The troublesome digital image*

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The digital image*

It’s not here but remote. Untouchable. Interpretation but then, so are images.

As it comes out of the recording device the digital image is sterile. Of course, as soon as it’s visible as an image it has been interpreted, be that by the camera or another interpretation software, but more or less all the default settings default to sterile. So in an attempt to make the digital image come to life, so to speak, we make changes to the settings, tweak the colours away from Adobe’s or the camera maker’s or XRite’s defaults looking for good looking imperfections. Well, I do.

And being the internet photographer that I have become, I invest in plugins and presets and whatnot and use them to chase imperfections that are supposed to imitate a different kind of image. A non–numerical image. Analog. A certain film even or a particular process, ancient or not. Or I might attempt to cough up an imitation myself, from scratch; an RGB curve preset that pushes some blue into the shadows and ever so slight red to the highlights, a hue shift to make the skies less blue and more cyan.. Or something different, as long as it looks like something it isn’t, bonus points if something I can try to convince myself I made on my own.

Then I debate with myself what excactly it is that I’m doing. If I’m forcing the digital image into clothes that don’t fit it, never did, or simply adjusting parameters in order to approach an end results that I like looking at, no drama needed?

I met my former photography professor a few days ago. Asked him if many of his students were still working with analog medium and those who did, what their motives were. His reply; yes, and romance. Then added, that they found the analog image to be a much better looking image. I didn’t disagree. The conversation didn’t last for long, I wish the situation had been different but it wasn’t. I probably wouldn’t have been able to hold one for long anyway, a conversation that is. Digression.

But it spelled out loud and clear how my own relationship to images, digital and not, is indeed dictated by romance. I say this not as if it were a good thing, but perhaps that was obvious? Not that there is anything inherently wrong about a romantic relation to images, only as long as one can work with it. And then, but only then, I feel like it should—indeed—be said as a good thing. But now I’m touching on too many subjects with hardly enough focus for one.

Image, digital, attempting.

*Then there is the aspect of authenticity. I won’t even try to go there but hadn’t it been for this piece—which made sense when I read it a while ago, much sense—I might have titled this the digital photograph. And although I don’t agree with all it says, we now have this. I’ll leave it at that.

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