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Thread: Analog Comments by Pedro Meyer Mexico

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    Analog Comments by Pedro Meyer Mexico

    Pedro Meyer is a famous contemporary photographer in Mexico. He has some very strong opinions especially about "old processes."

    Enjoy!

    Paul
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    Re: Analog Comments by Pedro Meyer Mexico

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    Senior Member chrism's Avatar
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    Re: Analog Comments by Pedro Meyer Mexico

    I like his photos very much (most look like film, in passing!) A provocative and perfectly valid viewpoint. I wrote somewhere else recently on the subject:

    But I struggle with why I use film to take those photographs. I don't think film is better—whatever that might mean in terms of resolution, contrast, dynamic range, colour fidelity etc, but it is more authentic, at least, to me. That's because I grew up with film, and doing it in such an easy way as modern digital offers really feels like cheating to someone with that background. Digital is easier, and probably often technically better. So the question remains as to what I am doing and why? If the final image is everything, then I ought to be using digital to get perfectly exposed high-resolution pictures very easily. Oh, I remind myself about all the fantastic cameras that I can use that are now relatively cheap, and it's true that I revel in using them—there's nothing like the satisfaction of a Rolleiflex, Hasselblad 500, Leica M2 or even any example from the pinnacle of the manual SLR era. But what of the process? A lot of satisfaction comes from doing something difficult correctly (the downside being those moments like yesterday when I developed four rolls of 35mm in one tank, but only had two Hewes reels, and the effing-awful bent Taiwanese reels destroyed several negatives by letting adjacent film surfaces touch—perhaps I ought to include that in the pleasure of film as there is only satisfaction in avoiding mistakes, and if no mistakes were possible then no satisfaction could be attained). That process includes not only manual camera abilities, but an awareness of the characteristics of films, developers, chemical knowledge, darkroom skills—lots of things way beyond the shutter button! I could have used a digital camera instead, and probably got photos that were technically better, but I would have taken no pleasure in it. Too easy! I think I'm doing what I do partly because of the lovely old cameras, partly to avoid the guilty feeling of cheating, and consequently accepting lower image quality a lot of the time in return.

    This is the thing I struggle with—if the final image is all, and the art of photography lies in seeing a good photograph before you pick up the camera then it doesn't matter how it was taken. But I still have the feeling that anyone could have made the right menu settings and relied upon a digital camera's brain to ensure it came out right. So I have to be talking about something else here, the satisfaction of achieving something by doing in a way that is not easy, and whether that satisfaction outweighs the results being technically less perfect. That's probably the issue—I'm trying to satisfy two different drives—to make a satisfying image (the result, which is agnostic about how it was made and digital is easier), and to enjoy the craft of photography (the process, where analog allows for more deployment of skill and thus more satisfaction). If I had a Dionysian mindset, I'd do what felt good at the time, and use all cameras with complete equanimity, but being cursed with an Apollonian mind, I have to bloody well feel like I'm doing, and using, the best I can. It's a curse, and it is only difficult and destructive because I can't separate the pleasure in a good result from the pleasure of navigating a tricky process.
    You might think it is easy, when stuck in this kind of endless loop, to look down upon digital users as those who take the easy way, who have a few integrated circuits doing what can be done in wetware with enough practice and effort, but I think I envy anyone who uses a digital camera with a clear conscience. Plainly, this is all psychopathology on my part, and ought not to influence anyone else unduly.
    I've no beef with Sr. Meyer making the argument outlined above that one should use whatever allows the final image to be created as faithfully to your vision as possible. But I would, respectfully, disagree that to use an old process is to "look forwards through a rear-view mirror". By that argument no one should ever bother painting as there are better, easier, quicker ways to record a scene. I'm happy to adopt a live and let live approach. Whether it's oils, watercolours, film or digital, make your picture, enjoy doing it and try to give a little pleasure to others who look at the result.

    C.
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    Re: Analog Comments by Pedro Meyer Mexico

    Thanks for that, Paul.
    The photos are great and seem to show much empathy.
    What with and how they were made is irrelevant to me.

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    Re: Analog Comments by Pedro Meyer Mexico

    Very interesting views. They won't stop me from using old technologies though

    Thanks for posting.

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    Senior Member Abstraction's Avatar
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    Re: Analog Comments by Pedro Meyer Mexico

    I don't have a problem with digital even though I had shot with film for most of my life. Digital IS easier and it's easier to learn and experiment because you get the result right away and you can correct whatever errors you may have made.

    However, I do miss film. Film to me was a palette, like a set of particular paints you chose based on the look you wanted to achieve. I loved Kodachrome and when Kodak stopped making it, something very special was taken away from my enjoyment of using film. None of the other emulsions looked the same. I also miss the projected slide. Everything just popped. I'll have to see if the new digital projectors can replicate that.

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    Senior Member darr's Avatar
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    Re: Analog Comments by Pedro Meyer Mexico

    Thank you Paul for bringing attention to this newly released interview.

    My take on what I think Mr. Meyer's core argument in the video is, content versus process. You can get the content regardless of the process and he has a hard time, for example, agreeing that using an 8x10" film camera in the landscape will make the content any different. I shoot digital and film, but I prefer digital for landscape work knowing the content will be the same regardless of the process. Actually, my digital work in the landscape is easier for me to produce and frees me up to take in more of the environment, so I am sticking with digital for this. But, I enjoy shooting film with my beloved Hasselblad cameras. I do it because I enjoy the entire process. For me it is like going home to a familiar place. The Hasselblad cameras and film were my most relied upon tools in my career, so I am fond of the two together, but for the small amount of paid work I take in today, I shoot digitally; medium format and APS-C. My rearview mirror reminds me how to make money with a camera so I leave film out of the equation so I can be competitive.

    Mr. Meyer's rearview mirror reminds him it is all about content and he can get it with that mirrorless camera he has close-by. Now that most everyone is a "published photographer", the lack of content bombards many of us. He comments young photographers contact him in regards to analogue photography like it is something unusual. Maybe the 8x10" landscape photographer feels they have earned a badge of honor because of their process regardless of their content, and that is just the type of ignorance I think Mr. Meyer is getting at.

    My 2 cents,
    Darr
    Website: photoscapes.com
    Photo Blog: darrlene.com
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