Switch to English Language Passer en langue française Omschakelen naar Nederlandse Taal Wechseln Sie zu deutschen Sprache Passa alla lingua italiana
Members: 71,930   Posts: 1,585,412   Online: 1047
      
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 15
  1. #1
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Montréal (QC)
    Shooter
    Multi Format
    Posts
    4,351
    Images
    132

    The Monochrome Photgrapher's palette

    I know, photography has been calling for years about its separatedness from painting, but it's still a 2D imaging medium, objectively speaking. I was pondering about a way to summarize the monochrome photo "palette," i.e. the sum of recognizable pictorial elements that photographers manipulate to make a photographic picture. Most of the books explain proper exposure in detail, but I was interested in the pictorial building blocks we recognize and manipulate in a picture. I came up with the following:

    Composition
    Subject matter
    Purpose

    Angle of view (wide, normal, tele)
    Areas of focus (bokeh vs. detailed areas)
    Perspective (controlled by view camera movements)

    Grain size
    Grain density
    Sharpness
    Gradations
    Contrast (global, local, micro; lith contrast)
    High-key/Low-key tonal arrangement
    Tonal mapping (i.e. the impact of filters+film in mapping the colored world to the monochrome space, and what it does on our perception of the depicted elements)
    Tone of image (warm/neutral/cold/sepia for normal metal halide; blue for cyanotype, etc)

    Size of print
    Paper base color
    Paper finish/texture
    Print reflectance range

    Mounting/framing material

    Exhibition context


    In monochrome, there is a wealth of different materials that constitute the toolchain, but what I wanted to do was to list a vocabulary to describe the content of a photo. You can achieve a high contrast with all sorts of materials, but in the end it's still a high contrast. All of the above elements are variables that are constitutive of a photo, and are the end result of an entire process. What do you think is missing?
    Using film since before it was hip.


    "One of the most singular characters of the hyposulphites, is the property their solutions possess of dissolving muriate of silver and retaining it in considerable quantity in permanent solution" — Sir John Frederick William Herschel, "On the Hyposulphurous Acid and its Compounds." The Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, Vol. 1 (8 Jan. 1819): 8-29. p. 11

    My APUG Portfolio

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    North Yorkshire, England
    Posts
    296
    You can explain everything about art exept the bit that matters. ( To quote George Braque )

    Alan Clark

  3. #3

    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Northern Aquitaine
    Shooter
    35mm RF
    Posts
    4,913
    Dear Michel,

    A masterly analysis -- but I supect that Alan (and Braque) have the heart of it. There's also the point, raised in another thread, of how some cameras seem to love some films or [I would add] some photographers, an enormous alchemical/mystical dimension which may be more important than all the rest put together.

    In other words, the palette isn't even consistent from one photographer to the next. Unhelpful, perhaps; but then again, perhaps more useful than screwing the inscrutable.

    Cheers,

    Roger (www.rogerandfrances.com)

  4. #4
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Montréal (QC)
    Shooter
    Multi Format
    Posts
    4,351
    Images
    132
    Roger and Alan, you are right, but I wasn't going to try and catch the "essence of art" type of thing here, just humbly cataloguing the toolbox. I've always found that books on photography explain only exposure and contrast control, without showing how to manipulate the other variables in a picture.

    For example, wouldn't it be nice to have "The Book of Grain", a compendium of reproducible film grain patterns, as they are produced by various film/developer combinations? There must be a core set of effects that are reproducible, despite all the variations.

    I just thought that the palette of painter is something that artists and historians took time to understand and analyze properly; photography still shrouds itself in the mystery of instinct and daylight tanks.

    It's like music: knowing theory won't make you a great composer, but we can safely say that 99% percent of music is made out of clear concepts like scale, tone, chords, progression, rythm, etc. There is still a "mystery", which is the Gestalt effect of interpretation and all the contingent factors, but it does not alone music make. Photography is not built out of luck alone either.

    Ansel Adams defined the tonal scale of photography with the Zones; I'm interested about defining keys, chords, timbre, and orchestration.
    Using film since before it was hip.


    "One of the most singular characters of the hyposulphites, is the property their solutions possess of dissolving muriate of silver and retaining it in considerable quantity in permanent solution" — Sir John Frederick William Herschel, "On the Hyposulphurous Acid and its Compounds." The Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, Vol. 1 (8 Jan. 1819): 8-29. p. 11

    My APUG Portfolio

  5. #5

    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Northern Aquitaine
    Shooter
    35mm RF
    Posts
    4,913
    Dear Michel,

    I think your example about grain mails it perfectly. It ISN'T reproducible. At least, not enough. Times, temperatures, exposure variations, equipment variations and (once again) alchemy. What I fear you are doing is cataloguing the pigments -- and even then, there are variations in particle size, purity, oxidation, oil medium (origin, age, storage...) , dispersion, brush loading...

    Again, sorry to be negative, but I know a modest amount about art materials history(and have a friend who is a world-class expert) and I have serious doubts about how much is added to anyone's understanding by even your excellent analysis.

    Which is not to say that there isn't a book in it.....

