Grandpa, what did it mean to “take a picture”?

Among the most convincing “What will 2009 be remembered for?” ideas I’ve seen is Jason Kottke’s notion that this is the year we heard the death knell of traditional still photography. Esquire magazine broke new ground in May by capturing a high-definition cover image of Megan Fox without using a still camera at all: instead of having her cavort en maillot while a photographer activated a motor drive a couple thousand times, they shot the whole sequence with a high-definition video camera and selected the most appealing compositions from the resulting footage. When you imagine the editing process, you realize that there’s no clear qualitative distinction between taking two frames a second and taking 24. We’ve stepped forward into a world where “video” is capable of image quality as good as “still photography” was just a few years ago—allowing photographers to capture the crucial moment at leisure, after the shoot, instead of with their fingers in real time.