Did anyone see the editor's statement in B&W

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Did any of you see B&W magazine's editorial statement affirming traditional photography over digital? It's in the latest issue. The editor made a point about digital being technology used for reproduction, like a lithograph, while he equated traditional photography with being 0a craft. Not 100% sure of the analogy's validity, but I think the affirmation is wonderful - someone taking a stand at least, and not selling out to the brave new virtual world (where humanity becomes the slave of technology and supposedly gain "increased productivity" but for whom and for what???). Maybe not all is lost!

-- Hyperfocal (hyperfocal@attbi.com), April 12, 2002


I find it funny to hear analog photographers echo painters and critics of the early 20th century. Those critics despised photography and why not; "photography requires no skill", "it ain't art" and so on and so on. These painters and critics were like analog photographers of the present; jealous of the new medium and terrified that skills learned over a lifetime would become useless.

Photography needed Ansel Adams - and others - to deviate from the "painting immitation" crowd of that time, and to show what photography could be. Digital photography is in its very early days and digital's "Ansel" has yet to come to the forefront to create that new artform. But that person will come. And in 50 years digital photography will be viewed in the same way as any mature art and some day it too will be supplemented by another visual form.

-- David Grandy (dgrandy@grandyphoto.com), April 12, 2002.

Not as long as digital keeps comparing itself to traditional photgraphy David. In the past photgraphers never said, "we are doing exactly the same as painting but better and easier" which is what digital proponents do now. I always find it funny that digital proponents always fall back on this "painter's argument" of the past but you always say...hey my photoshop does this and that just like in the darkroom, or my Epson printer is just as good and the prints last much longer than a platinum/palladium printe...etc.

Why cant you people come up with your own techniques? why does it always have to be compared to traditional photography? is it because you want to give it some validity without earning it? if digital is so wonderful why is it always saying "better than film/paper/chemical/darkroom?

Look as far as I am concerned I can spot a digital print even if it is done with the MIS or Cone inks, not because the quality is not there, but because for some reason the "feel" is just not the same. lets remember that even though there are electric pianos, people still use Stainway....as a matter of fact I have yet to go listen to a symphony on an electric piano.

-- Jorge Gasteazoro (rossorabbit@hotmail.com), April 12, 2002.

The landscape painters of old used what was called a "camera obscura." Essentially it was a pinhole camera the size of a tent, with aperatures on all four sides. The painter would set it up in the direction of his subject. Then get inside, and project the image to an easel and canvas. No wonder those works had such uncanney perspective. They eventually added lenses, shrunk it down to box size and with the invention light sensative materials, gave birth to the camera.

Now the next evolution or devolution; digital. Will it replace traditionl photography? Maybe, maybe not. One area that needs to be addressed is the permanency of a digitally stored image. Is it archival? I have no factual information on that but hear it is not.

Another area is where is the border line between photography and graphic arts and how much overlapping grey area is there? It really depends on the extent of the manpulations. Painters have the flexability to add or ommit trees, rocks, any part of the subject they want. A photographer has to work with what is there infront of the lens for the slice in time of the duration of the exposure. A painter can return as many times as they want and over a period of time, days, weeks, even months, capture what they want on canvas. Now with digital and Photoshop, a photographer, graphic artist, can do the same. Where will it end, begin?

Right now the best thing to do is grab your camera and go take pictures! BY!

-- Rob Pietri (light@narrationsinlight.com), April 12, 2002.

I agree with the editor of B&W. Part of the power of photography has been photographers ability to develop around the limitations of the medium. This is no different than the way that musicians learn to develop music with the power and beauty of their chosen instrument. Digital photography is far less limited in its capabilities. For this reason, I believe the medium will increasingly diverge and grow apart from traditional "analog" photography. It will because it can. When it truly breaks free it will add immeasurably to culture and arts. Early photography similarly had to break free from imitation of earlier painterly and drafting traditions. B&W's editor's courageous stance will help digital workers break free from the constraints of attempting to imitate or "better" traditional photography and encourage to explore in new ways. For these reasons I think there will continue to be a strong market for traditional "craft" oriented photography and the new medium of digital imaging. In ten years I don't think anyone will be thinking about digital vs analog, they will both be thriving in their own way.

