography?

Question by maineimages: What happened to the popularity of straight photography?
I don’t want to look at a picture and have to wonder if it is real or not. I think that we need a category for film photography on here. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against computer photography. I myself own a digital but it felt like I was cheating myself so I have gone back to using a film camera.

Has advertising done this? Is it the current trend towards virtual reality? Where is the future of photography headed? Wake me up when all this is over. I personally think that it is not going to last forever. Something has been lost. Like a soul maybe.

Best answer:

Answer by fhotoace
I have to agree.

Traditional photography was “real” because the photographer had to use skills to get perfect exposures in the camera and understand things like lighting and lighting ratios. The time it took to “fix” problems in a real darkroom, photographers learned to take care of business before they pressed the shutter release.

Even with the introduction of DSLR’s at $ 5,000 + just over ten years ago, those that used them had the skills that made electronic darkrooms mostly unnecessary.

With the advent of P&S cameras and the dependence upon photo manipulation to fix all the mistakes made buy the users of those cameras, it has almost become assumed that photo manipulation is part and parcel of any good image … not true, but assumed.

I do think that splitting the Photography venue into film and digital would enhance the quality of not only the questions, but the answers as well. Answers like “idk” or “thanks for the 2 points” may still be with us, but on the whole, the question will be much more specific.

I had thought at one time having a section for P&S users and DSLR photographers would have been good, but the makers of cameras have made a lot of entry level DLSR’s into sophisticated P&S cameras so if the user does not want to take the time to learn “photography”, they can buy a Canon 1000D or Nikon D3000 and let the camera continue making all the decisions, just at a higher resolution

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5 thoughts on “What happened to the popularity of straight photography?”

  1. First of all, a section dedicated to film photography would never go through. The photography section is already slightly behind other categories in terms of posts, and separating it into two categories makes little sense considering that the site is already lacking a lot of other categories. I’d put a vote in for manipulated digital art; i.e. “Photoshop” but I don’t feel a separation between film and digital is necessary.

    Even if it was separated into two different categories, you’d still have people asking “How long will Walmart take to develop my film?” etc.

    For my use, digital makes more sense. I take a lot of photos — I would probably go through 10-12 rolls of film every week if not more, and for me the cost of developing would cripple my other hobbies. Personally, developing myself is not an option for me and therefore I have to send them out for development. Development at my choice photo shop is only around five bucks, but even that would be a couple hundred a month. On the other hand, my 8 GB SD card cost ten bucks.

    Even if I did have the space and local availability of everything I would need to do my own developing, it would still be very time consuming for me. Not to mention, in the end I would probably still want digital copies of my files, and be forced to spend MORE time at my scanner getting a digital file of each.

    For my uses, I prefer to skip the middle man of film and have straight digital files. I try to avoid post-processing, but I do often deal with blemishes and other issues. In an ideal world, I’d have a makeup artist with me every time I shot a photo of someone, but in this world, that’s not realistic. I can’t have someone apply a thick coat of concealer to every subject when I take photos on a spur of the moment basis.

    Also, the matter of format is important to me because most of my distribution is online — it didn’t cost me a dime when I emailed my aunt 200 photos of her youngest child’s birthday party, but it would’ve cost me quite a few dimes to mail them to her.

    Also, you need to realize that just because an image is digital does not mean it is “computer photography” or that it has been manipulated. I know plenty of photographers who shoot digital and don’t do a single thing to their photos in terms of post-processing.

    I consider digital photography to be no more than a different method of recording images.

    To me, your real concern should not be digital vs. film, but instead manipulated vs. original.

  2. Im not sure if you’re refering to the technology in the digital camera or the post processing in edting software but I’ll give my two cents on both.
    As far as the technology in digital cameras go, it has made the learning curve alot shorter by being able to see results immediatly. The camera will also record the settings used to take a particular shot saving the photog the time it takes to match up notes with shots and make adjustments the next time out. That said, the photog still has to know what to manipulate and to what degree to make a good photo. The camera can only do so much.
    On the editing end there are people making whole sale changes to photos but it becomes obvious to most photographers that it has been done. Making slight changes to color, saturation, tones, etc is similar to processes used in developing film. Again, the new technology has made this a faster process but the photog still needs to be able to identify what to change and to what extent to still turn out a good photo.
    The art itself is still the same.
    Just my opinion.

  3. Straight photography? Do you really consider it to be straight photography when someone has spent days in a darkroom, burning and dodging, altering contrast, getting a print to look exactly the way they want it to look rather than the way it looks in the negative?

    I am learning to process and print and I can tell you I would prefer to be shooting or spending time with my family rather than spending a lot of time in the darkroom. It is so much more convenient to download my files, edit them in Photoshop (and by edit them in photoshop I mean the same basic techniques used in a darkroom-not trying to fix a bad image), and get back to the things that matter to me.

    No one is stopping you from shooting film. Who are you to decide that abstract photography is any less of an art than straight photography? Or that digital photography is any less of an art than film photography? It isn’t any less, it is just a new technology. So was film (oops-I meant photography in general, film came later) once upon a time when it was being compared to painting and artists thought it wasn’t a true art but a trend that would soon be forgotten. And we can see how wrong they were.

  4. Straight photography? So what exactly is that then?

    It can’t be using film because shots taken on film were manipulated both in camera and in development and printing.
    Ansel Adams was a master at “tweaking” his shots and many other photographers used master printers with specific instructions as to how they wanted them printed when they did not do them themselves.
    Manipulation was done in camera by double exposures, messing about with exposures and filters and all sorts of other things.

    A photograph taken with a digital camera is still a photograph.
    It is not a”computer generated” image.
    Many photographers who take their images with digital cameras do nothing more than a bit of colour correction or dodging and burning once the image is taken. That is no more or less than we did with film.

    Yes, there is a plethora of people with point and shoot cameras who have no idea of photography, but hey, what about the instamatic cameras? they were just point and shoots for film.
    The only difference now is that these people can play around with their images afterwards.

    Photography moves on just as many other things do.
    I am sure the plate camera operators of old were saying the same when roll film came about and just as some moaned when polaroid came about etc etc.

    If you feel you are “cheating” yourself by using digital then fine. I however believe if you feel that way then you are not using your equipment properly and are not a photographer but someone who justs wants to play with film.
    There is nothing wrong with that but don’t denegrate those of us who are photographers and who take advantage of the many aspects of digital which help us with our trade or hobby.

    All above is said by a photographer who spent many years in darkrooms and still enjoys doing so and still has to shoot film.
    But who also believes that using a digital camera is still photography.

    This is totally different from “virtual reality” and cgi. Both can, do and will co-exist for many years to come.

  5. I agree there is a branch of photography now that may be more of the bridge between graphic arts and photography than it is a subset of photography alone.

    But there still is plenty of work in the world that is either minimally altered or not at all. Not all hope is lost.

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