Rant time: Artistic expession vs lith prints

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Eric Rose, Feb 8, 2013.

  1. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    Just a pet peeve of mine and I gotta let it out. I have spent time with Tim Rudman and the lith prints he produces are outstanding. Most if not all of the images he lith's would also make excellent non-lith'd prints. However I see so many images in the APUG gallery that are either generally crappy compositions, pedestrian subject matter, and/or poorly exposed but magically once they have been lith'd somehow they become "art". To me 90% of what I have seen in the galleries that has been lith'd is the analog of an "Instragram" image. Some how the special effect is suppose to transform these images into something outstanding.

    Don't get me wrong, I love a well executed lith print. I also understand it may take some time before someone masters this technique. However I feel some are using it as a crutch and deluding themselves that they are creating something wonderful when in fact it's just plain boring. Sorry, like I said it's just a pet peeve. My opinion I am sure will not be popular.
     
  2. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    Going to bookmark this one right now...

    :wink:

    Ken
     
  3. batwister

    batwister Member

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    Agree about the Instagram comment - it's had a way of polluting impressionistic darkroom aesthetics or at least, people are now more aware of the veneer of traditional photography. This is actually a good thing.

    Never felt the urge to lith print myself. I might as well put frosted glass in my frames.
     
  4. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    Don't forget "special effects" are what make most prints "art".

    Think about it. Whether analog or digital, if you look only at the subject matter and disregard all the "special" treatments how many are really all that "good".

    It's the tarting up that make most "arty" prints arty.
     
  5. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    Ken sometimes you are such a exuberant train wreck spectator that one begins to wonder if you are registered under other names on this site.
     
  6. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    In my opinion any process technique that is used should be done to enhance the aesthetics of the image and not for the sake of it. In the gallery you see both, but practice makes perfect.
     
  7. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    I agree. The photography should be about the pictures, and to present them in an effective manner is important. The photography should never be about the printing technique, or some other arbitrary technical aspect of the work. It should be always about the content.
     
  8. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    Nah. One Ellis Island name is more than enough. And no one can accuse me of hiding behind it by using it. It is what it is. Google it and every single hit you see is a relative of mine...

    As always, I do have some strong opinions. But the difference between me and most here is that I admit right up front that I'm not an artist. Nor do I attempt to play one on TV. Nor online. So any opinions on this topic I might voice are doomed to be classified as either ignorant at best, or stupid at worst, by those who are true artists (very few) or fancy themselves as such (too many to count?).

    I'm just a lowly software engineer who paused for a moment while debugging a memory leak to read Eric's thread.

    Best to just bookmark this one and enjoy the ride...

    :smile:

    Ken
     
  9. Vaughn

    Vaughn Member

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    Image (or content) must come together with technique to produce the photograph (or art or whatever).

    Sometimes the content follows the mastering of the technique, sometimes the other way around, sometimes at the same time.

    What we see a lot of here is just folks on their way, but thankfully they are willing to show their efforts and not waiting to become masters before sharing their work. We would not be seeing much work at all otherwise.

    Vaughn
     
  10. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    I agree with you. To bad these people would not post in the critique gallery so we could offer some advice.
     
  11. Alan W

    Alan W Subscriber

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    Maybe you could P.M. the offenders,and tell them how they should be doing it!
     
  12. NedL

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    I agree with this too, but would like to make a comment from the perspective of a beginning, novice printer. It is easy to get caught up in techniques and too focused on them when you are learning. And not just techniques or technical aspects, but also just too caught up in particular aspects of what you are trying to accomplish.

    Recently I made a print and my attention was on the tones in the sky... I burned too long and ended up with a darker sky on my print than I wanted, with that obvious "burned in" look. But another person pointed out that this same burning in increased the grain in the sky, and the coarse texture by contrast enhanced the smoother finer look of the water and foreground below it. He was right, and I hadn't seen it because I was too focused on the tone. I was blind to something that was quite obvious in the print right in my own hand. It makes me wonder what else I'm blind to!

