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  1. #11

    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Multi Format
    Last edited by David Brown; 12-20-2009 at 08:48 AM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: never mind ...

  2. #12

    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Large Format
    Thanks everyone, I feel better about what I'm doing scouring the Freestyle catalogue, and why . . . I enjoy the process.

    As well, I've found one kind of LF/alt process result that I think would be very difficult to do digitally/ I stuck a lens/shutter from a old folding Hawkeye on a lensboard. The 8x10 neg captures the whole image circle. Contact printed on VDB, it makes a cool looking package, I think.

    And Andre, thanks for taking me back to high school. . .

  3. #13
    keithwms's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Charlottesville, Virginia
    Multi Format
    Blog Entries
    Quote Originally Posted by Kami-the-Trout View Post
    So the question is -- why am I playing with alt processes? It's discouraging, because for 1/100 the effort and time, I can pop out a digital print that equals in appearance the effort of the contact printed LF/VDB print.
    First of all, there's no guarantee that LF is the right tool for you. If another process makes you feel productive, then go for it. For me, when it comes to comparing film to that other technology, MF is where it's at... the right compromise between a number of factors. YMMV.

    Second sometimes the best way to appreciate something is to leave it for a time.

    I won't comment on X versus Y in terms of resolution and all that, it's been done so many times before. I do think you should seek out the ultimate LF output from a very good practitioner and see if it inspires you, but honestly, I know plenty of LFers who also use that other technology from time to time. I do.

    For me, LF is all about enjoyment of the whole analogue process, from composition on the big ground glass to whatever the final output may be.

    The most important part of the LF difference, to me, is the way the LF image is composed. It's like looking through a (slightly frosted!) window on the subject.... that's totally different from peering through a keyhole. Sometimes small format feels a bit like voyeurism to me

    I also find it really liberating to work with a ~100 year old camera with no electronica. It's just me, my wooden box, my film, and the subject. For someone who spends his daytime hours with some of the (ahem) most cutting edge electronic devices yet made, it's very refreshing.

    I would suggest meditating on these issues and consider whether they affect your composition. Set aside final output for a while; think about the ways of seeing and how they affect your images.

    These issues may or may not be important to you; if they are not then be honest with yourself and follow whatever path makes you feel productive. Nobody earns extra credit in the hereafter for doing what everybody else does; you have to find your own way.
    "Only dead fish follow the stream"

    [APUG Portfolio] [APUG Blog] [Website]

  4. #14

    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Medium Format
    I hate getting that "resistance" feeling too. It can put some bad blockage in your work.

    I try to minimize it as much as possible by just pushing through it.

    The way I see it - fine - you may have not had the most eye catching platinum print now.

    But if you allow the resistance to stop your exploration of large format or platinum, then it will take you down another road.

    Your choice.
    I brake for fixer!

  5. #15
    Ed Sukach's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Ipswich, Massachusetts, USA
    Medium Format
    Some of us buy fish in a store: some spend great amounts of money to thrash around in a stream whipping a line through the air. WHY!?!?! - flyfishing-caught rainbow trout costs ... $987 (approx.) an ounce - $1,579/ pound. Store-bought is, what ...$10/pound. Doesn't make sense.

    Or does it...? The processs of shopping in a super market/ fish store is FAR different than flycasting - the results are, at best, minimally different. ... Yet ...

    There is NO question in my mind that a photograph taken and printed by Edward Weston is different and superior to one reproduced and digitally (or similarly) printed using a machine. Something of the soul of the photographer resides in that original print - and is filtered out automatically and efficiently the instant the unfeeling machine spits out the reproduction.

    Does this make "sense"?. Not likely, but after all, the very definition of "aesthetics" is "doesn't make sense".

    I can't "justify" it. I can only say that I feel better doing it than I do when I don't do it. To me, that is sufficent - MORE than sufficient.
    Carpe erratum!!

    Ed Sukach, FFP.

  6. #16
    Sirius Glass's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Southern California
    Multi Format

    LF is archival

    LF can be done on the cold without battery problems

    LF is fun

    LF allows tilts and shifts, can your G9?

