Digital Photography

Digital Photography

Eric T. Meyer (University of Oxford, UK)
Copyright: © 2008 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-863-5.ch056
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Abstract

Digital photography is a relatively new topic for scholarly study in the area of computer mediated communication. Photographic technologies were only first computerized in the 1990s, but have rapidly supplanted older film technologies for a majority of professional uses. Digital photography has not simply substituted silicon chips for film, however, but has brought about rapid changes throughout the photographic process as photography entered the realm of information technology. This chapter presents a typology for approaching the study of photography as a form of computer mediated communication, and then presents several examples illustrating the consequences digital photography has for amateurs and professionals. Examples include photojournalism, scientific photography, photography in the legal system, and personal photography. The chapter ends with a call for additional research into the social aspects of this ubiquitous form of computer mediated communication.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Digital Photography: In addition to electronic cameras, digital photography has come to refer to the entire computing package of hardware and software used by practitioners. Included are digital cameras which record images using electronic sensors and save these images as binary data, generally on solid-state memory cards. Software is then used to transfer these images from the camera to a computer, where the same software or other software can be used to store, catalog, alter, crop, retouch, and print images. A number of online Web sites also support uploading photographs to share with friends, family and the general public.

Digital Photography: In addition to electronic cameras, digital photography has come to refer to the entire computing package of hardware and software used by practitioners. Included are digital cameras which record images using electronic sensors and save these images as binary data, generally on solid-state memory cards. Software is then used to transfer these images from the camera to a computer, where the same software or other software can be used to store, catalog, alter, crop, retouch, and print images. A number of online Web sites also support uploading photographs to share with friends, family and the general public.

Daguerreotype: The daguerreotype was the first publicly available photographic technology. The method for creating the daguerreotype was described at a scholarly meeting in Paris in 1839 and published in a pamphlet in the same year by Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre. While Daguerre relied on discoveries by earlier inventors for elements of his innovation, the publication of the relatively simple process for making images on silver iodide treated copper sheets and fixing the images with mercury fumes, table salt, and water ignited worldwide interest and fueled developments on a number of alternate processes (Marien, 2006).

Photoblogs: Photoblogs are an extension of blogs (short for Web logs). Blogs are a form of journal on the Internet where short posts, often with links to articles on other blogs or Web sites, are posted in reverse chronological order, with the newest posts on top. Photoblogs extend this notion by being primarily focused on posting photographs rather than text comments. Many hobbyist and semiprofessional photobloggers use their photoblogs as a way to inspire themselves to regularly generate new content and to distribute their photographs to others. Photoblogs are a subset of more general photo sharing sites that allow digital images to uploaded and shared with others.

Pervasive Computing: Also called ubiquitous computing, pervasive computing refers to efforts to allow computers to disappear into the everyday environment by becoming ever-present and allowing natural interaction from users. The notion is that once computers become sufficiently integrated in the environment, users no longer “use a computer” but simply perform a task that happens to draw on computing power to accomplish the task. Cameraphones are sometimes seen as a step toward “smart” phones becoming successful pervasive computing devices that allow users to communicate via audio, video, still images, e-mail, and the Internet without having to stop and deal with issues such as connectivity and technical issues.

Web 2.0 and Social Networking: The term Web 2.0 was coined in 2004 to refer to the newly emergent Web sites that relied on the power of user contributions to generate content and build social network connections between individuals and groups. Instead of static Web sites that individuals merely surf around and consume, Web 2.0 applications enable active contributions by users. Examples of Web 2.0 applications are Wikipedia, blogs, MySpace, photoblogs, and photo sharing sites. Many of these also rely on folksonomies, which are user generated tags as a means of categorizing content. In folksonomies, the tags are not limited to a list determined by developers, but emerge from the descriptions attached to items by users. The photo sharing site Flickr, for instance, allows users to tag their own photographs to indicate their content, and then to search or link to other photographs with similar tags.

Social Informatics: Social informatics is an interdisciplinary research area associated primarily with information science researchers. Drawing on theories and methods from sociology, computer science, information science, business, and a variety of other social science fields, social informatics seeks to understand the complex nature of the relationships between people and the technologies they use. Social informatics differs from human-computer interaction in the following way: while HCI is interested in the interaction between people and computers at the individual interface level, social informatics studies the interaction between people and technologies at an organizational and societal level. Kling (1999) is considered the founder of social informatics in the United States. More information about this approach can be found in Kling, Rosenbaum, and Sawyer (2005).

Pervasive Computing: Also called ubiquitous computing, pervasive computing refers to efforts to allow computers to disappear into the everyday environment by becoming ever-present and allowing natural interaction from users. The notion is that once computers become sufficiently integrated in the environment, users no longer “use a computer” but simply perform a task that happens to draw on computing power to accomplish the task. Cameraphones are sometimes seen as a step toward “smart” phones becoming successful pervasive computing devices that allow users to communicate via audio, video, still images, e-mail, and the Internet without having to stop and deal with issues such as connectivity and technical issues.

Photoblogs: Photoblogs are an extension of blogs (short for Web logs). Blogs are a form of journal on the Internet where short posts, often with links to articles on other blogs or Web sites, are posted in reverse chronological order, with the newest posts on top. Photoblogs extend this notion by being primarily focused on posting photographs rather than text comments. Many hobbyist and semiprofessional photobloggers use their photoblogs as a way to inspire themselves to regularly generate new content and to distribute their photographs to others. Photoblogs are a subset of more general photo sharing sites that allow digital images to uploaded and shared with others.

Web 2.0 and Social Networking: The term Web 2.0 was coined in 2004 to refer to the newly emergent Web sites that relied on the power of user contributions to generate content and build social network connections between individuals and groups. Instead of static Web sites that individuals merely surf around and consume, Web 2.0 applications enable active contributions by users. Examples of Web 2.0 applications are Wikipedia, blogs, MySpace, photoblogs, and photo sharing sites. Many of these also rely on folksonomies, which are user generated tags as a means of categorizing content. In folksonomies, the tags are not limited to a list determined by developers, but emerge from the descriptions attached to items by users. The photo sharing site Flickr, for instance, allows users to tag their own photographs to indicate their content, and then to search or link to other photographs with similar tags.

Social Informatics: Social informatics is an interdisciplinary research area associated primarily with information science researchers. Drawing on theories and methods from sociology, computer science, information science, business, and a variety of other social science fields, social informatics seeks to understand the complex nature of the relationships between people and the technologies they use. Social informatics differs from human-computer interaction in the following way: while HCI is interested in the interaction between people and computers at the individual interface level, social informatics studies the interaction between people and technologies at an organizational and societal level. Kling (1999) is considered the founder of social informatics in the United States. More information about this approach can be found in Kling, Rosenbaum, and Sawyer (2005).

Daguerreotype: The daguerreotype was the first publicly available photographic technology. The method for creating the daguerreotype was described at a scholarly meeting in Paris in 1839 and published in a pamphlet in the same year by Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre. While Daguerre relied on discoveries by earlier inventors for elements of his innovation, the publication of the relatively simple process for making images on silver iodide treated copper sheets and fixing the images with mercury fumes, table salt, and water ignited worldwide interest and fueled developments on a number of alternate processes (Marien, 2006).

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