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Even In Digital Photography Age, High Schoolers Still Flock To the Darkroom

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the what's-old-is-hip dept.

Education 240

v3rgEz writes: In the age of camera-equipped smart phones and inexpensive digital cameras, many high schoolers have never seen a roll of film or used an analog camera — much less developed film and paper prints in a darkroom. Among those that have, however, old school development has developed a serious cult following, with a number of high schools still finding a dedicated audience for the dark(room) arts.

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It's the chemicals.. (2, Funny)

ewhenn (647989) | about 6 months ago | (#47258981)

Students still like to huff them. Really, can you blame them? A small, dark, and enclosed space is perfect for this!

Re:It's the chemicals.. (4, Interesting)

relisher (2955441) | about 6 months ago | (#47259175)

I find this really offensive. I love to use film because of the imperfection that's so natural, not the chemicals. Not all high schoolers are druggies

Re:It's the chemicals.. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47259459)

I think the chemicals have affected your joke detection.

Re:It's the chemicals.. (2)

war4peace (1628283) | about 6 months ago | (#47259605)

A film roll is an artificial construct. How is that "natural" in any way, shape or form? Furthermore, digital pictures have plenty of imperfections, unless you use a really-REALLY good one, and even then you have to know what you're doing. With 99% of my snapshots looking horrible, I kind of am an expert in that particular field :=)

Re:It's the chemicals.. (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 6 months ago | (#47260107)

Yeah, the rest of them want into the darkroom to make out.

Re:It's the chemicals.. (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 6 months ago | (#47259189)

Film developer huffing eh?

B&W film chemicals are not that good for getting high, but I guess is you need a fix(er) you can try it. Just don't drink the stuff...

Re:It's the chemicals.. (1)

peragrin (659227) | about 6 months ago | (#47259265)

Actually you should encourage people like him to drink up for the ultimate high.

Darwinism at its finest.

High Schoolers + Co-ed Darkrooms (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47258989)

I can see the appeal.

Re:High Schoolers + Co-ed Darkrooms (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47259213)

In a dark room, it's more about fumbling around in the dark....With the film spools..

The actual appeal (5, Insightful)

fyngyrz (762201) | about 6 months ago | (#47259217)

It's comparable to the resurgence of interest in vinyl records. The only worthy attraction is in the sheer retro-ness of it. It certainly isn't in the quality; a good DLSR today is an amazing tool, capable of far more than yesterdays SLRs in every area but outright spectral retargeting (IE, you can put IR film in an SLR and go -- an IR sensor of equal quality, not so much), and that includes in ultimate image quality in normal regimes. Even as far as developing goes, modern software has made the range of actions and remediation one can pull off in the darkroom look like a tiny collection of beginner's moves.

I do not regret, not even one little bit, no longer having to do the tray-and-line dance with my work. Furthermore, I shoot more, and better, with my DSLR than I could ever have hoped to accomplish with any SLR I ever owned.

Up until the current generation of DSLRs, I always felt that I wasn't *quite* there. But today, I literally have no reason to look back. I have to hand it to Canon, Nikon, etc... they've done a great job. Between the quality obtainable, the ability to go out and shoot a thousand *good* images without changing "film", the incredible range of usable ISO (sensitivity to light), in-camera preview -- and disposal -- so you actually know what you have while you're still on-site and able to try again, to readily available histograms and after-the-fact white balance... and then "developing" with Aperture or Lightroom... I'll take a DSLR every time.

Re:The actual appeal (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47259395)

It's comparable to the resurgence of interest in vinyl records. The only worthy attraction is in the sheer retro-ness of it. It certainly isn't in the quality...

This bit about vinyl is plainly wrong, and I wouldn't blame someone for stopping right there and disregarding the rest of your comment completely. The quality of analog vinyl vs digital format audio is hotly debated, and vinyl has a strong following among audiophiles. There's something to be said for the listening experience that goes along with becoming familiar with discernable differences between digital and analog formats. I won't go so far as to say that digital audio *can't* be indistinguishable from or even surpass the quality of existing analog audio technology, but there's no question that a lot of digital reproductions fall short of their analog counterparts that were produced from the same master recording. The interest goes deeper than sheer retro-ness, for sure.

As for film, the same holds true but for a different reason. There's something to be said for the experience of using an analog tool to create a work of art as opposed to using a digital tool to create and manipulate in a digital and precise manner. There's not much else to say about it, other than the simple fact that, in an artistic context, the fascination runs a lot deeper than the sheer retro-ness of it. I'm glad you've found reasons to love digital photography, and I won't deny that I prefer it as well...but don't overdo it when it comes to disparaging old technology.

Re:The actual appeal (3, Insightful)

Zeek40 (1017978) | about 6 months ago | (#47259755)

People who describe themselves as audiophiles [amon-hen.com] tend to be the kind of people who think that spending > $1000 for a speaker wire will improve the quality of their sound. They're really not worth paying attention to.

Re:The actual appeal (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47259963)

That's an ugly stereotype. Partial truth, of course, but it's not a reason for out of hand dismissal of the perspectives of those who identify as audiophiles at large. Don't be a dick.

