Printing or Capture

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by cliveh, Dec 10, 2011.

  1. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    On a previous thread about printing, I mentioned that I thought the taking is everything, as once the image is captured; printing or any other manipulation of the negative to print is capable of infinite variation within time. I realise that the way an image is printed is important, but is this not a secondary skill to capture?
     
  2. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    From conception to the ultimate presentation on paper or screen, photography should be considered as one multifaceted operation. It's like a chain: any weak link affects the the entire chain. Sometimes we can deliberately skimp on the initial capture with intentions of compensating during editing. For example, I didn't need a completely white background in my last film photograph because white could easily be added before digital printing. This could also have been done in a traditional darkroom by masking, but perhaps not as easily as correcting the background before the shoot. The initial capture is inded important, but so is the rest of the process. The reputation of some noted photographers rests partly on their unsung master printers.
     
  3. Maris

    Maris Member

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    No, "printing" is the ultimate (in the literal sense of ultimate) skill because it produces the actual photograph that is looked at. A critical point that many people neglect is that "printing" isn't in truth printing. It's actually photographing but using photographic emulsion coated on paper rather than film-base. Exposure, development, fix, and wash are essentially the same in principle for film or paper.

    The negative is the subject matter for the second photograph which is executed on paper based emulsion. People who don't make photographs, only camera exposures, often don't realise that classic negative-positive photography is a two stage process, or they don't think it is important because they don't do it themselves. The relationship between a given exposure and a subsequent negative is remarkably free and discretionary. Further along, the relationship between a given negative and a subsequent positive is even more free and discretionary.

    The element that carries through in faithfully conducted photograph-making is the recognizability of original subject matter; what the camera was pointed at. Camera-jockeys looking at the pictures back from the lab remember what they clicked at and think "I did that". All they actually did was snap one piece of subject matter in lieu of another. The product in their hands is heavy with the labour and creative fingerprints of a "keen to please" photo-finishing enterprise. Using a camera to select one piece of subject matter (or clicking at everything and picking the nice ones) can be a clever thing to do but the underlying ethos of subject selection is not uniquely photographic. Painters and draughtsmen have been doing it for centuries.

    There is, I think, an unfortunate tradition in the picture-making arts in that people are acclaimed for work they did not do. When Rembrandt is credited for paintings done by students in his workshop, when Andy Warhol is the "author" of work he neither saw or signed, when Henri Cartier-Bresson becomes a great photographer by making "click" but no photographs, there is an aesthetic swindle afoot. The movie industry has got it right. Look at the credits rolling up the screen. Everyone is acknowledged but only for what they actually did!
     
  4. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    There have of course been many threads on this general topic. Some among us may argue for the importance of one versus the other- rather silly in my view. Most of us see capture and print more or less equally as part of a whole process.

    I am definitely a 'capture' kind of guy, but still, I usually don't take a shot unless I think I might like to print it.

    In any case, it's clear that 'traditional' printing is becoming rapidly more important with time. This is a time when so many capturers don't print at all; instead they simply show their work online or push it through an inkjet on demand. The value of the individual, hand-crafted traditional print has therefore never been higher.

    One thing I definitely couldn't do is print someone else's negs!!! I tried and... not fun at all for me.
     
  5. zsas

    zsas Member

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    Cliveh, How would photograms or other cameraless photographs fit into your premise? I think you will see that capture and print are so ingrained that looking at it so basically proves therefore that capture and printing are both at the table with top billing, what came first the printing or the capture...err the chicken or the egg...
     
  6. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Well... then what about slides? I shoot a lot of them and projecting them for others is, to me, every bit as satisfying as seeing them in print. Perhaps even more satisfying, because everyone knows that there is that one slide, that it was completely done with the camera and the light that I had - ~zero manipulation possible :smile:
     
  7. zsas

    zsas Member

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    Ahhh good point but you could choose to cross process or other technical functions post capture that I would argue are at the table too..so maybe capture, process, print are top billing, all ingrained in the art none the less? You could do a cibachrome print too? I guess my point is the art is in all phases, John Nanian's work proves that to me.
     
  8. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

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    Anyone else think the image isn't "captured" until the film is processed? Before that, it's just a latent idea.
     
  9. CPorter

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    The ultimate goal is the final print, after all, we don't frame negatives. However, I'm one who believes firmly that the capture, which also should should include the subsequent development of the negative, IMO, is the most critical and important part of the process. And, when done smartly, makes the printing of the negative the most fun and rewarding part of the process.
     
