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Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by SchwinnParamount, Feb 7, 2005.

  1. SchwinnParamount

    SchwinnParamount Member

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    "A Half and Hour of Darkroom Work"

    Somehow, I just don't relate to what this guy is saying. He's kinda come down a notch in my book.
     
  2. SchwinnParamount

    SchwinnParamount Member

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  3. James Bleifus

    James Bleifus Member

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    I enjoy Brooks' blogs a lot but he got the terminology wrong on this one. I used to be digital and there's no such thing as darkroom work, it's just computer work. When you're doing computer work there's no real difference between manipulating a picture or writing a letter. So working on it a few minutes and printing a few prints doesn't mean much. Darkroom work is in a unique league of its own and so are the rewards. It takes longer but it's much more satisfying.

    Cheers,

    James
     
  4. John McCallum

    John McCallum Member

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    Personally I don't find Brookes Jensen to be too evangelical of digital methods. I'm assuming this was the problem. In this Blog I think he was only making comment about an epiphany he'd had when thinking of how things have changed, particulary in the efficiency of his printing process. Perhaps I've oversimplified it, and there are greater things at work here (?)

    The philosophical approaches he employs in editing his magazine are what really count for me, and as a result in my opinion Lenswork is a very good magazine.

    He makes no secret of his use of digital methods, and advantages that brings him. Do you think he should?
     
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  5. eric

    eric Member

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    I have no time for darkroom work but I've figured out a way to "modularize" it.

    I think I mentioned this before on another thread but here it goes again. Instead of putting in entire hours of time in the darkroom, I look at it as being very static. Nothing moves in there so...:

    1. I go in and put neg in holder, place in enlarger. That takes about 30 seconds. Leave.
    2. I go back in, when I have time, later on, to fix size of easel, focus and what not. That takes 3 - 5 minutes. Leave
    3. I "guestimate" an exposure based on how I did it before and make a test print or 2 or 3 test strips. Another 5 minutes. Leave
    4. I leave test print in box and come back later.
    5. Here's where Jon probably didn't have a Nova slot processor, but I make the test print

    I've spent about 20 minutes all together doing this but not 20 contiguous minutes. I've done this in between getting kids ready for something, folding laundry, making dinner, etc, etc.

    I only go in about 5 minutes at a time afterwards and make prints. Once I get the print I like, I expose a bunch of paper, and not develop it yet, but develop when I know I have 10 minutes free.

    Multitask! I know you guys do it on the computers...
    Work, read email, shop at amazon, work, read email, shop, AIM, shop, work, read email. Not like you are spending 4 hours on that project plan you are supposed to be doing right?
     
  6. Joe Symchyshyn

    Joe Symchyshyn Member

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    I cut and sort some of the negs I recently shot... That didn't take too much time...

    Sitting down at the computer for 30 mins and fooling around and getting some results is the same in my book as my neg sorting.

    But when I print... I PRINT! I tend to print a lot of negatives and dedicate myself to the task at hand. Had I moved to digital, I could see sitting at my computer for a day doing production work in a similar fashion.

    Sure there is less setup and cleanup with digital, but there are similar small tasks that happen everyday on the wet side of the photography world too.

    Just my $.02

    joe
     
  7. SchwinnParamount

    SchwinnParamount Member

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    John, I agree with you certainly that Brooks isn't in your face about his affinity for digital work. The problem is that in his mind, he believes he was doing DARKROOM work. That philosophical mind-shift is the proverbial 'slippery slope' IMHO. Therein lies the rub doesn't it?
     
  8. eric

    eric Member

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    Ahhhh, now I see what you are getting at. Right. I don't know what that digital darkroom thing means. You are either in a real darkroom, or in front of your computer.
     
  9. SchwinnParamount

    SchwinnParamount Member

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    Damn, you read my mind Brother. :D
     
  10. James Bleifus

    James Bleifus Member

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    I don't think he should be secret about it at all, nor should any of us. For one thing, if he were hiding what he does then he wouldn't provoke thought and discussion. But I think he missed an important distinction on this one. Squeezing in your Photoshop time is not the same as doing darkroom work. As he points out in the blog, the traditional darkroom takes a lot of time. You don't squeeze it in and that's what I find magical about the darkroom. It's meditative.

    A few months ago in one of his blogs he talks about the discovery of going out photographing with the car radio off and he explores the idea of calming down and being alone with his thoughts and how it effects his photography. Why would it be different with printing? Well, to my mind it isn't. The darkroom has a way of being meditative. What Brooks is describing is the antithesis of that. Squeezing in a moment to work on your pictures. What he's describing isn't work in the darkroom. I have no beef with digital, but I feel that the terminology is important.