Re:The actual appeal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47260471)

No, they are not all bad. However I suspect the worth of an audiophile varies inversely according to how much blind testing seriously pisses them off. An extreme would be Robert Harley, who says blind test organizers are "partisan hacks on a mission to discredit audiophiles." [theabsolutesound.com]

Re:The actual appeal (1)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about 6 months ago | (#47260125)

The bit about Vinyl can be found in the digital realm as well, it's the experience of a sizeable physical product and wandering in a big vinyl collection, serendipitously discovering stuff. (Artwork and titles listing are especially accessible given the format).
The analog (duh!) is DVD versus computer files, SNES carts vs a hundred random roms in a folder, or e-books vs paper books.

Vinyl also has some qualities for DJ use, scratch, varying playback speed. Can't seek to a particular track like a playlist on PC software allows, though. What I hate about it is a turn table, reading cell and pre-amp add up to the cost of a desktop PC, and then they take up room. (even with a cheaper digital set up, I like joking that I'd like a $1000 pair of speakers, $50 amp and a $400,000 flat to have a nice enough big living room)

Re:The actual appeal (1)

PPH (736903) | about 6 months ago | (#47259777)

Call me when I can buy a DSLR back with 100 megapixel resolution for less than an insane price. Until then, I'll stick with this [sl66.com] .

Re:The actual appeal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47260057)

Yes, because the article is definitely talking about high schoolers using a Rolleiflex...

Re:The actual appeal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47260079)

I think he's waiting for you to call him.

Re:The actual appeal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47260133)

It's the school. I'm an analogue kind of guy, but I'm sure these schools teaching old time photography are not offering satellite or drone classes, of which the technology is certainly simple enough to get involved in sooner.

I'm wager there are more schools with horse/farm related classes then with self-driving cars building classes.

Re:The actual appeal (1, Informative)

m00sh (2538182) | about 6 months ago | (#47260247)

It's comparable to the resurgence of interest in vinyl records. The only worthy attraction is in the sheer retro-ness of it. It certainly isn't in the quality;

This is just dumb dumb dumb. The thing about analog sound devices have always been that they sound warm and pleasant under most settings. Of course, digital can be as good and better but the problem with digital gear has always has been there are many many settings in which it sounds horrible and only small zones where it sounds amazing.

Musicians still use a lot of analog gear and eschew digital as being a massive PITA to get right. With analog gear, you plug it in and it produces wonderful sounds. You move a few knobs around and you're done. With digital, you tweak and tweak and tweak.

Up until the current generation of DSLRs, I always felt that I wasn't *quite* there. But today, I literally have no reason to look back. I have to hand it to Canon, Nikon, etc... they've done a great job. Between the quality obtainable, the ability to go out and shoot a thousand *good* images without changing "film", the incredible range of usable ISO (sensitivity to light), in-camera preview -- and disposal -- so you actually know what you have while you're still on-site and able to try again, to readily available histograms and after-the-fact white balance... and then "developing" with Aperture or Lightroom... I'll take a DSLR every time.

I am not a huge photographer but this is my experience from all the photographs I have taken.

DLSRs can produce great images but there are so many times it produces cold, lifeless images. You can take hundreds of images and choose the best.

When I used film, a cheapo camera produced more brilliant pictures per shots. Yeah, you have to wait and have them developed but in every reel there were always some amazing shots. Now, with DLSR there are thousands of lifeless images and you edit them and enhance them until they are good. There is just so much rubbish and then a good one among them.

Maybe it speaks to my skill as a photographer but there are some film shots that are absolutely perfect to me - like something out of a magazine. I have perhaps 100 times more digital images but most are horrible and only a few that are amazing mostly because of the composition and I would probably have to set up a professional lighting to achieve that perfect shot I got a few times with film.

Re:The actual appeal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47260287)

But it's about actually DOING photography, all the steps. Not just the point and click. It's like doing actual programming versus using a scripting language.

Re:The actual appeal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47260309)

For professional purposes, it's hard to imagine going back from digital. But as an artistic medium, analog has its place. Just as sculptors still chisel stone and painters still use oil paints, silver halide film is still used by artists.

dom

It's the darkness... (2)

Zanadou (1043400) | about 6 months ago | (#47258991)

Guess what teenagers like to do in the dark, away from the teacher's supervision?

Re:It's the darkness... (5, Funny)

fleabay (876971) | about 6 months ago | (#47259069)

How about you and I find a dark room, and see what develops?

Re:It's the darkness... (3, Funny)

monkeyhybrid (1677192) | about 6 months ago | (#47259087)

Depends what you intend exposing.

Re:It's the darkness... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47259099)

I expose the both of you for a couple of dick smoking faggots. Now shut the fuck up.

Re:It's the darkness... (1)

fleabay (876971) | about 6 months ago | (#47259131)

You first.

Re: It's the darkness... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47259149)

Why do statements containing sexual content make you think about homosexuals and make homophobic comments? Hmmmmmm...

Re:It's the darkness... (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 6 months ago | (#47259323)

Just remember to give the exposure a decent time, since I believe that indecent exposure is forbidden in photography. But if you really crave a quickie, don't forget to stretch the tight aperture. You need a well-endowed lens for that, of course!

