'The Coming Earthquake In Photography'


George Lazarette

Link Posted 21/04/2007 - 23:52
He might be right about photo-jouralism, though I doubt it. He's certainly wrong about other forms of photography.

The BBC website already serves up a mixture of still and video, and guess what? I seldom watch the video stuff.

Why?

Number one, it takes far too long, and number two, making good video is immensely time-consuming, and time is money. That means it's either not affordable, or it's poor quality. If it's not affordable, it doesn't get made, so what does get made is rubbish. No amount of technology is going to change that.

G
Keywords: Charming, polite, and generally agreeable.

ChrisA

Link Posted 22/04/2007 - 00:07
George Lazarette wrote:
No amount of technology is going to change that.

Wasn't 64K more memory than anyone would ever need in a personal computer?

I think it's the time to view, not the time to make, which is the really significant thing here, and if you can pull (and quickly enhance) a few really high quality stills from a video, even this objection disappears.

Not that I've ever done it, but the darkroom skills of dodging and burning are redundant now, in the context of layers and HDR.

To say what technology will or won't make possible (for which, read 'affordable'), is a little premature, methinks.

And in any case, quality is not related to how many people want to see it. The quality of most of YouTube is truly awful, but...

redlm

Link Posted 22/04/2007 - 01:09
Video replace still photography? In so many ways, not in my lifetime.

Ever notice how often people like to sit down and watch the old videos? Me neither.

Mongoose

Link Posted 22/04/2007 - 01:42
I can say 100% certainly that no video camera will ever have a place in my kit bag, unless it is no longer possible to buy a still DSLR and my K10D is broken beyond repair.

Video vs still is a pointless comparison, it's apples and oranges.

johnriley

Link Posted 22/04/2007 - 08:37
A realtive went to Canada and filmed the crossing of the praries by car. After two hours watching the white lines in the road flashing by (we are very polite viewers) we said "Perhaps we should watch the other half later?"

The reply was "Oh, it's not half way through, we taped it on half speed..."

Please don't ever contemplate going down the route of Video Only.


Best regards, John

Pwynnej

Link Posted 22/04/2007 - 11:41
ChrisA wrote:
George Lazarette wrote:
No amount of technology is going to change that.

Wasn't 64K more memory than anyone would ever need in a personal computer?

I think it's the time to view, not the time to make, which is the really significant thing here, and if you can pull (and quickly enhance) a few really high quality stills from a video, even this objection disappears.

Not that I've ever done it, but the darkroom skills of dodging and burning are redundant now, in the context of layers and HDR.

To say what technology will or won't make possible (for which, read 'affordable'), is a little premature, methinks.

And in any case, quality is not related to how many people want to see it. The quality of most of YouTube is truly awful, but...

Man alledgedly went to the moon in 1969 (or was it the Arizona desert) and in 1993 a car company were boasting that their new engine management system was more powerful than the computer system driving the Apollo 14 rocket...

Yet, why does it take 2-3 minutes for my works computer to turn on and off and my own PC crashes from time to time... Yet my still cameras keep on going on and on.

I've seen my Dad buy several video cameras and with every one he has to update the accessories he has....yet the picture quality hasn't really improved over 20 years.

I think still photograhy (digital and film) has a lot of milage in it yet..

George Lazarette

Link Posted 22/04/2007 - 12:10
ChrisA wrote:
George Lazarette wrote:
No amount of technology is going to change that.

Wasn't 64K more memory than anyone would ever need in a personal computer?

The point of my post was that this is not a technology issue, so analogies with 64Kb of RAM don't apply.

Quote:

I think it's the time to view, not the time to make, which is the really significant thing here, and if you can pull (and quickly enhance) a few really high quality stills from a video, even this objection disappears.

So we're back to stills, not video?

Quote:

Not that I've ever done it, but the darkroom skills of dodging and burning are redundant now, in the context of layers and HDR.

