When I click my shutter, there is a reason. The reasons often are, either I think it'll make a good photograph or I like the subject enough to take the photograph. Of course, not all of them turn out like I hoped. Quite often, I'm disappointing that image didn't turn out like I hoped. Sometimes, I'm surprised something I took, because I just thought that was interesting worked very well and made good photographs.
When I commit to printing my image, there is a reason. I either like the image enough to commit it on paper, or I think there's something in it that I think I should try to print it. I do not print every frame. If I see no value in the image, either aesthetically or educationally, I won't print the image.
Sometimes, I really like the image. I spend hours on end and days on end, sometimes months on end on just that image. I think the longest was 2 months or something. In the end, I'm often pleased with the result but not always. I've given up on many images, too.
Sometimes, I may not like the image that much but I find something interesting and say, hum... I wonder if I can do THIS and get THAT out of this image... then I try that. One time, I had really thin negative. I didn't think I could print it well. Surprise! It really made nice and contrasty image.
One time, I had a roll... I saw nothing in it and it was scratched so I filed it away. Month or two passed and reviewed the same roll again. Scratch bothered me so I put it away again. Figured a way to fix the scratch and printed 4 images I really like. Amazing what little cropping can do.... I'm still working on the last one. It's 5 images that I like out of 24 frames.... and I saw nothing in it at first. So you need to give yourself some time too.
I think you need to remain curious about your images. See your frames. Think what's possible and how you could improve. Evaluate.... if it's a good image, print it. if you think you can or should be able to make a good image, do it. if you think you can learn something from it, try that.
But if you see nothing in it, go to the next frame.
That's how I approach mine.
Life is too short to print bad negatives. IMHO you'll soon have an epic backlog of great photos that are queued up for enlarger-time so why waste time on the lesser images? Cull mercilessly. Your next print should be the best neg you have that you haven't printed yet.
We're here to make art, not paper walls.
When I look at a proof sheet, I try to remember what I saw in the viewfinder, and what attracted me to take the picture in the first place. If I took more than one of that scene I then look for the best one and make a straight print. From there I decide how I want to "tart it up" to reach or exceed the original vision.
Originally Posted by batwister
Looking at a boring proof sheet or a straight print is no determining factor in what that picture is capable of becoming.
Look at Ansel's Moon Over Hernandez. The straight print is dull and boring. The finished print could be called (by some) a masterpiece.
As with most things you get better if you practice it.
If it's a "lesser image", I don't think it's worth printing. Why spend the time on a negative that won't give you a worthy print?
I do think it's a good exercise to go back to old negatives, from time to time, though. If you've been at this for awhile (in my case about 40 years), you'll definitely discover good images which were difficult to print. As your printing skills improve, those old negatives may yield nice prints which your early skills couldn't coax out of the negative. When I first started, I knew nothing about flashing, split grade, and had rudimentary dodging/burning skills. As I acquired those skills, negatives I had passed on became easily printable.
"Cull Mercilessly," as Polyglot suggests.
I like the word "winnow," defined by the Free Dictionary as "separating the wheat from the chaff," and more importantly, "to examine closely in order to separate the good from the bad..."
I visualize the process that I use to produce a satisfying print as one of winnowing. Since switching to a large format camera I certainly winnow the number of exposures I make down to ones that I think will make good photographs. Most are winnowed out after I see a proof print of the negative. The rest I begin to work on as enlargements, sometimes stopping when I see that my vision at the time of exposure, for whatever reason, will not or can not be realized. Sometimes I see different possibilities for a print and am led in a new direction. Occasionally my original vision is realized.
In "Art and Fear," Orland and Bayles suggest that the purpose of 90% of our work is to allow the 10% to soar. That sums up my photographic philosophy and work flow pretty well.
I think a paraphrase of Mae West might be appropriate here:
http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1...7p2/259666.jpg “When I'm good, I'm very good, but when I'm bad, I'm better. ”
Like the Mae West quote, if only.
I've gained some clarity from the posts. When starting these types of threads, I suppose I have it in the back of my mind that there will be some kind of consensus reached, but wouldn't that be boring?
It's easy to become misguided when working in a vacuum, and the more I post on APUG, the more I realise how important it will be for me to have some real world correspondence - with obsessives like yourselves. Simply poring over books really isn't enough. Taking photography seriously is somewhat odd to those around me and I suppose partly seen as a fantasy. Especially when there's no scholarly basis for what I'm doing. I certainly spend more time thinking than doing and I often beat myself up over the fact that my pictures aren't as good as Callahan's... yet. :laugh: In a few more rolls, right!?
This is always a great reminder of what's possible. A black sky - who'd have thought?
Originally Posted by blansky
Thanks for the offer, Ian. From what I gather, I believe you've met a few of my favourite Brit photographers, so your insight may be invaluable to me.
Originally Posted by batwister
I'll take this one step further and state that some of those old negatives can yield a nicer print than you're used to, because what you originally thought was a screw-up is in fact a negative that a more skillful printer thinks is ideal.
Originally Posted by eddie
This is why notes is so important, and always pushing the limits; that is, if we're interested in exploring our materials beyond what we think they're capable of.
Not the same thing, but definitely pushing the limits and exploring the materials...
Originally Posted by Thomas Bertilsson
One of my friends, while in photography school was asked for his best negative of the day. The teacher took the negative, threw it on the floor, scuffed it with his shoes, handed it back and said, "now make a print".