Re:It's the darkness... (1)

Bodhammer (559311) | about 6 months ago | (#47259567)

It's all about aperture and focal length...

Re:It's the darkness... (1)

war4peace (1628283) | about 6 months ago | (#47259629)

Just don't mention white balance, you'd be perceived as racist!

Re: It's the darkness... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47259071)

No wanking in the darkroom!

The teachers know ... (2)

oneiros27 (46144) | about 6 months ago | (#47259197)

My girlfriend in high school and I would frequently go into the dark room -- but you really didn't have much time, as the teacher knew how much time things should take, and would wonder why we were going in there if it wasn't to develop something. (we had a print shop, and one of the darkrooms had a vertical process camera, so we were in there quite often; the photography darkroom not so much)

If you over developed things, he'd know you weren't watching things closely. So you could sneak a minute or two of snogging in, but that's about it.

We had darkrooms where the door revolveds, so there wasn't any way to let light from the outside into the darkroom. You learned to keep the door towards the inside, so you had a couple seconds of warning.

Re:It's the darkness... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47259481)

They like to watch independent Christian films that explain why God is Not Dead.

Re:It's the darkness... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47259823)

Don't ask, don't tell?

Re: It's the darkness... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47259985)

Finger they bumhole

Re: It's the darkness... (0)

Rider Stevens (3697697) | about 6 months ago | (#47259989)

Finger they bumhole , krokodil , teenager like to eat poop in the Dark and also in the Light ( ÍÂ ÍoeÊ- ÍÂ)

It's a hipster thing (3, Informative)

CRCulver (715279) | about 6 months ago | (#47259015)

My local bookstore has cut back heavily on its offering of books, since apparently it can't make much money off of them in a post-literary age when what books are read can be bought for cheaper online. To fill the void, it has expanded its choice of what I can only describe as hipster accoutrement, such as ECM on vinyl, Moleskine notebooks, and fancy tea sets.

But the most surprising item was Lomo cameras: these are selling like hotcakes, in spite of the fact that they use old-fashioned film. I would have imagined no one wanted to deal with the expense of giving film to a photo lab (I live in an Eastern European country where this costs serious money) or the hassle of developing it themselves, but when marketed as a trendy thing, some people are ready to turn back from digital.

Re:It's a hipster thing (1)

sribe (304414) | about 6 months ago | (#47259293)

Yeah, I just sold my old Nikon FE and lenses. Didn't get much for the camera, but did well on the lenses. There are plenty of people out there still into it. Not me. If I ever get back into photography, I'll be all digital. I'm content to let the darkroom days be a fond memory. (I worked in color, and not the "easy" Cibachrome stuff, required some real precision with temps & timing...)

Re:It's a hipster thing (1)

kamapuaa (555446) | about 6 months ago | (#47260433)

The lenses for a Nikon FE will work fine on a current Nikon DSLR. If they were prime lenses, the optics are about the same as with modern lenses.

Re:It's a hipster thing (1)

sribe (304414) | about 6 months ago | (#47260505)

The lenses for a Nikon FE will work fine on a current Nikon DSLR. If they were prime lenses, the optics are about the same as with modern lenses.

They will work, but I suspect that your definition of "work fine" differs from most peoples' ;-)

Longer focal length, different f value, no auto-focus, no auto-aperture, I'm not sure the DSLR will even read the current aperture...

Re:It's a hipster thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47259373)

You're assuming they actually load it with film, I see a shocking number of TLRs (twin lens reflex) but I've never seen anyone actually shoot theirs. I believe they're fashion accessories more than anything else.

My two cents... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47259021)

Digital photography should be seen as a compliment, not a replacement, toward analog photography.

I think the same can be said for digital music and vinyl records, if you know that whole argument.

I think the same can be said for ebooks, where a physical book is always nice as it has features, like flipping and feel, that an ebook doesn't. But when it comes to digital books, it's great being able to do word finds.

Can anyone name anything else?

Re: My two cents... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47259129)

This.
And also the smell of a book can influence you.
Digital is great but it can't offer the same experience in its entirety as analog.

Re:My two cents... (1)

sribe (304414) | about 6 months ago | (#47259303)

Digital photography should be seen as a compliment...

Digital photographers' subjects everywhere thank you ;-)

Re:My two cents... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47259679)

Oops, I meant "complement".

Re:My two cents... (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 6 months ago | (#47259313)

I guess folks get enjoyment using the analog medium. It takes great skill and equipment to expose film, develop, and print even in B&W. Now days though, you can do all the same things digitally and much faster and easier, taking much of the skill out of it.

But... If you are looking for quality over skill, digital is where you will end up eventually. I don't care if you are talking audio, video or photos. You see, the analog stuff has it's limitations that are part of the medium, where digital limits are set by the engineering of the whole system which is driven by cost. You can literally get any quality you need from digital if you have enough money. Need more dynamic range? You got it. Need better SNR? Sure thing. Need better resolution? No problem, just write the check and we will get right on it.

