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digital image

digital, digital image, film

the digital image

January 27, 2019

A common argument in photographic theory is that the triumph of the digital image as the contemporary form of photography forces a reevaluation of the traditional assumption of correspondence between the image and some form of reality of which it is said to be an imprint.   The argument is that digital  images that begin their life as binary data and are  driven  by algorithms  cannot be comprehended through the conventional  trinity of representation, the index and the punctum.  A major shift has taken place with the emergence of the networked image.

As a photographer I understand  the digital image to be an evolution from analogue photography: to all intents and purposes a digital image made with a digital camera  is  little different to the one that is made with an analogue camera.  I situate myself in the world in the act of photographing,  and  then I use these  working tools to construct visual representations. The  Sony a7R111 digital camera is an automated,   computational and pre-programmed tool compared to  the entirely manual Leica M 4-P analogue camera that was made in the 1970s.   The trajectory  in digital photography is towards the expensive professional high end. This  means  increased  automation,   a pre-programmed apparatus,  and more and more AI being built into the post processing software in order to  counter the competition from the increasingly sophisticated cameras in  smart phones.

Here is a digital image made with a digital Sony-a7 R111 camera:

quartz, am

Here is the analogue photograph   made with  the all manual  Leica M 4-P analogue camera.  The negative  has been scanned into a digital file and then processed in Lightroom.

The differences between the two technologies within this  logic of representation are minimal  when they are viewed on a computer screen after being edited with Lightroom software.  The object —ie., the quartz  and creek in the two images –is known to us as a representation of the object.  Photography is a process that mediates the world with the agency of light to produce legible images.  

From my perspective as a working photographer the main difference between the two technologies is evolutionary. The digital technology is more convenient to use  and  it offers greater flexibility  for  hand held photograph in low light situations–eg., at dawn.   As a photographer I continue to work within the trinity of representation, the index and the punctum, with both digital and analogue cameras.   However,   I do  realise that the image on the computer screen  made with a digital camera resembles the look of a traditional photograph  because the computational processes are currently designed by the manufacturers  to make these data packages look familiar to those working within the photograhic tradition.

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abstraction, black + white, digital image, rocks

scoping in landscape photography: Fleurieuscapes

October 16, 2017

I really do struggle with  my landscape  photography in and  around Encounter Bay on the southern Fleurieu Peninsula of South Australia,  even though I do a lot of scoping for it.   I struggle in the sense of having both a lots of doubts the value of this working and a lack of confidence in what I am doing —with both the coastal work and the roadside vegetation.   So I don’t get very far with working  the Fleurieuscapes project as I am not sure what I am doing with it.

I only have confidence in the abstraction side of this photographic project. The work process is now routine  and I am quite comfortable with it. I  make a digital study of the object,  sometimes convert the colour digital file to a  black and white one,   and  then  spend some time assessing  the image  for possibilities for  a 5×4 photo session.  Is it worth doing? If so, what is the best way to approach this?  This is an example of the work process –some granite rocks on the beach at Petrel Cove.

granite study for 5×4

I have sat on this image for a couple of months at least.  In fact I scoped it a year ago and I’d left it sitting on the computer. I re-scopped  it earlier this year when I was walking around exploring Petrel Cove whilst  on a poodlewalk.    I remembered that I had previously photographed this bit of rock and that I  wasn’t happy with what I had done, but I had thought that it had possibilities for a black and white 5×4 photoshoot  using the baby Sinar (F2). So  I re-scoped it.   Continue Reading…

colour, critical writing, digital image, landscape, nature

on location: Salt Creek in the Coorong

February 24, 2016

The Coorong in South Australia  is basically a string of saltwater lagoons  sheltered from the Southern Ocean by the  sand dunes of the Younghusband Peninsula.  It is still largely  seen  as a pristine wilderness  rather than an edge land.   Nature from this perspective is a by-word for “wilderness areas”.

The Coorong is identified as a National Park, which is then reduced to a pristine wilderness that is a sanctuary for many species of birds, animals and fish. It is  held to be a pristine wilderness (an elsewhere beyond human culture and society),  despite the existence of walking trails;   the waters of the Coorong being a popular venue for recreational and commercial fishers;   and  it being a remote space where we go to in our SUV’s on weekends and  public holidays. The idea of wilderness area is a social/political construction as not all parts of the Coorong are a national park or a pristine wilderness.

 The  concept of nature underpinning  the idea of the Coorong  as a pristine wilderness means that it is seen as a self-contained, harmonious set of internal self-regulating relations that always return to harmony and balance so long as they aren’t perturbed by  humankind.  Because nature is seen as harmoniously self-regulating, any technological intervention in nature is seen as inviting harm, disaster and catastrophe.

This conception of nature as a pristine wilderness goes back to  the Romantics,   who constructed nature as offering  a respite from the transgressions of so-called civilised European society then undergoing  the initial phases of capitalist industrialisation. Nature is seen as sacrosanct and is venerated. Nature as “over there,” somehow separate from our daily lives, is  then set on a pedestal.

at the salt site

at the salt site

The next step is to argue that the ultimate cause of our ecological problems is modern technology, Cartesian subjectivity, within which we are abstract beings somehow outside nature, who can manipulate nature, dominate nature.  Nature is an object of our manipulation and exploitation. Modernity is based on a hard and fast distinction between Nature and Culture, where the two domains are to be thought as entirely separate and distinct. Continue Reading…

coastal, colour, digital image, film

Lady Bay + the photographic medium

May 30, 2015

The picture below of Lady Bay at a particular moment in time is an outtake from a submission to a photo competition with respect to the landscape of the western Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia. What was different, and significant, about this competition from a number of other competitions of contemporary art is that it was centrally premised on submitting a series of one photo of each of the four seasons over 1 year period.

Lady Bay

Lady Bay

The significance of a series of 4 photos is that it breaks away from the entrenched tradition of a single classic analog image in a specific medium in which the specific aspects of indexical relations—–that is, concepts like objectivity, immediacy and truth——continue to inform how we, as readers, interact with images, what we expect from them and how they are performed. Yet the emerging world of networked technologies has transformed, if not ruptured, photography’s traditional boundaries. The value of the image now comes from being online, and on the image being spread and shared; on it being circulated and adapted as it moves through various online platforms.
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