Monday, December 17, 2007

36 Exposures & The DP3 Project

Two little bits of news that caught my eye - one about using film and one about digital permanence

Having been one myself in the past, it was interesting to have a brief chat this morning with a young photojournalist who was on assignment. He had the usual array of digital Canon D something or others - all very efficient for the job at hand and, I noticed, taking many more pictures for the job at hand than I would probably have taken on film - but he also mentioned that his girlfriend had bought him a Canon AE1 recently and was buying him a new lens this Christmas and he was going to go out and shoot some film.

So when I got an email from Andy Adams at
Flak Photo (a good site btw) about a joint project called 36 Exposures Challenge it was a nice bit of serendipity:

These days, we love our digital cameras. They give us the freedom to explore photography as never before. We get instant feedback on our photographic experiments and find out what works and what doesn't; we can easily manipulate the results and correct our blunders; and to ensure we don't miss a shot, we shoot all the pictures our memory cards will hold. When we are done, we pack our hard drives with gigabytes of images and flood the web with our work. But this ease of use and surfeit of images comes with a price.

In the analog era, when we had to pay to see what we shot, we were more careful when we took photographs. This forced a discipline that is hard to imagine today. In the words of Stephen Shore, "[Today] there seems to be a greater freedom and lack of one considers one's pictures less, one produces fewer truly considered pictures."

This is where our 36 Exposures Challenge -- brought to you by FILE and our friends at Coudal Partners and Flak Photo -- comes in. In it, we are asking you to use a film camera to explore Shore's concept of "conscious intentionality." Broadly speaking, we are challenging you to do two things: articulate a concept, project, or theme and then use a film camera to photograph the images to accompany it. There are, then, two parts: creating the idea and then acting on it. Sound interesting? Well, there is a catch (or two), and if you are interested, here are the rules.

All in all, it sounds like it could be an interesting and fun little challenge and - if you have the time and a film camera - could be well worth trying, not for the prizes, which are pretty modest, but just for taking part and seeing what comes out of it.

Now, by contrast, a news release came out of the Image Permanence Institute in Rochester about the formation of the DP3 Project which has just received close to 1 Million dollars in funding to get things rolling. The IPI is one of the leading research institutes studying conservation and permanence of photographic materials, especially for museums and archives.

DP3 or the Digital Print Preservation Portal will examine the preservation of digital prints and is a research and development project which will provide libraries, archives, and individual scholars with information regarding the permanence and care of prints created using modern digital output technologies, providing information and tools to aid in identifying digital prints and in understanding their chemical and physical nature; recommendations for storage, display, and handling; and guidance in assessing the risk of flood damage.

Which is good news for two reasons. First, this is a sign of how much various forms of digitally produced prints are entering museums, archives and libraries. Secondly, the IPI in this venture is essentially an independent body who will be making their research and advice available to anyone who needs it and helping set standards for digital print preservation.

And finally, I must say the pictures those tin film cans left me with a little feeling of nostalgia, although the ones I remember from processing film in our kitchen as a teenager were Agfa...

(Pigment Inkjet Print - cross section - IPI)

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