    Cheers,

    James
     
  11. John McCallum

    John McCallum Member

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    Yeah, Ok I'm with you there. And James too. Perhaps the terminology 'analogous' with darkroom methods is a way of giving it value (I'm not sure), or perhaps the concepts/terms/methods are copied because they are tried and proven to be efficient and productive. Or perhaps it's just an easier way to get experienced photographers to relate to the completely different methods.
    Once again - I don't know. It does bother me a smidgen, also. But then, copying is a form of flattery. And with regards value, I take a little consolation in believing that chemically processed prints will as they do currently, have an innate value higher than that of digitally processed prints (for certain types of work and, all other factors being equall); and I think this is likely to be true for a long time. The degree to which that will be significant, over time remains to be seen as there may be a shift towards the other factors that make up quality in a photographic image when it comes to perceived value.

    Meanwhile, I'll also continue to prefer the meditative process of printing in the dark, as opposed to coming out of the virtual darkroom with my eyes shot, repetitive strain injury and feeling like I've just gone six rounds of DOOM III with a teenager. :surprised:

    But that's just my preference ...

    Eric - hope you leave the screen saver going :tongue: .

    best, John
     
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  12. Joe Lipka

    Joe Lipka Member

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    I think the blog is merely a continuation of Brooks' assertion that now is the best time to be a photographer because of the flexibility and number of choices that one has to create images. You can lock yourself in the darkroom for an afternoon, work in the relatively bright light of a yellow bug bulb for your alternative printing processes or just sit down at the computer for a half hour and maybe knock out a print or two before dinner.

    We have choices. That is a wonderful thing to have.

    As for output and the relative value of same, check out the blog directly below the "half hour" blog. Nobody really cares how much effort you put into an image. All they are interested in is the image. Content, not medium is the message.

    My opinion. Feel free to disagree.
     
  13. mark

    mark Member

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    The "pretty picture" crowd do not care about the medium. The Collector and educated buyer do. I assume Brookes is aiming his wares at the first and not the former. In my opinion it is like comapring McDonalds to Good Steakhouse. Yep both are beef but which is better beef?
     
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  15. James Bleifus

    James Bleifus Member

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    The thing I like about Brooks' blogs is that they don't quite seem thought through. They're thoughts out loud that haven't fully reached a conclusion. That leaves a lot of room for me to consider whether I agree or disagree with him and it leaves him a lot of room to contradict himself.

    I agree with your observation, Joe, that he was highlighting new choices and opportunities for photographers. Where I disagree is his use of language. Saying that working on the computer, i.e. the digital darkroom, is the same as working in the darkroom is a mistake. The experience is completely different. Had he said digital darkroom I wouldn't have thought twice about the blog.

    Nor did I feel that his previous blog was fully considered. People don't care how much effort you put into an image if they don't like the image or your work. If they like the image they love little anecdotes about how you were hanging on the side of a cliff, using your antique camera, etc.

    For instance, I met with someone a little over a month ago who was very taken by the "romantic" (her word) image of me being up until 3AM the night before printing pictures in my darkroom/bathroom. I was tired as hell and didn't see it as romantic at all nor did she buy any of the work that I had printed the night before. But she did buy other pieces and I believe the darkroom story helped reinforce her decision, though that's not why I told the story. People love to know that you work hard if your work speaks to them. If they don't like your photographs they don't give a damn how hard you worked.

    Just my two cents.

    Cheers,

    James
     
  16. John McCallum

    John McCallum Member

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    I believe this is true. Of course we do (validly) say that it's not the method or effort involved or difficulty in achieving the photograph that counts primarily to the viewer. This is as it should be.
    But I think a sense of value is imparted by much talk about materials/effort/time and experience etc. And I still think that traditional methods give some advantage here. As mentioned, the significance of that advantage, and whether it will change over time remains to be seen. (& of course - just in my opinion).
     
  17. paul ron

    paul ron Member

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    I listened to this in wonderment of what is happening to photography as art. It has many non-talented people convinced they are photographers. It is just too easy to do. The computer is doing the repairs and modifications to your digipic as you just click a mouse, without any thought on your part except that it looks great... or maybe not.

    On the other hand in the dark darkroom you have to physically do certain things to make the magic happen, the end result is not realized till after the light comes back on. You've manipulated raw materials to make this photo happen. Your work may not come out as expected but you will do whatever it takes to make it happen as you pre visualized it in your mind the moment you snapped the shutter. There is no UNDO option to reverse the process, it's final and limited. Limited to your talents and imagination, using real world objects in your photos, not the many computer programmer's talent to make that plug-in or filter.

    What seems to bother me more in ddigital is the fact that your image is forever lost in digital space never to be seen by the analog eye without the aid of todays technology, maybe not by tomorrow's but at least for today. It's a digital sand castle waiting for the tide to come in to wipe it out forever.

