I don't really measure my distance from mainstream. That's not too important to me. But figuratively speaking, I am sometimes mainstream, sometimes wandering far.
Every permutation scratches my creative itch in some way;
Epson scanner+epson printer
film + epson scanner
film + silver gelatin paper
film + cyanotypes
film + vandykes
film + digital negatives + cyanotypes
I wouldn't mind some other alt process options, but there are only 24 hours in a day.
Yes, I use digital. But I also use film - both black and white and color (mostly negative). I do gelatin-silver black and white printing. I haven't done color darkroom printing for years. I also, more and more frequently, delve into brownprint and cyanotype printing. I plan to try salted paper very soon. Interestingly, digital has become nearly a necessity for these alternative methods. You need it to make enlarged negatives. Traditional methods of making enlarged negatives suffer from the cost and unavailability of materials. Beside that, I get great control using Photoshop.
Film, Paper Negatives & Dry plates. I try to split my time between these three. It's a pastime. The only real time I spend with a DSLR is when it's connected to a telescope. Other than that it's a general snapshot camera.
Digital is an alternative process. B&W photography has been and always will be about light and shadow, both in the creation of the film image and the paper image.
While I do like to hang out on this forum, I am primarily a hybrid worker. I use film cameras, scan the film and print digitally. One of these days, I want to begin making digital negatives for contact printing on platinum/palladium.
I miss making silver prints, but I have to deal with arthritis that makes it really unpleasant to stand in the darkroom for hours at a time as I did in my youth. Being able to retouch and manipulate images digitally is fabulous. It allows me to do thinks I'd never have time or ability to do in the darkroom.
Digital cameras don't thrill me, but I've largely given up 35mm in favor of a small digital camera. Probably 95% of my photography is medium or large format B&W.
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Photography is a much more broadly inclusive than silver gelatin "printing" and the use of film.
The exclusive characteristic which has always separated photography from other ways of picture production is the consumption of light sensitive substances. Any light-sensitive substance will do. It doesn't have to be silver based. It also doesn't matter if the light sensitive substances are particularly in the form of film, plates, sensitised paper, bottles of goo, whatever. These are just convenient (or inconvenient) ways of presenting a light-sensitive substance to light so that it can undergo chemical changes, produce visible marks, and generate photographs.
And no, it's not the use of cameras or lenses that make a photograph a photograph. Those things have a long pre-photographic history as aids to painting and drawing. Nowadays cameras and lenses are also used to provide feedstock in the form of electronic files to the front end of digital picture-making. And "digital", if you think about it (or not), is merely a computer assisted analog of painting or drawing. Paintings, drawings, and their modern digital equivalent don't amount an alternative or mainstream way of actually doing photography.
Photography, the word itself, invented and defined by its author Sir John.F.W.Herschel, 14 March 1839 at the Royal Society, Somerset House, London. Quote "...Photography or the application of the Chemical rays of light to the purpose of pictorial representation,..". unquote.
I disagree with the premise, but that discussion goes nowhere worth going.
Nice work. You have a very talented computer.
It's all kind of jumbled up for me.
The solstice is tomorrow, and I will go replace solargraphy cans that I have scattered all over the county. Even though the solargraph is on photo paper, I hardly even think of it as "photography".. it's just a different hobby. The results can't be shared here because they are hybrid, but sometimes they are amazing.
Then there's pinhole photography and that's a step closer to "real" film photography, I guess. But I have a completely different mindset when I go out with a pinhole camera compared to film camera. Those are scanned+inverted or contact printed, in about equal proportions. Or on instant film. Really fun!
Then there's film... I have two 35mm SLRs and two 120 folders ( w/ slow and fast films loaded ). I carry one of them around on my walks almost every day. Those are for making prints with. That's "normal film photography" making prints under the enlarger. But maybe I have anachronistic taste. The prints that I'm the most happy with look like they were made 75 years ago. Sometimes I use a blue filter to push things in that direction. But not always... what I like isn't so one dimensional. Mexican food might be my favorite but I like all kinds of food....
Then I have some old kodak folding cameras that I mostly use paper negatives in, but sometimes I put film into them and make prints. There is no good reason for this, but in my mind, it's as different from "normal photography" as pinhole or solargraphy. I usually have something very specific in mind and it doesn't look anything like the prints I usually make.
Then there's large lensed-camera paper negatives. I started making some especially for salt prints, and I'm trying to learn how to make good calotypes. I have not yet managed to combine these and make a salt print from a homemade calotype, but I'm getting there. Both of these things emphasize aspects of paper negatives that I really like, so it was a natural direction to go. If I manage to do that, I guess I'll have reverted back to photography as it was 150 years ago! I have a family and a full time job, so I have to be satisfied with slow progress. Actually that's not true: I have fun doing it, and there's no "goal" or end point I'm trying to reach.
I also have a digital camera that I use for snapshots, and I do like it. I spend enough time in front of my computer so the digital would not be a fun hobby for me.
Last edited by NedL; 06-20-2014 at 05:48 PM. Click to view previous post history.
I'm afraid that according to the Pacifica Chapter of the Center for Photographic History and Technology (CPHT) silver gelatin film and paper isn't yet "Alternative" enough to be counted as "Alternative Photography".
But it has been considered.
I use digital tools for sharing things digitally, and almost all my recent colour prints have been made using a digital intermediary.
But I shoot film whenever and wherever I can, including transparency film for projection.
I print black and white in the darkroom, and am trying to get back to optical colour printing.
When I have photographs printed at a lab, I avoid ink jet processes and insist on RA4.
I lurk and experience vicariously the work that other, more alternative photographers do. So far, I've got a single Van Dyke brown print in my experience.
I may as well include a plug for the fall 2014 Northwest Symposium for Alternative Process Photography: http://www.altphotopacifica.org/Events.html
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2
I committed myself to platinum and palladium prints in the mid 1980s due to it being the only way I could get what I wanted out of a print. I am too old now to consider an alternative and besides I still get what I want. However that said I have always wished there was some direct single step paint on solution that would allow me to print archival true color on beautiful paper. Sentimentality, love of the old, or wanting to do what other people don't do has never affected me.