Sunday, June 24, 2007

It's a Conspiracy, I Tell Ya!

(Caveat: This post is kind of a mild rant, at least a strong pet peeve.)

Photography. It's been around a long time, until recent years there was something for everybody. Things have changed over recent years, and in some ways it is good. There are down sides to everything, and this is no exception. What am I talking about? The film/digital "feud", if you will.

As time marches on, digital communication and data is taking over. (Yes, photography is a form of communication.) It has its good points, but there are some not-so-good points as well.

I shoot film - 35mm. It's what I like to shoot. Yes, I'm a kind of computer geek and love tech toys. I still see the value of keeping "old" technology alive. Let me point out some pros and cons. No matter what form of communication or data "processing" is spoken of, these things equally apply.

Digital is convenient. Digital photography is easy. It does everything for you if you like. You don't have to buy film or deal with the bulky packages. Digital devices are much smaller than their analog counterparts. They consume less power.


Digital data is extremely delicate. The slightest hiccup or bit of noise in any piece of data will render that data useless or otherwise bring its validity into question - if it changes any bit or byte of that data. Yes, most systems/servers have copies of copies of copies. That doesn't make it immune to failure. When you think about it, what is data? It is only electrical charges or magnetic fields.

You cannot prove that any given digital data belongs to you or is rightfully yours. It is impossible. The only way would be to keep only one copy of it in existence - in your possession. Then again, any digital data can be faked. I recently got some information from a major business. It came in the form of a printout that could easily be created off the top of the head, something any word processor could easily duplicate - or create. No letterhead, no original signature or anything. This being passed off as an "official" or legally-binding document is ludicrous. Instead of having a single document that could be used in court, I had to make and keep print-outs of the entire chain of events relating to this document: the certified mail receipt from the PO, the return receipt when it was sent back to me, copies of FAX transmissions and transmission logs (even though they wouldn't hold up in court anyhow), etc. This is crazy!

More specific to photography, you cannot prove your digital photos are really yours. Reference item 2, above. If you take a very good photo and try to get a print made of it, you can easily be refused. If they think it could likely have been taken by a professional photographer, you're out of luck. The ironic part of this, is that digital cameras are supposed to have everybody shooting professional-looking photos! Isn't that what they advertise to get you to buy them? By shooting film, I can prove my shots are mine. I have something real to prove it - my negatives. Yes, they can be copied, too. How likely is that? Not. You can't find many people to even admit to having a functioning film camera or shooting film any more. They wouldn't have a clue about copying negatives!

Megapixel this, and megapixel that. *sigh* Yes, the more megapixels, the merrier. I delight in telling people that my film cameras have infinite megapixels. By increasing megapixel ratings in digital cameras, they are striving to reach the point of duplicating the analog film norm. Zoom in on any digital photo, and you'll see little blocks or "pixelation" like a mosaic patchwork. Put a real photograph, printed via the ancient photo processing/enlargement process under a microscope, and all you'll see is smooth, flowing transitions throughout. There are no little blocks of mosaic "tiles". This is what the ever-increasing megapixel race is all about - trying to get to the perfection of film. Why drive up and down stairsteps or washboards when you can drive on a smooth-paved road?

[Note: Yes, I do own a pocket digital camera. Technology has worked to improve them to be pretty much "full-function" in a small size. Film cameras have been left relatively large, too much so to be appropriate to carry around casually. Technology could have improved to the same point with film cameras if they chose to.]

They have been shoving digital this and digital that down our throats for a long time. It's supposed to be "better", more "efficient". In some ways, maybe. In others, not so much. Computers crash for unknown reasons. Files get "lost" or more precisely "corrupted" to where they can't be read - sometimes they disappear. Cell towers go down easily, and dead spots abound. Calls get dropped. (This rarely happened with analog phones.) Now in a couple years, all TV signals will be digital. You have to buy a new TV or a digital box to watch any TV. Your TV antenna will be useless. Might as well use it for a wind chime. Your TV will only get white noise if you live in a remote area and have no satellite or cable service. Sorry 'bout your luck.