-- Andrew Held (Heldarc@hotmail.com), April 12, 2002.

Yesterday I got a digital print wet, and the colors ran. That never happened to me with a silver gelatine print.

-- Charlie Strack (charlie_strack@sti.com), April 12, 2002.

hmm...wasn't this discussed someplace else recently, was it this forum?? deja vu...but no, I haven't read the editorial...however isn't it sort of ironic that you all would find the editorial "courageous", in that the slant of the magazine is towards collecting fine art & silver based photography. I have only bought one issue of that magazine, and flipped through a couple of others, but I found it to be more about collecting images or showcasing certain photographers more than the act of photography....to me a magazine like Lenswork, or View Camera for example is more about photography--theory & art & craft, if you will.

It also strikes me as ironic, to "take a stand" against digital imaging, in that the publication is a slick magazine....probably printed on a web press, and all the pre-press done digitally to begin with.....maybe you could take stand against digital by not buying any publication that is produced with any type of digital support....go back to something printed on a letterpress with the photos tipped in.....oh, MY opinions only.

-- dk thompson (kthompson@moh.dcr.state.nc.us), April 12, 2002.

DK Thompson - Yes, you are correct in your comments. I guess such a "stance" isn't too surprising from a source like B&W magazine. Sorry for the naivete, still it was good to hear somebody of a commerical mindset not blindly jumping on the digital bandwagon. This was all I was getting at ... sorry to let my cynicism not get the best of me. It won't happen again.

-- Hyper (hyperfocal@attbi.com), April 12, 2002.

S.O.S.....All this is like arguing about who's got the best wife. I don't care how great you think yours is, I'm not getting rid of mine anytime soon.

When the future arrives, it is never as predicted, and what do most of these predictions mean anyway? They don't mean anything until they come true, and who knows when they will.

This traditional Photography/digital argument will go on and on, and there will never be a winner. No true artform ever dies.

-- Jonathan Brewer (lifestories@earthlink.net), April 12, 2002.

No..., believe me I am a real cynic in regards to digital, but it's all around us....there practically isn't a product or publication out there that isn't done in at least some small part with computers & digital output etc. As for B&W, I'll admit it has beautiful reproduction...but so does Communication Arts, or Step By Step Magazine, or Print. It's just ironic to me to take a firm standing against digital imaging in light of the fact that digital technology is used in the production of the magazine itself, and for their website from which you can order collector's prints....which I assume are silver-gelatin based. And then probably someday, if not already, the magazine itself will become collectible....

I suspect the answer to this will be that the magazine caters to those who collect the artifact--not the reproduction. Okay, fine. That's the "cottage trade" there, or for those with access to great galleries or benevolent public museums...I reserve the right to be a cynic here, though, since I work in a museum and out of 250,000+ objects, the general public will probably see only about 10% ever....without arranging some sort of personal viewing & going through the protocol for that. What I see as the reality of this, is that alot of people get their exposure to photography, and fine art photography through printed materials like B&W magazine and books etc. Now on the internet as well.....as for me, having worked in an offset printing shop in a previous life, I actually enjoy looking at a finely printed book....to me I see the "art" in reproduction as well.....MY opinions as always.

-- dk thompson (kthompson@moh.dcr.state.nc.us), April 12, 2002.

Oh yeah, btw..making a lithograph is a craft...so is running a little AB Dick press....printing & photography, whether cranking out low-brow publications or limited editions...it's all a craft and a trade....who was iut? Steiglitz?? Who did Camera Work...I work with a guy who does letterpress printing ont the side, and works with solarplate materials as well....it may be "reproduction", but it's also as an art form....

-- dk thompson (kthompson@moh.dcr.state.nc.us), April 12, 2002.

