I think the only place where you'll find people dismissing altogether the idea of print quality is concept art photo. Material quality seems to have nothing to do with that kind of art; the rest of the world has widely varying, but existing criteria of quality.
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
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I agree completely. A good print starts with a good idea skillfully executed.
Originally Posted by JBrunner
I'll follow whatever path the image demands, and consider it finished when it asks nothing more of me. After an unreasonably short length of time 90% of my images want to me to change them...
Originally Posted by Lee Shively
Note to self: Turn your negatives into positives.
I've always taken a different path, sometimes intentionally and other times by accident. So, I can't use any standard set by other people for certain things.
And yet in the case of "Moonrise over Hernandez", Adams interpreted it over 5 different ways in the course of his career after the initial print. Each was technically perfect (by his standards...highlight detail, shadow detail, nice mid range gradation) and each accomplished the intentions of the photographer. This is also an interesting point for collectors. Usually the original print series, immediatly after exposure, is the more valuable. In this case though, the point could be argued that the last print, or any inbetween, is the most valuable, as the artists values and vision matured.
Originally Posted by JBrunner
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One of the most important factors, I've found, is the difference between what you CAN print and what looks best: often, you don't want everything that's on the negative. A 'perfect' negative will often look a lot better after dodging and burning to remove (for example) shadow detail in areas where you don't want it, or to darken a Zone VII to Zone VI.
Often, I find it quite hard to manipulate aggressively enough because I know what was 'really there'.
Gee Roger I did not think you used the zone system.
Roger said, "or to darken a Zone VII to Zone VI."
I think it was Ansel Adams who said, "There's nothing worse than a great print of a weak concept." This is what it really comes down to -- a strong image can be printed in a lot of different ways (e.g. the earlier reference to "Moonrise") and all of them willbe perceived as good if the image itself is strong. A weak image, on the other hand, will not be improved with a "perfect print," although many photographers out there try to do just that.
For me, the ideal print quality is one that communicates information in all areas, or at least in all important areas. That is mainly a function of contrast and exposure, ensuring that there is adequate information in all shadows and highlights. After that, there is a certain "artistic" element that comes into play. At this point, the printer tries to make a print that "sings" or a "glows" or "has light coming out of it," to use several common expressions. A difference of one second on a 23 second exposure can make or break the print at this point, as can 5 seconds of more or less development.
Salgado does not do his own prints, nor do many other well-known photographers. But then their images are so strong that pretty much any print of their negs banged out by a kid in his first 10 minutes in the darkroom will probably be decent! At the same time, though, we see photographers slaving for hours trying to squeeze the "perfect print" out of a negative that isn't worth the time of day.
It is far more important to put one's time and effort into making negatives that are worth printing than it is to spend hours printing negatives that are hardly worth seeing. With a good negative of a strong image in hand, making a "good" print is a piece of cake, fairly mechanical in fact.
"But then their images are so strong that pretty much any print of their negs banged out by a kid in his first 10 minutes in the darkroom will probably be decent!"
You obviously haven't seen his negatives. And the statement devalues those of who are professional printers. If your statement were true, Salgado would save himself a lot of money by finding the cheapest person he could to print his work. And it would probably be the local FNAC.
"With a good negative of a strong image in hand, making a "good" print is a piece of cake, fairly mechanical in fact."
Maybe you just haven't seen a good print then. Its hardly mechanical. Again if it was, and a professional printer wasn't involved in the process, I doubt photographers like Salgado would be selling prints for the amount they are...since they'd most likely look like snapshots.
I dunno... I recall reading Henri Cartier Bresson's printer, hearing HCB say he was expert at judging the light and didn't need a meter, complain that he, pardon, He, overexposed the crap out of everything.
Originally Posted by mmcclellan
If you tone it down alot, it almost becomes bearable.
- Walker Evans on using color