Identification of Traditional Photographic Process

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Donald Miller, Oct 15, 2003.

Should a universally recognized system for print identification and photographic process be institut

  1. Yes

    92.0%
  2. No

    8.0%
  1. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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  2. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    I've voted "yes" on this - "appropriate" - yes, absolutely ... legally possible ... I don't know. Possibly "Truth in advertising...", somewhere?

    I'm still trying to figure out what the @#$@ they are talking about in Canon's "ray trace', comparing their "Digital" lens design to the "conventional". Looks to me like the light coming out of the system is collimated, instead of focused.
     
  3. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I think museums, libraries, better galleries, major auction houses, and conservators already have such standards for identifying the final medium, and there doesn't really need to be a new trademarked system. Yes, there are emerging technologies and companies branding inkjet products using the names of traditional processes, but I think that in the museum and collecting world, the need to distinguish is widely recognized, and no one is mistaking a "Carbon" inkjet for a real carbon print, etc.
     
  4. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Perhaps what is needed is not registered trademarks, but a better awareness of what is meant by the various designations? The coming APUG magazine will mostly be read by people who already know the difference, so can we perhaps get BW Magazine (the picture-collector one) interested?

    All we really need is a court case between seller and buyer of a "digital platinum print" - and lots of publicity.
     
  5. Lex Jenkins

    Lex Jenkins Member

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    Sounds good to me. The worst kind of fakery is the misappropriation of terms and applying them to digital processes. From "Iris" and "giclee" to "digital" carbon and "digital" pt/pd, otherwise serious digital photographers have engaged in deceptive practices.

    I'm not sure whether the folks doing this are simply insecure about the value of their product or whether they're engaging in deliberately misleading hype.

    And I don't care. I wouldn't call my gelatin silver prints on warmtone paper, processed in warmtone developer and selenium toned, "sepia" prints because they aren't. I don't like messing with sepia or other toners and I'm not ashamed to call my prints what they are: middling good warmtone prints. ;>

    Even then, tho', it's understandable how someone could mistake the two.

    But for a digitoid to knowingly take a digital capture, tweak it to resemble the color of a pt/pd, Van Dyke, cyanotype or other print and try to pass it off as such is outright fraud.

    At the very least it's "mixed media" which is often used as a catch-all category by artists who don't work solely in oil, acrylic, watercolor or other media.

    The art world doesn't tolerate acrylic painters calling their work "oil" or watercolorists passing off their work as "egg tempera" and, frankly, no self-respecting artist would do so anyway because they're proud to have the origins of their work known.

    That's why I can't imagine what drives digitoids to fake the nature of their work, unless they are so insecure as to believe it has no hope of acceptance on its own terms.
     
  6. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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  7. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member Admin

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    It's kind of ironic. The digital world lives and dies by "standards", yet when it comes to digital imaging, they shy away from standards and try to emulate traditional terms to explain the medium. Bizarre.
     
  8. philldresser

    philldresser Subscriber

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    Sean

    I just think they are stiffled. There are no 'new' ideas and they therefore copy conventianal/traditional process results and therefore also the names as they cant describe them with acronyms.

    Phill
     
  9. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member Admin

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    Maybe soon we'll see:

    Epson Announces New DPG/CPP/DCP printer.

    (digital platinum giclee, carbon pigment print, digital contact print)
     
  10. philldresser

    philldresser Subscriber

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    I'm sure a salesman tried to sell me one today, problem had his head so far up his own A%$£ that had his own personal darkroom

    Phill
     
  11. Nige

    Nige Subscriber

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    LOL!
     
  12. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    Is there an inference here that some of the "Digital" salesmen ... DON'T????
    Do you mean to tell me that there is another kind??? :shock:
     
  13. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    This sounds like that ridiculous "foundview."

    There is a system already in place -- it's called the legal system.

    NO.
     
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  15. SteveGangi

    SteveGangi Member

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    I voted YES. Platinum is platinum, Azo is Azo, silver is silver and digital is digital. Calling something by another name is misleading.
     
  16. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    Steve: Calling something by another name, when sales are involved is FRAUD. Art forgery is a crime, has been for a while (some big city police departments even have staff art historians!).

    Adding some additional "universally identified and recognized system for photographic print identification" is silly and impractical
     
  17. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    Weeelll...

    Trying to "mis-identify" a work is plainly and simply a LIE. It is a cause for pity - only those who are ... (searching for correct shade of meaning ...) ASHAMED of their work find it necessary to lie. A rose is a rose is a rose ... a truly GOOD work (I'm going to dodge here and let someone else choose the definintion of "good") will stand on its own - no matter what the media may be. Simply put - I wouldn't attempt to identify a charcoal drawing as an "oil", unless I perceived some value in the deception.

