A question about future generations

Discussion in 'Product Availability' started by Photo Engineer, Jan 19, 2007.

  1. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Here is a fact. Even with the original equipment, no one has been able to reproduce Autochrome. No one! I have talked to several experts in the field and they all agree. And the reason is that too much of the operation was art that was kept secret (trade secrets if you will).

    That is the case today with ordinary film and paper products as I have pointed out in other threads.

    I see posts here regarding 'doom and gloom' and 'product availability' which elicit the response "How Much Do I Have To Stock Up On To See Me Through My Life Time" (caps for emphasis).

    This is a very very circumscribed view of the hobby, because by that statement those that make it are relegating future generations to digital if film vanishes and if we use up existing stocks.

    Now, film is not going to vanish for a few years yet, if ever, but like Autochromes it very well may unless we prepare for the future.

    This all goes back to a conversation I had last night on Chat with Jon. It seems as if we talk a lot, and most of the action centers around hoarding. I am throwing this out in the Product Availability forum for general comment to see what can be done to change this attitude.

    As responsible APUG members we should look to future generations as well as ourselves. Pay Forward, I believe it is called. What say you? How can we take actions today to assure that film is available to generations beyond ours. You know I am doing something, but what can we do as a responsible group?

    PE
     
  2. Shinnya

    Shinnya Advertiser

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    Ron,

    What can we do? Or even what can I do? That has been always my question!

    Any insight? I mean seriously.

    Tsuyoshi
     
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  3. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi Ron,

    I very much value your experience and insights, I'm very greatful that you are a contributor to this board.

    In the poll I posted regarding Forte Polywarmtone, and if to hoard a supply, or find a replacement, 85% of the respondents chose to use a new product with an in business company, rather than hoard.
    That is the number one thing we can do- keep consuming products, and keep teaching and helping the younger photographers over the hump, leaving the magic bullet d* mentality to become thoughtful producers of consistently excellent work.

    Its my opinion that the demise of Agfa, and now Forte, while tragic, helps to consolidate what market there is among the remaining players.

    It would be very cool if some of the defuct operations saw fit to disclose some information to the other players, or public at large, for instance I would love for Ilford to produce some "old fashioned" products like polywarmtone, with Ilford QC- I won't hold my breath on them getting the information though.
     
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  4. Jerevan

    Jerevan Subscriber

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    Right out of my head, so take it for what it is:

    1. Use APUG as a repository for ways to make the different processes available, in their technical and artistical aspects.
    2. Open source and if possible reverse-engineer needed things.
    3. Gather more information, and use that as a base to maintain or improve the analog. Especially when it comes to practical "how did you do that" this is vitally important. As with the Autochrome, there are many things we take for granted in our ways of handling film.

    By discussing (sometimes endlessly) different approaches, we keep the knowledge alive. But I also believe one should ask oneself: how much time, money and tinkering can I spend on the things I am interested in? I am prepared to go back to wetplate stuff. I think there are quite a lot of people who rather would get out of it alltogether, if it came to that point.

    The real problem is that digital is wiping out the whole analog ecosystem, and I mean just about everything, from cameras, filmholders, film types, storage solutions and a huge amount of things one really don't think about until you talk to some foppish salesperson who declares the things you want dead, gone and not even worth looking for. We need to save this ecosystem, or else make a new one, with the knowledge and user base that we have today.
     
  5. Rolleiflexible

    Rolleiflexible Restricted Access

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    Get Bill Gates (or at least the director of his charity) interested in B+W photography?
     
  6. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    These are all useful insights that we should take under consideration.

    BTW, I'm not looking for kudos, I'm looking for answers that do not try to make engineers and chemists out of us.

    I would like to point out that even wetplate takes some 'engineering' and yet with the amount in the work I do, Denise Ross is able to not only make emulsions, but 'engineer' new variations to suit her tastes.

    So, something can be done by taking a number of routes. I want to try to uncover and document and implement as many as possible.

    Sean, you there yet? Well, its 7am in NZ. I should give him a bit to chime in with his 0.02 NZ.

    PE
     
  7. Jerevan

    Jerevan Subscriber

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    Another idea is to try to make emulsions available (film and paper) mixed-up in bottles, like the liquid emulsions that already exist, but also try to make available some kind of support for the film emulsion. To have a stable, well-working emulsion together with this film base would probably enable a lot more people to continue working, than if we had to go back to wetplate. To be honest, I really think that if there is a will, there is a way to get something viable and useable working.
     