It's simply progress... Like moving from vinyl to CD or VHS to DVD was progress, of a good kind. But like I said before, we are losing the skills needed to use the analog medium, Skills that I admired.

Probably sheer inertia (1, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | about 6 months ago | (#47259065)

Schools are probably teaching it because their staff knows how and they have the equipment. Not because it's a useful, saleable, or even particularly interesting skill.

Re:Probably sheer inertia (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | about 6 months ago | (#47259085)

film SLRs can be had for $$ to $$$, DSLRs are more like $$$$

Re:Probably sheer inertia (1)

CRCulver (715279) | about 6 months ago | (#47259113)

Nowadays, low-end Canon DSLRs are getting quite cheap, not that much more expensive than high-end point-and-shoot cameras. Right now the EOS Rebel T3i [amazon.com] is going for $550 on Amazon, and I'm sure it could be found cheaper if one shops around. What really breaks the bank with owning an SLR are the lenses, but if one gets a digital SLR, would a further couple of lenses not quickly pay for themselves with the money saved on developing film?

Re:Probably sheer inertia (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 6 months ago | (#47260443)

I bought an original digital rebel used for a hundred bucks with a couple of batteries, the kit strap, kit charger, a cheap tamrac bag, and the 18-55mm kit lens. It's been fantastic for me to fiddle around with, and you can put fancier lenses on it if you want to. Everyone talks bad about the kit lens, and that's probably justified, but the crappiest [credible] DSLR kit lens is better than all but the most expensive and pointless super zoom compacts.

Comparing costs (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | about 6 months ago | (#47259283)

...and film and development costs eventually change that triple dollar sign to tens of them. Or more. While the DSLR can hold at four. Not to mention running out of film when you're not done shooting, not knowing the quality of the shots you've taken, not being able to have a 2nd (and 3rd, and 4th and...) chance, being limited to a fixed sensitivity, and the immediate and unavoidable aging process that starts the moment a print is finished.

No thanks. Been there, done that, it totally sucked. It's just a retro urge, hipster nonsense in terms of any functional issue you can name. If it's fun for you, by all means, go for it, but don't ever kid yourself you're doing something worthwhile on the quality front. What you're actually doing is crippling yourself intentionally, both on the front end, when you shoot, and the back end, when you develop.

Re:Comparing costs (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 6 months ago | (#47259947)

Not to mention running out of film when you're not done shooting

With Film SLRs you run out of film. With Digital SLRs, you run out of battery power :)

Ansel Adams (4, Informative)

westlake (615356) | about 6 months ago | (#47259153)

Schools are probably teaching it because their staff knows how and they have the equipment. Not because it's a useful, saleable, or even particularly interesting skill.

Allow me to introduce you to one of the great masters of the darkroom and analog photography:

Ansel Adams, "The Tetons - Snake River" [archives.gov]

Re:Ansel Adams (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47259195)

While that might have been whizbang decades ago, today it's utterly commonplace for a photographer to get the same composition with a digital camera. Don't believe me? Just go to any online image bank of landscape and travel photos. The GP's right, developing film is no longer particularly useful or interesting except in a small and dwindling number of cases.

Re:Ansel Adams (2)

sribe (304414) | about 6 months ago | (#47259325)

While that might have been whizbang decades ago, today it's utterly commonplace for a photographer to get the same...

Translation: you have never had the experience of seeing any of his original prints.

Re:Ansel Adams (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47259597)

While that might have been whizbang decades ago, today it's utterly commonplace for a photographer to get the same...

Translation: you have never had the experience of seeing any of his original prints.

I'll refute that. I went to an exhibition and it was almost universally pure garbage. Fortunately it was a two for one exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney Australia with the second photo exhibition being dedicated to Antarctica with a group of scientists and photographers that took modern equipment. The wildlife and landscapes from that included breathtaking prints ranging from small poster to entire large wall size. You have to respect Adams for what he did, when he did it and what equipment he used to do it. You don't have to pretend he hasn't been well and truly outdone.

Re:Ansel Adams (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47259863)

You don't have to pretend he hasn't been well and truly outdone.

I'm fairly certain I know more about math, physics, and astronomy than Newton ever did, but I don't think I'd venture to claim that I've "outdone" him.

Re:Ansel Adams (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47260113)

It would appear you completely missed, and still miss, the point of either of the exhibits you attended.

Photography is about art, skill, and expression, regardless of your choice of medium. Both digital and analog bring a lot to the table in different ways depending upon what you are looking to accomplish. With respect to analog photography, there is skill and technique which goes well beyond that which would be applied to digital photography, That blurring and lighting effects you would use in photoshop, for example, would take a photographer time and patience in the darkroom to create. In its own right, most of what you take as conveniences in digital photography were in fact a things which required a proper photographic artist to create in analog photography. This in part is one of the many reasons film photographers tend to take issue with digital photographers who tout that they get better results. In digital photography, you use equipment and software which has all of the benefit of the digitization of techniques developed by the photographic artists of the past, but requiring little of the skill and training to achieve their results.

