I hate CDs.
When the compact disk first came out about 20 years ago, my neighbor - a German jazz fan (let me be clear - he was a German who was a fan of jazz. "German jazz" is a contradiction in terms, like "Japanese funk" or "Interesting Wendy Wilde show") who was ecstatic; the prospect of music being recorded, mastered and distributed digitally was a dream come true for this teutonic tone shark.
I listened to the first DDD CD - and was horrified. So cold. So harsh in its perfection. So...teutonic.
Part of it we can chalk up to an industry that hadn't yet learned the art of recording for the new medium. Recording is every bit as much an art as is writing and performing music; the art hadn't yet caught up with the technology.
And now that it has, I still can't stand the CD. Part of it is the fraud the industry perpetrated to foist them on us; they charge more for a product that costs much less to produce than vinyl or the execrable cassette, and the old assurances that CDs would never skip were baked wind from the word go.
No, it's that while the CD is very clear and has immense fidelity, it sounds cold and digital and teutonic in a way that vinyl never did.
There IS an upside, of course; as the technology matured, it brought high-quality recording technology down to a price that was unthinkable 20 years ago; I can do multi-track audio recording and editing on my laptop using freeware that, in the analog world, would have required a tape deck that either cost tens of thousands of dollars (for the deck alone, to say nothing of supporting equipment and a studio), or over $100/hour to rent - and with a degree of reliability that didn't exist 20 years ago.
But at the end of the day, the point is that CDs just. Don't. Sound. As. Good as vinyl.
So too now with photography.
Joe Kimball reports that Shutterbug, a Grand Avenue (Saint Paul) photography shop, is shutting down.
Shutterbug on Grand, an old-fashioned film-developing lab that has been an institution on Grand Avenue, closed Thursday, victim of a sea change in the way we take photos.Photogrpaphy runs in m family - my grandparents, Oscar and Bea Berg, ran a photography studio for probably 35 years, between them. They did it the old-fashioned way, of course; Grandma even hand-colored photographs, back in the day, still the only way to assure the permanence of your colors.
"Digital killed us, it killed the industry," said Shutterbug co-owner Debra LaFontaine. "People in America are addicted to new technology.
(Image from the "Grace By Edstrom site, from whom you should buy a copy of this classic photo right now)
End of digression.
The shop's owner says:
"I know how the livery station guy felt at the turn of the 20th century."No doubt.
Digital photography is in an awkward stage; it's certainly convenient (I hate taking film to the store), but the price point for technology that is truly near to equal in quality to analog photography is still very high. Reading Glenn Reynolds' paeons to "affordable" cameras that are over $1000 is particularly galling , when you can still get an excellent analog 35mm camera for under $200.
And even then, digital suffers from the same problem the CD did and does; it's a cold, digital technology. There was an art to putting light to film that can be aped in Photoshop, but not (to my knowledge) on the camera itself. My daughter - who seems to have inherited the photography gene - even notices it; she specifically wanted an analog camera rather than a digital. (Note to self: Good girl).
There may come a time when I learn to tolerate the foibles of digital photography. I'm sure it will happen. But it's been 20 years, and I'm stil not to that point with the CD yet.Posted by Mitch at April 1, 2005 07:15 AM | TrackBack