When I started with photography DSLR’s weren’t invented so film is where I learnt photography. I learnt very quickly then that being a good photographer is one thing but being a good printer (I’m talking darkroom here) was another completely separate skill. The books of Ansel Adams and the Zone system were my bible. There was a lot to learn and in the darkroom and those skills combined with the photography (technical) skills were cherished.
So when DSLR’s came along there was a tremendous amount of questioning with the main one being “is it better than film?” . In hindsight now I think the real problem was not about the quality it was the fear from photographers that those hard learnt, cherished skills just might be lost and a new set learnt all over again. Of course the inevitable happened and now no-one really asks the “is it better than film” question. There is now a new sort of photographic snobbery that I read about and must admit to being a part of.
When all the old film photographers had bought their shiny new DSLR cameras and big computers and expensive post processing software they were amazed to find that all the techniques one used to use in the darkroom were still valid in photoshop. There was loads of other stuff to do but the core of it was based on film developing, darkroom techniques. So this is where this snobbery comes in with something similar to the following……….
“oh yes I switched over to Digital many years ago and I post process my images just the same way as I used to in the Darkroom but now I just use Photoshop instead. I would never do anything to a photograph that couldn’t be done in a darkroom.”
So there you have it those old cherished skills were snobbishly retained. Dodge and burn, masking, shading, multiple exposures……. but I would never consider using any of the other tools in computer software to alter the image. I am was a purist.
I spend a lot of time looking at other peoples photographs. They give me inspiration, they help me to learn, they help me to improve my photography. The photographers “eye” has always been the important bit in taking the photograph. Seeing what the photographer sees through their eyes, seeing things maybe differently from yourself. But now I find that some of these new post processing techniques applied to great images to enhance them produce stunning photographs. So, with digital we have been given a whole new box of tricks so why not use them? The end result will depend on the photographer but again who am I to say what is good and what is bad. I know what I like and I find that playing with these new tools can bring another look to a photograph that I am more than happy to use.