Some Thoughts on Digital Imaging

My world as a photographer is changing. And it's looking much more like the world I see with my eyes.

I'm recording color in my photographs that escape film. Highlights are holding and shadows are opening up like never before. I am making the first archival color photographs of my career. Grain has vanished. I'm seeing the photograph, when I am photographing, on the spot, when I should. As it always should have been.

The fumes of the darkroom are being displaced by the flicker of a screen. Lung disease, supplanted perhaps, by CRT radiation. The risks remain mysterious.

Photography has always been magic. The shutter clicks, and some unseeable change occurs on silver coated plastic. Nothing seems to have happened. The weight of the film does not increase with the burden of the light it carries. It is a secret, to be revealed by the spirits in the darkroom. Later.

Now the photograph appears as the image is being recorded. There is evidence that something has happened, visual evidence that a photograph has been made. And it can be studied, probed, rephotographed if necessary. And worked closer to perfection and beauty.

The way I think about making a photograph is changing. These photographs are less instantaneous in their witness, but visible while the camera remains ready. Now they take minutes to photograph, and photographic time shifts once again--from an unreal slice of a moment, to an accumulation of time slices over time.

For me, the advent of digital photography is not about manipulation. Quite the contrary, it is about seeing more clearly, with less interference and delay from the inspiration.

I feel energized and stimulated to work. My joy in image making has been given a good royal kick in the pants.

-Stephen Johnson
Autumn 1994

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Last updated on April 15, 1995. Mail comments to:
Photographs and Text Copyright ©1995, Stephen Johnson. All Rights Reserved.