Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Photographs and Images
There's a difference? To many people, not very much as they likely use the two words interchangeably, but to the small world of photographers who make it a difference, it's a big difference. Especially if you started in film, long before digital cameras were an idea in someone's mind. Why should there be a difference? And why should there be a reason to distinguish between them?
And before I start wandering on the subject, the difference? To me, photograph is the film image, originally captured on film. An image is the digital version of film from a scan or originally captured digitally downloaded from the camera. While some argue this, to me it makes a clear distinction in the discussion. The difference continues when you print a photograph using the traditional darkroom technique and you print an image using the digital printer technology. So a print from a photograph using the traditional method and an image is a print from a digital file using the new print technology.
I make a difference because I started with film in 1969 with a Minolta SRT-101. In the days when Kodachrome 25 was the film of choice. I know a lot more photographers can talk about what photography was like then, I was just starting having found a passion behind the camera to capture what I saw. Over the next few years I would learn, work in a lab for film, and enjoy both the images I captured on film and the slides when they were ready for viewing.
And over the years I've taken hiatuses from photography for work, life and other things and events that come along, but I always came back to pick up the camera. This is especially true approaching and after retirement in December 2005, adding both a digital camera system and a large format system to learn to become a serious photographer and to work on building my photography into a small, personal business.
It was after getting the computer system for scanning the best of my slides and downloading images from the digital camera, after which the production and printing is the same using Photoshop. But this is where I started to see the difference in two respects. I think this because I'm one of those photographer who focus on the original image in the camera, and strives to capture it they way they see and want it.
First, with film I noticed the difference between the slide and the scanned (digital) image. While I try to scan and process the image to replicate the slide I noticed it's rarely achievable. Sometimes I like the image even it is different and sometimes I can never get the digital image to look good.
Second, digital. I noticed digital images have a different presentation than film. Like this is new? I know it's not, but it's our personal experience that flavors our (display or print) images. I find digital images have a crisper look to them, especially the color rendition and sharpness.
I realize some of this is due to the scanner and scanning I use with film, but some of it goes back the fundamental differences with the original capture with film or sensors. They record differently and they create different original images. And any photo processing has different effects on the results even if their the same type of digital file (format).
What does it all mean? I don't really know for sure other than my observations to date between the two, and to say I like both. And it's why I still use film. The image above was taken with film (I never write down what film anymore) on a fall afternoon in Seattle. It's one of those happenstance photos where you're walking down the street and see the light on a tree growing along side a building.