Silver based photography now an alternative process?

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by severian, Aug 11, 2006.

  1. severian

    severian Member

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    I think the time has come. B&W photography can now be classified as an alternative process along with platinum, cyanotype etc. My beginning photography class used to be process based, all wet darkroom. I don't think I can justify that any longer. It must be concept based almost totally and using all the tools available. All the things that produce the beautiful B&W prints that we all love now go into the same class as the platinums etc. But I think this can be a positive thought. You still can't make an oil painting with a computer and I hope the students will realize that you cannot make a real silver print by any means short of a wet darkroom. Appreciate your thoughts.

    Jack
     
  2. tim atherton

    tim atherton Inactive

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    so (just to be contrary...), is a print from a B&W negative made on silver gelatin FB paper via say a Lambda a "real" silver print? (wet, but usually no darkroom).

    Presumably though, as it is made in a wet darkroom, a silver gelatin FB print from a digital file made on a Meopta digital Enlarger is a real silver print? (and it could be from a scanned neg or a digital camera file).

    Or is it only a "real" silver print if it is analogue from start to finish? what defines the "real silver print"? How it is printed or how the original matrix was made?
     
  3. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Member

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    Good point. I make cyanotypes from images taken with my Nikon D70, having digital negatives made on silver-based film and contact printed on cotton. The same negatives can be used to make silver-gelatine FB prints from digital input.

    Digital does not have to be a replacement; it can be an extension!
     
  4. clay

    clay Subscriber

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    I think a real silver print is anything that is not an unreal silver print.

     
  5. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    The little curve balls that life keeps throwing at us.

    Does a cloned sheep produce 100% natural wool.

    Dh or no dh.

    Should viagra induced pregnancies that produces a child later be allowed to participate in the Tour de France.

    The perplexing questions of our time.


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  6. don sigl

    don sigl Member

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    I think a real silver image should encompass all elements of the technique and process. That means that all elements in the medium should involve silver halide technology for the creation of the image. In my opinion digital photography is not photography. It is an alternative imaging technique. Nothing wrong with that, but creating the likeness of a painting in photoshop doesn't make the work a painting. Nor does digitally generating an image make it a photograph. Same is true with other processes as well. I work in bromoil and photogravure. I don't refer to either of the prints in these processes as photographs.
    Using any process other than those involving silver halide materials to generate an image does not constitute a silver gelatin photograph. I know its a pretty conservative definition, but I think the definition should be concise and minimize "alternative' interpretations.
     
  7. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Member

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    Don

    What would you call my silver-gelatin FB print, which was contact printed from a silver-gelatin negative, which was made with an Agfa image-setter, using a digital file that came from my Nikon D70?
     
  8. tim atherton

    tim atherton Inactive

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    silver-gelatin FB print, which was contact printed from a silver-gelatin negative, which was made with an Agfa image-setter, using a digital file that came from a 4x5 negative?

    Not a photograph? hmmm - thank goodness the Retentive don't decide what's what!
     
  9. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member Admin

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    I'd call it a digital print, why not?
     
  10. Artur Zeidler

    Artur Zeidler Inactive

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    but I think obviously matters little and is of no real importance.

    As you clearly know, many different processes in the past have been gathered under the umbrella of "photography". It is clear that many of the hybrid analog/digital processes will be too (and it is entirely possible that digital "photogrpahy" will as well, whether we like it or not)

    As soon as you try to draw a hard and fast line you end up cutting something else out and end up with as many internal contradictions as a fundamentalist at a bar-mitzva

    Photography has always been inclusive rather than exclusive (over much technological change) and will clearly remain so.
     
  11. don sigl

    don sigl Member

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    Ralph:

    I'd have to classify it as a hybird. In my opinion you need to be working with a metalic salt from front to back. The D70 doesn't meet that criteria. The initial image is digital. And in my opinion, if photography doesn't start with a silver salt medium, then its something else. Digital simply is not the same.

    Tim: Call it rententive if you want. I'd probably classify it as purist.

    Regards,
     
  12. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    As long as I can't tell the difference between a print made from an in-camera negative and a print made from one of Ralph's drum scanned, digitally enlarged negatives, I couldn't care less how they're made.

    But if I can see the difference, I'll choose the process which yields the finer print no matter what you want to call it or how traitorous my gelatin silver friends think I'm being.
     
  13. jmailand

    jmailand Member

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    It may be your alternative but its not mine. I suspect others will agree with me.
    I have a digital camera, its makes very good 12M pixel photos, but the analog prints I make still look better to my eyes. Also until it is proven in the real world ,not some lab, that ink jet prints will really last for decades, digital will be my alternative process.

    James,
     
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  15. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I think of "alternative" processes as handcoated processes. Silver may be moving that way, but it's not there yet to any great extent (the notable exception being Ron Mowrey's workshop). As far as I am concerned, as long as it's being made in factories, it's not alternative.