We rely on digital technology too much. It's been mis-applied for years. Instead of "helping" us do our jobs and live our lives, it is taking them over. How many businesses could do basic sales without their computers?

The root of this post? I cannot find any place that can (or more accurately, "will") scan my film into digital format (yes, I know) at a high-resolution, as a loss-free original scan. All of the places that develop my film claim that their processing/scanning machines only create JPG files. These are "lossy" images. The digital data is compressed. That is, much of the information on the images is thrown out in order to make the files smaller. (Why try to make them smaller on 650mb CD's for Pete's sake?! Will 24 images of file sizes up around 10 megs not fit?) If I ask for loss-free TIFF files, they charge me extra to have some digital piece of software magically have the bit fairy put them back. HUH??? That's like pouring 5 gallons of water into a 6 gallon bucket and filling it up! It's not real data, but interpolated crap they throw in to make the file big again. Isn't that sweet? NOT! Not to mention that they have unauthorized copies of your images (digital when you get prints made, or film during processing) in their systems - maybe corporate-wide. They don't, you say? How do you know? You don't.

Here's the kicker. When anything is scanned, it starts out loss-free. Every bit of data is captured to the ability of the given scanner. The machine goes the extra step to convert that pure scan into a crappy one. All I want is for them to NOT go the extra step. Should be easy and more efficient to not take the extra steps, right? Well, they claim they can't change it. They spend $15,000 or more on a digital machine that "can't" be customized and configured by software? Yeah, right. If that's the case, they wasted their money. It's a lie. Those machines have every capability to do what is needed. Hey, it's a digital machine. I thought digital is the way to go, and could do everything.

Is it a conspiracy that they are doing their best to make film look crappy by taking extra steps to do so? Is it an attempt to force us to "go digital" at every turn? Who knows? I don't like it whatever the reason.

Yes, I use computers for post-processing when needed. Yes, I have a digital camera that I occasionally use. As I mention in one of my photo galleries, there are things that each can do that the other cannot. I appreciate those differences. Do not force me to do everything digitally. To do that, we/you lose that which analog excels at - particularly with photography.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Another Page

Today, the ashes of one of my best friends were laid to rest. A short service at the cemetery, and get-together for those who attended.....and another page of our lives was turned. My friend passed away and was cremated in mid-March, and was finally laid to rest today - along with his mother's ashes. She was also my friend, and passed away two weeks to the day after he did. This is a large part of the closure we were needing.

May you rest in peace, my friends.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Hillary Clinton

To the tune of "Eleanor Rigby" by The Beatles.

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

From The Past

Many years ago, my Dad was in a barbershop quartet up in Iowa. I didn't know it, and don't know who they all were, but here's the proof. My Dad is the one on the far left. Today, he's in a nursing home with Alzheimer's.

I Need A Fix

It's been a busy few weeks. We've been doing a lot of fixin' up around the house - painting, etc. This weekend, I had a job to do for a lady on the west side of town. It's the first real electrical job I've had in about a year and a half. (My job is more with heating systems now, than electrical.)

We also took the time to do some much needed work in the yard today. She potted some flowers she's been wanting to plant, and I mowed the lawn (again) and cut out some dead and annoying branches out of some trees along the driveway with my pole pruner.

We've got new neighbors on both sides of us now. We've only met one family. They are a young couple with a 3 y.o. - almost. He's a little cutie. They seem to be all right. He even came over to help unload a dryer off our truck - while he was unloading a trailer of his own, moving in. Haven't met the others yet, but I've only seen a youngish mother and a couple of kids so far.

What's this about a "fix"? Well, we haven't done any serious [photography] shooting. Today, I shot almost half a roll of film on one Mississippi Kite, sitting on one branch in a tree in front of our house, doing absolutely nothing. I can't show you yet, 'cause the roll isn't gone yet. I could have used my digital for some of them, but I really do prefer film.

Been kinda busy lately, and the place is looking great. One of these days we'll be out in the world again, shooting to our heart's content. :)