John in defense of the new people to photography, not all are allowed to do as you have suggested. I took 5 years worth of photography classes, to get myself back inot photography after a long hiatus. If other new individuals were subjected to the deplorable instruction I was, they need to ask the very basic questions. We as classes were only allowed to use one film. One film developer with a times chart that was over 20 years old. (funny how the film we used had changed many times over the years since it was made) we printed with one developer, and mostly exhausted and replenished fix, that was never dumped. The paper was told to us to be Sterling, but as students are want to do, we all found cheaper paper in student packs other places. The total of all instruction for the 5 years could be condensed down into two class periods. We learned on our own mostly by reading like Helen has said, and I read many many books. We shared, but then you ran into some who refused to beleive that there was anything else besides the stated film, developer and the little if non existent help that we got to process it. I'm still amazed that any there were able to do some of the things they did accomplish.
What I found was taking workshops from known experts changed me and my attitude about photography. It was no longer the subject that you wished you had one of those happy accidents so you had a decent print. It was more controable, and had various methods open to deal with various problems. Out of the hundreds of rolls of film from that period, I find that there are very few negatives I can't work with. At the time of the classes, I was lucky to use maybe 10%
I learned to ask questions again, since our professors standard answer was to look it up in A (singular) book. There are no stupid questions for an individual, only the ones you were to afraid or intimidated by who you thought were the guru's to ask!
So we answer the same question over and over again. These people want to learn! They may not be savy enough to do the search function, or they are looking for a twist to what is already answered. I would rather answer it as many times as it is asked, and know that an individual had the answer they sought, than to discourage someone because I was tired of seeing and answering the same question. What would have happened if no one dared to ask questions in the early years of photography?
Originally Posted by John Cook
I like you - but I gotta say - you missed something here. I stopped using D76 because I did not like the way the image looked when I was done. It was not bad - anyone who looked at my D76 images would say they looked fine. But I did not like the look - there was a razor sharp look I was after and I did not get it. If that (OEM) is the look you are happy with - that is great. There are other things I did not like about OEM chemistry but this is how the end product looks. NOT a "processing fantasy wonderland." When I tried PMK - I got images that would cut you they were so sharp. It was the look I was after. Not the best for certain portraits but it was what I was after. Now the quest is for that sharpness plus finer grain plus ease of use .. etc. I recently tried Pyro510. A fine developer. The images are not as sharp as those done in P'cat. I did a senior photo shoot and - to my eye - the images did not have the edgy snap I was used to. It gives me full film speed and is easy to use. It is a trade I will make for some things but not for others.
John, I have had the pain of having an image that was interesting, well composed and yet - lacking. The lacking thing is a deal breaker. I have a Zeiss Iconta with a Novar lens. The images are not sharp edge to edge. I have some great images that will never be great prints. Lenses count! I have never been let down with my Hassy or Rollei or LF Rodenstock, Fuji or Schneider lenses. Lenses as well as developers are a deal breaker if you want to make a technically perfect work of art.
Highlight control in outdoor scenes where the sbr is in excess of 12 stops is a challenge that is a daily testimony to the inadeqecy of (most)OEM chemistry. If I did that with D-76 I know that I would not be happy with the results - I never was in the past when I tried it. Stand processing in P'cat will develop my shadows and clamp my highlights and will give me razor sharp edges.
I don't do commercial photography (every chance I get) I know that what I am looking for in a finished print is vastly different than the average customer. I am sure that the average commercial customer would be perfectly satisfied with a PlusX/D76/Dektol/Kodak print. In commercail work, you controlled your lighting and probably used decent glass. I make photos to hang in gallerys and museums - and even more picky - my walls!
One thing I will grant you though - If I could buy P'cat premade cheaper than I make it myself - I would still make it myself. I know my precision and .... I enjoy this aspect of the craft - (you pegged me on that one)
My photos are always without all that distracting color ...
Perhaps this is just my understanding of the original post - but - I believe that many here have missed the tongue-in-cheek nature of a lot of the comments Mr Cook made (especially as to his "guru" status). I believe that this has made many take a generally more negative, or even defensive posture towards the author as well as the message of the post.
As someone who considers himself at best and an advanced beginner (and a glorified monkey most of the time ), I have asked many of these "redundant" questions myself. I will probably (most likely...) continue to do so wether knowingly or not. I am far from agreeing with Mr Cook on 100% of what he said in regards to the usefulness of such querries - but I think that with a few disclaimers, his advice could save many a headache for many a freshly minted photo-enthusiast.
On the other hand - I don't mix my own chemistry, mainly because I don't feel confident enough in my understanding of the physics and chemistry involved. In so much I agree that for someone like me, it is probably best to stick to pre-manufactured products, made by people who know - I think you can't improve anything if you dont have a very thorough understanding of the thing you are trying to improve. Many people here do, I am not one of them. Because I don't have a client waiting for the fruits of my labour, all I am interested in is a print that makes myself and a few friends and perhaps colleagues on-line take a long look and say:"That is a wonderful picture". Recently, I tried some different developers from what I am used to. Why? Because I wanted to. I didn't need to. I had fun doing it. There are many singular opinions out there, and I can assure Mr Cook, that I would not be able to gain the understanding I needed from reading the instructions provided by the manufacturer or even from a single instructional source. And definitely, I would not be able to obtain objective opinons on many more intangible factors.
I understand my post (the third one in this thread-wow!) is getting a bit lengthy and perhaps less than to-the-point, so I will summerize.
The original post is a well of wisdom that will serve the beginner, the commercial photographer starting out and the person who is only interested in obtaining a "proper" photograph, and it will serve them very well. It may be, and probably is, a good point to ponder for everyone else, as well. Perhaps it could be used as inspiration to provide resources for the beginner, the newcomer.
But, the multifaceted nature of photography is such, that unless you go to many sources, you may never find what you want - and to many, what they want is the proper way to go. To this I say - as long as APUG exists, as long as there is space on its servers and bandwidth on its connections - lets let the individuals here make up their minds as to which questions to answer and (within civil limits, of course) how. You think that a post presents a stupid, redundant question? Don't answer, or suggest the proper resource. You have a minute and decide to take pity on me (uhm, I mean, the person asking the question...) - give an answer. That second scenario will quickly show wether that simple, prehaps redundant to some, question is such indeed. If it is, a couple people will chime in, say "Do this" and "Yep, as he/she says - do that" - it was a simple querry with a singular solution. But if it runs into pages and pages - you have to think: "The people have spoken - there is obviously more to this than I thought" - wether you agree or not, wether you change your approach in light of the advice or not.
Believe me, many a mistake was prevented this way, and, more importantly, many a creative avenue opened. I think there is a "middle path" here, don't you?
Is this place the best! Or what?!
Very interesting discussion.
Over all, we must not forget that this is - for the biggest part of us - a hobby, and as such neither formal recipes are to be followed nor 100% results are garanteed.
Film is cheap and time goes by. Stop talking. Start shooting.
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