    (Centennial POP, you ask? Well there are always grey areas.)
     
  16. smieglitz

    smieglitz Subscriber

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    I think the labeling issue is lost. I strolled through the 2006 invitational Area Show at the local Art institute and saw only about 1/6 of 3 dozen or so photographically-derived images labeled as to the proper print medium. About 4 of those were gelatin silverprints or van dyke brownprints, and a couple prints were labeled as "inkjet". There was 1 "giclee" and most were simply labeled "photograph" although those prints were almost exclusively inkjet prints with a couple c-prints mixed in. A couple "pigment prints" slipped in there which was disturbing as they were obvious inkjet prints. :mad: Wish the computer component would have been acknowledged there as I think that practice is deceptive while the term "photograph" is probably too broad to imply any deception in the current climate. I see the latter increasingly as more a case of ignorance rather than deception.

    But, forget about differentiating between an in-camera or digital negative or prints from them respectively, a silver light sensor or a silicon one, or any intermediate step done digitally. Only the more knowledgable collectors or fellow practitioners will care enough to ask or consider the difference important enough. I think that is unfortunate but it seems the way things have become. The best we will be able to do is refer to the proper specific and final medium in such situations. Eventually the audience will (hopefully) question why some things are generically labelled "photograph" and are scattered among the silverprints, platinum prints, chromogenic prints and ambrotypes, etc., and for that matter, the well-executed inkjet prints.

    Joe
     
  17. Ray Heath

    Ray Heath Member

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    perhaps we need to recognise the difference between a print and a photograph

    ultimately the image and the creator's intent is the important thing

    a weak image in a 'great/new/old/alternative/silver/digital/stick dipped in tar/expensive/whatever' medium is still a weak image

    the medium does not define quality/message/intent
     
  18. kjsphoto

    kjsphoto Subscriber

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    Digital print... It is what it is.

    A Traditional silver gelatin print, is a print that uses no digital whatsoever to create it from start to finish including the negative being of film and not digital.
     
  19. tim atherton

    tim atherton Inactive

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    and both are photographs?
     
  20. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    I guess that would depend on whether it was any good or not.
     
  21. kjsphoto

    kjsphoto Subscriber

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    No.
     
  22. tim atherton

    tim atherton Inactive

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    Okay, why not (and what about the other example, negative, scanned, printed on silver paper).

    I'm asking, logically, why isn't it a photograph?

    A photograph, at it's simplest definition, is writing with light. Some definitions even reduce it purely to the capture - the capturing of the image on some light sensitive material (after all, when people look at work in a book or a newspaper, they don't actually say "hey, look at that ink based reproduction... etc", they say "I saw a really powerful photo in the paper..." etc).

    But even those that aren't that narrow, define photography as the capturing of light (or radiant energy) on some sensitised material and then the printing of that on some form of sensitized material (with all the usual wrinkles for projected/back lit transparencies, X-Rays etc).

    And these definitions have never relied on saying something like "to be a photograph it is required that it is working with a metallic salt from start to finish"

    Neither is quality a defining parameter "my analogue prints still look better than digital" - well, so what, my silver gelatin prints look a hell of a lot better than many old POP prints I've dealt with.

    These definitions have served photography in all it's forms and permutations through the last 160 odd years or whatever.

    The fact is, that whether we like it or not, the majority of the standard, accepted definitions of photography also apply to a lot of digital "photography" and even more so to the various hybrid process, such as the two examples - digital capture/traditional print, traditional neg/scan/traditional print.

    That we might not happen to like it, doesn't change that

    As soon as you start to narrow the definition down you start to cut out things that have, in the past, been considered photography or photographs.

    Now, I'm not just saying this to be bloody minded, but rather because if all we can really offer is essentially some form of emotional or knee jerk response then we really just end up ghettoising ourselves.

    Because in the end it isn't us who decides "what is a photograph". It's the wider populations of users of photography of all kinds, and also the museums and archives that are the depositories of photographs.

    I think some of us secretly (or perhaps not so secretly) enjoy being seen as a cranky old bunch of Luddites - but if that's so, it's doing nothing to further the cause of analogue photography at all.
     
  23. tim atherton

    tim atherton Inactive

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    surely a purist wouldn't be using film though? They'd still be using plates at best.
     
  24. tim atherton

    tim atherton Inactive

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    I'd think you'd probably have to say only "some" of the more knowledgeable collectors . For many - private or institutional, it's not really an issue
     
  25. donbga

    donbga Member

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    Yeah, they are the ones who have purchased color ink jet prints that have faded in just a few years. :smile:

    Here is something else to ponder. This photographer sells silver gelatin prints. Are they real photogrpahs?

    http://www.dominicrouse.com/index.html

    For that matter is he a photographer?

    We report, you decide.
     
  26. tim atherton

    tim atherton Inactive

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    Because he does montage or because he uses some digital?

    If the former, photographers have been doing that since the beginning.