To say what technology will or won't make possible (for which, read 'affordable'), is a little premature, methinks.

The time taken to edit video is a function of the number of frames to be edited, and the speed with which a human being can absorb the mass of information, and make decisions on whether to keep it, cut it, or modify it. The technology is irrelevant.

Quote:

And in any case, quality is not related to how many people want to see it. The quality of most of YouTube is truly awful, but...

I think an appropriate analogy here is with newspapers. The mindless nitwits who read the Sun have not forced the quality press out of business. Likewise, I don't expect Youtube and its kind to be a serious threat to the still photograph.

G
Keywords: Charming, polite, and generally agreeable.

Ammonyte

Link Posted 22/04/2007 - 18:10
AFAIAC (as far as i am concerned) Still and moving Video fulfill two different purposes. A still image gives you time to absorb detail and information allows you time to appreciate the composition, etc.

Now, please correct me if I am wrong, but a video/motion film camera maintains the same aperture for the whole shot, so grabbing a still from it may not give you the same result as taking a dedicated still where you can choose the perfect aperture for the subject.

We have had cameras capable of recording moving images for almost as long as we have had still photography, the two forms have co-existed for over 100 years, I don't see dedicated still photography vanishing for a while yet!
Tim the Ammonyte
--------------
K10D & sundry toys
http://www.ammonyte.com/photos.html

ChrisA

Link Posted 22/04/2007 - 18:38
George Lazarette wrote:

So we're back to stills, not video?

Well I didn't take the article as saying that the need for stills will go away, just that the means of acquisition - in photojournalism particularly - will change.

Quote:

The time taken to edit video is a function of the number of frames to be edited, and the speed with which a human being can absorb the mass of information, and make decisions on whether to keep it, cut it, or modify it. The technology is irrelevant.

The technology isn't irrelevant at all, since it lets you do things quickly, once you've made a decision what to do - and the decision support available is increasing all the time. We already have automatic red eye removal and face recognition - it's only a matter of time before they'll be able to apply standard optimisations to video, just as Photoshop lets you do Auto smart fix, and have them run blindingly fast.

Try telling a video editor that can remember physically splicing film strips that the technology is irrelevant!

Quote:
I think an appropriate analogy here is with newspapers. The mindless nitwits who read the Sun have not forced the quality press out of business. Likewise, I don't expect Youtube and its kind to be a serious threat to the still photograph.

Agreed. As I said, the time taken to view video will not change (until we have bionic brain implants that work like coprocessors, and allow us to assimilate information at different speeds). So the need for stills won't go away in the forseeable future. I don't think the article was suggesting that it would.

But just as darkroom skills have given way to software skills, when it's possible to extract the perfect high quality still from a piece of video, the skill required of the photojournalist to perfectly anticipate the moment will be lessened.

People were saying that digital would never be good enough to replace film and not all that long ago at that.

The need to have stills will probably be with us for the lifetimes of all those reading this forum. But the means of acquiring them and displaying them will continue to evolve. And when the 60fps, 30 Mega pixel per frame, auto-multi-element-metered auto-smart-fix video camera is the same price as a K10D, people will be buying them and using them. The skill needed to press the shutter-release the moment before the ball hits the racquet will become a thing of history.

George Lazarette

Link Posted 22/04/2007 - 20:12
ChrisA wrote:
George Lazarette wrote:

So we're back to stills, not video?

Well I didn't take the article as saying that the need for stills will go away, just that the means of acquisition - in photojournalism particularly - will change.

Quote:

The time taken to edit video is a function of the number of frames to be edited, and the speed with which a human being can absorb the mass of information, and make decisions on whether to keep it, cut it, or modify it. The technology is irrelevant.

The technology isn't irrelevant at all, since it lets you do things quickly, once you've made a decision what to do - and the decision support available is increasing all the time. We already have automatic red eye removal and face recognition - it's only a matter of time before they'll be able to apply standard optimisations to video, just as Photoshop lets you do Auto smart fix, and have them run blindingly fast.

