Don't Diss Digital!


Analogue is the future, yes; we all know that?! BUT think how much this analogue revolution relies on digital intervention and why it works so well.

You’ve got to go backwards to go forwards and forwards to go backwards, a hackneyed expression and a cliche indeed, but ‘all cliches are truism and all truisms are true’ – Kerouac. Anyway, already I digress.

We live in a highly technologised society, choc full of technofantastical delights and ‘chromed-up’ bits and bobs – chrome is so HOT in the future that’s why even Google are getting involved with it’s electroplated stylings – not just for Buck Rodgers now eh! Everyday we trawl through streets, websites and magazines brimming sickly ‘perfect’ imagery; the same clinical techniques, the same poses, the same question and even the same answer. We’ve only ourselves to blame.

In the early days photographers yearned to capture true naturalness, which was very difficult to achieve with film as there are so many variables involved, so many chances for things to go wrong, perfect skintone flawed by over agitation and a drop in temperature, for example. Then digital cameras came along, offering us the opportunity to finally see and edit images, instantly, it gave us immediate control in studio situations and more importantly it got rid of the mistakes.

It appeared to solve every photographic problem going; now, even the everyman – with no experience – can take gorgeous images. But that’s just it; a digital camera takes images, pixel-perfect formations of natural colour and tone. We don’t want images anymore; we want PICTURES! That’s why we shoot film, we embrace mistakes, we use mistakes as a form of expression as did Warhol – we all love a happy accident. This is a realisation that would’ve not existed had we not been given the machinery to create perfection in a ‘half-press to focus’ – ‘fully press to take image’.

More than needing digital photography to simply exist, analogue photography in this, the lord’s year 2011 also needs an audience; ironically analogue photography found it’s widest, most willing and most inspiring audience online, which is quite possibly the only thing in existence that is considered “a place” yet does not exist, basically it is the most digital of digital, a pixel-temple? How does one convert their grains to pixels in order to ‘do your bit’ for the analogue cause – “the greater good” if you like? Well you need a scanner or a device that creates a pixel composite of your molecular creations, turning your picture into an image, enabling you to share as you wish, through networking sites and community groups.

Analogue photography’s existence relies entirely on the actuality of digital imaging, it is called analogue only because there is an alternative – digital. It should not be seen as an antithesis to digital but something that exists harmoniously in our technological society; a way to go forwards by, in a sense, going backwards (but not really).

written by pmcameraclub on 2011-06-21 in #gear #tipster #film #top-tipster-techniques #tipster #future #avant-garde #analogue #digital #art


  1. saidseni
    saidseni ·

    To me personally, this is the perfect time for this article to be published. Some people here seem to forget that "much this analogue revolution relies on digital intervention"... good thing your article is here to remember that we are very far from being "pure analogue". Lomo on!

  2. stratski
    stratski ·

    I agree. Digital is not evil, it's just different. I love both my digital 'perfect' (I wish...) pictures and my 'imperfect' quirky analogue pictures. Sometimes, when you're on that once-in-a lifetime trip you don't just want cool lomographs, you want National Geographic style pics to impress your friends and family and make a nice, traditional album as well.
    It's a great relief to go on serious hikes knowing I can trust my tiny lightweight to give me the pixel perfect images I want, without having to lug around a relatively heavy analogue camera plus at least half a dozen film rolls that can get wet or sandy or lost. When you carry a tent, 3 liters of water, and food for a week on your back, these things really matter.
    And when I do take more camera's with me, knowing that my digital camera has a nearly limitless capacity, gives me the opportunity to spend all my analogue rolls on fun experimental stuff, without having to worry about things like 'I've got a week of traveling but only half a roll of film left'. In that way, getting a digital camera has indeed made analogue photography more fun again for me.

  3. ryuhei
    ryuhei ·

    i use film for art and digital for documenting, and of course if it wasn't for digital shiz we wouldn't be discussing on here now :O

  4. jojo8785
    jojo8785 ·

    Ah such a good explanation! Agreed @stratski and @ryuhei.

  5. rtmoratin
    rtmoratin ·

    Same as @ryuhei, I use film for art and digital for documenting. :)

  6. mr-korn
    mr-korn ·

    I just love photography in general. I shoot both film and digital. I don't really care for the "Toy camera filter" in the digital camera. but, I'm not totally against it.
    PS. The mentioning of Kerouac makes this article a perfect 10 for me.

  7. mafiosa
    mafiosa ·

    so true. have had many discussions about this.

  8. dearjme
    dearjme ·

    Such a well written and engaging article! Agreed.