    Cheers,

    Roger

  6. #6
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Montréal (QC)
    Shooter
    Multi Format
    Posts
    4,351
    Images
    132
    Dear Roger, excellent reality check, so let me try to refine my point.

    Perhaps the exact nature of grain in a negative is so contingent that you can't reproduce it all the time. But you'll also agree that each brushtroke in a painting is unique as well. Yet, we still have a way to describe it, to qualify and interpret it, as well as to direct the learner in how to make it.

    I don't think one could go down to scientifically accurate reproductible results in every case, but you can't say either that it's random. Otherwise grain would be fine one day and coarse the other.

    I know, my whole point here is rather academic, but sadly, I AM an academic...
    Using film since before it was hip.


    "One of the most singular characters of the hyposulphites, is the property their solutions possess of dissolving muriate of silver and retaining it in considerable quantity in permanent solution" — Sir John Frederick William Herschel, "On the Hyposulphurous Acid and its Compounds." The Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, Vol. 1 (8 Jan. 1819): 8-29. p. 11

    My APUG Portfolio

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Eastern, Australia
    Shooter
    Multi Format
    Posts
    1,020
    Images
    55
    interesting thread Michel,

    maybe we don't need to define these aspects

    photography is usually assumed to record truth and be honest and objective, however we all know that any photograph is subjective

    so any choice of materials (and subject, and technique, and equipment) is part of the creative process

    my grain may well be your high acutance

    my carefully considered composition for you may be ordinary and boring

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Shooter
    35mm
    Posts
    66
    Hi all,

    I think that this is a very valid point. As a beginner I have a lot of question from the artistic side and from the technical side of photography and while the answer from the artistic side I may have to give them answer myself (hopefully;-)) I usually try to find answer for the technical questions in books and forums like this. Most of the time the answer are good enough for what I’m looking for; but here is still a lot of that “alchemical/mystical dimension” that Roger mentioned.

    I understand that there are very many variables in the photographic process but if “Great Photographer Z” can get consistent i.e. grain it does mean that it is reproducible by Mr. Z. Why can’t that process be documented and followed by others? I understand that Mr. Z may not have interest on this since it may reveal Mr. Z approach to photography but I don’t see why others can have similar results by following the same process.

    There is a good reason why there are many different films, developers and papers, different results are possible by combining them in different ways. I have no means/time to test all possible combinations in different ways but the different results achieved by others could be documented.

    Knowing all this will turn me in a better photographer? I doubt it.

    Thanks

    Rafael

  9. #9

    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Northern Aquitaine
    Shooter
    35mm RF
    Posts
    4,913
    Dear Rafael,

    The problem is that Z:

    Lives in a soft water area with slightly acid peaty water
    Lines in Scotland (shorter average subject brightness ranges)
    ...and therefore needs to develops to a gamma of 0.65
    Uses a Pentax Digital spot meter that is 1/3 stop out
    Shoots with an uncoated Dagor with a flare factor of 2
    ...which is in a sticky shutter that overexposes by 1/2 stop
    Doesn't believe in the Zone System
    Has an elderly MPP with a camera flare factor of 1.5
    Times his development from when he first adds the dev to when he adds the fixer
    Has a thermometer that reads 1/4 degree high
    Prints with a 5x4 inch condenser enlarger
    ...and a slightly elderly rnlarging lens
    Always makes 30x40cm prints

    The other photographer

    Lives in a hard water area
    In Japan (linger brightness range than ISO assumptions)
    ...and would therefore develops to a gamma of 0.55 regardless of equipment variations
    Uses a Soligor spot meter that is 1/2 stop out the other way
    Shoots with a brand-new multicoated Sironar with a flare factor of approximately 1
    ...in a Copal with perfect timing
    Uses a brand-new Gandolfi with a camera flare factor of 1
    Times his development from when the tank is full to when he starts to drain it out
    Has a thermometer that reads 1/2 degree low
    Is a fervent Zonie, but doesn't actually know anything about gamma
    Prints with a De Vere mixing chamber on his 5x7 inch enlarger
    ...which is fitted with a brand-new lens
    Always makes 50x60cm prints

    And these are only SOME of the variables. But fortunately the photographic process is very flexible...

    Cheers,

    Roger

  10. #10

    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Northern Aquitaine
    Shooter
    35mm RF
    Posts
    4,913
    Dear Michel,

    I'm not saying it's random: I'm just saying it's not easily reproducible by someone else with different working methods, as witness my letter to Rafael.

    I'd also add that without visual references, terms like 'coarse grain' and 'fine grain' are extremely difficult to define -- though you could use a densitometer, it's true -- and 'crisp grain' and 'wooly grain' are even more difficult.

    Obviously I find the subject interesting or I wouldn't be writing so much about it; but I remain to be convinced that it can be codified.

    Cheers,

    Roger

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast


 

APUG PARTNERS EQUALLY FUNDING OUR COMMUNITY:



Contact Us  |  Support Us!  |  Advertise  |  Site Terms  |  Archive  —   Search  |  Mobile Device Access  |  RSS  |  Facebook  |  Linkedin