    LF - using it is an art

    Warning!! Handling a Hasselblad can be harmful to your financial well being!

    Nothing beats a great piece of glass!

    I leave the digital work for the urologists and proctologists.

  7. #17
    kauffman v36's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    i am one who started shooting digital and did so for 2 years before discovering what is the love of my life (film, lol. my gf is convinced id choose a roll of tri-x over her). since then i can say ive put about 100 personal shots through my canon 40D in the past year, not work related which requires digital. i look for film everywhere, i ask everybody if they have old camera stuff tucked away somewhere. i am into it, i like how i am involved in each step of the process. and in my generation of instant gratification i often find myself enjoying the fact that i have no idea whats on that roll of film till i put some time into developing it. i now actually spend time composing a shot and deciding exposure based on individual spot meters in the scene using the zone system. i could sit in a field with my rz67 for 15 minutes fiddling with settings and notes and deciding where i want my shadows/highlights to land, then change my mind and wait another 20 minutes. by now im probably rambling but this seemed like the best place to express myself since you are/were having a digital/film faith crisis. put it this way, i am 19 years old and to know i am doing something a photographer did 100 years ago humbles me, and just makes me feel a certain way i cant explain.

    carry on ladies and gentlemen, my rambling is done, lol

  8. #18

    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Istanbul, Turkey
    Multi Format
    Kami-the-Trout, I think you're confusing apples with oranges here. If you want a print from a LF negative that will rival digital capture / output (in terms of contrast and sharpness/detail) and/or that will include every fine detail the negative has to supply then print it on s/g paper. And if you like the color/hue you get from Vandyke then figure out the toning steps you have to do; it's possible...

    Now, Vandyke is made on plain watercolor paper and the sensitizer soaks in the paper (that's how it works; you have to have the solution into the paper), since the surface of plain watercolor paper is extremely rough compared to coated inkjet paper and/or s/g paper you loose fine detail and micro-contrast and detail. Plain watercolor paper's poor resolution is the limit here and that's why some other people (including myself) are happy with digital negatives and many alternative processes including pt/pd; the digital negative's poor resolution is masked by the even poor resolution of the paper.

    There could be many other reasons (and/or properties intrinsinc to the process) why people prefer to do Vandykes on plain watercolor paper (other than great detail/sharpness and strong blacks/great print density range), eventually since you seem to notice none it's simply not for you...


    P.S. If you want better results with alternative processes on plain watercolor paper then think about digital negatives. I don't say drop LF, just don't print alt-process from those. I know LF shooters that still prefer to shoot in LF but do digital negatives for printing those images with alt-processes. Go to hybridphoto.com for extra details since digital negative making isn't a subject suitable for this site...
    Last edited by Loris Medici; 12-20-2009 at 04:50 PM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: Added P.S.

  9. #19
    Joe VanCleave's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
    There's a lot to think about and discuss with this topic.

    The Pragmatic View:
    I'm interested in how these old processes (like VDB) were originally devised for strictly practical reasons: to produce a photographic image on paper, glass or metal. In this regard only, they can be considered obsolete, in the sense that there are other methods developed since then (silver gelatin, and subsequently inkjet) that are more practical, convenient, etc. Of course, from a strict pragmatic view, there is no "reason" to do VDB anymore.

    The Aesthetic View:
    Yet, since their practical application is now obsolete, we ironically find that they have other purposes which we now appreciate on a personal aesthetic level, whose attributes may not have been well considered in their heyday. This is often the case with technology; we don't consider the finer aesthetics of formats until they've disappeared from strictly practical applications. Some of these aesthetic factors involve, not only the tone of the image but, the surface texture and feel of the paper support itself. In my personal experience, as much as I love the convenience of a digitally-derived and processed monochrome image, the feel and texture of a well-crafted fiber-based silver gelatin print is clearly distinguishable on personal aethestic considerations.

