From manual to fully automatic; we have come a long way since the photographic medium was invented. Yet, some of us believe that such technical achievements are not very important. The inevitable question is, then, what is important? Guy Tal expresses his thoughts
It was not too long ago that photographic expertise revolved around such things as metering, exposure, focus, and image development; a sharp well-exposed 4×6 print, for many, was the pinnacle of photographic achievement. Those who ventured beyond the recording of personal memories and into the realms of expressive imagery, let alone art, were few, and their work required extensive technical knowledge and years of practice to hone.
In contrast, capable camera systems, photo-editing software, and photographic desktop printers are within easy reach for many today. A rudimentary understanding of histograms can substitute for the complexity of metering and the Zone System; smart automatic focus now can out-pace most manual users in most situations; and many software packages reduce complex image processing to a few clicks of a mouse. Certainly, those who wish for greater control may still achieve it, but, for the most part, making sharp well-exposed images, and even high quality prints, is easier and faster today than ever before.
Photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson famously said that…