Good afternoon Bob Carnie,
Originally Posted by Bob Carnie
Could you elaborate a bit more on the above statement? Just on the surface of that, it seems you would be more interested in the technical aspects of the images than the content, but that might be me reading your statement incorrectly. Thanks in advance for the explanation.
A G Studio
The statement refers to a technical issue that seems to fail a lot of photographers printing shows.
If they are not producing edge to edge sharpness in their exhibition prints I am immediately questioning why the prints are not sharp.* usually lousy printing skills*
Even if the original image is out of focus at the edges with camera work I still will expect to see sharp out of focus grain.
If I don't see edge to edge sharpness then print excellence is suffering and I will not enjoy the show.
Simple as that , every element in an exhibition is critical and print sharpness to me is critical. Do not mistake this with the image being out of focus. If that is in the photographers vision I do not question this.
Originally Posted by naturephoto1
Not to drag this too far off topic but I once worked in a slide duping lab. Yup, that's all we did, dupe and enlarge transparencies. The owner had custom duping rigs made up. It consisted of a modified Mitchell motion picture camera with pin registration, an optical bench, and a conventional color enlarging head was used for illumination. We would use a color analyzer to insure accurate color adjustments. The whole thing was bolted directly into the foundation of the building in order to minimize possible vibrations. The lenses were special Nikkor duplicating lenses. I think they were originally designed to be used in motion picture optical printing machines. There was no helical, movable iris, or anything else that we're used to seeing in a regular lens. They cost something absurd like $1100 back in '73! He also used a Goertz Imperial Magnar for doing the 70mm dupes. The lenses were optimized for particular reproduction ratios 1:! in the case of the Nikors... Anyway, we would do test shots, he would time them and make color adjustments and then we would make the dupes in quantities. There were more than a few instances that I had to open up the mounts to figure out which one was the original and which one was the dupe, even when using a loupe! They're still in business (Repro Images in Vienna, Virginia) but they mostly do high end scanning these days. If you ever want some stunning dupes, or 70mm copies of your slides, I recommend them highly!
It is a bit confusing due to the use of some extremely low grain films, like Ilford Pan F 50 (B/W) or Fuji Astia 100F (colour transparency). Print images from these films at small enlargements, and the grain just is not there to be seen without a loupe. I usually find more texture in the paper than grain from the film.
If something were out of alignment in the printing process, then one or two corners might look different. However, in a case with defocused or monochromatic edges, and extremely low grain films, do you still find it easy to apply your test, or is there some other method you use? An example:
Which is from Ilford Pan F 50. I had a great deal of trouble focusing the enlarger at all on grain, though focusing on edges of detail worked okay. I eventually had an 8" by 12" print made for my by someone I considered far better than I at producing B/W fibre prints, and the grain still was not evident to an unaided eye.
I have a few giant 24" by 36" B/W enlargements from 35mm TriX, and those would pass your grain test easily in the corners. Under glass one of those is really tough to see the grain, since the upper half of that image is black night sky, devoid of detail. I might imagine a high contrast image with corners as the white of the paper would also not show grain.
Normally I would look at the in-focus areas of a print to investigate the technical quality of an image, and often that detail might not be at the edges. I readily admit to not being a great printer, so I use well respected labs or talented B/W printers like Gene Nocon for my images. My colour fine art images come from transparency films, usually extremely small grain, and I am just not picking up on what you describe . . . . maybe on some images I can find what I think is grain on two or three corners, but any images with lighter areas of colour (especially 10" by 15" prints from 35mm Fuji Astia 100F) show nothing more than what was in the original scene.
However, if I place a loupe over the corners of those same images, then I can see grain amongst the texture of the paper. I have young eyes, and wear light power contact lenses, but I cannot pick up what you are describing without a loupe. It does not seem like you could take a loupe to many exhibits and actually get that close to someone else's images without attracting some bad attention to yourself.
Your long experience in business is probably partially responsible for your abilities, or what you investigate in the images of others. Where understanding your methods better could help would be to figure out how you are doing this. Since I rely on others doing my printing, this might help me evaluate my final prints . . . or maybe all my prints just suck? Thanks in advance.
A G Studio
Re Issaac7 post
I too agree with his assesment of Repro Images ability to scan. I just finished a show that consisted of 40 Tango scans from 6x7 transparancies done by repro images , that in my opinion were the best high resolution scans we here have printed from.
In fact we recommend them for high end drum scans to all our clients.
We did a magnification strip test print from original to 30x40 size as well from the tango scan.
The optical strip test was sharper , but we went with the tango scans for final print to maximize , contrast and colour correction and colour dodge and burn that just was not practical optically without many days of complicated contrast increase and decrease masks as well as colour dodge and burn masks let alone keeping the original and subsequent exposures clean from dust to make 30x40 ilfochromes.
In colour work I find the custom abilities are opened up by using a high resolution scan, but I do not find this to be the case with black and white fibre printing. By using split printing techniques it would be difficult if not impossible for a mac operator to keep up to an experienced printer.
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I will try to explain my quick evaluation in a different manner.
When I go to a gallery show , I am expecting that this exhibit will represents a paticular photographers best work.
As a printer for different photographers who exhibit work it is my responsibility to make the best possible print of each photograh in the show.That includes good density , contrast, dodging and burning as well as a sharp image edge to edge.
Imagine a series of images that include buildings with straight lines and angles that go to the edges of the print. I find it difficult to follow the lines of the image, only to find them soften at the edges. This is what I mean by looking at the four corners or edges of the prints.
If an optical printer is not up to snuff , you can see it immediately *soft edges* and to me the photographic show is not good.
You are right at small magnification and low ISO films the ability to pick this out is very hard. The fact that you have 24x36 inch tack sharp edge to edge images from 35mm, only tells me that you have a very good printer doing your work.To me that part of the criteria for print print excellence. The rest belongs to having a great image and a printer who can bring out all the best qualitys of the negative you provide.
Thanks for clarifying that Bob.
Originally Posted by Bob Carnie
I've never used them for scanning, I'm sure that they have the same exacting expectations for their digital stuff as they do for their optical work. I used to do the QC, mounting, and LF dupes for them 9 or so years ago. Things sure have changed in that line of work!
What a wonderful summation of pure optical versus computer scanning/wet process differences. Bob knows his stuff.
In the end, I'm just glad we still have choices.
Of course, you could always invest the time and money to do it yourself!
Long Live Ciba!!!
I am blushing , thanks.
What we are finding with this hybrid mix of digital and traditional is increased flexibility and a willingness of the manufacturers to invest in new and different traditional materials that can be used under an enlarger as well with laser technology.
The biggest unkept secret right now is the new Harmon Technology offering that will be launched at Photokina. talk about a material that bridges both traditional and digital.
Don't be suprised that other paper suppliers start following Ilfords lead and produce products that we all want.
*long live fibre paper.*