  8. reellis67

    reellis67 Subscriber

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    It seems counter-productive to long term availability of any given product to create large hoards until it is resonably certain that the supply will no longer be available, and even then, as J stated, this will still impact the existing producers of similar products. Bulk purchases for hoarding create a surge in demand followed by a long dearth of demand. When dealing with a supplier that may be working on a narrow margin of profitability, this drop in demand could push them over the edge and precipitate a premature demise of their product. It would seem to me that to better ensure the viability of a product in the long term we should buy what we need on a regular basis, therby creating a more even demand. This would, at least in theory, do two things; 1) Allow for a better estimate of demand, and 2) Because demand is more even, materials and equipment could be managed in a more cost efficient manner by the producer. Obviously this would only work if it were the general trend rather than just a couple of people going against the grain, but you asked what we thought. Hell, I don't know that much about marketing, so I could be totaly off base here, but it makes sense to me.

    - Randy
     
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  9. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Hi Ron

    Strange you mention Autochromes, back in the mid to late 70's when I was beginning to manufacturing B&W emulsions I had a lot of contact with a photographer/consultant who's mother came from the Lumiere family.

    There's something unique about the Autochrome process and the few print I've seen made from Autochrome plates are amazing in the colour reproduction, more natural than anything since.

    Ian
     
  10. arigram

    arigram Member

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    We just need to organise a huge conferance where the youth of today is hand picked to select the most intelligent, athletic and sexually vigorous of them, then impregnate them with the doctrines of analog photography through the use of good ol' propaganda and brain washing.
     
  11. DougGrosjean

    DougGrosjean Member

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    I like that plan, and would volunteer to help, but my g/f would not be happy with it.

    Being serious, I always figured home-coated glass plates and 8x10 or 4x5 would be my fallback position, and that film would transistion into a hobby like oil painting is now, ie, ready-made chemistry instead of people mixing stuff from scratch.
     
  12. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    I do not hoard film at this point. Divided over three locations and two formats I have about three "bricks" worth. All of it current dated.

    While I'm not to confident about the future for film - I don't think it's time for a "bunker mentality" yet.
     
  13. PHOTOTONE

    PHOTOTONE Member

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    I think that schools should be encouraged to keep teaching analog photography, as a basis for the art, rather than jumping directly into digital, and they should not bow to pressure to start with digital. I think it would be well agreed here that if you know analog photographic methods, then the transition to (or addition) of digital techniques are easier to master. If you only know digital, then it is a steeper learning curve to embrace analog.

    The problem is that the camera retailers make more profit from digital cameras, because even with the same markup as analog, in general consumer digital cameras sell for more than their analog counterparts, and thus a higher dollar amount of profit, as well as all the large vendors of cameras are truly only pushing their digital products. From the vendors standpoint, they can sell a new camera to the same consumer every few years with digital, as new models obsolete older models, whereas with analog, the "need to upgrade" was far less, resulting in far fewer units sold.

    For analog to survive, it has to have a public awareness that can only come from teaching, with support from the industry.
     
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  15. PHOTOTONE

    PHOTOTONE Member

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    The "art world" of painting and drawing has not diminished in size, just because there are other ways of creating an image. Just a statement for pondering.
     
  16. PHOTOTONE

    PHOTOTONE Member

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    Photographic supplies and equipment production are a "profit" oriented business. Art Supplies are a "profit" oriented business. If analog photographic materials can make the volume of profit to sustain them, then analog photography will survive. Unfortunately I know of no manufacturer that makes goods as a charity, nor can I think of one single government body that would underwrite the analog photographic industry as a charitable support for the "art".
     
  17. Photo Engineer

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    Making a paint or buying canvas and stretching it for an oil painting is far easier than making an emulsion and coating it in the darkroom. But you don't have to be an engineer to do either.

    The big difference is that there are a lot of sources for learning how to make the paints and stretching the canvas, but few on making and coating gelatin. In fact, Silver Gelatin is out of print and it was the only relatively current book on the subject that I know about. That delineates the current level of interest to some extent here.

    PE
     
  18. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Not according to any retailer I've spoken too. High cost of stock; rapid depreciation of stock (as a result of new models); very low mark-ups...

    None of it adds up to the sort of revenue (NOT profit) which even allows you to pay a half-sensible wage to half-competent staff.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  19. haris

    haris Guest

    Well, I would collect children in puberty/teenage years. Then will start to tell them how digital is great. And in schools teachers to start telling same thing. And then I would hope that normal teenage rebelion against parents/teachers/authority would do the job... :smile:

    Now, seriously, I have meet lots of young people who find photography, especially b/w prints very interesting, arty, sexy. And some of them would like to practice photography as hobby. But, when I try to "push" them forward, they say despite all that they would use digital imaging. They won't mess with chemicals, and they think digital is cheaper, that is afordable to them. So, I don't know if there is any hope. Especially here, here we can't buy almost anything in shop. Everything must be ordered from abroad, and that is for those youngsters too complicated, not "cool", expencive. And they feel they are not trendy, imagine 15years old with Yahshica MAT in group of friends which have digicams with all theire lights, sounds and stuff... And when that digimaker make photo of girl he like and print to her that photo in pocket size printer in few seconds, that other poor kid tells her: sorry I must first develop film, make print, wait a day or two... Who do you think will have more sucsess with girls :smile: (same for girls photographers)

    On the other hand this Yashica kid can invite her into his darkroom... :smile:

    Seriously, I do what I can, that is try to promote photography as much as I can, trying to explain why I think it is worth of preservation and why I prefer it over digital imaging. That is all I can to do... No, I lie! I should try with NGO to make some course of photography, not only how, but why photography and not digital imaging...
     
