Has Digital Photography Made Us Better Photographers ?

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by Mr Vinay Swaroop Balla

The evolution of technology from film to digital photography has been a major topic of debate in the photography community.

I still remember the time when digital photography was a new frontier, one that excited many photographers and made many others skeptical. Over the years, digital photography has changed the way of how we capture moments. It is a modern convenience, much like computers, smartphones, and all the rest of the technology we now surround ourselves with.

 With a digital camera, we can take an endless amount of photos, never worrying about developing rolls of film. We can see those photos as we take them and we can even edit them immediately – no hours spent in the darkroom producing negatives that we will later print. In fact, the negative itself has been replaced by the RAW file, which means that we no longer hold small strips of film. Now, we can view our RAWs on the digital screen itself instantly.

As much as digital photography has improved our efficiency through convenience, I would also like to argue that digital photography has improved photographic art on the whole. Many of these improvements exist because of the convenience of the digital SLR. Let me explain with a few examples of how I think digital photography has helped improve photographic art.

 It sounds strange to say, especially these days when we are bombarded with hundreds of photos from all over the world each and every day but the sheer volume of photographs that we take does help us to improve our art, I think. If you shot film, then think back on those days. It was incredibly hard to get that perfect shot, that one shot where everything in the frame is exactly how you envisioned it to be. Because you were limited by however many rolls of film that you could carry with you or that you could afford to buy. The number of rolls of film that you had the time or money to process was another limitation.

Today, however, there is no such limitation. For most DSLRs, you can stop at any store and pick up any memory card for a few dollars and you can take hundreds or even thousands of photos at a stretch. In other words, the digital revolution means that you can stay on-location and take all of the photographs you want until you finally do get that perfect shot as you envisioned. Even if you do run out of space on your memory cards, you can always delete some of the images. Though, if you are like me, you’ll always have more than enough memory cards on hand to take photos all day long.

Photography has always been very unpredictable

Think of all the times you inadvertently bumped your camera right as you took a photo. Or maybe you’re trying an odd filter that has unpredictable effects. You shift ever so slightly as you take a photograph with an extremely shallow depth of field and now the focused part of the image is off. You set the shutter to long exposure and walk away and oops ! You accidentally kick the tripod as you move and now you have to start all over again.

In the film cameras, some of these issues were the photographer’s worst nightmare. Many of these problems you wouldn’t even know until you were looking at freshly developed negatives in the darkroom. Even if you were aware of the issue, again, you were limited by the film that you brought with you. Making mistakes and learning from them has never been so efficient thanks to digital cameras. With digital cameras, photographers receive instant feedback and are able to fix issues on the spot. The ability to see results then and there, and improving on errors on the spot, is far more effective than waiting for film to develop and then fixing your errors. I’m not saying film is bad, but digital photography has an easier and shorter path to grow. Our art is improved by our ability to correct mistakes on-location, both through the number of retakes we can make and the live views that help us spot the mistakes in the first place.

Digital Post Processing Options are Limitless

 Today, there is so much more that we can do with images than ever before. With tools like Photoshop or Lightroom essentially, if you can imagine it, you can create it. Even if you don’t quite know how to do a particular technique, the tutorial is rarely more than a Youtube search away. Compared to the days of film, this is a huge advancement for art. In the darkroom, you were limited by complicated processes and chemistry, things that required extensive knowledge even back then to create multiple exposures and composites.

Better Technology = Better / More Creative Pictures

With the progression of better sensors, lenses, and other camera specs, the possibilities to create extraordinary images are endless.

It Isn’t About the Camera, It’s About the Photographer.

 The arguments for why digital cameras haven’t changed a thing stems from the idea cameras at the end of the day are just a tool, it is the photographer that makes the photo.

 It’s Not About the Gear, It’s About the Education

 Many argue that learning how to use a camera, disregarding whether it is film or digital, is truly what differentiates the skill level of a photographer. Attending educational workshops, learning from videos, and reading books will inevitably get you in the right place to succeed in this industry.

Digital Photography Gives Us a New Appreciation for Film

One of the most unique ways in which art is enriched by the digital revolution is our newfound appreciation for film. Now, sometimes we revisit film because we want to take photographs using a camera that has a minor light leak. Or, we want the look of real film grain and not grain added in digital post processing. We want the special tones, colors, faults, and other uniqueness that comes only with film. In fact, I believe that is the reason why film cameras will never fade away completely. Of course, digital cameras are the standard now, with nearly all photographers making use of them. But there is something special and unique about a film photograph that cannot be replicated. Now that we look back on the days of film fondly, we better appreciate that special quality. And that appreciation leads to improvements in the entire photographic world, both among digital camera users and film aficionados. It isn’t always all about convenience but about improving your skills and working to improve photographic art in general.

Mr Vinay Balla is a Doha based resident working as an Senior optometrist and a photographer by passion has over Eight Thousand Followers on Instagram ( username : @sivamballa ) for his jaw dropping photography. Mr Vinay Balla sharing his expertise views and ideas about photography with this beautiful article.

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4 thoughts on “Has Digital Photography Made Us Better Photographers ?

  1. Great article Vinay. Helps put this significant evolution in technology into perspective. I have a DSLR at home too and I so much aligned when you say that its not about the camera but about the photographer. You are creating magic with your camera. Good luck to you with the lovely moments of this humanity and nature, that you bring on a screen or on paper. In many ways, you are doing service to this beautiful gift of vision that GOD gave us. Cheers !

  2. Very nice article. The facets od digital photography are very well explained. Did not know that you are equally talented in writing articles. Go ahead. All the best, Vinay!!

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