If you choose to stand on the shoulders of those who came before you and proclaim how good your work is that's one thing, but referring to their work as complete garbage only shows how purely ignorant you are to the very art form that you claim to be defending. You may have your opinion and are welcome to it, but before insulting classic photographic artists in an attempt to defend modern photography, stop for a moment to decide how uncultured, ignorant, and arrogant you would like to be perceived.

about : I grew up learning to shoot 110 film as a young child, later working my way through automatic 35's and SLR's up through what was and still is my favorite analog camera, an Olympus OM4-T. I presently shoot digital for casual photos and such, but still find significant value in both the experience and results of shooting and developing traditional film.

Re:Ansel Adams (1)

spazzmo (743767) | about 6 months ago | (#47260383)

Well done.

Re:Probably sheer inertia (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 6 months ago | (#47259345)

Schools are probably teaching it because their staff knows how and they have the equipment. Not because it's a useful, saleable, or even particularly interesting skill.

Shesh, where I get this move to digital, I do not agree that skills in analog photography are without value. I really enjoy a good picture made using film and admire the talent of those who can do great things with it.

BTW: Only way to prevent digital source-tracking. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47259109)

Consider how iphones put date/location info on pictures. They could also be doing it in a secret way. The only way to be sure your camera isn't "telling on you" by secretly tagging/watermarking your photo with personally identifiable information is to start with a filmy and process it yourself. Therefore, the darkroom is actually a way of maintaining privacy... who knew...? :-)

Re:BTW: Only way to prevent digital source-trackin (2)

CRCulver (715279) | about 6 months ago | (#47259143)

Paranoid much? Outside of smartphones, digital cameras don't usually have GPS functionality: that is a feature one has to shop around for. And the JPG files produced by a camera, even one with a GPS feature, are not exactly obfuscated labyrinths of DRM: you can easily view and edit the EXIF and XMP metadata, and if you want to really be sure of what's in the file, the binary format is quite straightforward.

Re:BTW: Only way to prevent digital source-trackin (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 6 months ago | (#47259959)

and if you want to really be sure of what's in the file, the binary format is quite straightforward.

Unless that's just the primary copy, and there's a "hidden" copy watermarked across the entire image with lossy error correction, so that the data can be recovered by 3-letter agencies, even after you crop the image.

Re:BTW: Only way to prevent digital source-trackin (1)

MildlyTangy (3408549) | about 6 months ago | (#47260033)

Unfortunately in this new day and age, worrying about your privacy is a very real concern.

I used to pass off the "gubmint is watching and listening to everything you do" crowd as paranoid crazy tinfoil-hatters who thought the 'gubmint' was going to extraordinary efforts to illegally spy on its citizens digital communications.

Then Snowden happened and blew the lid wide open, clearly showing that the can of worms was empty, and the worms are *everywhere*.

Re:BTW: Only way to prevent digital source-trackin (2, Informative)

sexconker (1179573) | about 6 months ago | (#47259147)

Consider how iphones put date/location info on pictures. They could also be doing it in a secret way. The only way to be sure your camera isn't "telling on you" by secretly tagging/watermarking your photo with personally identifiable information is to start with a filmy and process it yourself. Therefore, the darkroom is actually a way of maintaining privacy... who knew...? :-)

Or you could just take the pictures your digital camera gives you and rip out the meta data.
If you're implying the use of steganography, then you're a moron.

Re:BTW: Only way to prevent digital source-trackin (2)

plover (150551) | about 6 months ago | (#47259211)

If you're implying the use of steganography, then you're a moron.

He probably is a tinfoil hat conspiracy loon, however, there is a grain of truth to what he is saying. Digital camera sensors can have a unique fingerprint. Dead pixels, model specific JPG quantization tables, sensor size, all these things can help a digital forensic analyst match a camera to the photos it's taken. The same is harder to prove with an analog camera.

Re:BTW: Only way to prevent digital source-trackin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47259377)

That's the problem with conspiracy theorists. They always have just enough truthiness to them to make people pay attention. Stop feeding the trolls!

Re:BTW: Only way to prevent digital source-trackin (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 6 months ago | (#47259237)

There could be a tiny GPS chip in your film camera, projecting the location on the film in a very subtle way...
You'll need to put on a tinfoil hat to see it though, the chemtrails distort your vision otherwise so you can't see it.

Re:BTW: Only way to prevent digital source-trackin (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 6 months ago | (#47259967)

start with a filmy and process it yourself. Therefore, the darkroom is actually a way of maintaining privacy

How can you be sure the lens on your analog camera doesn't have "micro defects" designed to implant a unique fingerprint on the image, which can then be used to identify the serial number of the camera, and.... therefore.... who owns it?

It's an artform (4, Insightful)

al0ha (1262684) | about 6 months ago | (#47259151)

I began a career in photography in the 80s and as such I can definitely understand the kid's appeal to traditional photographic methodology, it is a true art form where skill and knowledge must be developed over time in order to achieve spectacular results. It is very gratifying to manipulate both film and chemistry in order to achieve the image you have imagined, and watch it unfold slowly in real time on paper as you swirl the chemistry over it. Good times for all, keep it up kids!

Re:It's an artform (1)

tipo159 (1151047) | about 6 months ago | (#47259437)

What he said!