  20. DougGrosjean

    DougGrosjean Member

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    Then perhaps the answer is that photo classes include creating emulsions.

    Or that more people who can create emulsions, teach how for a price.

    Spread that emulsion knowledge around, get people tinkering, creating people who are "skilled in the art" as the patent guys say, so that the demise of film at the retail level isn't the demise of emulsions from the home workshop.
     
  21. jgjbowen

    jgjbowen Member

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    I'm not a painter, so I could be wrong, but painting supplies aren't perishable while film and paper are perishable. That means that paint manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers don't have to toss out dated paint, brushes, canvas etc. while the same can't be said for the photography supply chain.

    Personally, every time I finish shooting a box of 4x5 or 8x10 film I buy two boxes. I guess you would call that hording, but I see it as a way to SLOWLY build up a supply of the products I use without breaking the bank.

    I've also tried to teach B&W photography to my two teenagers. They took a summer workshop a few years ago that exposed them to photography, developing film and making their own RC prints. Once the workshop was over the kids showed very little interest....that was probably 3 years ago. My son took a photography course in high school last spring and when he finished the course, I purchased he and his sister nikon 35mm cameras and we took a photography trip to Shenandoah National Park for 3 days after school let out for summer break. Once those images were developed and printed my son put his camera on the shelf and hasn't picked it up sense. We also made a stop at a museum to see an Ansel exhibit last summer. We were on a trip anyhow, so the stop only added 2 hours to our day. My son and his sister would much rather take a photo with their phones!!!!

    I'm open to suggestions on how to motivate kids to do B&W photography. I think the thing to do is to expose them to the processes and then just hope they pick it up. If we force them, then they will never develop a love for the medium.
     
  22. Photo Engineer

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    Haris has an interesting point. Young people don't like to work with chemicals. In fact, chemistry is in steep decline in this country right now as a course taught at the college and HS level.

    Also, many large Colleges and Universities have ceased teaching conventional photography. Among them is RIT.

    PE
     
  23. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    Well, I've started by learning to make albumen prints, and I've been following what Ron has been doing and getting myself set up so I can eventually work with gelatin emulsions and maybe try making some silver gelatin plates. For gelatin silver to happen, I think I'll need a more practical space than the dark/bathroom, though I've managed to get pretty far even within its limitations.

    I think the thing I can do is to produce work and show it to people so a few of them might ask how they can do it too.
     
  24. DougGrosjean

    DougGrosjean Member

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    Auto-everything digital is seductive, because the buyers figure that they don't have to know anything to make it all work. "Look, dad! I'm as good as you, and it's only my second shot!"

    I seem to have the good fortune to keep bumping into young people (high school age and up a bit) who are fascinated with silver-based photography. I've encouraged them by loaning them books, talking with them, selling one a Ciro-Flex TLR at an affordable price, and giving another one yet another Ciro-Flex I had. Film's only about as dead among the young as it is among the mature. Some it thrills, most it doesn't.

    A related question for PE - if you had to make film using off-the-shelf products, ie, cutting strips of plastic and coating them with emulsion... what film sizes are most amenable to home cooking? I'm guessing that sprocket holes on 35mm make it difficult to brew at home, plus the small negative. But what about 120? Could a person save some of thp paper backings from 120 film, and spool their own homemade film onto it instead? Or is easier to put emulsions on the stiffer 4x5? 8x10?
     
  25. haris

    haris Guest

    Some people just aren't interested in photography...

    I remember I started to think photography is interesting when as young boy wached that film in which James Woods acting like war photographer in Salvador or like. There were adventures, political involving, playing "cool", get a girl... So learn what values your children have, and show them how photography can be good in there values. For example if your children like adventure show them about street photography or war photography, or wild life photography and how photography can be adventure too. If they like easy life, then landscape, portraits, still life... Not force anything, just graduately introduce photography in theire interests and life values...

    And how they will be proud to make something (photo/print) and will know something theire friends don't know, that is something which will make them unique, special among theire friends...
     
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  26. Photo Engineer

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    Doug, you have it right, sheet films and maybe at a stretch 120. Plates are much easier.

    Speeds will probably be in the 3 - 50 range.

    PE