Yeh - I gotta disagree on the brand loyalty thing here.
1) There is no magic - just physics. Kodak soup has chemicals - if you like what it does - stick with it. If you don't like giving up accutance for mushy grain - use different chemicals. The film will not know you are swapping partners.
2) If it made sense for me to make my own film and paper, I would. When I started mixing my own chemistry, I took control of my processes. I was no longer at the mercy of the short timers in bloated companies that see their future being swallowed up by metal oxide semiconductors. Like Ole - I mix everything my self. I know exactly why I rarley use the venerable D76 and why I prefer Catechol to Gallol and why I buy some of my developing agents from Trader Joes. If I stuck with Yellow packaging from film to print, I would not have the confidence, the knowledge, the resluts or the FUN that I am having now.
3) A densitometer and an afternoon taught me more than any label printed on a film or developer package. I know the DR my paper will print and the SBR my film/developer combination will capture and exactly what film speed it takes to put that image in the range I indended it for. I know that shooting into the sun will require me to choose TRI-X at a lower film speed and develop a little less and if I am shooting a low contrast scene to choose FP4 and rate it at 125 and develop it a little longer. All this is due to tests that I ran and I have a database of the results so I know how to capture what I see in the field. - I am not going to get this kind of precision from OEM literature.
4) OEMs are self propelling - they will ask you to use products that do not help your processes because it is what they have and how they make money. I would NOT use Kodak fixer. It is acidic. I use TF3 - home made - inexpensive and non-acidic. I would not use Kodak stop bath for film. It is a risk to the emulsion that is unneccessary. Water has worked fine for years, is cheaper and not risky - and since I am not using acidic fixer - I don't need it.
5) When the profit is gone - so are the OEMs. I stay well versed on many film and paper brands. I have my favorites but with testing, I can confidently make great images with Ilford, Kodak, Agfa, J&C or Konica films. Yes - I do have a preference but my work will not stop if Kodak stops. - In other words - it is not important for me to be loyal to them - my money pays their bills (unless they don't meet my needs) It is more important that they remain loyal to me!
6) And lastly - It was from asking specifig dumb questions here that I gained the knowledge to do this all. A faq answers a lot of questions but not the specific ones that lead to a full understanding or how something works when you are in the thick of diagnosing why something went wrong. So - dumb questions are fine - even if they are revisited repeatedly. That is how new insights get aired and how things get invented.
- If my neighbor wants to develop his own so he can have his pictures done - it is a fine thing to say to him - buy all yellow and read the directions. To master a craft that is a passion and a labor of love to create expressive art. It is much better to come here and be willing to try and fail and learn.
My photos are always without all that distracting color ...
Originally Posted by fhovie
With all due respect to Mr. Cook, he clearly answers the question of the best development technique far differently than many who responded here. This kind of interaction is just what I'm looking for from APUG.
Clearly the last word has not been spoken on countless aspects of traditional photography; if we stop asking the questions we will never learn anything new.
A few quick observations/comments:
- Generally speaking, I agree with the posters who question the wisdom of sticking to a single supplier for everything from film to wetting agent to paper. For a rank beginner, though, doing so can have the advantage that in case of problems, the beginner can call the manufacturer and stand some chance of getting useful help. I honestly don't know how common this approach to problem solving is, though. Personally, experience in many fields has taught me that the manufacturer is often the least helpful resource, but others may have other views on this matter. Sticking to one manufacturer also means that the chosen manufacturer's documentation should provide relatively clear workflow suggestions with no competing advice. When using multiple suppliers, the documentation may have gaps or contradictions, which can leave a newbie bewildered. Once beyond the beginner level, I agree that mixing and matching has its advantages, and in fact that's what I do.
- The very nature of online discussion groups means that you'll see the same questions being asked again and again. Complaining about it is about as likely to promote change as complaining about the weather is to change the weather.
- FAQs can help reduce the number of beginner questions, but beyond a point, FAQs can become so big that newbies can't find the information they need in them.
I'm too cheap to be brand loyal or conduct exhaustive experiments to determine what might work best for me; hense, I ask a lot of questions.
Photography is a new found passion, so I don't have decades of experience to fall back on; so I ask a lot of questions.
Many times, the answer to a question brings more questions; so I ask a lot of questions.
I must also admit to being a bit of a devil's advocate, at times...asking a question that I may already know the answer too, or at least a pretty good idea, in the hopes that the ensuing discussion will uncover other points not previously focused on or bring out more and differing perspectives. I enjoy different perspectives, both in photography and in thought.
When I was in the classroom, I told my students, "In this whole world, there is only one stupid question....the one you don't ask! If you truly need the information and that need creates a question in your mind, ask it." Now, if the question was only meant to disrupt, then there was no true need for the information. If it was off topic, the student was redirected to the proper forum (class). If the student's need for the information was that immediate, I would answer the question, regardless of how off topic it was. It was often easier/more efficient to provide the information, then to spend a lot of time redirecting.
I have found this community to be one of the most helpful, sincere and sharing bunch around...and with people that most have never even met! I find that to be truly amazing! Most do it for the sheer enjoyment of the craft and to see it flourish; to me, a benchmark of professionals.
