" Hand printed" prints

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Firestarter, Mar 14, 2013.

  1. Firestarter

    Firestarter Member

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    When we make prints in the darkroom we remove a sheet of paper from it's box and place it on the easel. Then while the paper is being exposed we may dodge and burn areas of the print using masks or using our hands.

    Then the sheet of paper is placed into the tray of developer using our hands of course, and then we agitate the tray or print again using our hands. Same then applies to the stop and fix. Then a darkroom printers print will go through various stages of washing and toning again by hand.

    The print will then be dried and if needed spotted.....by hand...and so on etc etc

    So I think it's fair to say a traditional silver print is " hand printed "

    So what about digital photographers?

    I have seen many websites of digital photographers who state there prints are hand printed or they print all their prints by hand etc.

    Are these statements stretching the imagination just a little too far or are they very misleading statements, full stop?

    Personally I think the latter, what are your thoughts on the subject ?
     
  2. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    I think they mislead although it's possible to do hand print digital with the digital de vere enlarger.
     
  3. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Subscriber

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    I believe it comes from the distinction from being produced by a separate commercial lab that does not put any correction or effort in, whether they mean darkroom or digital.
     
  4. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    The world of photography is rapidly changing, and so does the definition of terms. If the buyer/consumer cares about them, it is up to them to learn what the term means and inquire what is actually meant by use of certain terms. This is not unique to photography but true in all consumer fields.

    I take a position of doing what I do because that's what I do. I don't necessary compare it with what anyone else does...
     
  5. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Pretty good point...

     
  6. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    You could say that any Photoshop manipulation is by hand, so I don't quite understand the OP question.
     
  7. OzJohn

    OzJohn Member

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    Any high school debating team could make the case either way. For instance is a print exposed in a darkroom using a roll paper easel, not dodged or burnt because it does not need it and developed dry to dry in a continuous machine hand made? This sort of stuff is really only important to those who view traditional methods as the only path to real photography. OzJohn
     
  8. Maris

    Maris Member

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    Part of the confusion comes from the long standing misuse of the term "print" for "photograph". The gelatin-silver picture produced in a traditional darkroom is just as much a photograph as a film negative. The only difference is that there is paper behind the light sensitive emulsion rather than film-base. If people stuck to the word "photograph" for pictures made out of light sensitive surfaces then the whole "hand printed" conundrum simply vanishes into thin air.

    When I banter with my digi-friends about hand-made art I suggest that making a gelatin-silver photograph in a darkroom with one's wrists handcuffed behind one's back is an insurmountable problem. The digi-printer in a similar fix merely has press the print button with a convenient part of his anatomy. And a second press with a different part of the anatomy (or via an assistant using the same part) yields a print-out identical to the first. So much for hands.
     
  9. Firestarter

    Firestarter Member

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    I guess that's where it's at.

    I just think there is a big difference in the "hand" part when it comes to traditional printing compared to digital.

    Manipulating images using a keyboard and clicking print with a mouse doesn't seem hand made to me :sad:
     
  10. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    I would suggest that making a Photoshop manipulation with your hands hancuffed behind your back is just as difficult.
     
  11. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Even before the advent of digital technology photography was mechanized, automated to a great extend. And I am speaking of Barnacks days.
    Thus the designation "manual" was far fetched already.
     
  12. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Actually I see manipulating images using a keyboard differently.

    I have spent years learning photoshop... I use my hands to move the mouse, hit key commands paint in contrast, sharpness colour correction.
    I have spent many years printing on an enlarger as well, frankly I feel at a certain level both are hand made prints, guided by ones thoughts.

    I would ask those who have spent a lot of time imaging in Photoshop to think about the moments when they are working on an image.
    For me the feeling is the same as when I am standing in front of an enlarger, the tools are different but believe me great digital prints are not done with a press of a button and WHAM there you have it.
    It takes considerable talent and practice to be good at both methods. The biggest learning curve for me in the last 20 years was how to use a computer to make images,
    I am extremely thankful I did.
     
  13. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    Digital photos can be "hand printed" too. A lot of alt process people are printing images with negs made with OHP film made with an inkjet printer. So a shot made with a digital camera can end up as a hand made print. It all depends on the work flow.
     