  9. analogmonolog
    analogmonolog ·

    a well balanced food for my soul :)

  10. fischkombinat
    fischkombinat ·

    I've got the feeling, that there's also a kind of melancholy that makes the desire for analogue. Here in the former GDR we've had many of the Cameras that are now so hot. For example: a friend told me that he discovered that there pictures of him as children playing with a Pouva Start Camera, the same one he bought a couple of weeks before seeing this picture again. Shooting film today is maybe a way to remenber the past.

  11. discodrew
    discodrew ·

    Great article and like so many others I've had this same debate too. I too use film for art and digital for documenting. One thing that I do not like about digital though is the disposability of the image. For example I went to take photos with a friend the other day and he was snapping away and took 730 photo's in a few hours. Of which 5% were shared with friends. This carpet bomb approach means you don't really look at the image you're taking or think before you shoot. I took a Lubitel 2 and was really pleased with 10 of the 12 shots I took. Analogue makes you think twice, look again and capture something meaningful.

  12. discodrew
    discodrew ·

    One more thing (You've got me started now) I think digital photography is like the pursuit of the great image while analogue is the gift of a great image.

  13. lereile
    lereile ·

    well written! i have nothing against digital, it simply doesn't fit me as well as analogue fits me. i think digital can do well for art too, but generally, it tends to have this quick, disposable thing @discodrew
    talks about, and i don't like it, i don't like zapping culture (we call it like that here). overinformation, overimages, overeverything.. i just prefere analogue heavy zenit camera, reminding me to stay calm and not to hurry.. or my polaroid, with just 10 films for the session.. or my ready for everything lca in my pocket!

  14. laurasulilly
    laurasulilly ·

    I totally agree with you! I hardly use my digital camera (but for documenting, as others have said), but not because I'm opposing digital in general, but because I started the whole photography thing a year ago and I wanted to learn everything from the start and analogue made me learn it the hard way so to speak...And today I own about 30 cameras, 10 of which I use regularly, 5 of which are my absolute faves and my own darkroom (which is just lovely)! However, since all of us who display photos on our lomohomes use scanners, we all use digital devices for our analogue photgraphy, so I think this "no digital alteration"-rule is sometimes taken a bit too seriously by some (altering contrast of a scanned negative is not the same like adding vignetting effects and the like to a digital image to make it look analogue)

  15. laurasulilly
    laurasulilly ·

    Oh, and if I may add: Most people don't seem to be aware of the fact that the whole (B&W) darkroom process is a lot about getting the perfect contrast- you use different filters, papers, developers to alter contrast, so why shouldn't you do the same when altering contrast digitally if you scan your negatives? That's my opinion, at least...diss me, if you like ;)

  16. dianalerias
    dianalerias ·

    lovely article! agreed, both can live in harmony. analog is just another medium to express ourselves.

  17. roquenuevo
    roquenuevo ·

    I like your style. I like embracing all kinds of photography, just because they're there. I like this Lomography Internet site because there are people like you here. I feel weird enough every day as it is so it's comforting to be in a community of weird, doing it the hard way, just because they like what comes out.
    But, I wonder if you could give me your line on using digital tools here on the Lomography site. We agree that without a scanner, we would be isolated in our own personal weirdness. But do we agree to use the scanner's "restore faded colors" feature and so forth? What about digital cropping? What about manipulating the curves, levels, color balance, etc etc with a photoediting program? What do you say are the limits here that would mark our photos as different? They must remain self-imposed limits. We're on the honor system, after all. But what are they?

  18. brettac
    brettac ·

    Love it, great job :)

  19. cutebun
    cutebun ·

    I love analogue photography because of the unexpected result. Digital unite us and made us live in a borderless world!

  20. ghorbadul
    ghorbadul ·

    Well said.

  21. mrsweirdyetcool
    mrsweirdyetcool ·

    Great article. I never got very much the point of having to choose between digital and analogue, when you can have both, with their advantages and disadvantages.
    I remember that way before I discovered Lomography I was shooting from the hip and not looking at what I shot with my digital cameras, and the results were too unexpected. Of course, no burnt film, and all that.
    And there's why I love analogue... Some say "But you can add all those effects to your digital pictures with photoshop". See? That's what I find wicked. Having a "perfect" shot, and adding the unexpected afterwards. In that I don't see the point.
    So I have my digital camera, for the pictures I want perfect. And I have my analogue beauties, for when perfect is totally out of place. :)

  22. beachedlibrarian
    beachedlibrarian ·

    To me, the whole digital vs. analog debate is sort of like the whole chocolate vs. vanilla debate: there's a time a place for both, somethings they come together, both are delicious.

