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  1. #1

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    Printing bad pictures?

    While learning the craft, do you think it's necessary to print lesser photographs? That is, negatives you already know aren't successful images?

    I've often made straight prints and then thought the image isn't 'worth' wasting any more paper on. This has nothing to do with how difficult the negative might be to print to completion, but that the image itself simply doesn't work. There have been times when I've printed bad photographs and then kidded myself that, because it's technically competent, it has value. I'm content, for a while, with the fact that I've got a nice looking piece of paper. It's only when I've gone back to the print with objectivity about the actual content that I've done away with it.

    It often feels like I'm waiting for the holy grail of images before I actually enter the darkroom. Is it still important to print the crap stuff in the mean time? And how much can this warp your judgement about the actual content of your photographs? A sort of "but look at the print!" mentality.

    I wouldn't want to see the negative as a mere resource for making prints. For me, it has to have value in its own right. I'd then consider spending a whole weekend printing it.

  2. #2
    ambaker's Avatar
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    Printing bad pictures?

    I suspect there is a happy medium someplace between never printing, and printing everything.

    If you print nothing, then the skills in the darkroom get rusty. If you print everything, then I would agree it is a waste. Perhaps a goal of x prints from each shooting day, would be an idea that could work for you.

    -alex

  3. #3
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    I thinks it helps.

    Back in the late 60's I began printing other peoples negatives,they wanted excellent prints from often very dubious negatives, you learn how to extract the best you can and quickly. I printed for one family for over 40 years and the father never owned a light meter.

    Maybe you might want to pop over some time, you can't be that far awy (when I'm in the UK).

    Ian

  4. #4
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    There are two types of shots I print. Practice shots where I'm trying to learn something specific and important to me shots.

    Either are fun.

    They are both limited in number based on how much film I've shot recently.
    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  5. #5

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    i have found printing anything and everything i could get my hands on
    bad film, bad negatives, good negatives, even plastic found on the street
    helped + helps me become a better printer.

  6. #6
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    Years ago I made a pact with myself that every one of my negatives would be followed through to the best gelatin-silver positive I could make; no exceptions.

    A major side effect was a distinct improvement in the quality of my negatives both technically and aesthetically. The key factor was a little question I ask myself before clicking the camera: "Do I really want this exposure badly enough to spend the hours and resources chasing it to the bitter end?" The answer a lot of the time is, quite rightly, no.
    Photography, the word itself, invented and defined by its author Sir John.F.W.Herschel, 14 March 1839 at the Royal Society, Somerset House, London. Quote "...Photography or the application of the Chemical rays of light to the purpose of pictorial representation,..". unquote.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maris View Post
    Years ago I made a pact with myself that every one of my negatives would be followed through to the best gelatin-silver positive I could make; no exceptions.

    A major side effect was a distinct improvement in the quality of my negatives both technically and aesthetically. The key factor was a little question I ask myself before clicking the camera: "Do I really want this exposure badly enough to spend the hours and resources chasing it to the bitter end?" The answer a lot of the time is, quite rightly, no.
    Interesting. That's a good way of thinking about the process of photography as a whole, rather than compartmentalising all its components. I've also just watched an interview with Nadav Kander who said he printed every negative he ever made. But... I feel this, rather than being a philosophy, was in the past a necessity. Which is perhaps what you're pertaining to? I make 'digital contact prints' first which I can edit as a form of post-visualisation, before going into the darkroom. It's at this point that I assess whether or not to print negatives. This way I am foremost assessing the content, in full detail, first. In the past of course, this wasn't an option (contact prints aren't a real means of assessing an image in smaller formats) which I'm sure is the reason Kander printed all the negs he made. How else would he know what he had?

    Your post has me thinking however, that what you describe forces you to keep your finger off the trigger, so to speak. What I'm doing with my digital contact images is in many ways no different than shooting a hundred digital images and deleting them all at the computer. It becomes more a process of editing rather than actually thinking on your feet.

  8. #8
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    I learn most from difficult negatives - ones that test my imagination and abilities in the darkroom. That being said, I am probably happiest with myself when the pictures just fall out of my camera and land on a piece of paper, so to speak.
    Tom, on Point Pelee, Canada

    Ansel Adams had the Zone System... I'm working on the points system. First I points it here, and then I points it there...

    http://tom-overton-images.weebly.com


  9. #9

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    Perhaps this is also a question of straight photography vs darkroom art.

    Quote Originally Posted by Toffle View Post
    That being said, I am probably happiest with myself when the pictures just fall out of my camera and land on a piece of paper, so to speak.
    When I look at this image, I imagine, even on the light box it works its magic - http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-l_LlU0wu4G...nmetz-dogs.jpg

  10. #10
    mjs
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    If you don't print it, especially when starting out, how will you know what's wrong with it? Reading negatives is a lot harder than reading a print.

    Mike
    Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming– “Wow! What a Ride!”

    — Hunter S. Thompson

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