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  15. paul_c5x4

    paul_c5x4 Subscriber

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    The grammar police will be on to you over the misplaced apostrophe and incorrect use of "there" instead of "their" - That aside, digibashing is probably best left to those that debate the finer points of Canon versus Nikon ad nauseum.
     
  16. chriscrawfordphoto

    chriscrawfordphoto Subscriber

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    I think they are trying to say they make the prints themselves, rather than paying a photo lab or printing company to do them. I do digital prints because of my health problems that make it impossible for me to work in the darkroom. The alternative would be for me to stop photographing altogether, which I cannot do. It is what I live for. I make my own prints though, and if you think that its just a matter of 'pushing a button', you've never made a good digital print. Getting prints that match what you created on the monitor is a pain, and involves a lot of work, calibrations, etc. Despite the fact that having a good lab do it would be far easier, I prefer to do it myself, for the same reason I did my own darkroom prints before I got too sick to do them. I want full control of the process.
     
  17. Firestarter

    Firestarter Member

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    :laugh: Now telling myself, Must type slower, must spell check more :wink:

    Not digibashing, just hand printed bashing :smile:
     
  18. Prof_Pixel

    Prof_Pixel Member

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    Making professional quality, large format ink jet prints is every bit as 'hands on' as AgX print making.
     
  19. Firestarter

    Firestarter Member

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    I'm not saying there is no work in digital printing, just that using the hand word is a bit too much.

    Take for example a guy who carves wood. He hand carves a piece of wood and makes an elephant. That to me is a hand made piece of work / art

    Another guy programs a machine to do the same thing, I don't know if there is such a machine but you get my point. Fair enough he spends weeks programming the machine to make all the intricate carvings etc ( a skill in itself) Then he presses the start button and a machine carves it for him, would that be hand made, not in my book.

    I just think there should be a different term used then hand printed, but as already said terms are a changing.
     
  20. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    But he may be carving in real time by pressing certain buttons. Is this not just as valid in skill?
     
  21. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Yeah, I agree, their use of "hand" doesn't agree with our use of the word "hand." Then again, our use of "hand" doesn't agree with painter's use of "hand" either.

    My point, really, is why should we feel threatened by this? Large portion of consumers don't care. Collectors who do care know the difference. We know what we mean. They know what they mean. So what's the problem?

    By the way, I always get a chuckle when eating "home made" soup at restaurants.
     
  22. Firestarter

    Firestarter Member

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    They are all skills, but very different skills.

    Certainly not threatened by it, the opposite in fact :smile:
     
  23. CPorter

    CPorter Member

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    I agree with you, there is a huge difference in the "hand" part of the meaning------one set of hands gets wet and one set of hands stays dry, that is a distinction that might need to be part of the changing definitions. But, the term "traditional" really does it for me because a digitally produced print is in no way a traditional one, traditional prints involve "wet" hands----a "traditional wet darkroom print" seems redundant to me, IMO.
     
  24. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    With the right machinery, you can make silver gelatin prints with little or no "hand" work.
    I know guys who work in digital that put every bit of effort into their digital prints that I do with any darkroom print, and their results show it.
    And as pointed out, it's not a matter of just hitting a "print" button.

    Further, even with silver gelatin, should you want to make multiples using only analog methods, it's perfectly possible to create an ideal print, make a film copy of it, then make identical prints with no further burning, dodging or other manipulations. Doing that may be somewhat more work than doing it in PS, but the choice is available.

    What really matters is the print, and a discerning viewer will appreciate the work that went into it regardless of the method of work. For the others "hand printed" I wager that won't have any meaning to them anyway, though education is always a possibility.

    It may be sad that the term gets misused, or is not appreciated, but I don't know that it deserves to be sacred, or reserved for anlog work.
     
  25. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    digital and chemical photography
    can be as labor intensive as one wants each to be
    i have made azo prints that only required me to put the lamp on for 8 seconds
    when i worked in a portrait studio there were tray rockers
    i have made digital photographs ( maris, they were light jet prints )
    the files and negatives were nearly perfect exposures, i have also manipulated the heck out of
    darkroom stuff and light room stuff ... hand made, made by a robot,
    auto exposure who cares ... its just marketing and posturing.

    does it really matter what someone calls a photograph ?
    not really. the only people who care are people on photography discussion boards.
     
  26. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    John, is yours Hand ROASTED and BREWED?