There is Digital now, and there's what digitals gonna be. You are right about who uses it and who should use it, which is of course a different issue than the all too familiar pronouncements about how and why you should be depressed doing what you in fact really love doing because of what digital will be five yrs from now.

If they discover an asteroid that they say may destroy all life on earth in 10yrs, I'll still do what I love doing, I'll hug my wife, I'll use my cameras. Under those dire circumstances, I'd probably intesify all the activities I love to do.

What keeps coming up in this debate is two agendas disguised as one. The concept of digital is the first agenda, the second agenda is the pronouncement so many people make when talking of the first agenda that you should get depressed and give up anything else you're doing if it isn't digital, that it is simply a waste of time. Publishing is different of course.

If someone wants to crunch numbers that's fine, but what does digital innovation mean to somebody who loves to paint? A sculptor? A woodworker?........... Nothing.

-- Jonathan Brewer (lifestories@earthlink.net), April 12, 2002.

Since we are on this tired topic once again, let me draw your attention to the March/April issue of Photovision Magazine and comments made by Carol Williams, owner of Photography West Gallery in Carmel: "Digital images (to date) still feel contrived and lacking in palatable soul. Despite rational arguments that the computer is simply a tool, I am not alone in detecting a cold disturbing, inexplicable void in the final visual result, no matter how superficially beautiful the image may appear at first glance." She certainly is not alone.

By the way, this is a magazine dedicated to photography -- no digital. They will soon be launching a second publication, Digital Fine Arts -- no photography, states the editor.

-- Merg Ross (mergross@aol.com), April 12, 2002.

haha...see, it's a ridiculous, pointless topic to discuss....big deal! But why is it that the discussion is played out--yet again--on computers....if you're so disturbed by the prospect of digital inaging creeping into your life...then donate your computer to charity, or go burn some film...I for one, am going to take a stance against digital by not buying those magazines that take a stance against digital......

-- dk thompson (kthompson@moh.dcr.state.nc.us), April 12, 2002.

People just don't like change! That's really what's going on here - nothing more.

-- Dave Anton (daveanton@shaw.ca), April 12, 2002.

What's happening in the MiddleEast is disturbing, this is nothing, in fact it's really a non-issue, whatever's going to happen is going to happen, the prediictions and pronouncements mean nothing, so my vote is go out and do what you enjoy doing, whatever it is.

Digital is probably a must for Magazines and busy commercial shooters, for everybody else it's elective. I use digital myself as do most of you, and it's great when I need it, but it's expensive and throwaway technology as of this minute.

Common sense rules my buying habits with regards to digital now, not being emotoional, disturbed, or overexcited over some digital hyperbole. The fastest, newest, most expensive widgets don't get my 'mojo' going anymore.

Because any of us disagree with you doesn't mean we're disturbed by digital, on the contrary, I'm fascinated by digital, which is why I have it. I'm excited as hell about where digital might go, I'm just no longer gonna pay SMALL FORTUNES to them until they get it right and a lot cheaper.

Digital is here to stay, but ironically digital equipment doesn't last, in too short a time it becomes worthless, and anybody with any sense recognizes that before his wallet is completely empty.

I paid too much for my printer, it now sells for $49.00! I only have to go through this kind of cycle once to learn my lesson. I've had basically the same system now for 2yr with no late purchases, Oh yes it's very slow, but it's very paid for.

Like you I've taken a stance, for my wallet, I'm no longer seduced by 'bigger', 'faster', and 'better', I make my digital gear that I already have work for me, no matter how old it is, no matter how slow it is, and I know a lot a people who do the same.

My computer is old, about the only thing you could do with it is Donate it, I LIKE THAT.

-- Jonathan Brewer (lifestories@earthlink.net), April 12, 2002.

