Fine printing workshops

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by f/stopblues, Nov 18, 2011.

  1. f/stopblues

    f/stopblues Member

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    Hello! There is so much "white noise" out there regarding workshops via advertisements, etc that it's hard to know which ones are worthwhile. For a long time I had in the back of my mind that I'd eventually go to a printing workshop with Per Volquartz, but sadly I missed my opportunity.

    I'm at a frustrating plateau in my printing skills where I can't quite get that expressive print that I know is in there. It's that extra little bit that takes it from a record of what I saw up to an expression of what I felt. I nail it sometimes, but it's usually by accident.

    So, is there a good workshop that can help me in this area? Anywhere in the continental U.S. would be just fine.

    Thanks for your help, as always!

    Chris
     
  2. Michael R 1974

    Michael R 1974 Subscriber

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    The Expressive Print with John Sexton. He also offers a follow-up workshop "Fine Tuning The Expressive Print" for people who have taken the first one. The other workshop that was truly awesome was when George Tice taught at the Maine workshops. That was very hands-on (which the Sexton workshop is not) and a lot of work but sadly doesn't exist anymore.
     
  3. jglass

    jglass Subscriber

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    When you say the Sexton workshop is not "hands-on" what do you mean?
     
  4. Michael R 1974

    Michael R 1974 Subscriber

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    I just mean you will not personally be printing in the workshop. You'll have to bring a portfolio of prints to present, and also bring the negatives since it can be very helpful for John to look at your actual negatives. The film development, darkroom, and printing skills are demonstrated by John in his darkroom (with assistance from his wife Anne Larsen, who works closely with John and is a fine photographer and printmaker herself). Anne also does some additional excellent demonstrations on spotting, finishing and mounting.

    It is an excellent workshop full of information, and John is very open about anything you are interested in asking. As a plus, since he worked closely with Ansel Adams, you'll get to hear some great stories, and see alot of interesting eye-openers like straight prints of Ansel's Moonrise.

    Back when I attended there was also an afternoon field trip to Point Lobos one day, where you could either do some photography on your own, or hang out with John while he demonstrated metering and view camera technique.
     
  5. alroldan12

    alroldan12 Member

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    Hi Chris. I've been meaning to attend Barnbaum's "complete process" and "master printing class" for a long time, but unfortunately they are out of my meager budget. I had the chance to take one of his workshops here on the east coast, and I can say that not only he is a great teacher, but also one the finest printers I know, and a great guy too. His photographs just glow. Here is the link to his site http://barnbaum.com/barnbaum/Workshops.html. I have to make it a new year's resolution to take one of these two workshops in 2012. Good luck!



    Axel
     
  6. Michael R 1974

    Michael R 1974 Subscriber

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    I haven't taken a Barnbaum workshop, but based on everything I've read of his, I REALLY don't like his approach.
     
  7. 36cm2

    36cm2 Member

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    Barnbaum's prints are amazing in person. His teaching skills are also excellent. I discussed his printing workshop with him while attending his Death Valley photo workshop. They sound very hands-on, although he was doing less of them in light of decreased demand at the time (2009). He will schedule one on one sessions if you prefer. Either way, I have no doubt it would be a fine investment. If life hadn't gotten so busy recently, I'd be going this year myself. No doubt there are other great workshops, but don't underestimate Barnbaum.

    B.t.w., does Bob Carnie do workshops? He sounds like a great resource as well.

    Leo
     
  8. alroldan12

    alroldan12 Member

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    Right. You have to find a photographer whose work you admire, and then maybe you'll have the chance to take a workshop if this photographer actually teaches. I also like the work of Roman Loranc, but as far as I know he doesn't do workshops. Again, I took a workshop with Barnbaum, also read his handbook, and being in a similar situation as yours (I don't know your actual printing skills), I learned a great deal from Bruce.

    Regards,

    Axel
     
  9. f/stopblues

    f/stopblues Member

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    Thanks to everyone for the replies! I'll be looking into all your suggestions. I think I lean towards the idea of a hands-on workshop, although it hadn't really occured to me it would be done another way. If classroom style covers my needs, I'd certainly consider it.

    Have a good weekend!
    Chris
     
  10. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    I took a Barnbaum workshop at Photographers' Formulary a number of years ago. It was very hands on, and it combined both printing and analysis of prints. I came away thinking I hadn't learned much (although I had a lot of fun), but a few years later I realized that I had learned a great deal. He also conducts more intensive workshops at his place in Washington. I can certainly recommend him.
     
  11. M. Lointain

    M. Lointain Member

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    Printing skill is something that accumulates over your lifetime. I would suggest you talk to as many people as you can, read as many books as you can, do as many experiments as you can..... See if there are any good printers around you that you could watch and talk to as they print. If you can't figure out why your prints don't look as good as you want you will need to find someone who can listen to you and explain what is going wrong from your perspective. The "this is the way I do it so you should be doing it this way too" doesn't cut the mustard for improving your images. Everyone has their own little problems. One thing to keep in mind too is that there are many ways to skin a cat. If you look at many different great printers you will see that they all have their own little quirks that end up defining them. You need to find your own quirks and do what appeals to you.

    Frankly for the cost of a workshop you are better off buying a ton of paper and locking yourself in the darkroom for a month, maybe even with only one neg.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 19, 2011
  12. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    IMHO, in order to get to the point of "fine art printing" you must first get to the point of producing a negative that almost prints itself. Pushing your film to its optimum capability, and developing it to draw out those qualities, should leave you with a negative that you can print with least amount of work. It starts with seeing the finished print in your mind, moments before tripping the shutter of the camera. There should be a reason for the negative, not the hope that something "might" be there, is a start to the fine print.

