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  1. #21
    eddie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Bertilsson View Post
    ..... I look at my old prints and compare, thinking that I will want to always reprint my work, which becomes impossible, because the amount of work I amass just keeps growing.
    Thomas- I wouldn't worry about this. I've been revisiting some very old negatives (some 30+ years old), over the last 2-3 years. While the ones I print now are far superior to the prints I made then, the thing I most notice is the improvement in my "vision". My compositional skills have improved, leaving many of the old negatives uninteresting, and not up to par with newer work. Still, I've been able to get satisfying prints from negatives I hadn't back then. I do think it's a worthwhile exercise, if for no other reason than to gauge improved skills. I think darkroom skills are a lot like watching a pet, or child, grow. You don't see changes on a daily basis but, every year, they seem to have grown larger. It just sneaks up on you, unnoticed...

    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Bertilsson View Post
    Does anybody else find themselves in a situation similar to mine? The desire to aspire to becoming one of the upper echelons of printmaking. But at the same time finding it frustrating that printing something today will basically be a learning experience for getting better, basically rendering a print a little bit obsolete as soon as it's created.
    A print, diligently created, will never be obsolete. Time may lead you to interpret it differently, but it won't diminish earlier attempts.
    Your name, under a Gallery thumbnail, is an automatic "click" for me. I know I'll be treated to an interesting image, created by an image-maker who has the desire, the vision, and technical expertise, to convey his ideas. Don't let the frustration paralyze you. In your case, I think you're trying to eek out the last .00001 of print quality, which is far more difficult than getting the first 99.00009.

  2. #22
    polyglot's Avatar
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    I feel your frustration in knowing that if I were to reprint my negs in the future the result would quite probably be better, but am consoled by the thought that in the future I will have much better (artistically) negs to print. So I make the best prints I can now, they get better over time and I generally don't revisit images because I've always got a backlog of newer and better images that deserve to be on paper more than a rehash of a neg from a few years ago.

  3. #23
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jordanstarr View Post
    ...In the same boat Thomas. Always enjoyed looking at your photographs and hope one day to see the prints in person. I'm always glad to see your icon pop up in discussion, even if I disagree, because you contribute to the forum in a positive and meaningful way. I've even taken a couple points of advice from you and applied it to my own printing to only find improvement, even if just slight.

    What really opened me up to the printing world was working under a Master Printer from NYC. Even he was learning new things as I was there, though very small things, it was humbling to know that you will never get bored of printing and there's always room for "improvement", which truly makes it an art form.

    This thread has actually sparked an interest I've had for about a year to throw some money into an advanced print making workshop of some sort. I found that what I learned under one of the greats was something that would have taken me years to work on myself with books, internet and experimentation.
    Thanks, Jordan. I think the same of you. It would be interesting to talk to you about your studies. I will PM you later this week, if that's all right. It's nice to see that those who are accomplished on a very high level seek continuous improvement, but at the same time one would have to wonder if they would be as accomplished had they not been so driven to improve...
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  4. #24
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by eddie View Post
    Thomas- I wouldn't worry about this. I've been revisiting some very old negatives (some 30+ years old), over the last 2-3 years. While the ones I print now are far superior to the prints I made then, the thing I most notice is the improvement in my "vision". My compositional skills have improved, leaving many of the old negatives uninteresting, and not up to par with newer work. Still, I've been able to get satisfying prints from negatives I hadn't back then. I do think it's a worthwhile exercise, if for no other reason than to gauge improved skills. I think darkroom skills are a lot like watching a pet, or child, grow. You don't see changes on a daily basis but, every year, they seem to have grown larger. It just sneaks up on you, unnoticed...

    A print, diligently created, will never be obsolete. Time may lead you to interpret it differently, but it won't diminish earlier attempts.
    Your name, under a Gallery thumbnail, is an automatic "click" for me. I know I'll be treated to an interesting image, created by an image-maker who has the desire, the vision, and technical expertise, to convey his ideas. Don't let the frustration paralyze you. In your case, I think you're trying to eek out the last .00001 of print quality, which is far more difficult than getting the first 99.00009.
    Good analogy to age, Eddie. While one can add lots of knowledge and read about skills in a short period of time, perhaps it's best to just practice over a long period of time, in order to really get into the higher ranks of printmaking. What good is all the knowledge unless you know, with your hands and spine, what to do with it all - to actually churn out prints that dazzle?
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  5. #25
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by polyglot View Post
    I feel your frustration in knowing that if I were to reprint my negs in the future the result would quite probably be better, but am consoled by the thought that in the future I will have much better (artistically) negs to print. So I make the best prints I can now, they get better over time and I generally don't revisit images because I've always got a backlog of newer and better images that deserve to be on paper more than a rehash of a neg from a few years ago.
    Sounds easy... But you're right of course. Except that I feel like I owe some of my old negatives a fair shot at being better than I could muster at the time. Old series of images when my budget was extremely tight and I could not afford to buy fresh film, for example, so there was no continuity from frame to frame and roll to roll. To make matters worse I used lots of different cameras in different formats too. So I'm trying to 'consolidate' some of that work to create series of work that in spite of the large technical differences from picture to picture, can still look somewhat cohesive. It's testing to do, but I'm also convinced they are making me a better printer, so it's two big check marks in the 'benefits' column, with only one in the 'costs' column, being a mild sort of frustration (bordering on amusement) with my early ineptitude to make it easy on myself.
    But I really enjoy those naive and innocent early attempts, so I'll keep trying, but should probably just stop after I'm done printing them, and move on.

