Sebastião Salgado's Genesis - How did he do it?

Discussion in 'Photographers' started by Ghostman, Jul 1, 2013.

  1. Ghostman

    Ghostman Subscriber

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    I was in London this weekend and I went to see the Salgado Genesis exhibition at the Natural History Museum. It's an astounding and fantastic show that left me awestruck, overwhelmed and inspired.

    What I would have liked to learn however was which cameras, film and printing techniques he used.

    I recently went to see the Ansel Adams show at the maritime museum and this kind of information was given. All prints were made by Adams himself, unless otherwise stated.

    Some of the Salgado images seem optically impossible and to produce such an extensive corpus of work in a darkroom would be a feat all of its own. I would be very interested to know:

    Which cameras does Salgado use?
    What film does he use?
    What paper are they printed on and are they darkroom prints?
    Are these images digital and have they been developed and manipulated in Photoshop?

    Whatever the answers are, the show is amazing and the images are mind-blowing. I can only recommend a visit to see these works which were obviously taken and made my a master.

    If anyone has any information on his techniques, I would greatly appreciate answers or links to more information about his process.

    EDIT: I just found this article which lists his equipment. It appears he uses digital technology. A Canon 1DS Mk III.

    EDIT: I found this article which explains a little more

    EDIT: I found this on the Ilford site:

    EDIT: More on his digital process. I guess I've answered all of my questions here.

     
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  2. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    As long as you don't delude yourself that if you have the same equipment and employ the same techniques as he, you will be able to produce work of the same artistic merit, any more than if you buy a Leica it will turn you into Henri Cartier- Bresson.
     
  3. Ghostman

    Ghostman Subscriber

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    I'm a little more realistic than that. I was interested in how he does it. If you're ever looking for me in an art gallery, I'll be the guy with his nose up against the picture to see if I can identify the weft of the paper or stroke of the brush. I believe you can't really understand what makes Ansel until you find yourself in front of one and you can see why. I was under the impression that Genesis was shot on film and when I saw the prints I thought 'if these are darkroom prints, I'll probably never see such craftsmanship ever again' - they are unbelievable and unbelievably good.

    Knowing now that they are digital and printed by some industrial deep thought printing device makes the images easier to process in my mind.
     
  4. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

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    deleted

    Now edit: I still think Other Americas is his best work. I have 5 books from Salgado at home - I love him very much, but Genesis I will not buy - I think it is far from his best work that he did in Africa and South America.
     
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  5. MaximusM3

    MaximusM3 Member

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    Yes, digital..now the question: does that make you love the show and those images any less now that you know he's using a digital process?
     
  6. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

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    And to add: I think discussion about Salgado's Genesis is more suitable for DPUG.
     
  7. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    I heard that Bismark once said laws are like sausages - it's better not to see them being made. Maybe the same is true of great photographs.
     
  8. Ghostman

    Ghostman Subscriber

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    Not at all. It was clear to me that some images had been taken on film and it was clear that some had not. The quality of the prints is outstanding. I would have eaten my hat, shoes and underwear if that was all darkroom technique, thankfully I can rest easy as it is not. Each to his own and if that's his medium then so be it. I'm not a trainspotter, judge, jury nor executioner. I love art and I loved his. I thought the show was spectacular and it was just intriguing to me how he did it.
     
  9. Gim

    Gim Subscriber

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    I'll take a shot at this strictly from memory so if I'm wrong please correct me.

    Salgado is a trained economist and wanted to use Photography as a means to show conditions that different peoples worked and lived in in some areas of the world. When he first started out he used Nikon equipment and bulk rolled Tri-X and then some Kodak Iso 3200 film. In the beginning he did not want to talk about the photographic process but wanted his prints to speak for themselves. As he became well known Leica made him an "offer that he could not refuse" and he started using Leica equipment and talked a little more about the process. Later on he switched to digital for probably several reasons and appears to be somewhat of a spokesman for the process. I do not believe he ever did his own darkroom or lightroom work. At one time a well known French printer did all his processing and printing. I think the majority of his work has been done on film.

    That he is more commercial now is normal. Things change. I do not want this to detract from his work. Salgado made work with a strong impact at the beginning when he rolled his own tri-x and I assume he still is with whatever he is using.

    Jim
     
  10. MaximusM3

    MaximusM3 Member

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    Thanks, I was just curious. At the end of the day, it's always about the image and the viewing/buying public is rarely concerned about the process. Of course, as photographers/printers, we are and we do what makes us happy, what's easier sometimes, and what gives great results. Now, if his latest work was from darkroom printing it may make me love it a bit more just because I know the incredible workmanship and knowledge that would go into making such prints..but again, those who appreciate such nuances and the skills required to produce a handmade print, are a minority (and probably always were anyway).
     
