Just to name a few really , really good workers
Bill Schwab, Ike Eisenlord, Kerik, Thomas Bertlison, Andrew Moxam, Dan Lin, Steve Sherman, Papagene Guillume Zuilli, and I hope not to miss a few people here
I have seen all of their prints in person and IMO their skills are there. They have reached a stage where their printmaking is worldclass and no need to
improve . Their concentration should and is on image making as it should be.
The perfect print is in their past.
The print I was talking about owned by Paul Paletti is a Brett Weston.
Ah, and there it is! Well put.
Originally Posted by Bob Carnie
Getting out and seeing as much work as possible in person. Get out and balance seeing Weston w/ maybe some Sander, or Penn, then find some Winogrands, then some Koudelka, then some Arbus or etc...they all did something tremendous, some w/ technique that can seem studied perfection, others w/ a seeming recklessness, but all w/ a method that can be revered. It's like reading Greenes' "The Power and the Glory" and then Faulkner's "The Sound and the Fury, " completely different writing but such similar concerns...and both enough to change any readers life forever.
Oh, and on this airy sidetrack, I happened upon a docu the other night called "The Radiant Child." It's on Basquiat, and whether you're a fan of his work or not it's an excellent film to watch both for it's footage+comments on the art world, but moreover on a insightful (and understandably sentimental) look at a mind that created work in his early 20s of such immediacy and complexity that it'll put into perspective topics like developer discussions - not rule them out, just put them into perspective.
Aren't all artist's work a work in progress? I've heard Ansel Adams have reprinted negs later in his life with a different interpretation? Playing his score differently. The painter Wayne Thiebaud have bought back paintings to paint in them again? Striving for "Perfection" is at times dangerous. You'll never reach perfection and also the fear of not achieving perfection can be paralyzing. The worst danger is trying to be the perfect derivative of another artist. But this does not mean don't work hard at your art and at your craft.
Pick a developer and a film. Use it 'til you know this combo inside and out.
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I think, at the end of the day, that it's all about knowing our materials.
Mistakenly, early in my photographer days, I was very keen on trying to improve by switching films, developers, and so on, but in the long run, it's technique that matters. It only took me five years to realize this.
Today I have established what materials I like to use, and it's mostly stay with one film/developer, and one paper/developer. I don't think I'm even close to reach their full potential, and wonder if I ever will. But I think to try to fully explore our materials is the type of progress we should explore, because that approach makes us think about the pictures rather than thinking about the materials, and a print can be absolutely glorious in print quality, but without a good picture underneath, it's still not interesting. The whole process easily becomes too much about the wrong stuff.
To find that balance between technique and subject matter is what I find to be the most challenging aspect of photography. I hope to continue learning about the materials I use, about lighting, about color (even in black and white), about framing, and about printing technique. I feel like a perpetual student. Someone else always knows something I don't. That's why the advice of someone like Bob Carnie is of invaluable help to me. The advice he gives me will be time proven in practical use.
So, to summarize, I think that all magic bullets are technique related, and none of them related to particular materials. This is my approach, and I admire others that can make beautiful or important prints using other approaches. There are many ways to get to the end result, for sure, so in my mind it becomes impossible to answer whether one developer is better than another. Just pick one and run with it and make the most of it. It isn't until you fully understand one developer that you can fully exploit and appreciate the qualities of another developer anyway, so either way you win by learning one developer first.
"Make good art!"
- Neil Gaiman
"...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera".
- Yousuf Karsh
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit".
Originally Posted by Thomas Bertilsson
...and yet another technical thread veers into speechmaking about learning to use our tools. Yes, yes, we all know this obvious truth regarding virtually any endeavor. It does not mean it is a waste of time to talk about the differences in materials when a question is posed. I especially think it is important since much of what is said is either incorrect or misleading.
Yes it is true some of the differences between materials are immaterial, and should pobably be ignored. And yes how we refine our technique and work with our materials is extremely important. But there are sometimes characteristics which are quite different, not good or bad, but different, and there are implications when printing. Again, not good or bad, just characteristics worth understanding.
For example, everybody talks about grain masking in Pyro negatives, how the stain makes grain less apparent. True, but the context is usually wrong. The grain masking effect reduces the prominence of grain relative to non-staining high acutance developers. Even with stain and less silver in them, Pyro and Cat negatives are still noticeably grainier, sometimes a lot grainier (depending on the formula) than a negative developed in XTOL. Sandy King himself has written about how if fine grain is important to someone using small or medium format they would probably be happier using XTOL than PMK or Pyrocat. The tiny differences, if any, in highlight tonality are outweighed, and can be compensated for with skill in printing.
Just one example.
I wonder if the humic acids produced by pyro developers harden the emulsion.This might result in slower diffusion of developer in highly exposed areas so that they do not burn out when printed.That's just a guess by the way,not to be quoted as fact.
Just as a proof of concept, I played with making a developer using tannic acid itself. I analyze for tannic acid in water at work, and tannic acid is rather similiar to pyrogallol and pyrocatechol all rolled up into a giant molecule but less toxic than either of those two compounds.
I used the Pyrocat HD formula as a starting point - I found that it took a large amount of tannic acid to replace the pyrocatechol in the Pyrocat, on the order of several grams/liter (if I remember correctly) to get it to have a similar contrast index. It had a good stain as well.
I didn't pursue it very far, I just wanted to show it worked.
For up from the ashes, up from the ashes, grow the roses of success!