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When digital cameras and editing software were first introduced, not surprisingly, there were some “old school purists” who thought that the whole idea was cheapening the photographic-artistic field. They pretty much looked down their noses at those who embraced the new technology. Understandably, they felt that the artistic talents of many seasoned photographers were being somehow diminished and/or insulted by the implication that photographers using digital cameras and the new powerful post editing software were just as talented if not more so.
And, of course, they were absolutely correct; their talents were far superior. The ability to capture underwater images on film has for many years been the challenge of only those with incredible patience, keen understandings of the effects of light (and color) by different kinds of water columns, and the experience in camera/lens settings (aperture/exposure, shutter speed, etc.) which are likely to produce the best results without the benefit of the “instant feedback” as is provided today by most digital cameras. They couldn’t play with ISO settings which were a function of their film. They couldn’t shoot dozens of exposures at different settings within a single dive since their film was limited to only a dozen or more opportunities. Their chances for success were severely limited and award winning images usually took numerous dives unless they really got lucky at the right place, the right time, the right equipment, etc. It was likely to be extremely frustrating and I, for one, did not have the patience or the talent required.
Enter the age of digital cameras. Now, the number of exposures seems nearly without limit. Now, the cameras have settings to adjust aperture/exposure, shutter speed, ISO and a whole range of other settings like clarity, crispness, contrast, color saturation/hue/brightness. Now, expensive strobes and lighting are available in underwater housings which can sync electronically or fiber optically to the camera. And now, with the sole exception of focus, ALL of those settings get a “second chance” by virtue of the post editing software available for editing a variety of different file formats. Personally, it’s so far advanced from film photography that I believe it shouldn’t even be called “photography”. How about “digital imaging”, “pixel manipulation” or something else? Still, I make no apologies for the benefits of digital cameras or the abilities provided in post editing. It is still “art” with all the same subjectivity albeit with far more power to edit/improve exposures than can be accomplished in a dark room.
Editing, in my opinion, is an art form as well and, in many cases, provides more power and benefits to the photographer than the cameras. So much so that it becomes less important to “nail” all the settings in one’s camera (other than focus) than it does normally. The result is the ability to spend more time considering the direction of the light, the movement of the subjects, the clarity of the immediate water column, the desired composition, etc. allowing for photographers to “capture the moment” more often.
So, when someone asks/accuses this photographer of displaying an image that really isn’t how the same scene might appear to the naked eye underwater, there is no apology forthcoming. Photography is an art form and most admirers would rather see something beautiful than a “proof of life” shot or one cluttered with back scatter, with poor lighting, with little or no contrast, and the many other distractions likely to plague photographers still shooting film.
Anyhow, that’s how I see it.
But more on that and other related subjects later . . . . .