  10. zsas

    zsas Member

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    True but what about Polaroid, there are those .5 seconds that it might be latent....what is "photographic creationism".

    All in all, it is all important in my mind (all aspects of the photographic life cycle). Who is to say one is more important? Think about a massive website, is the graphic designer more important than the security admin or the database admin or the product photog or the content writer or the.....

    I guess I mean with photography we wear many hats and depending on how many they are all equally important because they eventually produce a thing of art.
     
  11. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    I would regard photograms and other cameraless photographs as capture. I also agree that post processes are at the table with top billing. I suppose my point is that without capture the chain is not even started, giving it prime place.
     
  12. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    What good is capture without presentation. You might just as well shoot a roll of film, or fill a memory card, and then toss them in the trash. How you present the image to others, or even just keep for yourself, means just as much or more than the snap that holds the image captive. It is true that a great print can only be had as caused by a great negative, but therein lies the quandry, you took a great shot(you think)but without showing it noone will ever know. Showing a shoddy print will tell people you are not a good photographer. Bottom line, great negatives demand comparable finished prints to convey what you wanted others to see.
    I won't even debate cameraless prints, or slides, the discourse here is about capture vs print.
     
  13. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    80% of what i do is on film and never printed or scanned.
    i find it to do me a lot of good. sometimes i forget to put anything in my camera,
    those images are easier to work with.

    i don't think there is a difference
    between putting an image on film or paper, it is the same thing,
    whether there is an additional step ( printing or number-izing )
    without the putting it on film or paper, there is nothing.
     
  14. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Very satisfying, actually. The act of composition, alone, can be very meditational. For me, that's where most of the enjoyment is.

    As I usual, I agree 100%!
     
  15. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I've always said that the best way to improve your "photographing" (capturing?) is to learn how to do the printing at the end.

    If you don't have any idea about how you want the final result to appear, how do you know what decisions to make when you are taking the shot in the first place.

    I do think, however, that it is appropriate to accomplish much of this by becoming very "expert" at accessing the potential of a good lab.
     
  16. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Pick your poison. Individuals are unique and special snowflakes. For me printing is not easily dismissed because it is the process by where I define all my other efforts. As far as the work I do for self expression it is far more descriptive to call me a printer than a photographer, because the print is what I seek, although I enjoy the whole process. For me "capture" (I call it making a negative) is among the ingredients of expression, the print is the meal that I serve myself or anyone else who is interested. To me everything that happens until the finished print is the journey to a destination, the destination being the print, but then again, I'm a printer.

    Interpreting the negative has traditionally been an intergal part of classic photography. There is a terrific thread that shows how different folks interpet their negatives here.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 11, 2011
  17. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    To me the print is everything. I feel that exposing film is pointless unless there is a print.
    So, to me it can be enjoyable to be out with my camera to take pictures, but it is just one part of the whole picture. Processing film, proofing, editing, printing, and toning are all steps to reach my goal of the print. To me a print IS the photograph, so without it there is not photography.
    My view, anyway.
     
  18. Hexavalent

    Hexavalent Subscriber

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    With the exception of transparencies (not prints, but practically viewable), I'm totally in agreement.
    An unprinted negative is not a "final work". Nor is a "negative scan".
    Being a practitioner of hand-made emulsions and alt process printing, I am just slightly (just a teensy) bit biased :whistling:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 11, 2011
  19. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

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    I'm with Thomas and Jason, on this. The print is how I share whatever vision I had. In fact, while I'm composing an image, be it on GG or through a viewfinder, what I see is the finished print, if that makes any sense.
    I never heard the term "capture" in the photographic sense prior to the digital age, which is why I have an aversion to it. Just semantics, I know...
     
  20. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    Unless you are talking transparancies, the final piece of art is the print. There are choices at capture and in printing. The art is in the choices we make. The craft is executing those choices whether in capture or printing. Is capture or or printing more important? Both are necessary to have a great print.
     
  21. dasBlute

    dasBlute Subscriber

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    For me, the print is the final product. The better the negative, the more choices I have when printing.

    Ruth Bernhard had students contribute to a mayonnaise jar whenever they said "shoot", "shot", and "shooting",
    to describe the process of making an image. "Capture" might fall in that category.
     
  22. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    I just looked through about a thousand negs and hit on something.

    The valuable thing is the negative you feel like printing.

    When you get in a groove, every roll will have several of these. When you are grasping, you might have a few rolls without even one.