Andrey, print the negs and judge them the way YOU like. In a few years go back and print the negs over and you probably will print them differently. When I first started printing I printed with too much contrast. When I learned to shoot with the printing stage in mind my negs became easier to print. (I still make bad negs too.) The more you shoot and print, the easier both will become.
How do I know if the prints are good?
you will not learn it here for sure.
Prints - good or bad...
Personally, I feel that you will change your mind on what is a good print three months after you made it...
If you don't - then either you are not seeing inspirational images or prints or you are not stretching yourself creatively...
I feel that most black and white darkroom workers go through huge periods of change - especially in the first two to three years!
That was a pompous answer - sorry. But I do feel that you need to see a lot of other people's work to feed your soul first.
The more prints you see - the more you will feel confident about your own.
I still feel that if you don't doubt your work - then maybe you are not stretching your own boundaries enough!
More importantly, if your images feed your soul - then keep going the same way. But be prepared for others to crticise if you do...
Regards - Mark
Join the local camera club. Visit museums which show photographs. Look at lots of photography books. Meanwhile, do it your way.
Your question is natural, but it isn't quite the right one.
A better question is: "How do I know whether my prints should be better?"
There is no such thing as the perfect print, and therefore every print can be made better. What is true though, is that some prints are so good, that any improvement will be marginal, or incremental, or more of an expression of different preferences than an absolute improvement.
As a beginner, or near beginner, it is quite possible for you to print very well. Your prints can be very good and be something to be proud of. Whether or not they should be better is really a question about whether you have taken the opportunity to observe the work of others with more experience, or more developed insight, or both, and whether or not you have learned from that experience.
1) take every opportunity you can to observe and experience the work of others; and
2) take every opportunity you can to print more, and analyze the results; and
3) if you can, try to find someone else with experience and judgment and talent to help you evaluate critically the work you are doing.
Two points about the above three pieces of advice:
a) none of the three are essentially more important than the other two, although in general it is important to keep on printing; and
b) it is quite possible to learn from those who are more critics than photographers, but the critic who can educate, but cannot print on their own, is far more rare than the one who can do both.
One technique you might try, because you can really learn some interesting things, is try to see if you can print other people's negatives. You learn an awful lot about printing, when you print other people's work, and get feedback from them.
I'd bet Bob Carnie and Stephen Frizza will agree with me on this .
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If you like it, then do it. Ignore everybody. Especially those who freely offer advice designed to get your vision to match theirs. You need to make a print which suits the content you want to display, not a print that "has detail in the highlights and shadows". Those who "print by numbers", as I like to say, usually have prints with little content, as they are too wrapped up in the aesthetic values established by others. If you have an eye, you have an eye, and no one can change that. If you don't, you don't. Just print what makes you happy. It's for you, not for anyone else, and it's supposed to be "fun", not "good".
Originally Posted by Andrey
Do take raw technical data from others. All they are doing is giving you the tools you need to take command of your work. But ignore those who tell you how to make your work "right".
One thing I would avoid is making blanket choices in contrast and density, such as "I always print high contrast", or "I like my work to be dark". Instead, just become technically competent enough so that you simply print for the desired effect of that particular print. Sometimes detail in highlights and shadows is perfect for the effect you want. Sometimes it is not.
Look at the street work of Lee Friedlander for examples of how one person masterfully blended detail and lack thereof; basic graphic design and photorealistic imagery, simply by using attentive composition and available light that was there in real life...no crazy darkroom tricks.
Last edited by 2F/2F; 05-04-2008 at 07:38 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Too many people telling you to print it the way you want it. Period. That's crap.
Print the image to get all the information on the negative, texture in shadows, non-blown out highlights. When you can do that understanding the process of drydown, understand the importance of toning, understanding what made that print the way it was, then you will achieved a measure of technical competency. It will lead you down a path that allows mastery not only over your printing skills, but your vision, exposure, and development skills also.
Is that the correct print? Of course not. You are the artist. That print then needs to reflect what you the artist wishes to project. You need to balance the information on the film with the vision of what you wish to portray. That's interpretation. But if you just print the negative the way you want to, you'll always be just another crap photographer.
The artist without control isn't an artist at all.
tim in san jose
Where ever you are, there you be.
.... and indeed you could quite legitimately print in one style for your own satisfaction and then in another style when you want to please someone else, perhaps to give or sell a print. My bugbear is that I like my prints to be on the dark side of normal (which I think appropriate for industrial subjects) but that they have on two occasions been referred to as "heavily printed". Sometimes I just have to 'sell out' and back off a bit to suit a print's intended use.
Originally Posted by rwyoung
you need to print for yourself and develop your own unique style. interpret the picture as you like it. how about posting some pics here on apug. main thing is just keep printing..........frank