Has film and silver gelatin prints finally become marginalized?
Within the context of the "Popular Culture" ALL traditonal crafts are marginalized.
Within the context of Traditional Culture, shopping malls and electronic superstores are marginalized.
Make your choice and get on with it.
"One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid,
and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision"
First, congratulations Ed on the reception your work received. Second, Yours in the not the first instance that I have heard comments about the superiority of traditional work when it is available for viewing. So, I guess that is the key after all. Getting work out in front of people who are interested and letting them see first hand the beauty of traditional.
Originally Posted by esanford
"Fundamentally I think we need to rediscover a non-ironic world"
I had my first class of the winter/spring term in my PR program and it was on speechwriting and presentations. We all had to write and give a minute long speech on a subject close to our hearts. Mine was on how film photography despite the best efforts of brand managers of the camera and printer companies will always be around and why. My instructor in the course is also a photographer by hobby like myself and really liked that. Also in the same class a fellow student asked me if I could donate one of my photos for auction for a local hospital fundraiser for the neuroscience wing.
There is a book out there totally unrelated to photography analog or otherwise called in Praise of Slow by Carl Honare(sp) on making a compelling case that the fast pace 24/7/365 digital culture is killing us and that there is movement out there to re embrace traditional crafts again.
Our collective mission is to find a digital photogrpaher out there and convert him/her to the cause. It is the converts that are most committed. Silver Gelitan are not dead, not by a longshot.
"Life moves pretty fast, if you don't stop and look around once and a while, you might just miss it."
From the Financial Times Jan 16 06 : Japan's digital market peaked in 2004 at 8m units shipped.Western Europe is expected to flatten next year.Shipments to N.America will rise 7% to 28m units in 2006 and remain at that level till 2010.Big manufacturers such as Sony and Olympus have cut their workforces,but there is still growth in DSLRs.
I hope I have quoted this report from an industry analyst accurately but may not as have only a summary.It is notable that there are no separate figures for DSLRs.
A phenomenon called "the quickening" is something that the much-ridiculed Art Bell has been warning us about for many years now. If people could hang up their cell-phones and turn off their blackberries long enough to think about it, they'd realise that it's here and getting worse.
Originally Posted by Uncle Bill
Analog "anything" are ways of combatting this creeping buildup of stress, from analog photography, to painting, to woodworking, to crystal radio sets. Pick your weapon.
Marginalising is inevitable. Marginalisation is not elimination. Most crafts, hobbies, etc that are marginalised gain from an increased level of quality and knowledge amongst the practitioners.
One of the ways we can reduce the impact of this marginalisation is to quit bashing the masses who use digital photography - just quit with the negative comments, quit with the jokes, quit with the sarcasm, just don't mention them at all. View them as a huge pool of potential analog photographers. Most of them will never try it, but enough will try it if we show them quality and pleasure rather than a sharp tongue.
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Right you are John!
Originally Posted by John Bartley
The more we show the quality of gelatine silver prints, the more we will recruit new darkroom-film photographers.
So let us all go for at least one exhibition/year.
The false perceptions about digital are always amusing.
"As everything accelerates to digital, due to the rock bottom costs of production..."
This is only true if you're counting sending your digital files to WalMart or Costco and getting back 4x6 prints. Display prints from either inkjet or Lightjet are more expensive than a traditional color print. The paper costs for digital are far higher than traditional color paper. For example, an 8.5 x 11 sheet of rag inkjet paper is $1.04 per sheet (or higher). An 8x10 sheet of Fuji Crystal archive is about $.34. Larger sizes are of equal disparity. The cost of inkjet paper is on the order of 3-4 times the cost of the same size R4 color paper.
"I never thought I would say it, but I can see a day when galleries, publications and photographers will ridicule gelatin silver (more so then already) as a flawed, inferior final product compared to a digital print."
I don't. They're two separate mediums with different aesthetics. I don't find people ridiculing gelatin silver prints. I visit a number of different forums and rarely find anyone disparaging a B&W silver print. If you visit an all digital forum, you will find people who have never done darkroom work making uninformed comments about wet darkroom work. But, in reality, that's no different than coming to this forum and finding all of the opinions about digital, and few if any have explored digital to any extent.
"Now one can argue, "but what about archival standards"? Well, to be honest, in this day and age, I don't think anyone outside of another traditionalist really gives a rats ass about how long a print lasts."
A prime example of having an opinion with no facts to back it up. While you readily pat yourself on the back for being so sensitive about longevity, you disparage an entire group of people about whom you have little or no knowledge. Ink on paper has a longer history in the art world than photography has been in existence. Everyone that I know who is seriously pursuing digital imaging is keenly aware of print longevity, and is working in ways to ensure that the prints they make have the greatest longevity possible with the available materials. Those who don't work that way are no different than the B&W "fine art photographers" who use RC paper.
I had the idea that no matter how entrenched digital becomes there would always be an appreciation for the tradition, the handcrafted nature of a "real" gelatin silver print. I just don't see it that way anymore. I just see the ever increasing push for digital in magazines and web sites basically poisoning the well for anyone new to even consider analog.
I think there is a real appreciation of traditional photographic processes. If you're looking for reassurance through magazines - you have a real problem. I gave up on the popular photo magazines at least 25 years ago as being worthless, as they (for the most part) are there to sell ads, which by definition means they need to be hardware oriented versus image oriented. The majority of new hardware today is digital related. The few specialty magazines that are image oriented versus hardware oriented don't really care how the images are produced as far as I can tell.
