Evidence of Ewes Unseen

With thanks to Marianne Wiggins and Jamie Paul

Two images depicting the same scene – one done digitally in color, the other made with medium format film (2.25” x 2.25”) in black and white. The scene – pieces of sheep wool caught on a barbwire fence surrounding a pasture. The sheep use the fence as a scratching post. Both images are sharp with the wool and wire isolated against an out-of-focus background. Both pictures are about time, which is represented by the slight movement of the wool in the wind. Neither image reveals any noise – pixels in the case of the digital picture or grain in the film print. The questions for this photographer are: is the black and white image, because it’s made with the more labor-intensive, hands-on medium of film, more a photograph than the electronically produced color picture? Or are they simply different approaches to the same scene that contain the same photographic properties – an external reality, attention to detail, a concern with time, or the unique way photography frames its subjects?

For me, a photographer with forty years experience with film, who was never enamored with the darkroom experience, the difference matters little. The content of the picture has always been more important than how I get there.