HomeIDEYA: Journal of Humanitiesvol. 2 no. 2 (2001)

On Digital Photography: From the Darkroom to the Lightroom

Emmanuel A. Reyes

Discipline: Literature, Humanities



On the subject of digital photography, there are three points that I would like to raise. First, digital photography should be treated as a distinct art form, i.e., distinct from traditional still photography.

Second, digital photography should have its own aesthetics or creative guidelines quite distinct from traditional still photography. Such aesthetics should take into account the numerous possibilities offered by a computer software like Photoshop that features unique creative tools that go well beyond traditional basic darkroom manipulation techniques of darkening or lightening a print. For purposes of this paper, Photoshop, which is widely acknowledged as the industry standard in digital image making, will be referred to as the primary tool in creating digital images.

Third, on the subject of truth, has truth been severely compromised by the nature of digital photography that allows for endless manipulation of an original image? The answer is yes. But let me quickly add that truth has always been compromised by photography because the question of reality has always been problematic in terms of photography as a representing medium (e.g. the need to impose a rectangular or square frame on the world, the rendering of the world in black and white). Moreover the technical limits of available image recording material have largely influenced our perception of what recorded truth should look like. I shall explain this at length in the latter part of this paper.