It's an Exciting Time for Photography
Fifteen years ago I felt digital cameras would replace and exceed the capabilities of film and for the most part this has happened. Since the introduction of digital photography I have seen a tremendous increase in interest in photography. The cost of film and processing has always been an impediment for those on a tight budget. Today, photographers can take as many pictures as they like and I believe this has lead to improvement in the overall quality and quanity of images we see. This coupled with the fact that photographers can preview the image and the exposure immediately after taking the photo has resulted in a more rapid improvement in photographic skill. Photographers using RAW files have discovered that there is no need to bracket exposures unless the dynamic range of light is exceptionally broad. Now almost anyone at any age can get into photography at a modest cost.
Today, the darkroom has largely been replaced by computers and image editing software. Mastering programs like Adobe Photoshop can take years and with new versions appearing about every 18 months it can be a challenge to keep up. On the bright side the control one has over the final image is much greater then could ever be achieved in a traditional darkroom. But this also raises other issues as to what is allowable. Personally I believe it depends on the purpose of the photograph. If the image is to be used for legal, education or news then any modifications should be minimal or none at all. If the purpose is to create art and fulfill a photographer's vision i.e. ART then I believe a photographer can do what ever they like to fufill their vision.
I believe the use of digital manipulation should be indicated (DM) if the image has been significantly altered by adding or subtracting elements, though some photographers are afraid if they do this their images might not be accepted or published. I would argue that every picture taken has been altered in some form or manner. The choice of lens, ISO speed, shutter speed, use of filters, choice of BW or color tints, vantage point etc. all contribute to the final appearance of the photograph. Most of us accept these forms of manipulation as OK. 150 years ago, manipulating photographs in a darkroom was also rejected even though film at that time was severely blue sensitive resulting in white cloudless skies. As in the past, I believe attitudes in regard to digital manipulation will also change albeit slowly. A photographer always has the option to make a choice of what he\she wants to use in their work - there is room for many approaches and many different styles of photography from documentary to artistic.
The world wide web has also become an important component of photography allowing any photographer to share and market their images. Web sites can also serve as schools, magazines, TV stations, newspapers, discussion groups and much more. No longer is the ability to disseminate information restricted to a few magazine editors, book publishers or producers. It is indeed an exciting time for photography and I hope this web site will help anyone interested in learning more about both the science and art of photography.
Robert Berdan Ph. D.
PS I welcome your comments and suggestions for this web site.
Scenes from Alberta by Robert Berdan