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  1. #11

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    Dear Les,

    I think we're saying the same thing about having to see originals.

    Even so, I can't help wondering how far an unusual approach can 'rescue' a mundane subject. There's no doubt that it can, but equally there is always a temptation with an alternative process or ULF shot to persuade yourself to overlook shortcomings, where you wouldn't in a picture that was easier to reshoot/reprint. At least, I feel that temptation.

    Cheers,

    Roger

  2. #12
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    This seems to me to be a provocative statement aimed at dumping all alternative printers into one large basket. I could just as easily say that people who tend to use 35mm cameras take boring undergraduate 'art school project' photos that show nothing more than overconsumption of caffeine and a looming deadline. And clearly, I could find plenty of examples of some really pretentious but overwrought and unoriginal work in this vein. But that does not mean that anyone picking up a small camera is a self-absorbed, shallow-thinking juvenile dripping in teen angst. It just means that some are. I think it is the same with the alt-process world. There is some really good work and some really unoriginal work.

    I suggest looking at the pictures. If they work for you great. If they don't, move on.
    I just want to feel nostalgic like I used to.


    http://www.clayharmon.net - turnip extraordinaire

  3. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by clay
    There is some really good work and some really unoriginal work.
    I don't think Grant says everyone does this; I wouldn't have agreed with him, even on the limited terms that I did, if I had thought this was his thesis.

    But how about this for an argument:

    We all know Sturgeon's Law, in response to the assertion that 90 per cent of science fiction is rubbish. He famously replied that 90 per cent of anything is rubbish.

    Well, even is alternative processes and ULF score better than this -- half, say -- then they stick in our minds more. We see endess bad conventional pics, and ignore them. But we hold the alternative process and ULF users to a higher standard. To have gone to all that trouble and STILL produced a bad picture (and then to show it to us) is more memorable than if a 'happy-snapper' does it.

    And again, I'll repeat: the difference between original alternative process prints or ULF contacts, and reproduced or on-screen versions of those prints, is often immense.

    Cheers,

    Roger

  4. #14

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    We know the scene/photo/final print wasn't boring to one person. At least I hope the person who took the photo and printed it didn't think it was boring.

    Why in the world would we want to like everything? Isn't that the road to wonder bread and fake cheese? The fact some people or even most people hate something isn't bad. How many of the classic works in any field were hated when they were new?

  5. #15
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    I think Roger best understands my point in saying that sure there have been many, many bad photos taken with 35mm/MF (small format). That's not my point. Sometimes I feel that people who are shooting ULF or Alt. Process are almost shoving it down your throat that "this is good, look how beautiful my image is." And a lot of times I think by someone writing "bad scan of a technically beautiful image" is sort of a cop out. As photographers we all experience bad scans and I think we can all understand that basically any image on a computer screen doesn't look as good as the print itself. That's a given. I don't think that I'm grouping all the Alt. Process photographers in a basket in order to be provacative- I just feel that my point is most prevalent in this vein of work or it seems to be the most consistent with my feelings. By writing my first statement I was no way saying "I think smaller, basic forms of photography are better." I was saying that it seems to be a reoccuring trend that ULF and Alt. Process work lend itself to a few different genres of photography- whereas smaller format photographers and people shooting tri-x or kodak portra seem to be able to shoot a myriad of different subject matters/or genres in photography. Many of you are right when you say that I'm speaking on a subject matter that just doesn't interest me. But it is the fact that people shooting in smaller formats cover more genres of photography and more varied subjects- and therefore there is a greater chance of everyone finding something of interest to them. Basically I'd like to see more ULF and Alt. Process photographers step out of the box and make some images that are not expected of them.
    -Grant

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Hicks
    To have gone to all that trouble and STILL produced a bad picture (and then to show it to us) ...

    granted I cant help but comment. I work in ULF and (gasp) I sometimes even tilt it vertically.
    but regardless, all of this is so subjective. Comments like "bad picture" and the like (not meaning to finger you roger just that it was in the last post) these comments are so relative to the viewer.
    I recently was asked by a fellow artist to tell her some of my favorite photographers, people's work I admire. I listed off a few of the books I keep handy for those stale moments when I need inspiration. Then also listed off some of the photographers websites I visit fairly often. Carl Weese was one of them. A few days later this same friend was very suprised that I listed Carl Weese. Saying "its so boring uninspiring and with a total lack of creativity". Really nothing to reply other than its relative to the observer. Thats the freedom we all are afforded just by choosing to look at something.

    that is sort of a long post to say "good is subjective" but the point being its all subjective, every format, process chosen, all of it. Imagine like clay says you can find pretty much bad work in any combination of process/format.

  7. #17
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    I certainly understand Voidoid's point, but I think awareness of 'boring' photographs from alternative processes and ULF is more acute because the folks who use them rarely fail to acknowledge what they are. Small, medium or 4x5 large format silver printmakers may not cite the process or the equipment as often because they're so ubiquitous, even though their results may be no better than what's being decried here.

    Seeing the work of Cy DeCosse recently (platinum prints, photogravure, and gum dichromate) reminded me of just how glorious some of these alt processes can be. I think I'll stick with judging each photograph or group of photographs on their own merit regardless of the way they were made.
    John Voss

    My Blog

  8. #18

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    I think that most of you are missing the point. Yes there are MANY bad photos with 35mm on traditional papers, but it just seems that when that same photo is taken with some obscure ULF size and printed on a paper that was dicontinued years ago and is only special order over the internet that same photo magically becomes a work of art. I think it's time to stop hiding behind your processes and start making photos that stand up equally as well regardless of their format and printing.

  9. #19
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    Don't get the idea that I am offended or totally disagreeing with your statement: there is a lot of alt-process work floating around that is remarkable only for the process used in printing it. My point is that there is just a lot of ordinary work being done with all the methods, conventional and 'alt'.

    One of the things to consider is that alt-process work is generally contact printed and requires a negative the same size as the print. This, in and of itself, imposes some working method constraints: big cameras on tripods. I think one of the liberating things about some 'unmentionable' developments of the last three years or so is that we now have the ability to take pictures with any sort of equipment and quickly and easily make negatives that can be printed in many of the alternative processes. In fact, when I teach workshops now, I don't even mention the need for large negatives. I just tell people to bring good images and we can print them.

    Nowadays, I think the alt-world has fewer image acquisition constraints than does the 'zone, tone and moan' silver gelatin contact printing world. But in the end, you like what you like. If the mere sight of a platinum print brings an uncomfortable mental image of some bearded guy in a Tilley hat standing next to a monstrous tripod, then I would say avoid platinum prints at all costs.
    I just want to feel nostalgic like I used to.


    http://www.clayharmon.net - turnip extraordinaire

  10. #20
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    Your premise here is that all alt process printers are 'hiding' behind process. I reject that premise as being nothing more than sloppy thinking. Some printers do indeed, as you say, 'hide' behind process. Others make some damn nice work.
    Quote Originally Posted by Grady O
    I think it's time to stop hiding behind your processes and start making photos that stand up equally as well regardless of their format and printing.
    I just want to feel nostalgic like I used to.


    http://www.clayharmon.net - turnip extraordinaire

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