Analog Equivalence

When I was studying photography in the 1970s, my instructor, Malcom Paterson introduced our class to the photographs of Alfred Stieglitz and his concept of Equivalence. The Equivalent photographs of clouds, produced c.1925-33, were ungrounded in time, scale, or location. They were also unusual for the time due to improvements in film technology that enabled dramatic photographs of clouds. A new technology, but a familiar canvas – clouds are among the first things we point to as children and imagine, even as adults to be more than clouds.

There is a transcription of Stieglitz speaking to a man viewing his Equivalents who insisted on knowing what the subject of the photograph was. Stieglitz’s final response seems at the point of exasperation as he says, “It happens to be a picture of the sky. But I cannot understand why that is of any importance.” Stieglitz’s Equivalents were meant to evoke rather than inform: the viewer has a response to an image as an equivalent of personal experience. While the concept may sound obvious today, viewers at the time were not used to abstractions in photographs and viewed images as vehicles for conveying information. In this exhibit, I am presenting equivalents in the Stieglitz tradition and digital equivalents to what is now referred to as analog (film) photography.

But… oh, such talk…. Fear not, dear viewer, for there are still to be found circus seals, leaping puppies and, maybe,  an icy hand reaching from beyond …


On a technical note, I wanted it to be apparent that the images were from a digital source. To pop the pixels up a bit I underexposed the images in the camera and then reconstituted them through levels and brightness/contrast functions. In addition, I used sharpening filters, as well as a high pass overlay.

Particular thanks to Greg Emslie for the tip on high pass overlay and to Tom Morris for the book Mount Analogue by René Daumal.


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Equivalent One

Equivalent Two

Equivalent Three

Equivalent Four

Equivalent Five

Equivalent Six

Equivalent Seven

Equivalent Eight

Equivalent Nine

Equivalent Ten

Equivalent Eleven

Equivalent Twelve

Equivalent Thirteen

Equivalent Fourteen

Equivalent Fifteen

Equivalent Sixteen

Equivalent Seventeen

Equivalent Eighteen

Equivalent Nineteen

Equivalent Twenty

Equivalent Twenty One

Equivalent Twenty Two

Equivalent Twenty Three

Equivalent Twenty Four

Equivalent Twenty Five

Equivalent Twenty Six

Equivalent Twenty Seven

Equivalent Twenty Eight

Equivalent Twenty Nine

Equivalent Thirty

Equivalent Thirty One

Equivalent Thirty Two

Equivalent Thirty Three

Equivalent Thirty Four

Equivalent Thirty Five

Equivalent Thirty Six

Equivalent Thirty Seven

Equivalent Thirty Eight

Equivalent Thirty Nine

Equivalent Forty

Equivalent Forty One

Equivalent Forty Two

Equivalent Forty Three

Equivalent Forty Four

Equivalent Forty Five

Equivalent Forty Six

Equivalent Forty Seven

Equivalent Forty Eight

Equivalent Forty Nine

Equivalent Fifty

Equivalent Fifty One

Equivalent Fifty Two

Equivalent Fifty Three

Equivalent Fifty Four

6 Responses

  1. Most impressive
    13 looks like it’s underwater
    14 looks like it’s on the street
    I’ll contemplate more …….
    ☁️ 🤍

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