  11. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    I believe Salgado Jumped the Shark with his inkjet show. Some may be enamoured with his prints, I thought they were medicore to say the least, I am being really kind here.

    The original silver gelatin, and LVt silver prints were up to standard but the bulk of this project is really dissapointing to me. I have followed his work for years,and
    this new work is a major let down.

    He has released, silver from enlarger, silver from LVT , pt pd from digital negatives , and inkjets.
    This is very confusing and some of us are seeing the good work, some are seeing the bad..

    I think I would call his new work... The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

    viewer beware.
     
  12. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    If we are discussing just picture aesthetics, does it matter how it was produced?
     
  13. marcmarc

    marcmarc Member

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    I went to a reception at the Peter Fetterman Gallery in Santa Monica CA for "Genesis" this weekend. Yes, they are remarkable looking prints but they are labeled silver gelatin. Can a traditional print be made from a digital file? I do know when he started this project he went to medium format, a 645 I see to recall.
     
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  15. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    It seems that in the private galleries he is showing silver gelatin from LVT negatives from digital capture.
    They are quite nice .
    There are a few ways to do this, Ilford digital silver paper on a Lambda direct from digital file then processed wet , Digital silver negative from a Lambda and contacted on paper of choice , LVT negative from digital file then put in an enlarger and printed on paper of choice.
    He has put out a lot of different processes with Genesis.


     
  16. MaximusM3

    MaximusM3 Member

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    That's good to hear your pro opinion, Bob. I have only seen online images and honestly, not my cup of tea regardless. From what I can see on a screen, some of it is good and some of it really not. Not a lot of consistency and as you say, it may have to do with the mishmash of printing. Overall, I can clearly say that his film/darkroom output looks superior to me, for whatever the multitude of reasons may be.
     
  17. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    I am a big fan of Salgado's , I saw his impressive show at George Eastman House, of Migration and Workers, that was incredible work.

    I think his editing of Genesis is a bit off and the printmaking has suffered with his move to digital.. There are really good inkjet prints out there, don't get me wrong. But this body of work seems rushed and not up to the quality level of 15 years ago.

    some of the imagery , or to be honest a lot of the imagery is first rate, the finish is where I have problems.
     
  18. ParkerSmithPhoto

    ParkerSmithPhoto Subscriber

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    I suspect your opinion is a problem of having too much knowledge about the process. Kind of like the Folgers taste test: everyone loves it until they find out it's Folgers, which is, in many minds (including mine), synonymous with doodoo. "Gads! I'd never drink that crap! It wasn't distilled in a darkroom!"

    So he switched to digital? We're talking about one of the greatest, most dedicated photographers of our lifetime. Plus, he's 69 years old!

    As Austin Powers would say: "cut me some fricking slack, people!"
     
  19. chip j

    chip j Subscriber

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    It's refreshing to know some Great Pictures were taken w/a Nikon and not just that L camera.
     
  20. clayne

    clayne Member

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    This is BS.

    and this is also BS (unless he was exclusively shooting Delta 3200 in 645 format or something).

    I could care less that it was Salgado who said it, honestly. I'm also quite certain digital will cost him long term in more ways than one.
     
  21. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    If is smells like it , if it taste like it , it probably is.
     
  22. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

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    Salgado: "I was quite surprised when my batteries died in village without electricity. So I was not able to make photos for whole week"
     
  23. jvo

    jvo Subscriber

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    human nature

    about salgado, we all find ways to justify our actions... especially when money is involved.

    jvo
     
  24. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    What's up with the messed up quoted sections?

    Anyone else seeing this?
     
  25. Gabino

    Gabino Member

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    I went to the Royal Museum in Toronto to see his exhibition. It was a mixmatch including previous work too, especially from 'Africa'. I was stunned by some of the photographs, where all the qualities of his technique were present, especially the grain; but in others the gray was as if they were made of dolphin skin, really fake. After asking around and reading about the process from the brochure provided at the museum, I noticed that he was using a hybrid process. I had arrived to the museum with the hope of returning home with a copy of his book, but that didn't happen. Also because the book's format does not let you enjoy the photographs as one picture takes both left and right pages. For this and for the photographs themselves I didn't get the book, i went home and purchased a copy of 'Africa' through amazon, as it was cheaper than at the museum's store. This might constitute a pre- and post- on his career.
     
  26. philosli

    philosli Member

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    I ordered Genesis from Amazon and after a month wait, it finally arrived yesterday. I agreed with you that the format of the book, splitting up large images striding across two pages (left and right), really disturbs the viewing experience.

    And I don't know if it's because of his intention, in many images the shadow parts have little detail, without much tonal variation.

    I'm thinking returning the book if Amazon allows me to and get one of his earlier books.