  23. isoterica
    isoterica ·

    There really isn't a reason one has to choose. Each method of taking photographs lends to what the photographer, be they professional or hobbyist, want's to ultimately achieve. This whole "it's one or the other" philosophy is just silly to me. I don't have to bash one to elevate it's counterpart. I love all methods of photography and have several cameras at my disposal [DSLR, Mobile Phone, Toy, Antique, Instant, Pano..] with which I can choose based on my mood or what I intuit the moment [or days event] requires... and yes I often carry at least three cameras on me, one being my mobile phone. Instances where choice matters? I don't want to guess at macro photography.. I want to know that my focus was on, that I captured the moment, the right light.. and while there can still be happy accidents like a bug suddenly crawling out of the center of the flower I am photographing, that my image is not blurred, the focal point sharp and the bokeh creamy good. Accidents aren't in general happy in the macroscape. Likewise there is just something fun about passing a film camera around at a party that digital can not compete with.. not even at a wedding reception. The tension of waiting it out while you develop the film or have it developed.. it's like christmas when you get the pictures, open the flap of the envelope and see them for the first time. Having the image physically in your hands is a tactile reward one can pass on to their friends in person or via snail mail-- you can even scan them and share them online ;) uniting analog and digital. There really is a time and place for each and it's wonderful that we have a choice!

  24. moodification
    moodification ·

    Great article! I totally agree. I owe digital photography much as I learned all the basics of photography on a digital slr. For me it was much easier to learn the technique by shooting digital because I could see the result immediatly and alter the settings if I didn't like it. But when I discovered lomography and analogue photography half a year ago, it was like coming home. Everything just fell in place with that. Now I'm enjoying myself in the "new analogue world" and hardly use my digital cam at all. I don't think we should be too strict with the "digital manipulating". For me everything is allowed that you could do in the dark room as well. So I agree with My future is a good mixture of both worlds ;-))

  25. laurasulilly
    laurasulilly ·

    Mh, a lot of people seem to assume that analogue photography means "imperfection"- but that's not necessarily the case speaking again from my B&W darkroom point of view- anyone who has ever seen, and more importantly, held a well-crafted B&W print (on baryt paper, maybe) in hands will know what I'm talking about (a quality which can't be achieved with digital photography- yet)- so again, there's no either/or, you choose the medium depending on your needs, and after all, it's the person taking the picture who counts, not the technique- you can take a great picture with a simple pinhole camera, your mobile phone, a high-end DSLR and eerything in between.
    @roquenuevo: Have you ever thought about what your local lab does when you order a photo cd? They surely use all kinds of standardized techniques when they scan your prints- so if you do it yourself (the scanning and the adjusting), you have ultimate artistic control over your result. And again, the darkroom printing process is all about contrast, cropping, adjusting colours (if you do colour printing), and no one would ever say: hey, you manipulated your picture, that doesn't count. Don't be stoo strict to yourself :)

  26. rav_bunneh
    rav_bunneh ·

    It is not the Digital itself that I hate. Personally, I have and sometimes even use a little digital camera. I also made a very old digital camera into an infra red camera. What I am loath to is the totally fake nature of most professional digital photography. Change the sky to look more sky like, change the mountains to have a pink alpine glow, edit out any bits you don't like, cut and paste in a few extra clouds. Then -- sadly, pass it off as real and make people think you actually captured that with the click of a shutter. They are not good photographers, only good photoshop artists. The few digital photographers that still try to capture a real moment, then don't falsify it, I can and do respect as actual Photographers.

  27. nock
    nock ·

    Great way to put all this "digital vs analogue". Love this "essay" :)

  28. katherine-lynn
    katherine-lynn ·

    I work in a lab so I have to have the analog vs. digital talk with people daily. I actually stopped going to Flickr walks, which used to be one of my favorite things, because I was so sick of comparing and contrasting the two. I think it's ridiculous to rule out either option!

    I also think it's funny (frustrating) that older customers assume that I've never used film before. Digital photography only became popular what - 10 years ago? You bet I used a film camera in high school - did other young people just not take photos in the 90s? Or did they forget?

    One of the cool things I've learned is that people who are just now getting out of high school, and really never did use film before, are falling in love with it because it is so different from digital - which I think was the point of this essay. Hope!!

  29. makeyuu
    makeyuu ·

    AGREE COMPLETELY! DONT HATE, CELEBRATE! (life , digital,analogue etc...)

  30. j_robert
    j_robert ·

    I've been experimenting with pinhole exposures with my friend's dslr and I'm very pleased with the results. There is room for art, flaws, and perfection with all cameras. In visual mediums there are no absolutes, only ideas put into images. Thanks for breaking down the VS mentality.

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