    As for lith printing, I am very curious about lith redevelopment because I've seen some beautiful results, including some amazing work by Tim Rudman at his website. The main thing that is holding me back from trying it is that I still have a lot to learn about regular printing first. I have in my imagination a particular kind of print that might look extraordinary with lith redevelopment, but it is more like an unachievable ideal or goal to strive for eventually....

    I like trying new and different things, so I doubt I will wait to become a master printer before trying lith. There are not enough years left in my life to wait for perfection before experimenting!

    -Ned
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 8, 2013
  13. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    I'm not saying that technique is not important - as long as the efforts are to promote what you want do bring forward with your picture. :smile: If you're experimenting with a particular picture, are you not doing so to improve how you present it? If yes, you are serving the content by trying to improve the technique and appearance of the image, and that is, in my book, what we should concern ourselves with.

    What I don't think is a good idea, is to make a series of pictures about a certain technique, but to take a group of negatives that have pictures that tell a good story together, and then try to present them as well as we possibly can.
     
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  15. NedL

    NedL Subscriber

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    That is a nice way to think about things. Thank you!
     
  16. tony lockerbie

    tony lockerbie Subscriber

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    Still trying to master normal prints...been doing it for 40 years...will get it soon.
     
  17. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    hi eric

    isn't everything boring to a certain extant ... ?
    ... unless it isn't ...
     
  18. sbattert

    sbattert Member

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    This is an open forum for learning, isn't it? Only fifteen photos were shared in the apug gallery today. There are only two willing to be critiqued. I think it's safe to say that many people are intimidated by the small percentage of incredibly talented and equally intimidated by the large percentage of ranting egos. Apug should promote experimentation and learning of analog processes and those talented few should teach by example. Most of this is subjective. Also, what is perceived as ordinary today may evolve into something extraordinary. Wasn't there harsh opposition to impressionist paintings at first?
     
  19. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Well spoken.
     
  20. Patrick Robert James

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    Physician heal thyself.

    I am not sure why the OP thinks he is so above it all.
     
  21. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    A lith print can look interesting even if the underlying scene isn't particularly interesting.

    A web image of a lith print - not so much.

    In my time, I've seen a few originals of what are acknowledged to be great works of (visual) art.

    None of them are anywhere near as powerful or effective when viewed on a computer screen.
     
  22. zsas

    zsas Member

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  23. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    Lith is simply a another set of tools to the printer; another level of abstraction and expression. The same is true of any alternative process, silver printing, wet plate, toning, large format. a Hasselblad or crappy cameras. If the tool helps you express what you want to express, why not use it. If people think it is art, so much the better. If not, that's ok too.

    PS: don't look too close at my avatar....)
     
  24. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    I have what may be a totally naive question: Is "willing to be critiqued" really the criterion generally understood? I've always been afraid to post in the critique gallery, not because I'm *unwilling* to be critiqued, but because I'm afraid I'd leave people saying "Why does this idiot think I want to waste my time on critiquing his Printing 101 rejects?"

    I guess that's fair, but lith is one of those techniques where you can kinda see how the technique becomes an end in itself. It's like IR; there are a lot of IR photos where it seems pretty safe to say that there's nothing interesting about them except the fact that they were shot in IR. There's nothing *wrong* with that necessarily, but it's kind of superficial by itself. I get where Eric is coming from, I think.

    -NT
     
  25. MDR

    MDR Member

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    Lith is a tool and just like any tool it can be misused. On the other Hand lith is no more a gimmick than say a overdramatized sky a la Ansel Adams. A classic B/W print has several gimmicks at it's disposal a Border if it lacks blacks or the whites are too white and can't be contained, the aforementioned sky, contrast, etc... All these tools/gimmicks can be put to good use but can be just as misused as a Lith print. Alt. Processes including Lith and Wetplate are often seen as gimmick. The World is in color not B/W so using B/W is a gimmick to draw the viewers attention no different than a lith print.

    Dominik
     
  26. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    I have a similar thought every time I see a cyanotype of a single iris (or similar flower) in a glass vase. It's as if the process was invented for that subject alone.


    Steve.