    Thanks for participating.
    Last edited by Thomas Bertilsson; 10-10-2012 at 07:01 AM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: left out a couple of details
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  6. #26
    coigach's Avatar
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    I think there is a balance to be struck however with technical excellence and the wider question of 'why'? What is the purpose of the pictures, what are you trying to say, do they move you, give you and others that churn in the gut or shift of mind that great art does?

    A good comparison is music. Many players in my favourite style of music (jazz) are technically flawless, and can perform very advanced playing. Flawless, but emotionally dead somehow. No story, no individuality. The truly great have an approach that is theirs, they have mastered their technical skills (even though there may be there may be others who are technically better players), and have a singular artistic vision that challenges, changes and develops. Artists, not technicians...

    You Thomas have both the Vision and the Skills, just make sure that the horse leads the cart...
    Last edited by coigach; 10-10-2012 at 07:03 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  7. #27
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by coigach View Post
    I think there is a balance to be struck however with technical excellence and the wider question of 'why'? What is the purpose of the pictures, what are you trying to say, do they move you, give you and others that churn in the gut or shift of mind that great art does?

    A good comparison is music. Many players in my favourite style of music (jazz) are technically flawless, and can perform very advanced playing. Flawless, but emotionally dead somehow. No story, no individuality. The truly great have an approach that is theirs, they have mastered their technical skills (even though there may be there may be others who are technically better players), and have a singular artistic vision that challenges, changes and develops. Artists, not technicians...
    Good advice, Gavin. All my quests in becoming a better printer is to serve the purpose of making prints that communicate better... But I see your point. The print would be useless unless there was something about its content to really grab the viewer's imagination and draw them in. I sometimes use the expression: "You can polish a turd, but it'll still be a turd". While a bit strong, perhaps, it gets the point across.

    I like your music analogy. I'm quite fond of jazz too, and there is nothing as dull for me than technical perfection without tone, voice, and strong expression. My friend Jason coined the term 'square shirt jazz', and I laugh hard every time he mentions it, but he always refers to the many jazz musicians who can play fast impressive scales, keep time on the hi-hat flawlessly for minutes, and never skip a beat on the bass guitar, but artfully miss the point and importance of the expression of soul and passion. While Miles Davis was technically apt, it is his haunting and soulful tones that go straight to the spinal chord and jerk at our emotions that he is remembered for.
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  8. #28
    coigach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Bertilsson View Post
    I sometimes use the expression: "You can polish a turd, but it'll still be a turd". While a bit strong, perhaps, it gets the point across.

  9. #29
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    Thomas I like what you write and it makes me reflect about myself. I like your approach about technical stuff. If I understand it correctly you like to keep it simple. Not too gadget based, not too much film and developer based etc..
    I have read a few of your other posts and except for your print obsession I think you are on a healthy way. It is a good obsession to have in photograhy.
    Rather than being obsessed about films, developers cameras and so on. They distract from what is important. Making a good print, getting real good at that is in my opinion the best balance.
    Print making and taking the photo is the emotional part of photography, that is where the soul lies. The other stuff is important but takes up too much time energy and kills your imagination.
    I noticed this when I became very technically orientated a few years back, my skills went down the drain. I saw nothing anymore and my emotions went dead. As a result my print making got worse and worse. Now I don't care much about that sort of thing the old magic is coming back. What I also noticed when working in a lab for seven years we had a lot of trainees.
    In general the guys were very techniacal and the giels were well very untechnical.
    The girls however tended to have the better photographic ideas, they just had a problem with converting their ideas because of the lack of knowledge which the guys had. However at the end of the day I found they were also the better printers. They didn't blind themselves with unimportant dead things. This is just my point of view and I may be wrong.
    Redoing a print again after time shows in part how we evolve and change. That is exciting. That is why I find limited editions bogus. As an artist or photographer you should be allowed to grow with your work and change it as often as you like.
    By the by I like what I have seen of your work and I think there is nothing to worry about.
    I hope this makes sence, I am tired and it is late here.

  10. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Bertilsson View Post
    Does anybody else find themselves in a situation similar to mine? The desire to aspire to becoming one of the upper echelons of printmaking. But at the same time finding it frustrating that printing something today will basically be a learning experience for getting better, basically rendering a print a little bit obsolete as soon as it's created. It's a thing of never being satisfied, I guess, a desire to push boundaries and limits, to find out what's beyond my current scope of knowledge and skill. It is a wonderful journey, don't get me wrong, I'm both happy and proud about what I'm able to do, and a prospect of becoming even better.
    In my opinion there is no other way to be. The principle, at least for me, is to develop enough skill and technique so that I can picture the print in my mind and be able to think "I can do that". I always want to get beyond the requirements of the art, so that there are as few limits as possible when creating things. This approach comes from studying a musical instrument, and I've applied it to every other creative endeavour.

    Learning new skills, tricks etc inevitably means re-assessing old work. As long as it doesn't paralyze you, it is the right approach. My favourite artists, composers etc spent/spend their lives trying to get better. I don't know of one awesome printer (Tice, Sexton etc) who prints old negatives the same way now, and often they use different techniques they've picked up since.

    There is always something out there to learn. I think any serious artist should be relentless that way, whether the art is a hobby or a profession. I don't see this enough. Too often these days there is this false dichotomy: technique, detail etc vs art. what a bunch of baloney. If you ask me, detail is underrated. There, I said it. I think too many people have the same attitude regarding skill and technique that most of us had when we first started doing long division: "what the hell do I need to know this for?" Well, I guess my answer is you never know what apparently useless little thing might eventually be relevant, if only even in some cursory way.

    Learn more about developers. Learn more about masking. Learn more about toners. Whatever. And yes, even learn more about how these things work.
    Last edited by Michael R 1974; 12-24-2012 at 09:06 AM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: typos - probably still some

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