If we don’t talk about it, maybe it doesn’t really exist. But we all know it does, so perhaps it’s better to get it out in the open, to be grown-ups about it, to share. I’ll go first and admit to occasional cropping and removing annoying dust particles from scans. And I’ll tell you that my biggest pet-peeve is the term “digital cross-processing” because it’s such a blatant oxymoron. But I’ll also say that my life is so much easier thanks to the Adobe Creative Suite software.
It’s a love-hate thing. I love Dreamweaver for making websites and InDesign for doing page layout. And that little clone stamp in Photoshop is genius for removing those pesky specs of dust that appear on my scans no matter what I do to avoid them. Post-production is a sticky subject in the analogue photography world and everyone operates according to an individual code of ethics.
Most of us would rather be shooting than sitting in front of a computer screen trying to recreate the effects that our plastic cameras give us naturally. There is software that mimics Polaroid and Holga images. There are lenses to use with fancy digital SLRs that produce fake toy camera shots. And then there’s the hyper-stylized HDR, which is so often abused and ugly that I don’t want to discuss it at all. People spend countless hours and dollars attempting to get their digital images to look like film and it makes me wonder why these digital junkies don’t just pick up a cheap film camera and a handful of film. But it also makes me question why any analogue shooter would ever want to go rogue and digitally doctor their analogue photographs.
But it happens. Maybe it’s too easy and once a person starts making a little tweak here and another there, it snowballs into all-out Photoshop madness. I sometimes mess around with the colour and contrast levels on shots, but I’ve never been able to get it to look better than what I captured on film and end up not saving the changes. But I recognize the slippery slope and understand how simple it would be to slide all the way down.
The relationship between the analogue and digital photography world is tentative, tenuous and sometimes outright hostile. Many of us use digital cameras and phone cameras “on the side,” to take those practical I-need-it-right-now photos, but it’s what we do — or don’t do — with our film prints and negatives that counts. So let’s each do our part to keep the realities of analogue photography real.
What’s your do-not-cross line when it comes to digital post-production? Share your shots and stories with me!
Pamela Klaffke is a former newspaper and magazine journalist who now works as a novelist and photographer. Her column appears weekly in the Analogue Lifestyle section of Lomography Magazine.