Photography transcript 3 — Traditional photography versus digital photography —

Please note that this is an audio tran­scrip­tion. Gram­mer and punc­tu­a­tion will not be perfect.

Hi there every­one and wel­come to the Pho­tog­ra­phy Pod­cast on‚ My name is Marko.‚ We are com­ing to you from Mon­treal, Que­bec, Canada, and today is Octo­ber 12, 2006.‚ For today’s show, this is going to be really an opin­ion piece.‚ I am going to give you my opin­ion on one of the most com­mon emails I get and that email is, “Which is bet­ter, tra­di­tional pho­tog­ra­phy or dig­i­tal pho­tog­ra­phy?”‚ I am going to give you my opin­ion.‚ I am going to give it to you straight up.‚ I am going to give it to you not like the neu­tral Cana­dian that so many peo­ple think we are.‚ I am going to give you my hon­est opin­ion on it and I am going to get into it now.
The ques­tion that comes to me directly is, “Is dig­i­tal pho­tog­ra­phy bet­ter than tra­di­tional pho­tog­ra­phy?” and my answer flat out is no.‚ Dig­i­tal pho­tog­ra­phy is not bet­ter than tra­di­tional pho­tog­ra­phy, period.‚ So, then the ques­tion comes, “Should you switch to dig­i­tal pho­tog­ra­phy?”‚ My answer on that one is yes prob­a­bly you should unless you are a fine art pho­tog­ra­pher.‚ If you are a fine art pho­tog­ra­pher and you love the process, you love work­ing in the dark, you love print­ing your own pic­tures espe­cially, you love the dark room, you love the red light, you love the smell of fixer, well then, do not switch, then stay tra­di­tional, then get into you dark room and work your magic.‚ In that case, it is really about the process.‚ It is really about the craft.‚ It is really about print­ing by hand and you know what, in that case, there is noth­ing like the magic of shin­ing that light through the enlarger on to the paper, you take that paper, you run it through the liq­uids and the image starts to mag­i­cally appear.‚ It is magic.‚ It is magic.‚ You know what it is going to look like.‚ You know when you are get­ting a good print.‚ You run it through the rest of the liq­uids.‚ You take it out­side and see the result.‚ It is pure magic.‚ It is pure craft.‚ You know what, in that respect, dig­i­tal pho­tog­ra­phy can never touch tra­di­tional pho­tog­ra­phy.‚ There is more of a jour­ney from the sil­ver located on the film to the end result.‚ It is not so quick.‚ It is not so easy.‚ It is harder.‚ It is more like your baby, your child, your mas­ter­piece and in that respect, again, tra­di­tional wins.‚ You can­not com­pare.‚ Tra­di­tional wins.
I would also like to sug­gest that just from a busi­ness per­spec­tive, if some­one is try­ing to sell their prints and it is tak­ing them hours and hours and hours to make 10 selec­tive prints, I would sug­gest to you that if that is all that they are doing, that those prints are going to be worth more.‚ This is just my opin­ion again, but it took them longer to make those prints.‚ Maybe those prints are num­bered, but they did not have to press a but­ton, they worked like crazy to get each print.‚ I guess the argu­ment can be made that, yes, you are also work­ing in front of your com­puter.‚ It takes time.‚ I agree that, yes, it takes time, but once you have your mas­ter­piece print, once you have color cor­rected it and Pho­to­shop it to the nth degree, you can make as many copies as you want and those copies can be beau­ti­ful.‚ Do not get me wrong, I have made beau­ti­ful prints.‚ I love to see beau­ti­ful prints.‚ At the end of the day, a beau­ti­ful print is a beau­ti­ful print, but there is just some­thing more mag­i­cal when you did it actu­ally by hand in the dark room.‚ That is just my opin­ion.‚ Feel free to tell me I am wrong.
Okay, but what if then you are a pro­fes­sional pho­tog­ra­pher or a seri­ous ama­teur pho­tog­ra­pher?‚ You might be into fine art, but not nec­es­sar­ily.‚ You are more into cap­tur­ing the feel, you are more into tak­ing sou­venir pho­tos, you are more into doing a job with the pho­tos, mak­ing money from the pho­tos, well then, my best sug­ges­tion is go dig­i­tal.‚ Dig­i­tal is just so much eas­ier in that respect.‚ With dig­i­tal, you could take as much time as you want.‚ You could take as many shots as you want plus one of the most, most desir­able aspects of dig­i­tal pho­tog­ra­phy is the fact that you can see the results right away, which makes it a superb learn­ing tool.‚ Let us say you are tak­ing a pic­ture of a White man in a white suit on a white wall, well, your cam­era is designed to ren­der that pic­ture, to ren­der that scene as a medium tone.‚ It aver­ages out the scene.‚ So, your cam­era more likely than not, is going to give you a gray­ish result.‚ It is not going to give you that white result.‚ When you see that image after you have taken it, right away you see that it is gray­ish and that just makes it a great learn­ing tool. ‚You take a shot, you do not like what you see and then you won­der why it did not turn out prop­erly.‚ There is noth­ing like the instant feed­back of dig­i­tal in that regard.‚ If you are a pro already and you know what you are doing, well then, you just cap­ture the scene.‚ You have got it on your card or what­ever media you recorded it on.‚ You can manip­u­late it, you can send it wher­ever it needs to go and it is done, it is a done deal.‚ If you are lucky enough to have some­one work­ing for you, you just give them the card and let them deal with it.‚ It is just so much eas­ier in that respect.‚ Is it faster?‚ Is it always faster?‚ Well, is it faster?