I shoot B&W film, but scan in the negs and make prints on a printer. There is density that you can get with B&W film and playing with processing time that is hard to reproduce with a DSLR.

Re:It's an artform (4, Informative)

Solandri (704621) | about 6 months ago | (#47259845)

I learned photography in a darkroom in the 1980s too. Film and prints/slides are a terrible way to learn photography. You take the photo, then several days later you see the results and how you screwed up. When I went on trips, I had to keep a notebook where I wrote down the exposure settings for every photo I took, and weeks later I would cross-reference the prints with my notebook to figure out what worked and what didn't. The time constant for the feedback loop is too long for any useful learning unless you spend years at it.

It is much better to learn with a digital camera. You take a shot, then instantly see the results. If you notice a flaw after you've downloaded the pics to your computer, you can call up the exposure information and figure out what you did wrong. Feedback is immediate and all your settings are automatically recorded for you to learn from.

Once you've got that down, then you can fool around with old analog photography.

Re:It's an artform (1)

rolfwind (528248) | about 6 months ago | (#47259981)

This isn't about learning photography, for kids it's about being retro/hip/individual.

The fact that their pics come out like shit, under exposed, over, out of focus, etc will only add to it like paying extra for ripped, washed jeans or punk music played badly.

Re:It's an artform (1)

spazzmo (743767) | about 6 months ago | (#47260415)

I thought the definition of the punk genre was music played badly.

Re:It's an artform (1)

Phat_Tony (661117) | about 6 months ago | (#47260001)

Or you can just learn how to expose film properly before you ever set foot in a darkroom, and then spend your time in the darkroom learning about dodging and burning, cropping, using multicontrast papers and filters, ferrotyping tins, different developers, etc. to get the look you want, in which case you get feedback within minutes and can keep printing until you get what you want.

It's true it's not the fastest way to check framing, exposure, depth of field, focus, etc. Although it can also force people to put more thought into those things, since the stakes are higher.

Re:It's an artform (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47260105)

With a digital camera you can shoot, shoot, shoot, and pray and get results.
    With enough shots and instant feedback, you can get good composition by random luck.

With film you have to think, think, think, then shoot.
      You are forced to spend more brain cycles thinking about composition.

The darkroom is part of the mystique. One could make a program which takes digital images and 'develops' them like the paper printing process with dodging, burning, poly contrast, etc; but doing it the old fashion way is more fun.. And yes, there is also the lure of sharing the darkroom with a cute peer. (Not sure if this is another area where the old fashion way is more fun as well?)

Re:It's an artform (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 6 months ago | (#47260431)

With a digital camera you can shoot, shoot, shoot, and pray and get results.
        With enough shots and instant feedback, you can get good composition by random luck.

With film you have to think, think, think, then shoot.
            You are forced to spend more brain cycles thinking about composition.

this is the same argument used against perl by people without the self-discipline to comment their code.

why don't you instead develop the discipline to think before you shoot with digital? Or just embrace the fact that digital lets you shoot more? Because every great photographer seems to say that you shoot a lot, but you don't get that many great shots. I suspect the problem here is you.

Re:It's an artform (1)

kamapuaa (555446) | about 6 months ago | (#47260439)

Yeah sure, the camera's auto-settings can do a better job with instant results. And a computer can do calculus equations lickety-split. The point isn't to have students take the best pictures possible, but to have them learn photography.

Instant doesn't always work either (1)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | about 6 months ago | (#47260525)

We had polaroid and competing instant photo's back in the seventies and eighties as well. Those were used by professional photographers to check if what they envisioned was what was going to happen on print/film and not just by people taking snapshots.

The screen on the back of your camera will tell you something about your picture, but in no way will it tell you if you've made a successful photograph without already knowing what to look for and how to achieve it first. It can help you quickly adjust your exposure settings, if you zoom in you can see if you have your focus sorted out and if you have motion blur. You can watch the edges of your image to see if you've framed your shot properly and the tiny image will give you clues about your composition.

You have to know all this stuff already in order to be able to judge the picture you just took and it will take you probably about a minute to do so. During that minute, you have no time to take additional shots, while often "the good stuff" is happening right in front of you.

I have many images taken during many shoots that looked "great" on the back of the camera, but once I got back home and looked at them at a larger screen and started processing them, turned out to need a lot of work and often were mediocre at best. There are some things that a digital camera will give you instant feedback on, but having to be way more convinced about your shot because it will cost you one of your precious 36 exposures will make you take better shots just as much, albeit based on different presumptions and criteria. In the end, having to wait for the final results before you can make your ultimate judgment on your picture applies to both.

If anything, digital allows you to take more shots for the same money spent on equipment and materials and the tooling gives you much more ways to repair or improve the initial image captured. With film, you can develop the film only once and then you'll have to figure out the correct sequence and timing for how you will be exposing your print. This means that you have an extra "point of no return" in developing the film and physical limitations in what you can do exposing your print. In practice, that means that if shot digitally in RAW, you can get away with messing up your exposure a whole lot more and in post processing, you can "develop your film" differently for different parts of your image. Once you're there, you can do the same for the development of your "print", not being limited by the amount of time and how much you can burn and dodge areas of your image.

