Some thoughts on digital...|
(Friday, April 25, 2008 - 11:18 EDT)
An email from blogger Mark Power, requesting permission to use an image from our Sony A350 review prompted me to think a little about the changes digital technology has been and is bringing to the experience of photography...
Blogger Mark Power emailed me yesterday, asking permission to use a photo Senior Editor Shawn Barnett had snapped with the Sony A350 SLR at the PMA show this year.
Mark's written an excellent article about the impact of Live View on dSLRs that I commend to your attention. Mark's piece prompted a few musings of my own that I thought to share with you here:
I've often been fascinated by the extent to which technological capabilities can shift the design vernacular almost society-wide. Remember when Photoshop first hit the scene? Suddenly, because multi-layered collages of images were easy to create, you started seeing them *everywhere*. The dominant design aesthetic shifted away from clean, crisp layouts to ones with dozens of image fragments competing for your attention. More recently (albeit to a lesser extent), HDR (high dynamic range) photography has captured the imagination of many photographers, to the extent that the "HDR look" is rapidly becoming a design cliche. I haven't thought about it much, but I wonder: To what extent are the different "look" and capabilities of digital photography changing our design language and visual expectations?
At the same time, digital has changed the experience of photography dramatically, and therefore the behavior of many photographers. The instant gratification of the LCD screen very naturally leads to a less contemplative approach to photography; less time spent thinking about the look you want to achieve, and a greater tendency to just snap the shutter and see what the result looks like. Don't like it, want to tweak it a little? Just make the appropriate changes, snap and look again.
There's a temptation to say that this "iterative" approach to photography is bad, because it removes a certain level of discipline and deliberateness toward what you're about, but to dismiss the new experience out of hand may miss an important point. While we're shaped by our practices and behaviors, people also tend to gravitate to activities that resonate with their underlying way of dealing with the world. The delayed gratification of traditional photography limited its appeal to those having a more contemplative nature. While those people may wish to guard against their being "seduced" by the instant feedback of digital, the responsiveness of the new medium has enormously broadened the appeal of photography as a pastime: Digital is drawing millions of new people into the practice and enjoyment of photography, integrating it more deeply into the societal consciousness than at any prior time in history. I'm enough of a fan of photography to think that can only be a good thing for everyone.