The Future of Photography
The goal of this paper is to identify the essential components of the growth process of the photographer. A number of questions will be asked.
· What is photography?
· How does it differ from vision?
· Why does it appeal to us?
· How does one use such a device
· What does the future of photography bring?
· Is the profession of photography deteriorating?
1. What is photography? It is the capturing of photons on a visual medium. It is a two dimensional representation of a three dimensional space, at a specific time. Thus, it captures an impression of a unique space/time.
A. Depth of field is conveyed through visual cues, such as optical blurring, from the inverse of the circle of confusion. The proportion of images, in relation to each other. And finally, the natural psychological disposition to organize the depth orientation from foreground being largest, to background being smallest.
B. Most photographers work with the visible spectrum of light, and some work within the infrared spectrum.
C. Lenses are capable of resolving details greater than the human eye. Either in close proximities, such as a 1:1 ratio, or making distant objects appear closer.
2. Why does photography appeal to us? It creates spatial/temporal cues to immerse one’s self in the past and in that particular space/time.
A. It conveys ideas through symbolism.
B. It transports us to places that we have not seen.
C. It triggers emotional responses, by the content represented, which is integrated by the mind and its prior conditioning.
3. How does it differ from human sight?
A. The angle of view can be greater than ours.
B. The mind compensates for spatial distortions. The eyes have a curvature and distort objects. Furthermore, the eye receives an inverted image in which the mind corrects for, whereas, the image has to be corrected optically.
C. The eye has a greater dynamic range than current camera technology. 14 stops of light, compared to 8, that is available in high end DSLRs.
D. The eye has can sense a greater range of color and tonality than current technology.
E. The human eye can resolve at 1,100 line pairs, whereas the best lenses today can only resolve at 200-250 line pairs per mm.
F. At 120 degrees viewing angle, a pair of yes can resolve detail equivalent to a 576 megapixels.
4. If cameras are far inferior to the human eye, why do we use them?
A. It is the closest we can get to day, technologically speaking, to convey the experience of being in a point, in space/time.
B. But sequential stills (video), is a more immersive experience. Although video is composed of a sequence of still images, the information it conveys, is very different to that of a single static image. The world we live in is temporally fluid. A photograph creates an impression from a slice of time. Thus, we pluck a fragment of time that can be closely scrutinized. There is no other medium that can accomplish what a photograph can.
C. The process of rendering phenomena within a time-frame makes it an abstraction. Thus, photography is relegated to conveying components of an idea, by using visual cues, which are preconditioned to the viewer.
5. This essentially suggests that we have multiple levels of mediation in photographic representation.
A. The photographer
B. The skill of the photographer
C. The equipment
D. The printing medium
E. The timing
F. The person viewing the image.
1. If these factors are taken into consideration, then the process of photography becomes very complex and highly inconsistent. Thus, isolating causal relationships becomes a very daunting endeavor.
2. The photographer: is both technically and creatively inconsistent. Technical concerns can be reduced, but mood, timing and inspiration are variables.
3. The equipment has an impact on the final product. Either, due to technological limitations or the choice of gear combination.
4. The viewer has similar problems to the photographer; mood, timing and experience, impact the visual and conceptual impact it will have on them.
5. What can the photographer do to minimize these things?
6. I can imagine a time when the printed medium will be rare. Where the resolution of displays will be far greater than what the human eye can discern. Furthermore, the color technology and power of consumption of these devices will become negligible. The question this leads to is; will art be relegated to a hobby, as the barriers to entry become progressively eroded? Will art have a place in the economy? Or will the free market concept be obsolete? Rendering material goods monetarily worthless. Is the vision of the photographer, unique enough to continue to have demand? Or will the advancements in technology make photography so pervasive and of high quality, with complete automation, that the photographer is limited to his vision of expression? But if all people can express themselves thoroughly through this medium, then every little separates them from the multitudes of unique identities, waiting to express themselves.
7. There are only two things that can save the career of the photographer. First, commercial photography, as long as people still need such services. Secondly, as long as photography remains technically demanding. Because the only other barrier to entry in this field was cost. And that is slowly being eroded. I am ignoring the fact that running a business is an important factor in one’s success.
8. As we move forward, many of the optical limitations of today will either be eliminated entirely, or reduced significantly. We are not referring to limitations imposed by physics, but those that impede the access to these limitations.
9. Unless the human eye evolves into something else, photography will always be a viable means of representing reality. There is only one exception to this idea. If imaging becomes so advanced that it is integrated into the brain. Then, it induces sensory states rather than relying on the eye and the brain to interpret the image. In essence, it is creating the visual experience inside the mind. And we are moving toward that direction, with the advent of neuron-synaptic circuit interconnects.
10. What makes photography valuable?
A. It documents events
1. Rituals, such as weddings
2. Events, historical events
3. Objects and their location in space/time
B. It creates images that are pleasing to the eye as art, conveying an idea or emotion.