    Once you have that negative loaded in the enlarger, and see the first working print(not the contact print), you will know almost immediatly what will make it stand out. Your choice of paper and finish will have already been made before the shutter is engaged, that should have been one of the deciding factors for making the shot.

    It does help to see how others print, what steps they take, what chemicals they prefer, their papers of choice. Studying books helps somewhat, that is always your interpertation of what the author is trying to get across. Ultimatly, the decision is yours as to how a particular photograph should look, to portray what you saw the moment you took the image. BTW, you do not need the most sophisticated equiptment, most expensive lenses(tho it helps), some of the finest prints ever produced are of humble origins in tiny makeshift darkrooms.

    Just my tuppence worth.
     
  13. Dinesh

    Dinesh Subscriber

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    Bob is an amazing printer. I have had the pleasure of being his "lab slave", (BTW not really what he calls me), and you can learn a ton just by watching and listening.

    It can be a little demoralizing watching him print 2 different negs on 2 diferent enlargers at the same time and getting immaculate 20 x 24 prints in 3 sheets of paper.
     
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  15. Toffle

    Toffle Member

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    And a hell of a nice guy. I think it's time I hauled my carcass up to TO to see what he does right.
     
  16. 36cm2

    36cm2 Member

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    This is probably true if you tackle it right.
     
  17. ROL

    ROL Member

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    Very sane and rational advice to live by.

    Workshops can be inspirational and motivating (and expensive). As analog techniques recede further and further into the digital rear view mirror, and traditional educational institutions purge themselves of darkrooms, newbies may have little choice but to avail themselves of far flung workshops. There is simply no substitute for hands on training, whether self-taught or under the tutelage of master. Meanwhile, this may also be of some limited value to new analog printers.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 19, 2011
  18. Michael R 1974

    Michael R 1974 Subscriber

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    Unfortunately in real life there are very few negatives that "print themselves". The purpose of a serious printing workshop is to learn how to develop the skills needed to bring fine prints out of negatives of all types. Of course one should strive to make the best negatives, but note: a top notch printer can often make a beautiful expressive print from a relatively poor negative if the image is worth it (and even the best technicians have their fair share of crap negatives), but even a perfect negative often yields no better than an average print in the hands of an average printer. Printing skill is the key, and there is not enough focus on it. Even on APUG note the amount of activity in the film/developing forum compared to the enlarging forum.
     
  19. Tom Kershaw

    Tom Kershaw Subscriber

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    Michael,

    In general I very much agree. However from a problem solving point of view one of the reasons for more activity in the film & developing forum may be that the problems arising from this area of photography can be difficult and frustrating to solve; especially when reliable results are desired. On the other hand, if in the middle of a printing session, an issue arises, e.g. with shadow separation or tone etc. then exposing an additional sheet of photographic paper and processing is much more immediate.

    Tom
     
  20. Paul VanAudenhove

    Paul VanAudenhove Member

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    I think that before you sign up for any workshop, you should determine what you hope to learn, and if the workshop will address those skills.

    Rick has the right idea, the negative is the first step to a good print, but we don't always have the ability to start with a good negative. So the next step is to develop an eye for what is possible from a given negative. If you have anyone near you who is willing, perhaps ask them to print one of your negatives to see how they would interpret it, and explain how they did it.

    Hopefully, that would provide an indication of the skills you would like to learn and practice.

    As an aside, there seems to be two basic schools of thought when it comes to printing: Those who prefer basic prints that can be produced with straight-forward technique. And those who produce prints using a wide variety of darkroom techniques on the same print. While I admire (and envy) the second sort, my heart is with the first group.

    For clarification: I consider basic techniques to include exposure, contrast and simple dodge/burns. Advanced techniques would include multiple dodge/burns, different developers, pre-flashing, bleaching and so on.

    Just my $.02
     
  21. rudolf

    rudolf Member

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    Well, I wonder what is the easy way to get the knowledge from workshops you are talking about in my case - guy living in Europe. :smile:
     
  22. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    Paul, this would be a great opportunity to offer a "negative" swap of sorts. Anyone willing to send a negative to anyone willing to print for them. We would probably have to limit format size to 135 or 6x6(6x7,6x9 and 4x5 possible), leaving it up to the printer to decide the final outcome, along with details of how it was arrived at.
    The negative donor would also need to provide details of the exposure. In the past I have developed and proofed film for a couple of neophytes and given them a critique of their shooting problems. This is our opportunity to help some new kids out.
     
  23. 36cm2

    36cm2 Member

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    I suspect there are lots of great workshops in London, i'm thinking Rudman, Waite, Cornish (more d.g.t.l), Ephraums (if he still does them). When i was in death valley with Barnbaum, there was a fellow from Austria having a great time photographing and enjoying the American West. Where there is a will, there is a way.
     
  24. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    I think it's a cool idea. The Photographic Society of America has groups that do this within its print section. I'm in two groups that share completed prints of our own negatives.
     
  25. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    I, for one, am willing to help out any neophyte who would like to have a print made from any negative of their choosing, within reason. I can handle 35mm, 6x6, 6x7, 6x9, and 4x5. I will even develope your roll film(or 4x5) B&W only, no color. If you are having problems, just send me a PM and I will try to help you out.

    cheers
     
  26. Michael R 1974

    Michael R 1974 Subscriber

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    Sexton does this sort of thing if you take the second printing workshop. In advance of the workshop he send the participants copies of one of his negatives to print and then bring to the workshop. It's a deceptively difficult excercise, because one of the things you have to decide is whether to try and make a print you imagine John would be impressed with, or attempt to put that out of your mind and make your own honest interpretation.