Digital Photography – Photographic Processes Series – Chapter 12 of 12


The technology has been shifting constantly since
1839. We can only expect that it will continue to shift. Everyone is a photographer now. Everyone carries a camera in their purse or pocket. We make photographs in a different
way from the way we use to. But we make them for the same reasons. I would argue that a 19th century
Victorian family album has exactly the same purpose as the 200
pictures of your kid that you carry on your phone. I was working in the apparatus division
research laboratory. My supervisor came to me one day and said, I want you to look at a new type of imager that
had just become available. Called charged couple device imager and that was the Fairchild CCD 201. I thought if I could build some sort of device that would capture an image, well that is called a
camera. I called it my baby because it made me cry a lot. I always say that. What I was dealing with was something that could convert a light pattern to a charge pattern. I had to get that charge pattern off the device
really quickly, and store it somewhere. So I was going to try and make a digital
conversion device, and then store it in RAM. I decided I needed a form of permanent storage
that didn’t require batteries. That was easy, actually, because magnetic tape
on cassettes were being used for all kinds of reasons in the early days of computers. They were storing digital information. People always talk about building the camera. More than half the effort, probably more than
half the effort, was building the playback unit. To make it suitable for a television signal because that was the only way to electronically look at an
image. This was all digital. Right from the output of the CCD all the way
through to the output to the TV set. That was all digital everywhere in between. To give you a timeline of digital photography we have Steve Sasson in 1975 building the first
truly digital camera. In 1986 Eastman Kodak Company comes out
with the megapixel sensor. In 1987-88 Jim McGarvey builds tactical camera which evolves into the 1991 Kodak DCS. It came in a rather hefty suitcase that contained
the camera and the storage device. The next year they are actually able to combine all those parts into one smaller body, the DCS 200. In 1994 the Apple Quicktake 100 is the consumer
camera. The first megapixel consumer camera is the
Kodak DC210 in 1999. It is a very short timeline here, when you get into
it, maybe 20 years or so. Of course now everyone has either a smart phone
or a tablet with a camera built into it. The first digital camera I ever saw you had to load
a floppy disc into it. My mind was blown when I saw that. What was this? You can put a picture on a computer now? There are generations of kids now that will never know what film is like, or what leafing through a
shoebox full of 4×6’s from Moto Photo. It’s things like that. It is just gone. That’s Talbot. The man that invented the negative. Digital made the negative obsolete, and this is the
way we see images. It can be deleted by accident. It is not a physical thing. We use to have the possibility that you might run across a photograph of your grandmother when she was eighteen years old, in the back of a
drawer that nobody knew about. Suddenly, you have this picture. That can be found later and interpreted. When you have a digital image, what is the thing
that you have? You have code or something. Rarely do people print out their photographs
anymore. When we are seeing things ephemerally on a screen it becomes very much like everything else
we see on a screen. Our relationship to memory with regard to the
photographic image is changing and it will be really interesting to see where that
goes. It is surprising to most people when I tell them I
love digital. I just love digital technology, and they will look at
me and think it is heresy. Artists have come to a point where many of them are saying, I feel like the machine is in control and I want to have my hands in this object. When the finished product is something other than a computer screen, it harkens back to the
day when photography was a craft. It is not just about the image, though image is king. It is about the object itself, and you made that object.

16 Comments

  1. Google made me do it December 17, 2014 at 10:42 pm

    I dunno, even if I print a photograph with a printer (even quality prints) I often feel like they're meaningless because I didn't put my hands in that work literally. Yet this is what I really like, no one can tell whether the photo was taken that way or if it's processed. It's superflat and only someone with an eye for photography can tell whether it was made by a photographer or a person with a camera by certain criteria. This is another point where (digital) photography has to prove being art

  2. Alfonso Generoso December 28, 2014 at 1:04 am

    Well, I love good HDR, so digital it's my craft, but I'm with you, make a permanent object with light printed always will be beauiful. In this days it's only printed in magazines or for comercial pourpose, but I guess that someday somebody will find a cheap and easy solution to print digital images and then the culture will become greater. Many thanks for this incredible knowledge, let me know if I can help translating and sharing this content in spanish.

  3. Michael Donovan January 7, 2015 at 11:56 pm

    This series was excellent. It seems that in today's world things go so fast that we forget how it once was and whose shoulders on whom we stand. This was a great way to be able to reckon our place in the timeline.

  4. Amira Kapoor October 14, 2015 at 6:35 am

    great series …what my college teachers couldnt teach us…. these videos did…george eastman house should consider making a series for conservation students on deterioration and conservation practices for photographs !

  5. sjcsiba October 19, 2015 at 12:08 am

    I remember my father had a darkroom of his own in the late '80s, and I was completely blown away by the process of developing a photograph.
    He stopped using it and when he did I said, give it to me, all of it, including your camera.
    And as much as I love digital photography, I will always take 2 pictures, when possible, one with my digital camera or phone and one with my dads old camera.
    The beauty is…my kid LOVES the 'old' way of making and developing pictures 🙂

  6. LDSRaichuguy January 22, 2016 at 5:56 pm

    don't go away film!

  7. Viviana V July 14, 2016 at 3:56 pm

    fantastic series of videos!

  8. Philip Paynter November 15, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    From what I've seen (and I have a science background in that I did a physics degree) film has plenty of pluses on the image front, especially when you consider simultaneously how our visual intelligence works.

  9. Nebojša Čelebić March 27, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    this is a wonderful series thank you GEM

  10. Shine Huang April 2, 2017 at 12:29 am

    #Filmisnotdead Thank you Eastman house made this wonderful series. I enjoyed all 12 episodes. Thank you every Kodak moment.

  11. Billie June 29, 2017 at 10:11 pm

    Love it when she say "When you have a digital image! What is the thing that you have? You have… um… code or something." HAHAH!! that line is pure gold! #purists

  12. NaiZoe4 February 20, 2018 at 3:03 pm

    loved the series!

  13. Michael Mcgee February 22, 2018 at 10:31 pm

    No different than the same young people who believe violence and censorship will stop bigotry. You don't have to risk death any more to help your fellow man. Bull!

  14. Michael Mcgee February 22, 2018 at 10:46 pm

    you need a paper print of the media in order fro extra protection prints of digital photos are offered. The machine could break down and that would be the end of your life. This is why you have a sd card to extra protect this .Machine can break done easy ,unless you got a storage protector ,you are taking risk not adding to there medias. The reason why you got those who don't wan to make print is just to save money and space for other things s .If they don't have storage for protection ,the camera breaks down that is the end I make prints and put my phot on both dvd and blu- ray for extra protection.one time I got cheap lu ray disk and in 6 month gone!, but I had the s,d card ,the humidity destroy the images due to inferiority from china. Don't take fro granted your easy digital photos protect them ask much possible for future viewing .Put them in other medias too .

  15. Tyson L June 24, 2018 at 6:25 pm

    And then Kodak invents the very technology that brings its decline lol. Pandora's box.

    I'm still going to shoot film along side digital though.

  16. Shengchen Ai March 25, 2019 at 6:20 am

    Wonderful photography history exploration, enjoyed all 12 of them.

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