A characteristic of a great print is that your eye can explore it and not get distracted by some flaw that could have been improved with a little dodge or burn.
I stray from tradition on this... I'll consider a print good if my eye can explore it and see some flaws but not glaring distractions. If it would take much work to make only a modest improvement, I will consider accepting the print as-is.
The best manipulation is that which you can't even tell was done.
I have no argument with this, PKM. I'm not suggesting every print needs a lot of work to be good. My philosophy is you simply do whatever it takes to make the print you want to make. If a negative prints straight and it is exactly the print you envisioned, no point in tinkering for no reason. On the other hand if a different negative requires monumental efforts, nothing wrong with that either.
Originally Posted by PKM-25
And of course I totally agree there is not much point in a great print of a crap image. It always begins with the image. Just that some people believe it ends there, whereas I believe the print can make a big difference.
I agree a lot with what you say, Michael. Why go through the effort of making really great negatives, and then not capitalize on it fully at printing time?
Originally Posted by Michael R 1974
While I believe I spend less time on each print than you do, I still take great care when I print. I'm not absolutely obsessed with minute differences in tonality, but to get the right mood and feel in the print that I envisioned, is absolutely paramount to me. Rarely do I spend more than four sheets on achieving what I want, however, and I usually go from contact sheet to finished print in the same printing session. So while our working methods are different, I think our goals are the same. First - interesting picture. Next - make the best print that you can make.
Great thinking Thomas and Michael!
I try to keep my typical efforts below "monumental," but I have to agree... Every once in a while you have to work tirelessly. Like tkamiya's "mother and child" an important print sometimes takes you on a longer journey.