    Process versus End Results:
    This is often the case with artists and artisans, regardless of medium but especially with photography (which is so dependant on materials and methods) that the process that unfolds during the creation and finishing of the printed image becomes an end in itself; and that often the viewing public is little aware of the process through which the finished print was derived and instead place their entire value of the work upon its finished appearance; and that often the aesthetic factors well-appreciated by the artisan himself are invisible to the viewer. There's also this concept of pragmatism which reemerges, wherein a "purpose" is defined for the work's end result (often commercial, or illustrative) and the means to achieving that end result are entirely invisible to those concerned only with the final image.

    Quality and Value:
    Artisans often assign values upon their work which, although not always strictly monetary, place great interest in the materials and methods involved in deriving the finished image, at least as important as the photographic image considered as a mere abstraction, totally seperate from the materials and process used. In this regard the Photoshop-derived VDB simulation may seem to be an "equivalent" to the actual VDB-processed print, at least if viewed on the web; yet these considerations ignore completely the physicality of the actual VDB print; even more invisible is the process used, as we've discussed before.

    So I find my personal considerations of photographic works functioning on two levels, the abstract and the physical. I can view a monochrome photographic image on the web and derive great pleasure from its tones, shapes and composition; yet viewing an equivalent image in physical form, whose physical attributes are aethetically pleasing (like silver gelatin, or VDB, or platinum/palladium) adds an entirely new dimension of appreciation to the experience, wherein the abstract image values, along with the physical attributes of the print, merge into a cohesiveness that is appreciated simultaneously on multiple levels, intellectual, emotional, physical, sensual.

    It therefore becomes implicit that the artist/artisan must choose his/her working tools and methods to purposely arrive at a finished work whose attributes and valuations are in agreement with one's inner vision. Perhaps the physical attributes of the print are of little value to the artist, in which case the use of digital imaging methods is entirely logical and practical. But for those whose vision of their finished work is inextricably interwoven with the physicality of the print, these now-obsolescent processes and methods are entirely necessary; invaluable, in fact.

    Last edited by Joe VanCleave; 12-21-2009 at 10:33 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  10. #20
    eclarke's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    New Berlin, Wi
    ULarge Format
    Quote Originally Posted by Kami-the-Trout View Post
    OK, I've been messing around with LF and alt processes for a couple of years now, but am really still a LF newbie. I have an old Ansco 8x10, a couple of lenses in barrels, and shoot mostly on Efke 25, tray-processed.

    I have a lot of darkroom experience from past years shooting 35 mm for a newspaper, so for the most part I get good negs. Last year I played with pt/pd, but found the process difficult to get consistent results in my little darkroom/lab.

    This year I tried Van Dykes, and have had much more success making contact prints that look good. Good shadows and highlights, etc. They are decent prints, I think.

    Here's my crisis.

    I VDB printed a photo, then just for fun, I printed the same scene from a digital file on my Epson 3800 with glossy paper. I took the digital pic same day and time with my Canon G9. I use my G9 as my light meter, so I always have duplicate files.

    Printed at 8x10, the G9 is virtually indistinguishable from the VDB contact print. With a loupe, you can see the contact print has more detail but not without it. I can tone/colour the digital file so it matches the look of the VDB.

    So the question is -- why am I playing with alt processes? It's discouraging, because for 1/100 the effort and time, I can pop out a digital print that equals in appearance the effort of the contact printed LF/VDB print.

    I've read a bunch of times how contact prints are supposed to outshine everything else. I'm not seeing it. I don't see how I can make the neg any sharper, it's damn sharp and has good tonality, but the digital camera does a darned good job at 8x10 prints sizes. And this was my G9! If I took out my Pentax K7, it would do even better, as it noticeably outresolves my G9. A Canon 5D or other full frame sensor machine would be that much better again!

    Obviously, at big print sizes the LF neg starts to win. I've scanned the negs and printed 16x20s from my Epson 3800; they look awesome compared to digital. I can't alt process big prints like that, however. It's a contact printing game.

    Please help me understand why I am messing with 100-year-old technology when 2009 tools do so capable a job. I love the idea of playing with LF and the alt processes, but it seems hard to justify when the output is so easily matched by digital. Thank you.

    Spray the inkjet with some water..EC

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