    Hold the CD up to the light, you see nothing. Hard drives crash, you loose it all. Change in media format, CPU technology, it's all gone unless you constantly convert everything to the new formats to keep up with the changes. Can you convert 20 years of photo files? Will you be able to afford it? Whatever happened to the 8" floppy?... the 5 1/4" floppy in 2 different densities?... 3 1/2" floppy is optional on many computers today.... and so will the conventional CD as we know it today be gone is at the snap of Bill Gates fingers. Maybe JPEGs and RAW files will not be readable? My negatives will be here for another 100 years. I can always put my negative on my fat belly while getting a tan and have an image in an hour or two or perhaps as opposed to a donut image of a CD. ummmmmm
     
  18. JeffD

    JeffD Member

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    I'm still trying to digest the "naked photograph" piece. To me, it seems like an extraordinary amount of work to make and analog image, print it archivally, properly mount and matte it, then have it described as "naked".
     
  19. John McCallum

    John McCallum Member

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    :D He he.

    I didn't mean for my post to contribute to another round of digital bashing from the confines of our safe haven here at apug. Quite the contrary, Brooke's blog has no protest from me.
    Taking a wack at the digi methods whenever the opportunity arises, and expressing reasons why it is invalid as an artform could easily be read as .... erm overly defensive.
    In my opinion, there is no reason for traditional photographers to be defensive.
     
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  20. James Bleifus

    James Bleifus Member

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    Hear! Hear!

    Cheers,

    James
     
  21. mark

    mark Member

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    "I can always put my negative on my fat belly while getting a tan and have an image in an hour or two or perhaps as opposed to a donut image of a CD. ummmmmm"

    Talk about wearing on's art. I wonder if that would work.
     
  22. lenswork

    lenswork Member

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    May I clarify?

    Golly, I had no idea my blog would bring forth such interesting comments! I am flattered that you are all listening. I should, though, probably clarify my comments about the "half an hour" of darkroom work.
    For me, printing is a soul-searching and very intimate, creative act. I don't listen to music when I print. I don't allow anyone else in the room (dark or otherwise) and I work uninterrupted, often for hours. It is my experience that this works best for me. I need to be focussed, sensitive, and aware -- all of which are easily lost in a hubbub of noise and conversation. I guard and protect this private, creative space with, shall I say, "enthusiasm."
    However, when it comes to SPOTTING prints or even cutting mat boards, that is another story. I don't find these kinds of tasks meditative. I do find simply them grunt work. This is what I was doing before dinner -- spotting prints and then printing them to see if they were spotted cleanly or if the spotting work was visible. Sometimes I spot/print several cycles before a print is clean and I am satisfied. My aging eyes being what they are, I often find I have missed spots and need to go back at it again.
    As to "darkroom work" on the computer, I stand corrected. What is the correct term for doing computer stuff? Do we have a term yet? It isn't "studio work" -- that implies making photographs under artificial light. I am not fond of "digital darkroom" because it's too clunky and even confusing -- besides the movements and actions are so different between the two activites. Photoshopping? Sounds like a trip to the mall. Image futzing? Yuck. So . . . please pardon the use of the term "darkroom." I didn't mean to offend folks who are traditional darkroom printers. I just don't what else to call it yet.
    Brooks Jensen
    Editor, LensWork Publishing
    Written Tuesday, February 8, 2005 at 7:13 PM.
     
  23. James Bleifus

    James Bleifus Member

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    Brooks, I don't feel you owe anyone an apology. I listen to your blogs because they provoke thought. This one was no exception and that's why I value it.

    Cheers,

    James
     
  24. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    maybe this is a good opportunity to give the digital workflow a name that delinates it from traditional darkroom work.

    photo-computing
    lightroom photography
    digital computing
    compugraphy
     
  25. SchwinnParamount

    SchwinnParamount Member

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    I look forward to each new blog you record. It makes a sometimes dull day at work a whole lot better. You always have interesting and thought provoking comments and I usually learn something from you. In fact, I've been meaning to take a trip into King county and across to Bainbridge Island where you are (I believe) to visit your gallery and poke my head in your office to say Hi. I've been buying Lenswork at Borders for a year now and love it.

    Regarding my comment about you slipping a notch. You attained "You da Man!" status early last year and prior to explaining your last blog, about to slip to "You just da man sitting next to da man" status. I've no idea who HE might be. At any rate, you're back to "da Man!" status. Keep it up and stay away from that dang computer.

    If you want APUG'ers being the creative people we are, will come up with a term for what you were doing in front of the computer before dinner the other night
     
  26. JeffD

    JeffD Member

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    For me, it is not very "meditative" to try and flatten a negative for scanning without getting moire patterns, try to get a decent scan that is sharp, then always having to introduce artificial sharpening tools to make it so, go through hell trying to make the screen tones duplicate on paper, fret over ink splotches on digital prints, clean the heads dozens of times to try and get a clean print, failing, then having to calibrate and recalibrate the ink jet heads, make a huge mess changing cartridges, bang my head trying to figure out why horizontle micro lines appear on the print, get annoyed with a drab non glossy digital print, try glossy paper only to get extreme bronzing, repeat daily, etc. etc.

    I do find it meditative to bring down a 12 pound sledge hammer on my inkjet printer, and watch the tiny bits of worthless plastic shower down around me in a fascinating display...