    There are GREAT charcoal drawings, GREAT oil paintings, GREAT silver-gelatin photographs (I'll admit that calling the ordinary "paper out of the box" by the lofty title of "silver-gelatin" is pretentious - but it is true - and accurate) -- and (... bite on patented flavored Inner Tube...) GREAT digital prints.

    It is sad and deserving of pity - not scorn - that some feel so insecure about their work that they feel it necessary to lie about it.
     
  18. Lex Jenkins

    Lex Jenkins Member

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    FWIW, I used to think it was pretentious to label a print as "gelatin silver" until I considered how difficult it could be to distinguish between an elaborately crafted, bleached, dyed and toned gelatin silver print and one produced by the various so-called "alternative" methods.
     
  19. Robert Kennedy

    Robert Kennedy Member

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    I think the designation needs to be there for thebuyer since some processes are less archival than others. I would not want to drop $2,000.00 on something that will fade in 10 years because it was cheaply printed. Permanence is an issue. They just finsihed the Edward Weston : A Vision Conserved show here at the CCP, and it showed how even a pt/pd print could deteriorate. Many of the images were on loan from private collections and had suffered from poor mounting, poor materials (if I am not mistaken Weston used commercialy made pt/pd paper for many of his prints and the paper is yellowing now), and just poor placement.

    Withe all these new printing methods, one runs the risk of having something similar occuring. A digital platinum glicee print is NOT a pt/pd print. Not by a long shot! So you need to know the difference. And delars need to be honest about it. So do the artists.
     
  20. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    I saw the Edward Weston show when it was in Boston, at the Museum of Fine Arts, and frankly I was disappointed with the quality of some of his printing.
    I have the book, "Edward Weston, Forms of Passion" - one of the more definitve books of the man and his work - and there is extensive information about his "being", the chronology of his work, his philosophies - but *very* little about his darkroom work or printing materials or techniques.

    As great a shining light as he was on the photographic universe, I don't really consider him to be a "Master Technician"; certainly Adams had more darkroom skills and a far greater propensity to "fuss" over his work. At the same time, I don't rank Adams "higher" than Weston - each was an eminently significant contributor to the art in his own right..

    One of the photographs in that exhibit was "Nude, 1936" - probably his single most famous work (woman seated on the floor, head down, legs severely crossed - arms down with hands enfolded under her right knee - yes - I'm looking at the image as I type) and the original print(s) by Weston are not technically very good, in my mind. I remember thinking - "Too flat - this really needs a lot more contrast and `snap'". Every reproduction I've ever seen of this image seems to be FAR better that the original.

    In the exhibit, there was Edward Weston's darkroom ... Piece by piece --- the benches, the contact printing frame, the chemicals, the trays ... the single light bulb overhead (he would lower it for more printing exposure and raise it for less), his chemicals (mixed his own ) and the last of the paper he had used ... I immediately recognized the Red Agfa packages, but I could't identify the specific papers.
     
  21. DKT

    DKT Member

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    I agree with you to a certain extent--but think realistically it would be impossible for this to work. The problem with guaranteeing something as "archival" is illustrated in the story you just told. There's a fundamental truth in the world of archives & museums--nothing lasts forever. Nothing is archival. In the ANSI/ISO standards groups they don't even use the wording "archival" anymore. They use the term Life Expectancy and assign a projected lifespan for a material based off a very stringent set of storage & display conditions, that you'd be hard put to meet outside of a climate controlled storage vault. What's more the print would have to live it's *entire* life in this type of environment. If it was taken out and put on display, it would be under another set of environmental conditions for a short period of time. In museums, they call this rotation sometimes--they "rotate" artifacts out in exhbits so they only see the dim, UV filtered, pristine air filtered light of day--for short periods of time...and you can forget letting visitors or patrons a chance to get close to the objects. Most are under vitrines or behind plex, glass or with security hovering over you. --this is the world I work in.....

    For you to guarantee an item as being "archival"--you first have to acknowledge that it's the buyer's/owner's responsibility to care for it as best as possible--and with photographs this often means not displaying them forever, and limiting access to them. If the work is color, it would mean pretty much keeping them in the dark, in cool & dry storage. The best way to actually do this is to keep the original in storage and use duplicates or access prints for display.

    Most people do not realize how many items in museums will never be even seen by the general public, or even being able to get close to them. The big reason is the security of the item and the fact that if you actually intend to *use* the item in any way, then it's life can be compromised. You can see this in old photographs--something as innocent as picking up a print with bare hands--leaving skin oils on the surface and decades later you have a fingerprint etched into the image. I see this all the time and it drives me nuts doing copywork or printing old negatives. I know, no harm was intended, but there's a reason why you wear cotton gloves to handle prints and negatives. I don't know how many times I've seen people outside of a museum or archive handling heirloom type prints or "archival" fiber base prints with their bare hands though....

