Life Magazine Article Interview, 10/97
1. When you made the switch from conventional photography to digital, did your idea of what makes a good subject change? Is your inspiration the same? If not, how has it changed?
The inspiration is the same. It is the light, color, sky and land that remain my reasons for making landscape photographs. It just that now I am more able to record the wonders that I see.
2. How does the beauty of a digital photograph differ from a photograph taken using conventional methods?
The color is more accurate and subtle, the dynamic range of the sensor more able to record what I see with my eyes.
3. What do you think is the most responsible way to use this technology? What would you consider an irresponsible use of the technology?
It is simply an extension of our ability to record what we see. When digital compositing is used on scanned film photographs or digital originals, the ability to deceive rises to new heights. Then I think it is a matter of telling your viewer that the image has been altered, and let them enjoy it or not based on an informed aesthetic.
4. How would you compare what you do digitally to what Ansel Adams did in the darkroom?
I am making almost all decisions as to how the photograph will look while I am standing in the landscape making the photograph. That is a completely different experience than the darkroom after the fact. After all of my years of working in the darkroom, my own opinion is that the darkroom is a much less vital experience for me. I now see what I have accomplished while I am making the photograph.
5. What are some of the limitations of digital photography? Do you ever worry that digital technology may make conventional photography obsolete?
Presently, the highest quality digital cameras are scanner backs, which take a few minutes to make an image. This time passing a be a great disadvantage or an interesting twist . The sheer expense of the high end cameras is a very big problem. (this is now down to 34 seconds---2006)
I don't worry about conventional photography becoming obsolete or surviving. I do care very much that our ability to make compelling photographs continues to grow. And that's why I'm excited by photography's transition into a digital medium.
6. How does the satisfaction you derive from a digital photograph differ from the satisfaction you felt with conventional photography?
The satisfaction at having done the best I can remains the same. I can just do so much better now that I suppose the satisfaction has also increased.
7. Please give a favorite example of how digital photography has allowed you to capture an image you would not have been able to get through conventional methods.
I was photographing spring wildflowers in a burned forest with black, burned, backlit tress in bright sun with white clouds in the sky. The dynamic range of the camera allowed me to hold detail throughout the scene. That would not have been possible with film.
8. Do you take photographs the "old fashioned way" anymore?
I rarely use film. It seems primitive and somewhat blind.
9. How has the technology changed from the first time you went digital to present day? What is the future of the technology, in your opinion--will we ever see everyday people toting digital cameras the way they carry around disposable today?
It's hard to imagine that digital won't replace film. The technology has grown from being a pale imitation of what film could produce five years ago to image making capabilities that out-resolve film in almost every way. It's an exciting time to be involved in photography.
10.How many years have you used digital?
I've been using digital imaging technology for nine years, since my first color Macintosh computer, digital cameras for about six years, and my present Dicomed digital camera for about three years.
11. What is the one indispensable piece of advice you always give to the students who take your digital photography classes?
Digital technology is no replacement for craft and a strong sense of design. I've seen more useless "art" since the advent if computer imaging.
12. If you had to teach an untrained eye how to interpret and best appreciate your photographs, what would you say?
I hope the images look like the world they know, not the world they've seen rendered by film. We've come to a place in time where our view of the world has been so influenced by what film portrays of reality that we start to think the world looks that way. It doesn't. Shadows aren't black and dark greens do really exist. The world is full of subtle pastels and gentle color. I hope people see that familiar world when they see my work.
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