Re:It's an artform (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 6 months ago | (#47260549)

This. I learned photography in the 1970's, and you practically couldn't pay me to go back to those days. We enjoyed and/or endured it, because we didn't have any choice. Today, we do. Once I had a chance to try digital, I sold all but one of my film cameras by the end of the following week and have never looked back. (The one I didn't sell was actually non-functional... but it was the one I was gifted with on my 12th birthday and the one that started it all.)

Without exception, I recommend to people that ask that they start digital and work from there. It's the eye that matters, not the gear.

Re:It's an artform (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 6 months ago | (#47260601)

I learned photography in a darkroom in the 1980s too. Film and prints/slides are a terrible way to learn photography. You take the photo, then several days later you see the results and how you screwed up. When I went on trips, I had to keep a notebook where I wrote down the exposure settings for every photo I took, and weeks later I would cross-reference the prints with my notebook to figure out what worked and what didn't. The time constant for the feedback loop is too long for any useful learning unless you spend years at it.

It is much better to learn with a digital camera. You take a shot, then instantly see the results. If you notice a flaw after you've downloaded the pics to your computer, you can call up the exposure information and figure out what you did wrong. Feedback is immediate and all your settings are automatically recorded for you to learn from.

Once you've got that down, then you can fool around with old analog photography.

Or learn how to expose properly.

Digital photography is quick, easy and convenient and you don't really learn anything because nothing's on the line. Bad photo? Oh, just take it again.

Film photography though has a real stake. There's a monetary cost to pushing the shutter, and thus you really want to make sure that photo is taken well because not only will you NOT be able to take it again, but taking 3 shots to get 1 properly exposed frame wastes money.

In other words, think first, then do.

It's sort of like programming using punchcards versus a text editor. The former requires discipline because it takes a whole day to see if your code runs, or has a syntax error.

Which means you better be extra careful before you commit.

These days, taking photos, compiling code, is really just a trial an error process. Photo didn't come out right? Fiddle some switches (you don't really have to know what they do) and try again. Lather, rinse, repeat. Ditto programming - compiler spits an error? Well, fix the first one, then (because errors cascade so the dependent errors are meaningless) recompile, fix, recompile, repeat.

My physics teacher for grade 12 insistent on pens during tests - first, a pen lets you contest a mark in case it was graded wrong (i.e., a correct answer marked wrong, partial points not assigned, etc). But, you can't have a complete mess, either - it has to be neatly laid out logically. You did have a scratch pad so you can do your mess there and use it to organize your thoughts to lead to the answer, but the test paper done in ink must be neat and tidy with little scratched out (sometimes you do make a mistake).

Think first, then act.

Of course, I only really recommend this where the real risk is actually quite low. So you screwed up the photo, no big deal - you only wasted $5 in materials and time. Oh, and yeah, I learned after burning through half a roll of film, to check the lens cap.

For those really precious moments, digital camera all the way because I can have it snapping continually to lessen the "I missed the money shot" moment. But when learning to take a photo where the stake is only a bad grade or a few bucks? Learn it the old school way. Photographing a wedding? How many digital cameras can you scrounge up and can you have them record every moment?

Re:It's an artform (1)

MildlyTangy (3408549) | about 6 months ago | (#47260045)

....skill and knowledge must be developed over time...

I see what you did there! I see it oh so clearly!

stick shift, slide rule, and wood woods. (1)

turkeydance (1266624) | about 6 months ago | (#47259225)

auto/geek/sports trifecta. yes, someone still uses a bow and arrow. yes, someone still uses a slide rule. and, i still use an actual paper map. knowledge of the Old Ways, grasshopper.

Re:stick shift, slide rule, and wood woods. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47259945)

You sound old.

Re:stick shift, slide rule, and wood woods. (1)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about 6 months ago | (#47260173)

Aren't auto shifts an old US thing? :). In other countries it wasn't picked up at all except in some contexts like high end sedan/limo with chauffeur. I think it was a matter of high disposable income and only driving in straight lines more than tech. Only recently are auto gearbox gaining traction (eh) in other countries, when highly computerized cars (hybrid or not) can actually get higher mileage with an auto gear box than a manual.

Developing Film & Prints Toxicity (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47259227)

Students should be taught just how toxic the chemicals are required in film processing and printing. These chemicals end up being dumped into the drains and ultimately future generation's water tables. Teaching students the need for greener systems would be a more efficient way to spend taxpayer money for education than allowing for antiquated toxic systems to still be explored.

Adding to the list... (0)

man_ls (248470) | about 6 months ago | (#47259441)

Our limited education tax dollars have no business funding something so useless to modern society as darkroom photography.

Re:Adding to the list... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47259525)

Learning a method of image-making that, at its core, requires NO electricity and only a modest knowledge of chemistry is far from useless.

Re:Adding to the list... (1)

paazin (719486) | about 6 months ago | (#47259537)

Our limited education tax dollars have no business funding something so useless to modern society as darkroom photography.

Hear, hear!

Same with all this poetry and painting nonsense. Why should our kids learn about that kind of worthless trash?

