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  1. #1

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    How do I know if the prints are good?

    I am basically getting what I want from the film/paper combination I'm using in the darkroom. I like the pictures and can usually predict the result with some degree of accuracy.

    However, I didn't see much printed work and don't know what to compare it to.

    Also, both of my parents who have printed a lot in their darkrooms say that my prints are too contrasty and I should print so that there's detail in both the highlights and the shadows.

    When I print it like that I find the details are distracting and I like the harsh high contrast look.

    I also heard that it's typical of the novice to shoot in high contrast.

    So I don't know what to do next. I'm lost in the dark room... (sorry for the cheap pun)

    How do you print? How do you know if you're "good" or not?

    I've also seen adams' work. This is not a good sign, but I seemed to pull off similarly cool pictures in black and white. It's not canyon or forest though, mostly urban landscape.

    How did you darkroom printing evolved in the first few years?

  2. #2
    rwyoung's Avatar
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    Who are you trying to please with your prints? Yourself or somebody else?
    Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things! http://rwyoung.wordpress.com

  3. #3

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    Ultimately you must please yourself...but I would suggest going to museums and galleries and just look, just absorb, soak it all in.

    Also, acquaint yourself with the history of photography. Read every book you can get your hands on, learn as much as you can, look at as many photo books as you can.

    And finally, I think it's a good idea, especially when one is just starting out, to learn how to make a print several different ways, so that you at least know how to do it. At the very least, you will learn a great deal about your equipment, materials and processes.

    By this point, you will start to see where you want to go with your own work...it's a great journey and a wonderful path to follow.

    Best of luck to you!

  4. #4
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    How I tell if my prints are any good -- I stick them up on the wall...if I stop looking at them, they are not any good. If I tire of my own prints in a few weeks, I certainly can not expect someone else to be interested in looking at them for more than a few seconds.

    High contrast can be very appealing -- and can become a trap. Photography is filled with such traps -- super wide angle lenses, dark prints, polarizing filters, black skies, et al. I try to pay attention to what I say. I have heard myself say "I rarely include the sky in my photos." and "I don't have people in my photos." Hearing myself say such things gives me a clue to the limitations I put on myself.

    If you like high contrast -- go for it, explore it, take it to its limits...but remember it can be like going to work on your car with just a screw driver. It is a useful tool, but it is hard to torque down the bolts on the exhaust manifold with it. You will eventually find images that high contrast just will not be the right tool.

    I will second looking at as many images as you can -- books, galleries, museums. When you find images that you find particularly strong, try to figure out why...subject matter, composition, contrast range, etc.

    But most importantly, continue to have fun with it all!

    Vaughn
    At least with LF landscape, a bad day of photography can still be a good day of exercise.

  5. #5
    Willie Jan's Avatar
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    What i found out is that pictures for on the wall should have a zone VI general when measured with a light meter. (1 zone above the gray card). I printed always to dark until someone who did have more knowledge mentioned this to me. Now they are more crispy. Besides that my contrast was always to low....

    Are there photographers in your area that come together now and than? Or apug gatherings in your area. Working and talking with collequas will boost your quality...

    Goto Museums/galleries and read books as mentioned before.
    (i went to a museum where there was work of a photographer shown (hamish fulton, 4 photos of kent), where my mouth fell open, so bad as the print was made....)
    So this does not always stand for quality.

    But what also is important is that you create your own look, but also listen to the knowlegde around you and use it wise....

  6. #6

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    It seems you've listened to your parents who are more experienced and done exactly what I would have done which is to try a less contrasty print for those shots where they felt yours was too contrasty. Having done that so you could see for yourself, you preferred your version. End of story.

    Unless you feel dissatisfied with your prints, you'll be simply pleasing others at your expense. A recipe for at best frustration and eventually at worst a form of self loathing for not being in charge of your own mind.

    Change when you want to change and not until.

    pentaxuser

  7. #7

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    -There is no such thing as a perfect print or a "correct" print. There are only prints that you like or dislike.

    -Your likes and dislikes will change over time as you get more experience. You may tire of a particular technique or style and want to try new things.

    -Your likes and dislikes will change with education: looking at other photographs in books, galleries, photo groups, etc. You may see a photo that you find beautiful or compelling and want to incorporate some elements of that photographer's technique or style into your own work.

    Just keep shootin', printin' and thinkin'.

  8. #8
    Jim Jones's Avatar
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    Unless you are trying to please a client, print to your own satisfaction. Experiment. Some subjects work well when printed with much contrast. Some do not. Ansel Adams printed widely different versions of Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico. His preferences changed over the years. Cole Weston's prints from his father's negatives feel different than the original prints. Most people do like a full range from black to white in a print, with detail near both ends of that range. However, you are you.

    Good prints start with good negatives that have adequate contrast wherever print detail is desired. Some of us prefer more exposure than the film makers suggest so we have good shadow detail. Overdevelopment can blow out the highlights. Trying to make fine prints from inferior negatives is as frustrating as making silk purses from sow's ears.

  9. #9
    RoBBo's Avatar
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    When you turn on the viewing light you yell "Fuck yeah!" Jump around the appartment (house, garage, school, whatever), fine someone to show it off to, and have a cigarette while you sit there admiring your work.
    If it doesn't get you to that point, you're not doing it right.
    And no, I don't care if you "don't smoke", that's just leftist propaganda.

  10. #10
    keithwms's Avatar
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    Andrey, you have to do print exchanges with people who will actually comment with a modicum of authority (as opposed to saying that they like or don't like it), and also try to go to workshops where you will get unvarnished assessments. Let me suggest something like one of Per Volquartz's workshops. I went to the one in Lee Vining last fall and that was a great place to share prints and informally discuss techniques until the wee hours.
    "Only dead fish follow the stream"

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