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  1. #11
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PDH View Post
    An ideal negative is a negative that has printable shadow details and texture in the highlights, then it is up the printer to fine tune the print to express his/her experaince.
    An alternative approach is to completely abolish these known 'standards' and go out on a limb, push the boundaries, and try something different.

    I have tried the Ralph Gibson approach I mentioned above, and of course my prints aren't going to look like his, because he's a much better photographer than I am. But it was an interesting exercise to print negatives that I otherwise might have considered unprintable, and to see that something really cool could come out on the other end.

    Today I make negatives with highlight densities that most people would probably shy away from (for silver printing and scanning anyway), because after I work hard to print those highlights down, I find that I end up liking the results better. A straight print at any grade would render no highlight detail at all and the shadows have way too much information in them.

    I guess it's all about intent, as mentioned by several here. You have to push boundaries and go beyond what you think is possible to see what's there, and sometimes you make interesting discoveries. Like thinking outside the box, but perhaps even disregard the box all together.
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  2. #12
    Chris Lange's Avatar
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    I read lots about the "tailor negative to paper" thing, but I basically just split-grade 99% of the time and, provided the silver is in the negative, arrive at the print I want without too much labor. I also do a lot of dodging and burning.

    Maybe I accommodated my papers by accident, but I like making photographs a whole lot more than practicing my sensitometry.
    See my work at my website CHRISTOPHER LANGE PHOTOGRAPHY

    or my snaps at my blog MINIMUM DENSITY
    --
    If you don't have it, then you don't have it.

  3. #13
    PDH
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    I have tried the Ralph Gibson approach I mentioned above, and of course my prints aren't going to look like his, because he's a much better photographer than I am. But it was an interesting exercise to print negatives that I otherwise might have considered unprintable, and to see that something really cool could come out on the other end.

    I agree, as a former PJ I dont consider any negative with any infomration to be unprintable, if a story is on the line you had better get a pirnt one way or the other, and unintended results can be exciting.

  4. #14
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Lange View Post
    I read lots about the "tailor negative to paper" thing, but I basically just split-grade 99% of the time and, provided the silver is in the negative, arrive at the print I want without too much labor. I also do a lot of dodging and burning.

    Maybe I accommodated my papers by accident, but I like making photographs a whole lot more than practicing my sensitometry.
    What's a sensitometer?

    I like printing too, and while I've been able to markedly improve my print quality, I've at the same time managed to reduce my darkroom waste to about half.
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  5. #15
    Chris Lange's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Bertilsson View Post
    What's a sensitometer?

    I like printing too, and while I've been able to markedly improve my print quality, I've at the same time managed to reduce my darkroom waste to about half.
    The curves I spend most time with certainly aren't ones on technical publications or graph paper
    See my work at my website CHRISTOPHER LANGE PHOTOGRAPHY

    or my snaps at my blog MINIMUM DENSITY
    --
    If you don't have it, then you don't have it.

  6. #16
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Lange View Post
    The curves I spend most time with certainly aren't ones on technical publications or graph paper
    I would hope not! There are curves much more interesting than that, for sure.
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  7. #17
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    David as I am a Brit may I give you my take on this. As the density and contrast are effected by an enormous number of permutations from exposure to print, not least a subjective and personal preference element, together with what the picture is/context/mood/etc., an ideal negative can’t really be defined. Having said that, for me and I should imagine for most people (but perhaps not all those on APUG), an ideal negative is one that is easy to print with little or no intervention. So with a consistent processing procedure and printing usually on a condenser enlarger, I find a negative slightly on the thin side is usually ideal.

    “The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”

    Francis Bacon

  8. #18

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    Negs

    And just where would one obtain a newspaper these days? Maybe you can get an app for that.
    Back in the 1960s and 1970s I attended an official Leica-sponsored Leica Flying Short Course a couple of times. Leica techs/True Believers would fly around the county and give talks to pro photographers. One tech would literally stand on a Leica M rangefinder camera body to demonstrate how the camera backs were super-rigid vs those sissy Nikon and Canon camera bodies with their flimsy removable backs.
    The techs also preached that you should expose and develop your negs so they needed to be printed with a single grade # 4 printing paper.
    I loved my M2R Leica but thought the "experts" were slinging baloney. Still do. What is important is what works for you.

  9. #19
    MattKing's Avatar
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    The "newspaper text" test is a really good one - for novices.

    It also serves as a check on process for those who are more experienced.

    If someone who is relatively new to this gives the film enough exposure to have detail in the shadows, and then develops it enough to be able to read newspaper text through the highlights, they will be able to get a decent, pleasing print out of the result. That is a great place to be, and to progress from.
    Matt

    “Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”

    Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2

  10. #20
    Maris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Lange View Post
    ...I read lots about the "tailor negative to paper" thing, but I basically just split-grade 99% of the time and, provided the silver is in the negative, arrive at the print I want without too much labor. I also do a lot of dodging and burning...
    Chris has it right. In these days of high quality variable contrast paper the concept of laying a particular negative gamma on a particular paper grade is obsolescent. Different parts of the final image can be assigned different contrasts by burning and dodging during split grade enlarging.
    Photography, the word itself, invented and defined by its author Sir John.F.W.Herschel, 14 March 1839 at the Royal Society, Somerset House, London. Quote "...Photography or the application of the Chemical rays of light to the purpose of pictorial representation,..". unquote.

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