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  1. #51
    kauffman v36's Avatar
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    practice, practice, practice.

    look at good prints, read about printing, read about photography. If everyday you immerse yourself into something photo related it will give you a better eye and a better understanding of what it is we do as photographers.

    as other have mentioned, there is a lot to the technical aspect but its actually quite simple. the hard part is learning how to see and how to use those simple technical aspects you know to make a good print. i.e. i can teach you contrast grades and what they do in 10 minutes....BUT learning how and when to use them comes with experience and can take years

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  2. #52
    2F/2F's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jerry lebens View Post
    ...the debate between those who value 'good printing skills' over the 'learn to make a good negative' people...
    These two things are extremely far from being exclusive of each other.

    Those who advocate a strong technical focus on crafting the negative are not doing so in order to have this take the place of strong printing skills. They are doing it to enhance what one can achieve with his or her printing skills.
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

    - Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)

  3. #53

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    One thing I've learned, printing will only get you so far. Good printing is important and can make a photograph really sing. But if the negative isn't right, there's little that printing can do to make up the difference.

    For example, if the negative contrast isn't right, there's no grade of paper nor VC contrast filter that can make up the difference. It just isn't the same.

    So, how does one achieve an excellent negative? For black and white, I use Ansel Adam's (and Fred Archer's) Zone System, which puts method to exposing for the shadows, and later developing for the highlights. It works, because it's based on the fundamental characteristics of film. Note that the important concept is exposing for the shadows and developing for the highlights. The "Zone System" is only one way of doing this.

    This approach is important to me because of the kind of photography that I do. I'm in it for the beauty of the photograph, the textures, tones, etc. I work on a tripod, so I'm not into action. I'm into careful consideration of every aspect of the composition. So, my kind of photography gives me the time to be fussy in considering exposure and subsequent development.

    With this said, an important part of good printing for me is consistency and reproducibility. When I develop film, my temperatures don't vary more than about 0.2 or 0.3 degrees F. I use both Zone VI compensating timers for developing and enlarging. I'm careful about dodging and burning in a way that the same effects can be reproduced later. I keep notes on how I print individual negatives. The more consistent one is, the better they will be able to maintain subtle refinements in the photograph as one works towards the fine print.

    Another lesson for me was drying the photograph for evaluation. I have dry-down adjustments on my enlarging timer. But, I find it works better to dry the print for evaluation. So, I have a Premier print dryer that enables me to dry prints in a convenient time period. (Final photographs are air dried on a fiberglass mesh.) In reproducing photographs later, I always keep the best photograph, so that I can use this as a model. I compare work to this "best" print only after the work is fully dry. Again for consistency, I have a particular light source and place that I use for comparing and evaluating prints.

  4. #54

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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Poulsen View Post
    One thing I've learned, printing will only get you so far. Good printing is important and can make a photograph really sing. But if the negative isn't right, there's little that printing can do to make up the difference.

    For example, if the negative contrast isn't right, there's no grade of paper nor VC contrast filter that can make up the difference. It just isn't the same.
    .
    I think it is the opposite. A good negative will only get you so far. Excellent printing skills can make marvelous prints of bad negatives. You're recommending Ansel's zone system techniques, which is interesting. Have you noted many of his most famous images are prints of negatives that were either made before he developed the zone system, or were exposed incorrectly, or developed incorrectly? He points that out himself fairly often in the examples in his books. A master printer can create beautiful prints from negatives that "aren't right" technically. It is more difficult than printing a well-controlled negative, but still very possible. On the other hand weak printing skills more often than not will result in weak prints of technically perfect negatives.

  5. #55
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    One thing I've learned, printing will only get you so far. Good printing is important and can make a photograph really sing. But if the negative isn't right, there's little that printing can do to make up the difference.

    This cannot possibly be true in the absolute, simply because there is no absolute standard for the "right" negative. Standardization is indeed a valuable element of the learning process, but what one standardizes on is somewhat subjective.

    A "good" negative is one that can be easily printed to the photographer's satisfaction; for one person (me, for example) this may be a #2-1/2 filter on Ilford paper, while for someone else it might be #2 graded paper of some other brand. I might find his preferred negative to be too contrasty, but it could just as easily go the other way because of my light source, chemistry, and personal preferences.

    If the shadows are completely empty, or the highlights totally blocked, then no printing magic is going to bring out detail that isn't there. But within a broad range, a good negative is any one that you can make a good print from without more effort than you are willing to expend.

  6. #56
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    This topic comes up now and then, and I tend to write too much, so here's a link to something I posted a couple of years back.

    for whatever it's worth: http://www.apug.org/forums/viewpost.php?p=721914

  7. #57
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    Good post bowzart.

    I think people need to remember that good printing is just as much a part of seeing as good photography is. You need to relate or convey something - not just obsessing over a full tonal print that has little to say. The latter is a robotic escapade into soulless photography.
    Stop worrying about grain, resolution, sharpness, and everything else that doesn't have a damn thing to do with substance.

    http://www.flickr.com/kediwah

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