I read as much as I can to learn about as much as I can about my preoccupation. I found a way to have my library aquire some of the texts on photography that it doesn't possess and I want to read (remember, I'm cheap!) and I read alot of the forums here and on other sites. I'm taking a photo course this winter to relearn the good skills and unlearn the bad ones that I've acquired. I only hope that the instructor will be as good about my questions as those here have been.
Thanks, Mr. Cook....for..asking the question?
I think that the future of film based photography (and black and white in particular) is based on new people getting involved. This includes both young people and those who are returning after digital experimentation. Learning through questioning (however basic or repetitive they may seem to more experienced photographers) is an essential part of this and having a space (i.e. APUG) where it is safe to ask questions and get genuine and supportive answers is vital - otherwise the enthusiasm of the beginner quickly withers and the community of film photographers (and hence the market) declines. Also, even basic questions get so many different answers and approaches (for example, see the thread on water stop baths when printing) that new experiences often emerge that aid learning and increase our knowledge. My view is the enquiring mind always asks the simple (but profound) questions - what, why, when, who and how.
But I do think there is a space for photographers life stories, diaries, personal philosophy and reflections based on years of practice and experience and I enjoyed reading Mr Cooks original post in that context. Actually, I also enjoy people describing their mistakes and learning from things that went wrong in the first instance. Infact I would be interested in reading this sort of thing from other of the more experienced members of APUG.
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I am sorry that some of you were unable to understand my simple practical advice and chose to take offense.
Referring to my self as a guru was, of course, a little joke meant to illustrate that I know absolutely nothing except to follow the instructions of the chemists who formulated the developer. How intellectually deep is that concept?
There are those of us who are more amateur chemists than picture-takers. And I don’t mean that in any disparaging way. For them, the eternal quest for the perfect exotic chemical formula is a full-time hobby in itself, without actually making commercial quantities of images on a daily basis. Fine! But one cannot both follow manufacturer’s directions (to safely and predictably produce an important image) and experiment with “unauthorized” variations (as a delightful hobby) at the same time, with the same photograph.
However, for the vast majority of people whose perfectly welcome, but elementary, questions I am citing, knowing enough (by just reading the bottle label) to put the film in the developer before using the fixer might be somewhat beneficial.
There are times, such as your firstborn in the maternity room, or perhaps your daughter’s wedding, or your aged grandparents’ very last wedding anniversary, where telling people that your little chemical experiment “didn’t come out” is considered rather poor form.
I was merely advocating for novices a fast track to learning how to do it right every time before wandering off into some processing fantasy wonderland.
After you learn the rules properly, by all means break them to see what will happen. You might just get lucky once in a while.
If you read my original post again, I never claimed to be the most artistic artiste. My simple claim to fame is that I am a dependable professional who can produce a commercially usable image on time, every time, without fail.
That's often useful, too.
I agree with you 100%
Originally Posted by John Cook
In fact, that was probably my biggest mistake...not learning the basics, correctly, first.
Originally Posted by John Cook
IMHO a person won't learn anything unless they know the basics 100%. When they change developer,film etc is the improvement/failure because of the product or not doing something right?
I also wouldn't suggest using something new for anything important. Until you've tested it out and understand how it works.
I don't think it is any big deal to mix materials from different mfgs. What I do tell people starting out is to stick with one film, one developer and one paper for a few months. Shoot a minimum of 50 rolls of film and go through 300 sheets of paper. This will give them a good base line of what that combination can provide under a vareity of conditions and increasing experience. After that start playing with variables one at a time but now you can do it with small quantities. Shoot a few rolls of a new film and see how it compares to your old combo. or now go out and buy a few sample packs of paper and see how the negs print different. start trying a different developer.
"Fundamentally I think we need to rediscover a non-ironic world"
While I disagree, at a gentle level, with some of the points John has, I agree strongly with most of his post.
How can that possibly be ?
As every 'old school shooter' worth their salt has always taught, you have to get the process under control before you can begin to know what the process is about.
For a commercial shooter, whose job is to illustrate an idea or execute a design for a client, a simple, well grounded technique is essential. A 5 % failure rate is unnacceptable: the way to achieve excellence is to avoid badness at all costs.
Tri-X / Plus-X; D-76; Dektol; and so on. A perfectly well integrated system that is reliable, and well suited to day in, day out work, to do darn near anything.
We have become suspicious of well documented products, and more willing in the age of the internet and highly technological photographer, to grab at anything that promises tighter control, and more expressive potential. If it has L.E.D.s and a CPU, it has to be good.
And yet, until one simply learns the basics it is all rubbish, and always has been. Worrying over the differences between cameras, lenses, and films is pointless. The stereotypical 'internet' comparison of This vs That is usually the indicator that poster hasn't gotten the point yet. The answer to all the photo questions can usually be found in one of two places: a basic Kodak guide, or in your darkroom over a tray of developer.
It must be hard today to learn this stuff. You can't go to the local camera shop and talk to somebody who knows how it works.
You can't buy a magazine and read about basic process.
You can't go be a dogsbody for the local portrait studio.
And every year, photo wisdom dies off.
Maybe we can compile an APUG "Basic Photo Respository".
[ John: I've got the How to Take Good Picture series going back to the '20s... how are you set for old Kodak datasheets and the like ? We could post that stuff and probably get away with it ... ??? ]
"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"