    The PAT is one standard that manufacturer's submit products to be tested against--so they can claim that product as being "safe"--archival. They can claim that the product will not cause damage--chemical damage--to the items housed within them. This is mostly for paper enclosures and boards. Plastic items can be tested under the PAT, but the test is often destructive and sleeves & such can be destroyed & stuck to the contents etc--physically--and still pass. This is called "blocking"--so a product can pass this test--this standard, and still have the potential for some damage IF the storage conditions are conducive for it...There's another test for blocking as well, but it's not in the PAT. These tests are also independent--so a manufacturer can choose to disclose the results or not. It's up to them, and the labs that do the tests keep the results confidential.

    Even products that are good & pass the PAT can still cause damage-again, IF the storage conditions are wrong. So, that's the Big IF. The environment rules all in the end. The reality is that you can take unstable materials and put them in temp controlled storage vaults, and they'll outlast better materials just out there in the "real" world. You may not see it in your lifetime, but they will outlast them, because the cool temps and low RH slow down the deterioration. This is why cold storage vaults, cool rooms and the like are used for storing negs & photographs more & more now....but the thing is, the stuff has to stay in the vaults to get the benefit.

    Now, take the PAT. That standard is applied around the world. You see it in some catalogs. You have to read carefully however, because some products may have a certain component that passes the test, while some other part of it might not have been submitted. Say an album, where the liner is good, but the covering is not. What's more, just because a product won't harm, say a b&w neg or print, doesn't neccessarily mean it's good for a color material. Each type of material needs to be tested on it's own. The PAT is a great tool though, for ordering the right types of products--and the most reliable way to find decent storage products.

    HOWEVER, just because there's a bona-fide standard, doesn't stop people from claiming all sorts of products are "archival".....and you can spend a fortune on high-quality products and stick them in the wrong environments or subject them to careless handling and the like, and sooner or later they'll show it.

    As for the registering of a process as a trademark? forget it--pipe dream.

    KT

    guess I better put this here:Opinions expressed in this message may not represent the policy of my agency. if you decide to email me, be aware of third party monitoring & archiving under public records laws.
     
  22. Robert Kennedy

    Robert Kennedy Member

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    True. You can't ensure anything will last, but the fact is that we do know that SOME processes last longer than others. My concern is more with all the new stuff that is out there.

    As a consumer, if I see something that says "silver gelatin" I know I can expect a certain life-expectancy. But now we have Digital Platinum Glicee', Iris, LightJet, etc.

    And many of the new digital processes claim an INSANELY long life. I have heard 200+ YEARS.

    Meanwhile the Pt/Pd people say things like "well, if the paper is 100% acid-free, and things go well, expect 100 years...."

    Something is not adding up. If things are truthfully labeled, then people can make an informed choice.

    That said, people need to learn a bit about WHAT they are buying. Amazingly I have seen people plunk down hundreds of dollars for an inkjet print that came off an Epson printer. That is insane. It won't last very long, and quite honestly the picture itself sucked (it was very hoaky...)
     
  23. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    "Most people do not realize how many items in museums will never be even seen by the general public, or even being able to get close to them. The big reason is the security of the item and the fact that if you actually intend to *use* the item in any way, then it's life can be compromised"

    hmmm, then what is the point of having the item? Just so some elitist ring can have a peek at it every so often? If the general public (whichin most cases is the one supporting the museum either by taxes or donatons) cannot learn, admire, enjoy the items the museums has then those items might as well be non existent.

    Museums often remind me of greedy little children which want to have all the candies....and share only those they dont like...
     
  24. wm blunt

    wm blunt Member

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    Hello All,
    Along these lines Dr. Dusan Stulik from the Getty Institute gave a wonderful presentation at APIS this year about the identification of photographic processes. He stated the single most important thing the photographer could do is make sure the process is identified on the print for future, Pl/Pd, Carbon, Silver, etc. This was to make life easier for conservators in the future. At the Getty they now have ways to identify the process with out even touching the print and can tell exactly what was used in making the print.
    wm blunt
     
  25. Robert Kennedy

    Robert Kennedy Member

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    Jorge - Some museums are pretty good. The Center for Creative Photography here allows anyone off the street to sign up for a print-viewing. You can see original prints by Adams, Siskand, Frank, Ulesmann, etc.

    That said, they do pull stuff from public view. They just pulled all their Arbus prints because of concerns regarding conservation. And since conservation is insanely pricey, you have to be careful. They spent something like $25,000US to have a conservator come in, examine all their Edward Weston prints, digitize them (just in case), and then they could only preserve THREE....yes, THREE prints!

    So I can see why keeping stuff inthe nice humidity controlled room in the back can be tempting....

    At the same time, museums are about showing the public things.
     
  26. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Museums are also about preserving the legacy of human creativity for future generations and providing resources for scholarly research and publication. We might benefit from such research indirectly even if we are unable to stand in the physical presence of the objects themselves. Arguably, more people benefit from the contents of museums in this way than do by visiting the museums themselves.