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Photography is a fantastic mean for the scientific documentation of experiments or
of conditions and situations. The special requirements of this photography depends
on the objective of the research. Consequently some of the established scientists
are great photographers too. On the basis of their expertness they know the special
needs a photograph have to provide. Vice versa they need to deal with the possibilities
of photography. For an arthistorian, educated in photography, it is much more easier
to shoot or to reproduce an old masterpiece of art, for example a classical roman
sculpture or a baroque church since he knows what is important. He dispenses photographic
effects but he can go further through interpetation by the means of photography.
In consequence the photographic image becomes a part of the the research. In the
age of PowerPoint presentations the image replace more and more the written word,
since it seems to be easier to understand a complex issue by pictures.
It is worth to remember, that the WorldWideWeb in the beginning was designed for
the scientific interchange and it was quite impossible to send big attachments like
graphics or photographs. Gone are the days of slowly data lines but after all the
printed book is still important. So every photograph has also to serve as a setting
copy for the print. At this point of view the technique becomes very important: For
a high resolution print you need a big digital camera file or a large negative or
slide to get all the information on the paper. The competition between analogous
photography with film versus digital photography has been won commercially by the
newer medium but if you compare the high quality of information on a 8“x10“ in. colorslide
with the data-files deriving from a HASSELBLAD H5D-60 you can still detect a quality
difference in favor of the film-material. But to get this quality one has to drive
big effort. You can twist and turn as you want the digital media are easier to handle.
If you think about archiving for long terms the situation is completly different.
The expenditure for keeping digital files up to date or just to read them out in
future ages seems to be very difficult and therefore of all famous documents of the
German history the BUNDESARCHIV keeps still a mircofiche on black/white film.
A border area of scientific photography is the documentation of the working process
of scientists during their researches and experiments. It is in someway people and
portrait photography, photojournalism and sillife photography all in one. To see
and to photograph the creation of a synthetic diamond in the blueish light of an
artificial plasma for example is breathtaking and to observe these explorers during
their work belongs to the big fascination of photography.