Do you sometimes fight against the expected to achieve your own style?

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Sean, Nov 25, 2006.

  1. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member Admin

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    I did some printing today and for a while felt like I was trying to achieve results that are following a set of rules. After making a few prints that were within the boundaries of a "fine print" I just didn't like the result, it felt as if I were trying to convey someone else's emotions other than my own by forcing myself to stick to the expected techniques of fine printing. Shortly after this I began altering the prints until "I" liked them and was happy with the result. In my one example I started with adequate detail in the shadows up to the highlights. In the end I gave up the shadows and increased contrast to alter the feel of the image by making it more broody and edgy. I was wondering if anyone else wrestles with these issues and their printing. I'll post my example in the morning when it's dry.

    Sean
     
  2. roteague

    roteague Member

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    Good thoughts Sean. Sometimes, it takes years to learn what our individual style really is. Listen to what others suggest, but in the end, realize it is all about your own vision, and no one else's. Best of luck.
     
  3. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    A teacher once told me to quit worrying about what a photo should be and make it the way you feel it should be. Is that what you mean? It can be a struggle, especially when viewing so many photographs of others.
     
  4. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    We are each bound to be influenced by the work of others, and can easily end up feeling forced into an uncomfortable rut. Some have the confidence to breakout and find their own direction, others continue to use old tripod holes; we each have a choice.
     
  5. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member Admin

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    It's probably due to me now shooting 8x10 and feeling I should be doing it a certain way. I'm now re-evaluating my goals and what I'm after on this new journey..
     
  6. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Sean- what others have said - you need to make the image be what IT wants/needs to be, not some preconceived notion of what some rule says it should be. Sometimes a perceived "flaw" in a negative turns out to be just the ticket to pushing your work in a creative direction, and lets you exploit the "flaw" for a more creative and expressive result. Same with prints. I have an image that when I printed it "best", it looked to light, and cheery. It needed to be printed down, to give it a sense of impending gloom, and then it made perfect sense in the series of images I was making.
     
  7. eddym

    eddym Member

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    Yes, sometimes we get so involved in meeting all the technical requirements of a fine print that we end up making a picture that speaks eloquently, but says absolutely nothing.
    Hmmm... sounds like some politicians I know of... :wink:
     
  8. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Always go with your gut! If it doesn't feel quite right to you, it will NEVER feel right. Even if it is technically and aesthetically fine. Everytime you look at it, it will bother you!

    Looking forward to seeing your photograph, Sean.
     
  9. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    (With apologies for extensive clipping)

    I don't "wrestle" with the rules any more. I'm sure they have some effect from somewhere within "me", but I print to where *I* am satisfied with the result (sort of - something like that - can easily be confused with the realization that it is time to stop and move on).

    My "best" work - and this is an evaluation made by others over time - is invariably the work that I have done that I like most.
     
  10. wfe

    wfe Member

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    I think one of the best things here is that Sean is back in the darkroom.

    I can only echo what the others have said. I try not to think about any rules when printing and just let it flow. Yeah there are times when I have a specific goal in mind but many times in trying to achieve it some happy accident happens and I end up with something different that I like. Ithink the important thing is to continue to do "your" work and print then print some more and then print some more.....

    Cheers,
    Bill
     
  11. ilya1963

    ilya1963 Member

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  12. John Bartley

    John Bartley Member

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    No.

    There are no rules - only guidelines to help you get started and advice from others and the experience of others so that you can achieve what you want.

    Ask yourself this : who am I printing for ......... ?

    ..... and then print for that person.
     
  13. rst

    rst Member

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    Sean,

    I was in the very same situation when I did the prints for the last print exchange. I did a print with open shadows, trying to hold all those shadow detail. Then I realized that I do not like it that way, it just was not it. So I decided to print much darker and hurray, when I look at the print I just feel like being back at that place. So I think John put the only rule to follow when printing in the right words:

    Regards
    -- Ruediger
     
  14. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    Be yourself. Make prints that make YOU happy.
     
  15. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I don't wrestle at all.

    I simply ignore all the basic rules, and go for a print that I like. If it ends up with blown-out highlights and impenetrable shadow areas, then that's just the way that picture wanted to be printed. Unless my wife disagrees - then it's back to square one. :rolleyes:
     
  16. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    The only thing I can add that hasn't been said yet is this: remember, many "critics" compare your work to someone else's vision too, usually one of the acknowledged greats. Then they belittle you for not seeing like Weston or whoever's vision they think they have assimilated as their own.
     
  17. catem

    catem Member

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    Some of the best advice I remember getting, from a skilled fine printer, was never to be afraid of letting shadows or parts of the photograph go to complete black, if that's what you wanted.

    Once you feel you've got a handle on how to fulfill all those 'rules' about tonal range (which in fact are not as widespread as we are sometimes led to believe, and not at odds with what I know as 'fine printing'), then you feel more confident about disregarding them. On the other hand, some people are able to do what they want from the beginning...

    Cate
     
  18. kb244

    kb244 Member

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    Its like when you have a particular picture going for a particular look. If you did it every time the way it "should be" (ie: people telling you, oops you lost the shadow details, oops you blew the highlights, oops too high on contrast), then you'd get pretty boring shots after a while if you had to make them 'technically' correct each time.
     
  19. Bruce Osgood

    Bruce Osgood Membership Council Council

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    I'm a firm believer in knowing the rules before trying to break them. You can't print a negative without developer, simple. But your choice of developer depends on your knowing what a developer does, in terms of science. To know your tools is to work your art. There have been and will continue to be great photographs made using D-76 and Dektol. Once you've exhausted D-76 and Dektol and reached the point where you recognize something is missing, you can then think maybe more Kbr or Glycin or Hydroquione or Pyro OR, maybe less?

    This also applies to paper in the easel. Before you can decide whether to expose for the highlights and dodge the shadows or expose for local contrast and burn/dodge accordingly you must go back to your original visualization.

    And when you know the rules then you can go off in your own private and personal world of making pictures that speak in a universal language.

    Les McLean refers to the Expressive Print. To achieve expression in a print you must know: A) What it is you want to express, and , B) Will the materials you choose be able to deliver it.

    You wouldn't expect a harsh developer to deliver a soft print.... or would you?
     
  20. Daniel_OB

    Daniel_OB Member

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    Sean
    "I did some printing today and for a while felt like I was trying to achieve results that are following a set of rules."
    This is an academic or analitical approach to the artistical problem. Many tryed but bad artists never "made it" using roles. However good guys broke all roles and produced work of art.

    "After making a few prints that were within the boundaries of a "fine print" I just didn't like the result,..."
    That is good news, and it is how it works. Just go on in the same way.
    www.Leica-R.com
     
  21. Tony Egan

    Tony Egan Subscriber

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    My struggle is more to do with subject matter and composition rather than printing. A "fine print" artifact of a cliched subject will still be a cliched subject after turning the contrast dial to 11.

    I often reflect on something attributed to Miles Davis. Someone once asked him why he didn't play more ballads. His response was I don't play ballads because I love playing ballads so much! He was pushing himself not to fall into familiar patterns and stay out of a particular comfort zone - as brilliant and appealing as it may have been to others.