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Ken Rockwell on the Death of Photography

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Djarum, Jan 11, 2010.

  1. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    Jason
    • Like Like x 1
  2. oldmandon

    oldmandon Mu-43 Rookie

    23
    Dec 25, 2009
    North Carolina, USA
    Rockwell - Agree or Disagree?

    Regardless of what you think of Ken, if your mind is open, you should read this article. Don't know Ken? Then, definitely read it! It will make you think, I mean really think. Wow!
     
  3. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    Jason
    I've read some of his stuff in the past, and at times, he's been spot on, and this is one of those times. Sadly, in this day and age of technology, its not just a problem in photography. I think another issue that is going on, and I don't really think Ken really touched on it too much, is not just about tinkering with the equipment, but just how we love to compare equipment with our peers and hardly use it.

    First, if you have only one camera, the best camera to use is the one you have. If you have several camers, the best camera to use is the one you are willing to take with you and take pictures. So, in terms of image quality, an SLR will beat the socks off a P&S in terms of IQ, however, what good is the SLR if you aren't willing to lug it around? I'd much rather take pictures and have pictures from a camera I'm willing to take with me.
     
  4. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    I enjoy reading his site when people post links to it. I don't check there regularly for articles, and some of what he says is really nonsense, but some of it is interesting for sure!

    Will post some thoughts about this particular piece later. I have mixed feelings...
     
  5. oldmandon

    oldmandon Mu-43 Rookie

    23
    Dec 25, 2009
    North Carolina, USA
    Amin,
    Can you give me one example of 'interesting' and 'nonsense' Rockwell comments from the posted article? Not trying to be controversial, just curious re: other takes on Rockwell ramblings. Thanks
     
  6. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    Don,

    It's difficult for me to find too much of either in this particular posted article. It is less interesting to me because it rehashes themes from other Rockwell posts.

    It also seems a bit dull to ignore the fact that there is no shortage of amazing photography being done today, in the 21st century. To be sure, there are a lot of people caught up in gear analysis, computer work, etc, but there are plenty of others making great photos, and the entire premise about a threat to or impending death of photography is simply unfounded.
     
  7. cosinaphile

    cosinaphile Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 26, 2009
    new york city
    he makes some good points , but exaggerates the danger to photography , his article on the ep1 is most illuminating , it shows what he understands .....and what he doesnt understand or simply glosses over...... and what he gets plain wrong, he`s human after all , but he sure should go back to the ep1 review and correct a few embarassing gaffes,and rushes to judgment, imho

    he makes interesting copy about what art isin another article , but sadly falls into the trap of: art is what you like ,or what you say it is ? i think this is a good example of rockwell at his most nonsensical ,

    its a good thing engineers dont build bridges that way and pharmaceutical firms dont design medicines that way ,and pilots dont fly aircraft that way..... ive never understood why folks are so quick to chuck elegance, understanding, formal reasoning , excellence and intelligence out the window when considering what art is ,but would concede its importance in every other human endevour and creation


    just my $0.02
     
  8. Vidar

    Vidar Mu-43 Top Veteran

    545
    Dec 31, 2009
    Bergen, Norway
    He´s got some good points:
    "Today's hobby has perverted itself into little more than something men do on their computers between porn sessions. ":biggrin:

    Interesting article. But in my opinion he often sounds like an old man thinking about how much better things were in "the old days", he fails to see the oportunities the digital age with digital cameras and internet presents. Photography will continue to change, always.

    But still I drag around film cameras, as well as my E-P1, so I agree with much of his views. The equipment and processing the picture is not the important thing, you must take a picture of something interesting!

    "Vision, seeing the picture first, is everything. Snapping and printing it is the trivial part. ":bravo-009:
     
  9. Brian Mosley

    Brian Mosley Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Brian Mosley on the Death of sensationalist bloggers ;)

    Ken should post threads on dpreview - he obviously has plenty of practice in creating a catchy headline :eek:

    I think that photography is stronger now than it has ever been - it's a fantastic time to be an enthusiast, with all the tools you need to take wonderful images and present them to your peers for review / C&C / encouragement.

    His style is a bit obvious - to present common sense ideas in a sensationalist "I'm a genius, you're an idiot for not noticing" manner is great for winding up the casual enthusiast reader... thereby encouraging debate and further traffic - he may yet return to 'a proper job' in due course :wink:

    I'd rather read The Online Photographer, for the comments on there... or any number of posters whom I respect on forums as helpful, respectful, passionate photographers who want to be a part of a community.

    I suspect that Ken Rockwell and other populist bloggers are looking at their own demise, rather than the demise of Photography to 'hobbyists' - with the arrival of new blogging tools and forum software, enthusiasts are able to share their own personal views, help each other and grow together... we don't need 'luminaries' of Ken's ilk to show us the way anymore... we can help ourselves thanks, and without the rockstar attitude :dash2:

    Cheers

    Brian
     
    • Like Like x 1
  10. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    Jason
    Brian,

    I'm going to have to disagree with you. Sure, there are more people taking pictures now than ever. I never got into photography much because I didn't like film. I didn't get into it until the digital erra. Sure, some of what Ken says is reminiscent of an old man saying "You know, back in the day, when I was your age..." kind of attitude, which I know I personally don't appreciate. But he is right. Who waits for the perfect time to take a photograph anymore? Who waits for the right lighting? Who waits to take a picture of a subject at the right moment the scene becomes engaging? So I believe there is some truth to what he, at least in this article says.