Whether you choose to photograph in digital or traditional, color or black and white, 35mm or 8x10, shoot portraits or street photography, etc etc is not so important as the end result. When someone is moved by an image or piece of art it's not because they are thinking about how it was made, what tools or techniques they employed but the end result. Is it successful? That's what mattters. I find this continuing mode of discussion of digital vs traditional tiresome and unproductive. Digital is here to stay so just get used to it. There is a place for all modes and styles of photography.

-- Saulius Eidukas (landscapefoto@yahoo.com), April 12, 2002.

"Pure" digital photography will without any doubt evolve into its own art form. All it takes is for someone to "step up to the plate" and show that it can be done and that digital imaging is unique in its own right.

However, photographers who work in the traditional medium can benefit greatly from the digital revolution. And save both time and money along the way.

F. inst. by scanning negs and do prelim. dodging and burning in the computer before making paper prints from the negs. This saves a ton of time and allows a lot of experimentation as to how the final print may look.

It is also interesting to note that the commercial film industry went through a similar change 10 years ago. The question was if you should you shoot commercials on film or on video. Today the industry has merged the two fields. 99% of all major TV spots are shot on film and transferred to digital media. If commercials are shot on video many videographers try to obtain that special "film look"...

It may become similar with regards to traditional photography and digital imaging.

-- Per Volquartz (volquartz@volquartz.com), April 12, 2002.

It's funny.... the folks who are the greatest proponents of digital, namely the commercial photographers, will be the first victims of the new technology. They will go the way of the pencil and rule draftsman, who only 10 years ago was in high demand, but now extinct.
Who needs to hire a photographer for the next campaign, when any pimple faced 16 year old with a few years of photoshop can grab the Dcam and snap the shot, or more likely create it from scratch right at the terminal from stock images.
Good night boys, rest in peace........

-- Matt O. (mojo@moscow.com), April 13, 2002.

Obviously and understandably the folks at this forum are close enough to both sides of this interesting argument to have opinions and emotions. Me included, very strong ones. But ultimately it is the "end user" who decides. It will be fascinating to see what ten years brings. Will the end user whoever that is decide that a graphic arts reproduction of "something" who knows what, a stream of 1's and 0's is indeed art if it pleases the eye, or will "they" after some time to be educated and digest decide that intrinsic value isn't holding up well and the digital things will make an adjustment downwards. My cystal ball isn't working well, I'll just have to wait and see. My bet is on the traditional processes, each minutely different as created 1 at a time. But then if I had been alive in 1946 my bet would have been on the steam locomotives that could still pull 6 of those silly diesel electric engines backwards.

-- Jim Galli (jimgalli@lnett.com), April 13, 2002.

Why is it so hard to understand that if an editor decides not to focus on digital that he isn't necessarily dismissing the craft. Isn't it possible that he's just trying to emphasize the "classical" approach to photography? I believe he even stated in the editorial, and I paraphrase, that there are plenty of periodicals in the marketplace that focus on digital; he just doesn't want his to be one of them. My hat's off to him.

Personally I don't understand the digital vs. silver argument from large format photographers. IMHO it's an argument better left to 35mm and MF folks, who work with small frames and are probably impacted/benefitted to a greater degree than LF users.

-- Chad Jarvis (cjarvis@nas.edu), April 13, 2002.

I am not in the habit of writing to every magazine editor. . . In fact this only one of a couple of letters I have ever sent to an editor. . . Anyway, here is what I sent. . . I feel it is self explanatory. . .


TO: Mr. Henry Rasmussen, Publisher and Editor, Black & White Magazine,

In reference to your April 2002 issue Opening Shot titled "IN CONSIDERATION OF CONSTANCY". . .

THANK YOU FOR TAKING A "STAND" and making your position clear. . . Thank you for not following the "popular" lead of the manufacturers advertising. . . Thank you for supporting true artisanship. . . Thank you for being forthright and honest. . . My faith has been restored in your magazine. . . I WILL continue as a loyal, true supporter and subscriber.

