The advantages of digital photography and cameras
essay, article, comments
by Rick Doble
about modern and contemporary art.




THE DIGITAL RAMBLER

PLEASE NOTE: This essay was written over twelve years ago when I bought my first digital camera in 1998. It was a Casio that had limited storage space, ate batteries, took postage stamp sized pictures and required a serial cable connection to download the photos.











THOUGHTS ABOUT USING A DIGITAL CAMERA

A digital camera is more than a portable, glorified scanner. A camera is something quite different. As a photographer for over 30 years, I am very excited by the possibilities of direct digital images and the Casio QV-100 camera that I now own.

As a photographer for over 30 years, I am intrigued by the possibilities of direct digital images.

Digital technology leaves much to be desired at this point in its development: the tonal range is narrow, the contrast is too high, the colors are not true, the film speed is slow and the resolution is coarse. A traditional silver image (film and paper) produces a much higher quality picture. It may be 20 or 50 years before digital photography can compete with a silver image at a comparable price.

This camera allows me to do things that were impossible before.

So why am I so excited? The reason is simple. This camera allows me to do things that were impossible before.

But before I go into that, let me explain about the power of the photographic image. A photograph is not great because of its technical qualities. Even still images taken from a CCTV camera can be great examples of photography. While tonal range and good resolution are desirable, many of the finest photographs are grainy and far from perfect. Cartier-Bresson, who many think was the best of all photographers, started using a 35mm camera (when few others did) not because of its technical qualities but because of its portability and versatility. The 35mm camera allowed him to take spontaneous pictures which captured life in its full-blooded movement. The digital camera allows flexibility, instant images and picture possibilities that did not exist earlier.

Since there is essentially no film cost, the digital camera allows you to shoot whimsically over and over until you get it right. The cost never enters into your thinking.

The real-time visual image which shows you almost exactly what you are getting, is a photographer's dream. You see the picture in color on an LCD screen before you take it and also immediately after you take it. You can shoot for ten minutes, review what you just shot, then shoot for another ten minutes. This immediate feedback makes the digital camera a different kind of beast.

Immediate feedback makes the digital camera a different kind of beast.

Also you can turn the lens around 180 degrees so that you can take self -portraits and see accurately what you will get at the same time. Again this was impossible before.

Want to see quick blow-ups of the pictures? Just plug the camera into a TV or VCR connected to a TV and browse through the images on the TV.

Want to exhibit your work? Just put these pictures directly on the Internet which is the greatest gallery imaginable for a photographer. The gallery is accessible to anyone in the world who has an Internet connection, 24 hours a day at very little cost. For computer literate people, the digital camera is much less expensive, more spontaneous, easier to work with and easier to exhibit.

For those of us who have gotten tired of the road (the rut?) that academic photography has taken, the black and white overworked images of super fine resolution and large format, the digital camera brings photography back to life, back into the streets.

I feel that the deepest promise of still photography is a captured image of pulsing life still beating.

In addition, contemporary photographers have become overly concerned with the price of their photographs not the power of what they have to offer. Digital images do not have the same commercial value which in our materialistic age means they have less value. I welcome an art which takes us away from dollars. But don't worry; if the art is truly great, galleries will find a way to attach a price tag to it.

I feel that the deepest promise of still photography is a captured image of pulsing life. Also still photography can and should add to and extend the tradition of fine art. The digital camera and digital photography may bring us back our senses.

Unlike traditional photography, digital photography will not fade. It has, essentially, an infinite life because information about the image is saved on a computer disk not the image itself.

P.S. A principle concern of contemporary academic photography has been the length of time that a photographic image will last. Black and white photos have a much longer life that color images so many schools and museums rejected color photography. However, digital photography has, essentially, an infinite life because information about the image is saved on a computer disk not the image itself. While color monitors may fade, the computer file can always be copied onto a disk or put on a CD-ROM and then displayed on a new color monitor.




Back to menu page for essays and articles.

Go to Rick Doble's

Digital Visuals

site to see a full listing of my visual work
on the Internet.

Send me an e-mail message.


Copyright 1998 by Richard deGaris Doble

All rights reserved.