‚ The answer is some­times yes, some­times no.‚ Okay, I am hedg­ing.‚ I am hedg­ing.‚ I am not giv­ing you the clear answer.‚ Let us say you are a wed­ding pho­tog­ra­pher and you are still shoot­ing tra­di­tion­ally, you are shoot­ing on film, well, after the end of the day, you take your shots, you give them to the lab and it is done.‚ There is noth­ing you need to do.‚ You get that proofs.‚ If you are a dig­i­tal wed­ding pho­tog­ra­pher, well then, that is def­i­nitely not the end of it because you have all these dif­fer­ent scenes shot under dif­fer­ent lights and then you have to bal­ance them all.‚ Hope­fully, you are not going to be print­ing your­self.‚ You are still going to give them to the lab, but you have to bal­ance them some­what before you give them to the lab.‚ It is not done.‚ There is still work to be done.‚ So, in that respect, in terms of speed, it really depends on what you are using, what job you are doing and where you are going with it, then some­times, yes, it is faster and some­times not.‚ Surely if you are a fine art pho­tog­ra­pher and you are shoot­ing in black and white or color and you are print­ing them your­self, then there is no way it is going to be faster, but in that case again, it is more about the jour­ney than about effi­ciency.
I guess another rea­son why you would want to switch is, unfor­tu­nately, the sad truth is film is on its way out.‚ Tra­di­tional pho­tog­ra­phy, unfor­tu­nately, is on its way out.‚ It is still going to be around for a cou­ple of years, but more and more film man­u­fac­tur­ers are stop­ping to make their clas­sic films.‚ There are plenty of good exam­ples.‚ I do not want to start get­ting all weepy, but there are loads of films that are not being pro­duced any­more and that num­ber is just going to dimin­ish and dimin­ish as dig­i­tal takes hold of the minds of peo­ple.‚ It is sad to say that even though for some appli­ca­tions, tra­di­tional pho­tog­ra­phy is bet­ter.‚ When you are talk­ing about low light sit­u­a­tions, the newer cam­eras, the newer Nikons, the newer Canons, they do not nec­es­sar­ily han­dle low light all that well.‚ You get all kinds of noise in your pic­ture when you do not want it.‚ It is harder to deal with.‚ Low light in tra­di­tional pho­tog­ra­phy is bet­ter, but on a whole, if the film stock is on its way out and every­body is chang­ing, you kind of have to go with the times unless you are that fine art pho­tog­ra­pher again.‚ Beta was bet­ter than VHS.‚ There is a strong argu­ment that Ogg Vor­bis is bet­ter then MP3, but MP3 is every­where now and VHS, okay, we can­not deal with VHS, but you could not be one of the few peo­ple that like Beta, that stuck with Beta‚¦‚ Oh, my God.‚ Am I show­ing my age now?‚ The point being is tra­di­tional is on its way out, so you really should not be spend­ing money on tra­di­tional cam­eras unless you are just like learn­ing.‚ You can buy an inex­pen­sive cam­era, you are learn­ing pho­tog­ra­phy, but for the big bucks, when you are really ready to spend money on gear, I guess I would rec­om­mend going dig­i­tal.
All right, so the next ques­tion goes, “Okay, Marko, you are rec­om­mend­ing that most peo­ple go dig­i­tal.‚ Which dig­i­tal cam­era should I get?”‚ Ah, this one is clear.‚ This one is def­i­nitely clear.‚ You want to get a dig­i­tal SLR.‚ You do not want to get a point and shoot.‚ You want to get an SLR, some­thing where you can adjust the focus, you can adjust the aper­ture, you can change lenses, you can adjust the shut­ter.‚ These cam­eras are just far more ver­sa­tile.‚ You can do what­ever you need with them.‚ My rec­om­men­da­tion is do not go all out at first.‚ Buy a cheaper one.‚ Get a used one, go to a cam­era shop, go on eBay.‚ Get a used one first until you know what you are doing.‚ Do not spend the big bucks yet.‚ Good dig­i­tal cam­eras on a pro­sumer level, they can cost you $1500, $2000, or more when you start adding good lenses and flashes.‚ Do not spend that money at the begin­ning.‚ Get some­thing much cheaper.‚ Get some­thing used at the begin­ning, learn with it and then your next cam­era, that is when you can spend the bucks if you are still into it.‚ So many peo­ple buy cam­eras with all the bells and whis­tles and they are not into it, they still do not know if they like it, they still do not know if they need it.‚ So, why spend the cash at that point?‚ Just buy what you need.‚ Buy some­thing not too expen­sive and grow after that.‚ You can still sell that cam­era as well or use it as a backup.
So, I guess that cov­ers it.‚ I guess I just wanted to basi­cally respond to the e-mails that I keep get­ting, “Which is bet­ter, tra­di­tional or dig­i­tal?”‚ Put it to bed once and for all.‚ I guess this is just in terms of my opin­ion.‚ It is not the offi­cial answer.‚ It is not gospel.‚ I do not even know if I am right, but it is my opin­ion and I am enti­tled to it, darn it.‚ That is it for today’s show.‚ As usual, please we love it if you will leave some com­ments.‚ That would be so much appre­ci­ated.‚ This time, we have our own ded­i­cated blogs, so you could leave the com­ments on the blog.‚ The link is at and it is my plea­sure as always to get com­ments on any­thing on this show or other shows or if you have any ideas for future shows as well.‚ So, thanks for lis­ten­ing every­one.‚ We will see you again in approx­i­mately two weeks.‚ My name is Marko.‚ We hope you enjoyed the show and happy shoot­ing.‚ Bye everyone.


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