Re:Adding to the list... (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 6 months ago | (#47259659)

You're trying to make a joke, but what you're saying is also true.

Re:Adding to the list... (1)

brantondaveperson (1023687) | about 6 months ago | (#47260207)

Our limited education tax dollars have no business funding something so useless to modern society as art.

Seriously?

it's retro (2)

roc97007 (608802) | about 6 months ago | (#47259613)

It's retro. Retro is big right now.

Daughter graduated from high school two years ago. She took darkroom, created pinhole cameras, and later got a Holga [lomography.com] . It's called Lomography [wikipedia.org] , and it's become quite popular. Just recently she acquired a very old twin lens reflex and is experimenting with that.

One of the advantages is that old school cameras use 120 and 220 film, a format that's still being propped up by the wedding photography industry. So film and developing are readily available, at least for now.

One issue is that old passive handheld light meters degrade over time, and new handheld meters are kinda expensive. You almost need a modern camera to take light readings in order to accurately set up the retro camera.

I see this as the photography equivalent of the resurgence of LP records.

darkrooms (1)

JohnVanVliet (945577) | about 6 months ago | (#47259625)

i worked in custom color and B&W darkrooms for over 10 years

finally by the late 90's there were 3 jobs for over 200 techs in the SE Michigan area

The oldest piece of hardware was a Kodak K10 that still had vacuum tubes

Its the magic (2)

Vegigami (32659) | about 6 months ago | (#47259709)

Throwing an exposed piece of apparently blank photo paper into a clear liquid bath and having a picture appear some 20 or so seconds later is about as close to true magic as you're likely to get. Its quite a thrill the first time you see it.

Re:Its the magic (1)

Marginal Coward (3557951) | about 6 months ago | (#47260157)

Right! Digital imaging is just technology, but the way a chemical image suddenly "pops" out of nothing is truly magic. It was a thrill for me every time.

That said, each time I spent an evening slaving away in the darkroom, I ended up with just a small stack of not-so-great prints to show for it. Very discouraging.

I learned what little I know about the darkroom from a short community ed course many years ago, but if I had a teacher available who could have taught me how to make a really good print, it might have been a different story. Now, though, it's hard to beat the speed and convenience of digital printing - even if the magic - and artistry - is lost.

There is nothing, and I mean nothing... (2)

jpellino (202698) | about 6 months ago | (#47259809)

like seeing that print appear before your very eyes in a tray of developer.

Devil's Advocate (1)

theIsovist (1348209) | about 6 months ago | (#47260225)

There have been a lot of posts talking about the negatives of the dark room. In light of my own photography instructor passing away this week, I feel obligated to talk about the benefits. Here's what I learned:

A physical photography class is a lesson in both physics and chemistry. It's not as in depth as a physics class or a straight chemistry class, but a basic understanding of lenses and chemical processes used to take and develop film offer up applicability for both of those classes, which is often beneficial for students. In the same way, you could digitize physics and chemistry, but nothing takes the place of a good physical experiment.

Physical photography does not allow you to take five hundred shots and hope for a good one. This is great for beginning students, as it forces them to think about each shot that they take. This gets them into the habit of composing shots to show exactly what is intended, as opposed to lucking into a good picture.

A physical photo does not allow you to put on digital filters. Any modification of the picture must come from an understanding of the tools used to modify the photo. Understanding how to dodge and burn a photo in real life will help when moving to digital.

There is a nostalgic element to developing film, but what film provides is a solid, tangible object. You can print digital photos, but unless you're using photo paper, the tactile nature is different. Also, the digital shot is limited by the printer. This isn't as much of an issue these days, but it's something to be aware of.

My photography instructor admittedly shot nothing but digital in his own work. You're right, there are too many benefits in the professional world. But there are benefits to learning the old tools as well.

Slowness can be a quality... (1)

Camembert (2891457) | about 6 months ago | (#47260651)

What can be seen as a weak point can be one of the biggest advantages of analog photography with basic manual exposure cameras: it costs money and it takes time. Meaning, you learn to think more about the shot before taking it.
I noticed this in my own photography:
- I often photographed with a Rolleiflex up to the year 2000 or so; I had approx 3 pictures on a roll of 12 that I found really worth enlarging
. - With an AF 35mm SLR back then I made 3 really good pictures on a roll of 36.
- In digital I have 3 really good pictures on 300 or so.

Currently I am using film again next to digital. The Horizon 202 panoramic camera is a superb tool for fascinating pictures, I bring it on every holiday. I also found a very cheap good condition Nikon F3, which was one of the very best manual focus SLRs ever made. It is a joy to put simply a fixed 35mm lens on it, load a black and white film and walk around.
bR Regarding printing, it is lovely to see the image appear in a tray but largely I replaced that with scanning and Photoshop. However, it is truly fascinating and worthwhile to learn ancient print techniques such as gum bichromate. Once mastered the results can be incredible, much more poetic than any Photoshop filter you throw at a picture. Unfortunately I don't get around doing that kind of art form these days, it is a slow process, I simply don't have enough personal hobby time anymore. But for those that can spare the time it is a fantastic investment of effort.
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