    I don't think anyone can argue that the mass populace is more concerned about equipment than they are takign pictures. There was a thread on dpreview a month or so ago about the poster saying he was no longer "pro" because he didn't have a Nikon blah blah blah or Canon blah blah blah. I tried to convince a co-worker to get a G1, and he was convinced that since it didn't have big lenses and a big sensor, its not going to be up to snuff vs his old 35mm SLR equipment. He ended up getting a Nikon D90.

    When it comes to photography and "good" photography, the latter is dying IMHO. I've gone to some art galleries around town that have local photographers who have "art" for sale. 90% of it is rubbish. Of course, to some degree, there is my own personal opinion on what is considered art, but most of what I saw was nothing engaging, nothing extraordinary. No, I don't live in a big city where there are lots of professionals who do this sort of work, but where I live has the perfect landscape for really good photography. Most of what I see is half baked pictures manipulated in Photoshop, and the other half are lifeless landscapes, street photography, and architecture.

    Dj
     
    • Like Like x 1
  11. oldmandon

    oldmandon Mu-43 Rookie

    23
    Dec 25, 2009
    North Carolina, USA
    Rockwell - Agree or Disagree?

    Thanks, Amin
     
  12. oldmandon

    oldmandon Mu-43 Rookie

    23
    Dec 25, 2009
    North Carolina, USA
    Great points Dj. I couldn't have said it better so, I won't. Ken's points, and I certainly don't agree with everything he's ever written, is touching some important nerves causing a re-assessment of why, how, and when we take pictures and for whom!
     
  13. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    Djarum,

    The total number of people enjoying photography has skyrocketed, and it's safe to say that the majority of those enjoying it do not emphasize vision, patience, and getting the photograph right in the camera. I think that these masses and the magazines which are marketed to them give the appearance that the number of photographers who do wait for the right time/lighting/moment and have vision is waning, but I think that is an artifact of dilution.

    If one takes the time to sift through the bulk, I think there are as many talented photographers with vision as ever there have been. I see them in certain publications (eg, Lenswork or B&W magazine rather than Pop Photo and Shutterbug), photo books (such as the ones recommended periodically on T.O.P.), and also even in places like online forums and Flickr (though the dilution factor is certainly in effect in those places).

    The masses are not planning, are taking tons of photos, and overprocessing them, but I believe that amongst us there is great work being done, and likely more of it than ever before.

    In our own albums here at mu-43, which is just getting started, I can point to examples of photographers who have waited for the light to be just right, for example Blair's album here.

    I think Ken R's post has a reasonable purpose, which is to remind people to worry less about processing and more about vision, planning, timing, and so forth. However, the premise that photography is dying is unsubstantiated IMO.
     
  14. Brian Mosley

    Brian Mosley Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    I think that there's a curve from absolute beginner to accomplished photographer with great vision and competence with their tools...

    what I'm saying is that there are more enthusiast photographers out there, connected and supported through the internet - a small proportion of which will ascend that curve over the coming years.

    I think it's always been a small percentage - and with the huge global numbers, a small percentage is still a lot more than there's ever been.

    That probably could have been worded better, but hopefully it makes sense?

    In the future, perhaps the camera will be able to teach the photogapher? it sounds crazy, but I've just downloaded this iphone app because I want to learn to cook some Jamie Oliver dishes for my wife :dance2:

    So, you see - more people are picking up cameras, more people are enjoying sharing their work, more people are getting access to inspiration and support...

    Hence more people will go on to realise their potential as photographers.

    Cheers

    Brian
     
  15. oldmandon

    oldmandon Mu-43 Rookie

    23
    Dec 25, 2009
    North Carolina, USA
    I would concur with the above. Perhaps, the premise . . . photography is dying may merely be another way to say it is changing - in some ways good, and in some ways not so good. Enough of my forum fodder, I'm going out and take some pictures (hopefully acceptable ones, wait a minute, they only have to be acceptable to me as long as I just 'share' them with family and friends, right?) :wink:
     
  16. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    Sounds good, as long as we here are amongst the friends who get to see them!
     
  17. Brian Mosley

    Brian Mosley Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Well, it's dark here... and time for tea! :drinks:

    Cheers

    Brian
     
  18. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    Jason
    I agree that there are more and more people taking up the hobby, which makes it harder to find the good ones. But in many hobbies, including this one, technology doesn't superscede fundamental skills. Thats my take on it I suppose. I've been bowling competitively for over 15 years, which is over half my adult life. Technology in the sport has exponentially increased, scores have risen, and the learning curve no where near as steep as it used to be to become good at it. But it amazes me at the so called "good ones" who still have not grasped fundamental skills of the sport/hobby. I do want more and more people to enjoy the hobby, but equipment doesn't replace hard work or talent.

    I'm a computer engineer, so I do believe in technology in all that it can do. I think technology should supplument our skills in whatever we enjoy, but not take the place of the skills.
     
  19. Brian Mosley

    Brian Mosley Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    I hope that the last thing to be impacted by technology would be the artistic vision and timing necessary - the rest I'm quite happy to allow automation if it helps the camera to get out of my way.

    Cheers

    Brian
     
  20. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    Dj, I absolutely agree with all that you just said. I enjoy postprocessing, but I never fool myself into thinking I can make a bad photograph into a good one!