I keep on reading, here and there, now and again, of what is real imaging. I hear this mainly from the digital brigade in justification for their distorted and faux interpretation of reality.
About one million years ago a large number of hydrogen atoms fused in a G-Type main sequence yellow dwarf star of no particular importance. Each pair of hydrogen atoms that fused created one gamma ray, one Neutrino and one Photon. Our particular group of photons took one million years to mitigate the turbulent nuclear atmosphere and intense gravity field before being ejected across the vast reaches of space. Eight and a half minutes later they found themselves hurtling through the blue nitrogen rich atmosphere of the third planet. Within a fraction of an instant the photons had been deflected from an opaque object, were then collimated by five slightly convex slices of thin silicate before being unceremoniously smashed against a slither roll of acetate covered with an even thiner photon sensitive emulsion of silver halide. The impact of the Photons with the halides changed some of them. This strip of acetate was then repeatedly washed in various liquids until an inverse image was fix thereupon.
We call this Photography.
How more real can you make it?
It is in fact, a combination of Physics and Chemistry.
It is a miracle!
The latter stages: The Darkroom.
The digital brigade then bleat on about the old film guys faking it in the darkroom. Sure they did! But if you think there is ANY commonality between the darkroom and the lightroom beyond terminology then you really need a sober reality check and perhaps a swift kick in the derriere.
Faking it in the darkroom involves immeasurable skill procured over years of hard practice and the results are usually unrepeatable. Insomuch that a second copy is not exactly the same as the first. If you make a mistake there is no “history” - you have to start again. Editing negatives is even harder and impossible in the small format especially with multi-layered chromogenic films.
In the darkroom, you try removing that seagull that inconveniently flew into the scene as you pressed the shutter. In Fauxtoshop done in about one second. In the darkroom… ?
By all means have a go. Perhaps you’ll develop a sense of humility, appreciation and a realisation on how very easy you have it. The old darkroom fakers were seriously skilled people. The fact that the world is simply awash with crap images of untold magnitude is testament to how digital has made it so, so very easy.
No matter their skill the darkroom worker is confined and still limited by physics and chemistry. How more real do you want?
Incidentally, It is quite funny that of all the wet printing I have done it is colour printing that I have enjoyed the most, despite being a monochromist. I am really crap at wet B&W printing but pretty happy with the colour prints. Figure that one!
In the faux fantasy world of digital the only limits when manipulating pixels is your imagination or lack thereof.
The negative, the positive and the wet print is an image of reality distorted and created by the inescapable limits imposed by the confines of the real world. Physics and Chemistry! It is true photography, drawing with light. Whereas digital capture is pixelography, drawing with pixels. A faux world with no limits, no borders, where the boundary between photography, manipulation, art and digital imaging is as blurred and as soft as your plastic lenses.
It seems that for many the real world just isn’t good enough any more!
… and if you have reached this far can I conclude with some pictures from a stroll last week, the Castle Dell, Chepstow and a few from nearby Devauden and Trelleck. Leica M2, 5cm Summicron, Ilford FP4+ in Rodinal, Sunny 16. Semi-stand development.