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Thread: film/digital and history

  1. #1

    film/digital and history

    A new thread; but very related to Stuart's "remember film?" thread.

    A while ago, before he died, I "kinda" knew the historian for the Canadian Pacific Railway. I vividly remember his wording of thoughts on photographs were that "they get more important as time goes on"

    Sure enough, the local steam train and regular train pics that I took in the '80s are now keepers. 25 years later. At the time, they were just experimental photographs, taken for interest and fun.

    So, how do we properly archive digital photos so that, sometime in the future, ones of interest can be found??

    Sure, we can label them "Mom on long walk", but what may be really of interest is not "Mom" but, where she's walking.

    Negatives (or slides) can be easily, quickly, scanned. Someone can walk up to my negative collection, and quickly go through it. When things are on CD, that becomes really incredibly difficult.

    I'm concerned about it; last year, firing/driving the final dregs of steam in Poland, I took along an older nikon P&S. This year, I'm deciding between my M8, OR FILM. Some of what I did last year is no longer available this year; there really is a seminal change going on; I just try and record it; I'll leave it to others in the future to determine what is important or not.

    Scary thought - forgoing digital for film...


  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    Mar 2008
    Brooklyn NY
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    Re: film/digital and history

    LP's will outlive some of their replacements, whither DVD's now with Blueray? You also have a generation of children who probably have not "bought" a CD. Their music has been downloaded and streamed. And LP's are making a small comeback.

    i think if you really want to archive you should probably print those images you really want to protect. We have photographs of our grandparents and greatgrandparents in shoeboxes, certainly not "archived" but they have survived simply because they were durable.

    My belief is the vast majority of digital information is simply going to vanish in the convenience of new technologies. The effort required to maintain the "archive" of harddrives and optical discs and mounting terabytes of storage will eventually become an end in itself and not much fun. There is no digital shoebox unfortunately.

    The great thing about film is that it is durable and somewhat self-archiving. You can scan what you want but the film is always there should you want to go and retrieve something else. It waits patiently.

    I went to an artist talk at Aperture given by Todd Hido and he explained his process of how he develops work, and the contact sheet was crucial for him, new images appear in his daily shooting and they cause him to revisit older work on contacts where he finds other threads and slowly a body of work emerges. It is very difficult to replicate the pleasure of going over old work on contacts in the digital era. Scrolling through gigabytes in Lr is not the same thing. It has caused me to think printing contact sheets from personal shooting on digital might be a good thing. I do miss the binders numbered by roll and by year. It was a tangible diary.

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