I'm glad you found a methodology that works for you. However, what makes APUG different from other resources, IMO, is the curiosity and creativity of its members. If we all followed your advice, no one would have ever heard of PC-TEA, split-filter printing, or several dozen other tools/processes that make the photographic process interesting and exciting for us. I'd rather have some options, and keep the responsibility where it really lies: with me.
Originally Posted by John Cook
What does it help to have someone to blame? I think what helps is understanding the chemical process, and if you do that, you realize that all the fixers do pretty much the same thing, that D-76 is a fine developer for Agfa films, and that Ansco 130 will work with pretty much any paper.
When you expose film from Agfa, develop it in Kodak D-76, fix it in Ilford Hypam, print it on Bergger paper developed in Ansco 130 and you don’t like the print, whom to you blame?
You need to test any developer before you use it for something important. Goes for Kodak and Ilford products as well. I think BKA makes outsize claims of speed enhancement for Acufine and Diafine, but neither deserves to be called a "mystery powder" after something like 30 years on the market.
A lot of legendary developers, for example, have come out of third party vendors in the Chicago area over the years, but most had very sketchy documentation. I have religiously avoided these “mystery powders” in spite of their devotion by the secretive “in-crowd”.
In case someone may be interested, I have two secrets: first, to the extent possible, I always use materials from the same manufacturer. When you expose film from Agfa, develop it in Kodak D-76, fix it in Ilford Hypam, print it on Bergger paper developed in Ansco 130 and you don’t like the print, whom to you blame?
My second secret has been to use photographic materials which are well-documented by their manufacturer and follow those instructions to the letter.
Interesting post John and if your method works for you that's fine, but I don't entirely agree that it's the only way to go. There are many photographers and printers out there who use materials from different manufacturers and produce prints that "glow" as Ole mentioned. With regard to manufacturers instructions, if you were to speak to their technical people they would tell you that the instructions are suggested times, dilutions etc., and that you should carry out your own tests to determine what best suits you. In my view to limit your processing to following manufacturers instructions to the letter is imposing serious restrictions on what can be achieved.
Originally Posted by John Cook
I share your concern with the tendency to reinvent the wheel. In the photographic arena, my initial reaction so often is "been there, done that", and I have to restrain myself from responding with a smart-ass comment.
But this tendency is not limited to photography. Last year, before I retired, I went to a non-photographic technical conference at a major university at which a couple of guys presented a paper in which they claimed to have found a new solution to a particularly vexing technical problem. That's great, except that I recall a presentation in a class that I took back in 1973 in which some guys talked about the same solution as the "industry standard approach" to solving the same problem. Duh?
I appreciate that the "kids" have to learn lessons, and often they do it the hard way. I know that us older guys did the same thing when we were kids. But it seems to me that for society to progress, we need to retain some of this knowlege so that we can focus on developing new solutions to heretofore unsolved problems.
Gentle disagreement with Mr. Cook.
Observing brand continuity is not the issue. Mixing brands is not the issue.
The only two things that deliver consistent good results are a clear headed and patient approach to the job at hand, and a willingness to humble yourself to your craft. For some workers, tempermentally suited to following directions and keeping to standards, I think Mr. Cook's advice is sound. For others, who perform better by understanding what materials do, simple testing is best. Neither is absolute. The only way to do it is decide which approach suits you, and stick to it. It isn't brain surgery, and you are responsible for the results you get.
"One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid,
and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision"
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One of the first and most useful things (among many) that my tutor at university beat into me was that if you were going to learn something from a book, you'd better learn it from two books, making sure that the author of one hadn't copied the other.
If I stuck to what "photo Guru" Cook suggests I would not be using Pyro-Cat, with EFKE PL100 and printing it on POP, nor working on PD. If it worked for him great, but I wonder what would have happened if had branched out, got out of his rut and pushed his envelope.
Anyone who professes asking less questions is a fool, no matter how successful they think they are because of it. Not only is the search engine here a PIA to use, unless you are familiar with the jargon it is nearly impossible to find anything. SOmetimes asking what you, john, feel is a stupid question is the only way to get an answer for someone just starting out. If you feel a question is beneath your greatness or self defined Guruness, pass it over and let someone of obviously less greatness, than yourself answer the question.
Self Aggrandizement is sad.
Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the opportunities for pleasure, but it has great difficulty in generating joy. Pope Paul VI
So, I think the "greats" were true to their visions, once their visions no longer sucked. Ralph Barker 12/2004
"One of the first and most useful things (among many) that my tutor at university beat into me was that if you were going to learn something from a book, you'd better learn it from two books, making sure that the author of one hadn't copied the other."
You are very fortunate to have had such a wise and insightful tutor Helen. It took me years of formal education at the University level to learn this and, what's worse, I was never even cognizant it until now. Ya learn something new everyday.
For obvious reasons it is getting harder and harder to pick a single film, developer, fixer, paper and never waver for 60 years. Seems like all the company's are going broke, coming back, re-inventing themselves smaller leaner meaner. In short your 'method' was excellent for a guy that worked from 1940 to 1990 but is nearly impossible to maintain anymore. I'll be able to mix up Pyrocat HD well into this century and perhaps beyond. Tell you what, I'd put my prints made on Eastern European paper and film and develped in home brew next to anyone elses I've seen. Photographers intent on keeping the traditional craft alive are actually going to have to get pretty inventive. Don't think so? Pick up the phone and give Kodak Commercial a call and tell them you're out of XX and Azo and see what they say. The person at the other end of the phone at Kodak (if you can get a human at all) has no idea what XX or Azo or anything else silver related even is.
In a way, photogaphy is returning or has returned to its youth. In the late 1800's you had to 'do it yourself' and be able to adapt to the ever changing state of the craft. I think we're going back to that now. This is why we've seen an explosion in the usage and interest in large format and home brew chemistry. We're retunring to the basics - out of necessity. The craft is returning to its infant state...but we're doing it with all the benefits of modern technology. Excitiong times are these.