Try telling a video editor that can remember physically splicing film strips that the technology is irrelevant!

Quote:
I think an appropriate analogy here is with newspapers. The mindless nitwits who read the Sun have not forced the quality press out of business. Likewise, I don't expect Youtube and its kind to be a serious threat to the still photograph.

Agreed. As I said, the time taken to view video will not change (until we have bionic brain implants that work like coprocessors, and allow us to assimilate information at different speeds). So the need for stills won't go away in the forseeable future. I don't think the article was suggesting that it would.

But just as darkroom skills have given way to software skills, when it's possible to extract the perfect high quality still from a piece of video, the skill required of the photojournalist to perfectly anticipate the moment will be lessened.

People were saying that digital would never be good enough to replace film and not all that long ago at that.

The need to have stills will probably be with us for the lifetimes of all those reading this forum. But the means of acquiring them and displaying them will continue to evolve. And when the 60fps, 30 Mega pixel per frame, auto-multi-element-metered auto-smart-fix video camera is the same price as a K10D, people will be buying them and using them. The skill needed to press the shutter-release the moment before the ball hits the racquet will become a thing of history.



You're still talking technology. We already have fast computers and fancy editing programs, but they can't deal with the human bottleneck, and never will be able to.

I said at the outset: "He might be right about photo-jouralism, though I doubt it. He's certainly wrong about other forms of photography.". Photojournalism probably accounts for fewer than one percent of all photographs taken, so whatever the PJs get up to is not really relevant to the rest of us.

Note that the writer of the piece said: "These seismic shifts .... will literally change the way photographers take pictures."

He is claiming that what he predicts will apply generally, not just to his own field. And that is where I take issue with him.

G
Keywords: Charming, polite, and generally agreeable.

ChrisA

Link Posted 22/04/2007 - 21:15
George Lazarette wrote:
We already have fast computers and fancy editing programs, but they can't deal with the human bottleneck, and never will be able to.

Maybe I'm not understanding you. What is this human bottleneck?

In that article, all that cobblers about seismic this and that is just theatrics that can be ignored, but that aside, all I see him saying is that video will be increasingly used to acquire the raw material from which stills are extracted, and that as the technology improves, it'll get easier and better.

And all I'm suggesting is that if the quality of the video is very high, and the tools available for the extraction of the frame you want very quick to use, more people will use that medium, in order to avoid having to acquire the skill required to press the button at just the right moment.

I took lots of pictures at the London Marathon today. They were just snaps, aimed at capturing a friend as she ran. Mostly because of people in the way, I couldn't even look through the viewfinder, since I had to hold the camera up high. I used the K10D's continuous mode, and took about 150 shots, of which about a dozen were any good. If I'd had video, I would have had the choice of a lot more moments from which to select.

I don't see the article as any much more profound than that. If you want to take beautifully lit and composed portraits, or landscapes, the compositional skill will be just the same, whether you use the future high quality videos as the source of stills or a DSLR, but even then, with video, you might stand a higher chance of capturing that perfect expression, or that perfect moment of light as the sun sets.

George Lazarette

Link Posted 22/04/2007 - 22:18
The human bottleneck, in this instance, is the time it takes a human being to assimilate and respond to the millions of frames in a piece of video. A computer can read a huge file in seconds. A human takes much, much longer. The fastest computer in the world won't help you to edit videos much faster than you can now with your existing PC.

The idea that video cameras will supplant proper still cameras in the near future is absurd. It reminds me of those dreadful all-in-one office machines which are printer, scanner, and fax rolled into one.

A specialist machine will always beat a general purpose machine.

The machine gun approach to photojournalism may yield acceptable results on a consistent basis, but it won't yield great results. I'd back HCB over an army of photographic machine gunners any day.

