How much is just geekery and does it really matter?
I have been doing my own developing for a couple of years now. I am learning more than ever through experimentation, practical application and reading. I find I go through a lot of 'the more I learn the less I know'.
This is the internet and I think it's very often dangerous. The opinions and geekery about subject matter lead me to believe that there are more people with Asperger's than I thought.
There are so many techniques out there that it just becomes a mine-field. Standard developing vs stand developing, this developer vs that developer, this tank vs that tank, everything vs everything to the nth degree.
Do some of these things really make a difference. What got me going was that I started reading about stand developing, why do it, what are the pros, the cons? etc. I try new developers from time to time and I try different films. I like the science, but I like the picture and I just want to get into the darkroom with a good enough negative and print a picture. I find it's better for me to follow a standard (generally the manufacturer's and then tweak it to my situation). Use the same set of products and try and try again until I get the results I want and then try to continue to get those results.
By results I mean to a good enough standard for me to work with in a darkroom and produce a good enough picture that pleases me and others.
Surely what matters is what you take into the darkroom and print on paper. It's a craft, a science, yes, but can we become bogged down in microscopic details?
Can we easily become bogged down in geekery or are there really superior results to be found in engineering things to the nth degree?
Do you know? I think you may be right. I have amassed a good deal of information over the passed 50+ years some of it quite useless today but a lot of it is still relevant. A lot of it is in relation to equipment that has long since died and been thrown out. However when it comes to practical photography, I know what I like photographing and have found out what works for me .In addition I do what I like doing in the darkroom and stick with it. I very rarely vary my processing (different developers/film/paper and the such)and am quite happy just to get on with it. Call me boring - yes you are probably right but hey-ho that's me. (But don't mention digital or I can change in an instant - it's not photography!)
What matters is that you standardise technique and don't chp and change just for the sake of it. Over the years I've used quite a number of developers but in fact I've usualy stuck to one developer/film combination for a few years at a time.
I too have found that following the manufacturer's instructions is normally the best course for me, I do that clear through, not just for developing.
Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO
"We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin
yeah--you gotta find what works for you--you can use what other people do as pointers to a direction to go in, but there is NO way to duplicate what someone else does to the last detail--even the water used matters when you get down to it--different emulsion runs of the same film ARE DIFFERENT--your light meter is different from someone else's....
so find what works to give the look YOU like with your techniques and with your materials...it'll take a long time and you'll learn what works and hopefully why---and when you finally are getting the results that look like what you want, you'll be sounding just like a geek too....you have no choice...doing the work makes you learn all of this kind of stuff and then you become a geek.
EVERYTHING makes a difference to the person doing it--either an actual difference that is measurable or a perceived difference--do the things that make a difference for you--do nothing because somebody makes their bold statement of "this is how it's supposed to be done"....
you can save a bunch of time by looking at the internet techniques and results to see where you DONT want to go too....
if something sounds intreguing, TRY it...see if it DOES make a difference TO YOU...if it does, then you know...if it don't, then you know that it's BS or just doesn't apply to you (different circumstances)
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Stephen Shore said something along the lines of; when a child is learning to walk, he doesn't think about walking, but where he's going. I bought Barry Thornton's Edge of Darkness book last year, which covers development, acutance and this vs that to the nth degree. It's surprising how much of it is irrelevant now - and I'd dare say most of it didn't matter much in the first place. With all due respect to the man, I'm sure he provided hours of contentment for a lot of darkroom hobbyists, but I'd never want to see their pictures. The only craft books I take seriously are by accomplished photographers - these are the only people who can teach us what technique really means. Second time I've mentioned it this week, but get John Blakemore's Black and White Workshop. You come away from reading that book with a real earthy sense of photographic craft.
Read "Way Beyond Monochrome" first. Then you can say for sure.
In life you only get one great dog, one great car, and one great woman. Pet the dog. Drive the car. Make love to the woman. Don't mix them up.
As everyone else said, it's what works for you. The nice thing about APUG is the sharing, you'll get to see there are other options if you want to experiment. I'm sure you can make the wheel rounder, but to what extent is up to you.
Anyone can make a Digital print, but only a photographer can make a photograph.
As far as photography is concerned I would suggest that you ignore the internet and get a good book on photography and read it thoroughly. The net is filled with a lot of isolated information much of it wrong. It contains very little of general purpose use. I would suggest the Ansel Adams series particularly The Negative and The Print.
As far as stand development is concerned this method is not a general purpose development method. To understand it read a book on The Zone System.
A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.
~Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Many of the geeky things do have some merit. That said, it is a mine field, especially for the novice. Many unfortunate people never develop the skills to make exceptional results because they are all over the place chasing the magic bullet. Magic bullets are only useful if you have a magic gun to put them in. A magic gun is acquired by mastering a basic process in an uncomplicated way, backwards forwards and sideways. Only after that is accomplished does one have the chance of improvement through the nuances subtly offered by the exotic.