I am so tired of the current battle cry in the photographic world; "I'M SELLING MY DARKROOM, I'M GOING DIGITAL." My only question for these people is. . . WHY??? . . . Because it is suppose to be "COOL". . . to be the "IN" thing. . . to be QUICK and EASY???. . . I just don't get it. . .

Digital is its own art form. . . NOT A REPLACEMENT FOR TRADITIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY. . . The manufacturers see a gold mine here. . . they see it as a way to get rid of much of their overhead and manufacturing costs. . . to just sell optical disks containing "VAPOR WARE". . . quick, easy, no muss, no fuss. . . just high profit with little effort. . . a marketing firm dream world!!!

Art has never, nor will it ever be created by silicon. . . people create art. . . the method they choose is their personal choice. . . to say new technology is a "replacement" for traditional methods is just HYPE. . . Color photographic materials did not replace B&W. . . Acrylic paint did not replace Oil paint. . . DIGITAL IMAGING WILL NOT REPLACE TRADITIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY. . . Those that heed the new "Battle Cry" will, I believe, eventually regret their choice. . .

Enough said. . . let those of us that choose to practice our art form continue to do so without the distraction of the "Battle Cry". . . and those that choose to be techno followers continue to support Silicon Valley. . . I have nothing against digital, nor those that use digital means. . . I use digital imaging on a regular basis in maintaining our web site. . . Choosing the correct tool for the job is the mark of a true craftsman. . . those that continually play with their tools are just hackers. . . or should I say dreamers, they continually use their tools as an excuse for not being creative. . . A poor craftsman always blames his tools. . .

Again, THANKS for taking a stand for what is truly correct. . .

JBH http://www.jbhphoto.com/ >>>>

-- J.B. Harlin (jbharlin@jbhphoto.com), April 14, 2002.

JB Your are full of s__t!

Get a life Man....


-- Bill Smithe (bs2@aol.com), April 14, 2002.

"Did any of you see B&@ magazine's editorial statement?"

This was discussed at some length a month ago:



-- Micah (micahmarty@aol.com), April 15, 2002.

Okay, I read the editorial...big deal. Look at the scope of the magazine and it's advertisers as well. What do you expect them to say? The magazine is about traditional black and white prints and collecting them as well. It would be the same if they had an editorial stating that they wouldn't focus on color printing. A real no-brainer....why it's viewed as "taking a stand" is beyond me....this isn't an argument against anything..it's just a magazine....

-- dk thompson (kthompson@moh.dcr.state.nc.us), April 15, 2002.

If I were a fiction writer would my work be invalidated because I used Microsoft Word on a computer or would I have to use a manual typewriter or maybe pen and ink or better yet a quill? Just as drawings on a cave wall photography is a way of seeing. The image is a product of our minds and if we are lucky a shared experience with others. Just because it is created in a sacred way does not make it art. Because we used an elite large format camera and printed with custom chemistry on the most hard to find paper does not make the image art or crap. Is how the image was created to be the reason for its value?. My opinion is Digital vs. Chemical is a trap for little minds.

-- Steven Long (stevensdot@comcast.net), April 15, 2002.

"If I were a fiction writer would my work be invalidated because I used a computer or would I have to use a manual typewriter?"

If I were a maker of expensive jewelry would my work be invalidated because I sold white plastic balls but claimed they were pearls?

The fiction-writer analogy isn't valid because (unlike readers of fiction paperbacks) many buyers of fine photographs care at least as much about the PHYSICAL OBJECT (and how it was made) as they care about "what it's a picture of" (any digital point-and-shoot can capture the latter). For these collectors, the medium (i.e., the physical object called a handmade photograph) matters in a way it doesn't for, say, a fiction story, which could be equally appealing no matter what medium is used to present it.

Collectors of Faberge eggs, Mayan stone carvings, Japanese prints, and hand-printed photographs all have a perfect right to prefer the real thing over a mass-produced facsimile. That doesn't mean they're "right" and others are "wrong" --just that they have a right to their own preferences.


-- Will (ChristChurchCom@aol.com), April 16, 2002.

