Archiving bits

Just last night I was wandering through the Art Gallery of NSW and commenting that during the early years of photography, we lost a lot of information when black and white photography became popular. I had that thought as I was looking at paintings from the 1800s in full colour that were very photo-realistic – and I think to the black and white photos that “lost” that colour information. We have a picture of those times that is coloured (pun intended) due to the lack of colour information in the archived format. Update 13-Nov-2006: that link seems broken – try this one instead.

While I was having this internal dialogue last night I was thinking about the archiving of digital images, particularly digital photographic images, and their suitability for archiving. I’ve read on numerous occasions the problems with archiving digital material – not only the media that is used to store the material, but also the formats used. I already have disks that can no longer be used due to lack of drives that support them. And I’m aware that some digital formats are rarely supported in todays graphic editors that were popular a few years back.

With all this in mind I was interested to see (via iStockphoto that Adobe have announced Digital Negative (DNG) that aims to standardise the different RAW digital photograph formats. Not only does it have implications in current working environments for digital photographers, but it also may mean that we have a fairly stable format for archiving purposes.