Gavin, I agree. I hope that with your shoulder issues you can at least lift a whisky glass the appropriate distance... :)
Max is awesome. Never gives up. He is making a couple of plates for me currently, which I am extremely psyched about. Have seen the DPUG gallery uploads too, and I hope you can continue to hone your own gravure skills too, Gavin. They are so beautiful, a result of real hard labor and determination, blood sweat and tears, with results that often disappoint in the beginning. But when you nail it it'll be worth every penny and second spent to get there. In the future it's something I wish to do too. But I can't afford the copper version.
I hope your shoulders get better soon!
bear in mind that even the grand master wet-darkroom printer St. Ansel evolved his technique over time, and the way he printed one negative changed observably from creation to the end of his career. This is normal and natural. Don't feel anxiety over your evolution - if anything, rejoice in it because it means you are still capable of learning. To cease to learn is to die, someone famous once said. And if you go back later and reprint some of your old negatives in a totally new way, it means not only that you can reinterpret your old ideas, but that your old ideas still have meaning to you. It's a good thing.
Where I need to relax a little bit is probably, as has been pointed out, in learning to accept where I'm currently at, and just enjoy making the prints.
My whole quest has been about getting away from things surrounding equipment, which got me absolutely nowhere. Same thing about films and developers, and papers and developers. The only piece of equipment that I find truly important, besides just being reliable and functioning well, is the enlarger and its lens. After purchasing a great enlarger, and dropping all the equipment silver bullet strides, I have come to realize that technique is really the only thing that matters. How to engage with the subject matter while shooting (whether it be landscape or people), how to realize the importance of matching negatives to our paper of choice AND mastering how to actually do that, and finally becoming a better printer - now that has helped to carry my work forwards in a way that has been extremely satisfying, and it's real because it's my own brain and my own hands that are functioning better - with the same materials. To me that was utterly profound.
The whole thought process came full circle when I realized why the amazing printers above are my heroes - it's because they do not possess the ability to change any of the materials that the images are photographed with. They receive(d) negatives from customers that are/were a certain way - and they just HAVE to deal with that. The magic in those prints is obviously not the camera, the film, or the film developer - it is the eye of the photographer and what they recorded, combined with their own skills as printers. The materials could be anything between heaven and earth, yet they were hired to do something special with it. Ding! Ding! Ding! Lightbulb moment. This proved to me that the road to improving my print does not lie in my choice of film or lens, but my knowledge of HOW to use them.
(Edit: I will correct myself here, because I know that Carnie insists on processing the film he prints himself, for reasons of quality of output, which is probably making his life a lot easier).
I've been working like a dog for 1 full studio day minimum per week since Feb on my plates - steep learning curve, and a very physical, 'hands on' process. Very good fun though - and the different inks and papers is a whole new world...! Have a small series I'm printing, hopefully will see the light of day early next year when I can get back in studio.
Anyway, apologies for hijacking thread a little - back to the matter in hand :)
while it is hard work what you are doing, you have to realize you are in a forest full of trees.
sometimes you need to step back to gain a little perspective, and enjoy the ride on the way...
...In the same boat Thomas. Always enjoyed looking at your photographs and hope one day to see the prints in person. I'm always glad to see your icon pop up in discussion, even if I disagree, because you contribute to the forum in a positive and meaningful way. I've even taken a couple points of advice from you and applied it to my own printing to only find improvement, even if just slight.
What really opened me up to the printing world was working under a Master Printer from NYC. Even he was learning new things as I was there, though very small things, it was humbling to know that you will never get bored of printing and there's always room for "improvement", which truly makes it an art form.
This thread has actually sparked an interest I've had for about a year to throw some money into an advanced print making workshop of some sort. I found that what I learned under one of the greats was something that would have taken me years to work on myself with books, internet and experimentation.