The beauty of these 'retro' photo journalists is that their work takes what we view as common and adds a richness that was, in a time gone by, taken for granted (viewed as common).
Yeah, sure....it's all about the equipment. Yep, equipment, that's what makes a great photo. If you can tell the difference between a photo that's shot with a Speed Graphic or Canon 1DS 2 that's reproduced in a weekly magazine or newspaper - you must be psychic.
As the great unwashed masses embrace digital, I hope the remaining conventional photographers might somehow obtain a cultural respect similar in concept to that awarded by the Japanese government to their "important intangible cultural properties," aka Living National Treasures.
My that's certainly an elitist viewpoint. You mean, you're a national treasure because of a process? Wow, then when I was doing hand lithography as a professional art lithographic printer, I must have been an intergalactic treasure because there are only about 300 people in the entire world that have been trained to the level I achieved. Lord, talk about ego.
Traditional art work will ALWAYS have a higher intrinsic value than it's digital push button counterpart.
Once again, an opinion with no facts. If you ever get into high quality digital work, you'll readily find out the breadth and depth of your misconceptions about the process. If you ever took the time to investigate what's required in producing the finest print possible through digital processes, you'll find out that the "push button" idea is ludicrous. The depth and breadth of knowledge required is every bit the equal of wet darkroom processes, especially when you consider having to work with ink on paper and what that involves. To the nimrod, it's a push button exercise. To the person seriously working with digital imaging, it has as many variables, and choices that have to be considered, controlled, and mastered as wet darkroom work.
As an example, I never considered color spaces with color work beyond knowing how to work with the Munsell and CIE color systems, and how they applied to film imaging systems. I didn't have to. The color spaces were fixed by the film and paper. With digital imaging that is no longer the case. Color spaces (and color profiles) can be assigned to images at different points, to papers, and to equipment - all of which become interactive with each other as the image is touched at each point in the workflow.
During the past 8 weeks, I've been working on a daily basis on finding out how the color spaces (that are available and can be created through profiles) work with an image, and how a color space can be exploited to make the final printed image better. After 8 weeks, I still don't have the complete answer as every exploration leads to new thoughts and ideas about how to better handle the image. And, just like in a wet darkroom, much of the proof of an idea is in trial-and-error iterations of proving the concept in the final print.
The hardest part of digital work is in not forcing wet darkroom techniques and preconceptions onto the digital process. When you freely embrace it with the idea that, other than knowing what a good print looks like, you know nothing; and nothing you've done previously is applicable - you've gotten the preconceptions driven by ego out of the way and you can begin learning something totally new.
The last thing I'll say is about a conversation with a good friend about his work. He is an internationally know photographer who's archives are at Yale University, and he has had a one person show at the Whitney Museum, Smithsonian Museum and numerous others - so he is the "real deal" and collectable.
He said that his gallery (a well known photo only gallery) has advised him to make any prints over 11x14 via inkjet - and they have given him the "specifications" on how they want the print produced. He said that at the last show the gallery had (a different photographer), the digital prints sold out while the traditional prints failed to sell at all. We were both a bit astounded as to this result. One show can't be used as a trend as it is only a single data point. But, I would have liked to have talked with the buyers to find out why they chose one process over the other. Images should be chosen for their intrinsic interest to the viewer, and not by process. He promised to talk with the gallery owner further as to what he felt prompted the sales.
How exactly do you figure/predict that? People probably said the same about B&W and colour?
Originally Posted by Sean
I'm not exactly sure what you mean by "intrinsic value" or how you would satisfactorily define or quantify it.
In terms of monetary value (however you define intrinsic value, I'd venture there needs to be some correlation between the two) colour probably has a higher value than B&W thee days. Indeed, aspects of digital colour probably have a higher value than analogue
There is a degree of human craft involved in creating a fine traditional print (that's value to me). The degree of craft involved in creating a fine digital print is based on current hardware & software technology. Steve mentioned above how complex creating digital work is, I suggest he wait a few more years. Digital works will eventually be associated with automation, probably somewhere around Photoshop X500 & Epson's new Elite ZX4000 printer...
Originally Posted by tim
I've put a lot of time and effort into insuring the continued life of silver halide photography. That also includes an appreciable expense!
I could add a lot of commentary here, but I prefer action to words in this case. So now here is the challenge facing all of us.
I have 2 workshops scheduled in 2006. If they fill up, then there is proof that there are others willing to learn silver gelatin for real and continue the medium, but if they do not fill up, then this shows that there is too much talk and not enough action. I probably will then stop all work and give up. After all, why continue talking to people who don't want to listen? It is an exercise in futility.
Now, if you think this is simply a plug for the workshops to make money, consider this. I have figured the costs to me just in dollars spent and it would take me years of workshops to recoup even a fraction of what I put into this. The hand made one-of-a-kind stainless steel coating blades cost a small fortune. I'm probably going to have to sell a carload of them to pay for the 3 generations of prototypes I've gone through. The reason is that I am going to have to order a lot of them to keep the price down so you all can afford them.
So, my work just like some other APUG participants, is a labor of love to pass on something that may vanish and should not vanish from the face of the earth. I'm doing my part, the best way I know how.