Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Collette V. Fournier  Photo By Ronald Herard
 Secial to the Black Photographers Information Forum (BPIF)

Transition from Analog to Digital Photography, The Digital Darkroom

© Collette V. Fournier Photography, MFA

In 1996, I was a little resistant to the change from analog/film cameras to the digital/media card /cameras when the change was on my doorstep. Freelance photojournalists for my local Gannett paper were told “no digital cameras, no work”. That woke us all up to the new reality. Freelancing for the Post, I sadly sold my darkroom and enthusiastically bought a digital camera. Digital photography is here to stay. We’d better move with the new technology or go by the way of the dinosaur. Space, scientific and media industries are always in the lead. By the time the consumer sees it, most of the kinks are worked out. As I studied the new media closely I realized digital photography is a digitized science reinvented from analog photography.  The IT photo scientists had to have a starting point of departure.  They are working with bits, zeros and ones, the first thing I ever learned about computer science. We are now in a pixilated environment and  24 bit color translates to 8 bits of RGB (red, blue and green). There was still a D Log E chart measuring density and exposure and a characteristic curve that measured shadows, midtones, and highlights. That is now called a histogram. The ISO (ASA) could still be manipulated changing the sensitivity of film cards. Like film cameras, digital cameras are incorporating manual, aperture/shutter priority modes, and they are becoming smaller or larger, with a budget small or large for any amateur, semi-pro or professional photographer. The cameras are producing less noise and the software incorporating filters to add the noise back in. The beauty of digital photography is the monitor on the back of the camera that instantaneously gives us an image, thus letting us view our images and correct our mistakes if necessary. For us television addicts, the tv is now incorporated into our cameras. We are in an instant society. Isn’t it a perfect world?

Photoshop and like software produce a toolbox that we use to digitally manipulate our images. There are a host of selection tools, drawing tools, masking tools, burn and dodge tools. Sound familiar? Need to cut and paste? You can do so in the edit mode. Sometimes I have to add open eyes where someone had the nerve to blink. I always laugh at the sight of floating eyes, then on deadline use the move tool to place the open eyes over those closed eyes. There’s even a redeye tool, color selection picker and a magic wand tool which are my favorites.  Everything we manipulated in the darkroom is now done electronically with the click of the mouse. We are still working with RGB for the computer, camera, scanners and their complements, CMYK for printers and inks. With layers, I can finally composite that image I visualized as a junior in my high school darkroom. Go James Vanderzee and Jerry Uelsmann.  So, steady your hand or use a tripod or monopod and join the wonderful world of digital photography!

Collette Fournier is the staff photographer at Rockland Community College in Suffern, NY where she also adjuncts teaching Analog Black and White and Digital Composition. Ms. Fournier studied photography and visual arts at RIT and Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is writing a personal narrative, actively travels and exhibits her photography. Ms. Fournier is a member of Kamoinge, Inc. a photographer’s collective based in NYC, UPAA, (University Photographer's Assoc. of America) and has curated photography exhibitions.