What this debate really comes down to is making prints, apparently. As far as the rest of the photo process, its almost the same. It uses lenses, light proof bodies, apertures and shutter speeds. What about those of us that only shoot chromes? Are we not 'doing art'? I consider my art to be done behind the camera, not in a dark room. I dont rely on any manipulation of the image, either digital or in the dark room. I do it all behind the camera, and the chrome tells me if I did it well. Is digital that much different? Its just another way of recording light. One uses chemicals, the other uses bits. They both have their quirks. I dont see it as a big threat.

-- Ron Shaw (shaw9@llnl.gov), April 16, 2002.

You make some interesting points. Faberge eggs, Mayan stone carvings, Japanese prints value is also reflected in their rarity, historical significance and except for things such as Mayan stone carving the value of their materials. If something is rare alone does not make it art or collectable. Digital does not necessarily mean mass produced nor chemical means limited production. Depression Glass, penny toys, old marbles, Life magazines, old movie posters and many other examples of mass produced inexpensively made items are collected and enjoyed. If you ask a oil or watercolor artist if a photograph is handmade they may take issue and any editions of a photograph would be? I have seen platinum prints that were technically well made, limited production and awful (maybe some future culture would value them) but itís the real thing. I donít question anyone collecting anything. I will and have used almost anything to get an image from my mind to a medium that can be sold but its only real value to me is if it moves or connects the viewer. I guess I donít produce for just collectors.

-- Steven (stevensdot@comcast.net), April 16, 2002.

The B&W decision defies belief. I'm interested in the quality of the print. If a skilled photographer produes his work using a Giclee process, instead of a traditional darkroom, then his work should be aviailable for review alongside his wet darkroom peers.

What makes this decision so absurd in my view is that digital printing has only now reached a quality level that is arguably on a par with the wet darkroom. Processes like Jon Cone's Piezography render outstanding continuos tone, dot free prints.

I have no problem with B&W giving prominence to traditional prints, but the magazine title now misrepresents its contents.

So yes, someone is "taking a stand" - just like King Canute once did.


-- QDB (qdb@barleigh.com), April 17, 2002.

Dot free? The work I've seen in person was gorgeous but you could tell it was generated by a printer in two heart ticks. I will say the ones I've seen have a velvety platinum colored look all their own.

-- Jim Galli (jimgalli@lnett.com), April 17, 2002.

What makes this decision so absurd in my view is that digital printing has only now reached a quality level that is arguably on a par with the wet darkroom.


As long as people keep wishing digital is the same thing only slightly different, those people are going to keep having really rude awakenings. I'll shout it. Its exactly the same, EXCEPT ONE USES A FREAKIN COMPUTER!!!!! NEITHER IS SUPERIOR OR INFERIOR, BUT THEY ARE VERY DIFFERENT!!!! ONE USES A COMPUTER, AND ONE DOESNT!!! A COMPUTER THAT CAN PERFORM HUNDREDS OR MILLIONS OF SIMULTANEOUS OPERATIONS AT SPEEDS FAR EXCEEDING THAT OF A MERE MORTAL. A COMPUTER! THATS WHY ITS DIFFERENT. see oh emm pee you tee ee are! COMPUTER!


all in fun, ;-)

-- wayne (wsteffen@skypoint.com), April 17, 2002.

To Jim:

Is being able to tell it was generated by computer good or bad - you don't say :-)

But I was serious about dot free. I mean absolutely, totally, and completely free of any visible dots, even under a loup. No dots! But to get that, you need to use the right software / printer combination. And if you do, then the quality is awesome.

In other words (surprise surprise), its just like the wet darkroom. It all depends on the skill of the printer and the use of the right materials.

To Wayne:

I could not agree more. You make my case far better than I do. -- Quentin

-- Quentin Bargate (qdb@barleigh.com), April 17, 2002.

so it comes down to a little rage against the machine!

-- steven (stevensdot@comcast.net), April 17, 2002.

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