G
Keywords: Charming, polite, and generally agreeable.

ChrisA

Link Posted 22/04/2007 - 23:07
George Lazarette wrote:
The human bottleneck, in this instance, is the time it takes a human being to assimilate and respond to the millions of frames in a piece of video. A computer can read a huge file in seconds. A human takes much, much longer. The fastest computer in the world won't help you to edit videos much faster than you can now with your existing PC.

But you don't have to look at every frame out of the millions there are to find the one you want. You know roughly where it is, and then looking through the 100 or so frames that are relevant can be very quick. I scrolled through some of the bursts of shots I took today in Picasa, which I use for previews. It's very quick. Video wouldn't be much slower, given the right tools, and these are evolving all the time.

Quote:
The idea that video cameras will supplant proper still cameras in the near future is absurd.

It depends what you mean by 'near'. Something between two years and twenty I'd guess. The quality of video I can get from my little Sony still camera is not great, but it's not terrible. I wouldn't use the video to extract stills yet... but five years ago I wouldn't have bought a digital SLR at all.

I think your view of what is a video camera is too narrow. Imagine a K10D, able to take 100 frames a second. Now with all your creative skill, set up a fantastically composed and lit portrait. Press the button a shade earlier than you would have...

... now you have 100 frames, and you can pick the perfect one.

I have an emotional objection to the way all the unskilled muppets will jump on the bandwagon, since it will seem that all the years I've spent acquiring the skill to get the one frame I want will have been wasted. But even though I'm better than I was, I still lose good ones because my timing is imperfect. It will remain the case that the best photographers will get better results than the ones that point and hope.

Quote:

The machine gun approach to photojournalism may yield acceptable results on a consistent basis, but it won't yield great results.

It won't create the great results in itself. But it might mean missing fewer great results for the sake of pressing the button a fifth of a second late or early.

I think the difference that the technology makes is that it removes, or at least reduces, the need to be a technician as well as an artist. In the middle of the quality spectrum, there will be those that attempt to use the technology as a replacement for the art - I've criticised some of PeteKD's pictures on that very basis. But at the top end, the best artists will still create the best art.

viewfinder

Link Posted 22/04/2007 - 23:12
I found it a moderately interesting article,...but not as interesting as some of the excellent debate about it here.

As far as I'm concerned, trying to see into the future is essentially a 'fools errand' because the future has the nack of tossing in a key factor at the last moment that completely spoils the prediction.

However, I DO think that we shall see more and more blurring of still digital and what we presently call video.

Further, one of the important factors that has not been mentioned so far is exactly how images will be used in the next few years. I actually think there may well be very big changes in media such that the distinction between still and video will effectively be lost by means of blurring between, say, books and TV. LCD screens are getting bigger, better and cheaper and there have been some key patent applications recently such as that by Minolta for 'LCD fabric' which can be folded up and used to cover rigid surfaces. Once the TV screen / monitor is wall sized then there will be no need for printers and prints or for newspapers and magazines, or visits to art galleries etc. Up to now electronic newspapers, such as there have been, have tended to fail because the physicality of unfolding a newspaper on a train or at the breakfast table has not tranfered well to a screen. Once you can sit over your toast and read the paper on the wall without getting the corner of the morning paper in your tea cup!.......or read the headlines on the side of your breifcase in the train, Then the whole media world could well be very different, and that would include much more use of video clips rather like the pictures in Harry Potter's newspaper.

Once the media world has been turned upside down, will people still view still images in the same way?....Who can tell?

Once video becomes a much bigger part of this 'new' media, will camera makers be happy or able to make wholly 'still' cameras.

I have long felt that the current DSLR models are actually transitional designs,...film cameras with sensors. I have no doubt that eventually the mould will be broken and second generation serious digital imaging systems will appear,..whether coventional still photographers like us will still want to use them, and whether we will have the chance to stay with dedicated still cameras remains to be seen.......
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