Technology Yin Yang

This is a story about the yin yang (not yin AND yang as most boorish Americans call it) of technology. Tech provides both vast opportunities to create and the equally vast power to destroy great craftsmanship. But first I must set the stage for this philosophical debate. It all started with Robert.

Robert is a quiet guy but thoughtful. He and I see each other now and then at parties and events because our wives belong to the same social club.

I had probably never had more than a two-minute conversation with Robert. Yet here we were at a party and he knows a lot about something I care about but know very little. Photography. Robert is a professional photographer. I, on the other hand, gave up even my minor amateur status when film died as the preferred medium for pictures. (I have a very nice Nikon I’d sell if anyone still wants to shoot film).

For a bit over two years I have limited myself to a point and shoot digital picture-taking devise that fits in my pocket. No changing lenses, no focusing, no worrying about the light. So I ask Robert, “What advice can you give to me about starting to get into digital photography?” This leads to the discussion about how digital has taken much of the craftsmanship out of photography. I will do my best to capture his points though I admit to you now I may not be doing justice to them or him.

He started with the technical and then moved on to the philosophical. Technically he tells me that digital cameras, and these are SLRs a professional would use, do not provide consistent shots the way film cameras do. Something in the technology of the camera or the software leads to different readings and pictures in identical lighting situations despite improvements in built-in light metering and other technological improvements. He spends far more time making adjustments than when he shot with comparable film cameras.

That was the tip of the iceberg. His next point was that looking at the small screen on the back of the camera was the wrong way to visualize a great photo opportunity. The artist/photographer should be looking directly at the subject checking the nuances of the lighting, the composition, the shapes, the colors, the shadows.

Additionally from a commercial side says Robert,  having sooo many pictures available to download devalues all pictures. Users no longer discern between the great and the not-so-great. Will this phenomena dishearten the skilled craftsman who can no longer make a living at his craft? According to Robert, the photographers that survive and thrive are the better business people not the better shooters.

As I was listening to his point of view I began to wonder if this is true for writers as well. Bogging, tweeting and Facebook posting has opened the door for written expression to millions who would never have done it or at least never had shared it. For every 100 no talent blogs there is the special one by someone with so much to say and that beautiful way of telling a story.

Yet has this hurt the truly great writer starting out. Can very many writers make a living at their craft. Do people take the time to create things longer than a post? Will the art of short stories, novellas, novels and well written nonfiction disappear, the light blocked out by the shadows from a million free three paragraph posts?

Only time will tell whether all of this technology brings greater creative force and beauty or just more stuff. Or maybe both. Yin Yang.

About 48facets
What you read is what you get.

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