Well, I don't think it broadens the scope of this discussion at all to say that in order to design a good developer a person needs to know photography and to understand not only the sensitometric characteristics of films and processes but also real printmaking. It is not all about the chemistry. Photography is as much art as it is science, and irrespective of what some might think, there are significant differences in results in printmaking between some developers. The fact that some people don't see the difference does not mean they don't exist.
Originally Posted by Ryuji
Well analogy works only as far as it does, but precise measurement is no substitute for experience and practical skill in baking and pastry making. For example, moisture content of a bag of flour changes all the time, and measurement alone cannot eliminate the consistency problem. You always have to feel the dough and adjust the flour or moisture. I don't make pastries myself but I make bread, hand-made pasta with a rolling pin, and sometimes biscotti. Biscotti is probably the easiest one to get started, but also the hardest one to master. Hopefully, this is usually not the case in chemistry, although this does happen in emulsion making. A trace amount of impurities in gelatin or silver nitrate stock can drastically change the emulsion made from them, in otherwise identical formula.
To be honest I don't consider a bag of instant noodle food, despite the fact that it was a proud invention of the country I'm from... and it was served in the space shuttle for the first time. (Surprisingly, the original inventor of instant noodle is 95 years old and still alive. He even showed up at a press conference of the company which specially made the low-temp version for space shuttle.)
No disagreement here, it is important to know the material, the process, but also the end products. I was trying to say that the good photographers not only know each of these elements but execute them purposefully, with good focus.
Originally Posted by sanking
I define good photographers to be ones who make excellent images that are interesting in many ways, from the original concept, messages conveyed, temporality, spatiality, to good composition, but additionally the work is something that achives the above goal by purposefully executing the skill in manipulating the material.
Originally Posted by jdef
That is, a good piece coming out on chance basis doesn't count as much. Anyone can do this.
But this is just my definition of good photographer, and ideally, I want to be one some day.
When I form my opinion in my mind, I personally value the original concept and messages conveyed by the images a bit more than other factors. I have more respect for those digicam (or even cellphone) pictures that have good concepts rather than innocuously pleasing photos that can be hung in a corporate conference room (those are usually painting, I know). But this is strictly my opinion.
So, what's your view of good photographers?
Ok, in real life you do not have to make judgement. But if someone put a gun on your head and ask, do you have any idea of good chef, bad chef, ok chef? My definition of good chef is pretty much analogous to my definition of good photographer.
My definition of good coffee roaster? Good vintner? Good inventor?
What about good swindler? (If there is an art in that profession.)
I believe the power of knowledge, skill and experience is best utilized if it is intentionally executed towards the goal directed by the concept that occurs to creative mind. I would call someone who best executes his or her ability a person good in that field. Means may be limited but the emphasis is on the best utility of available means, knowledge, resource, technology, everything. Iron Chef is an example of a brutal implementation of this concept.
This is the criteria I applied to myself when I decided to spend a fraction of my time to learn photography, and also photographic chemistry. I know I'm demanding. But if I weren't, I would learn little.
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I'm happy to find that I'm not the only photographer who is also a cook. I've done most of the cooking in our house since the beginning of our marriage 36 years ago. And my approach to cooking is pretty much the same as my approach to darkroom work. I work from recipes when I need to, without when (through previous knowledge and experience) I don't, and freedom to play when I have time to be creative because I already understand a lot about how ingredients go together and that knowledge is transferable. Occasionally there are dishes that are less than successful, and they get thrown out, just like the occasional developer experiment that doesn't pan out. The other night, I tried a new combination of ingredients for braised duck. I combined a generous portion of spring onions, half a lemon, a good pinch of herbes de Provence, and about two Tablespoons of dried, sweetened cranberries, plus salt and 5-pepper blend. My spouse was very impressed with the result.
Originally Posted by Donald Qualls
All this, to say, that I agree with you, Donald. I haven't tried your coffee formula, but your method of making it sounds strangely familiar to me. My old metal thermometer recently broke, however, so I don't have my favorite stirrer any more.
I find that if I like the pictures that I take, someone else will also. I use still life for testing technique, but flowers, pets, wild animals, people, are all people to me. You might not like a picture I take of you, but I guarantee someone who knows you will like it, because I will not take it until I know you as others see you.
Originally Posted by Ryuji
I have found that new films, developers and such do not change what I try to do with the camera. I try to find those materials and processes that make it easier to do what I want. Of course, I get a lot of pleasure out of discovering things for myself, and blabbing about it.