I think the thread is stating the obvious. Of course VoidoidRamone is correct, some alt process craftsmen do take boring pictures, and the point of their images is the technique.
I think Photography historically has had practitioners that were more interested in technique over content in probably the same ratio as those who are interested in gear over content.
In the Jan/Feb issue of View Camera, writer Ted Harris has an essay on "Why Large Format" that talks about the different personality types drawn to LF. You could easily substitute "Photography" or "Alt Process" for "Large Format" and much of the article would remain true, as it focuses on the different personality types that are drawn to the medium: math and science types, artists, technicians, etc. And like most things in life, most of us have a little of each of these in our makeup, and that's why traditional photography captivates us.
I have to agree with Clay on this. Certainly, many of us choosing to print our work be they transparencies, color negatives, B&W through such equipment as a LightJet, Chromira, or Lambda machine have done so for many reasons. Much of the work certainly would print well through conventional methods, but some of the work can actually be prepared equal or superior to a conventionally prepared image.
Originally Posted by clay
Are you saying that digital c-prints are an alt process?
Originally Posted by jd callow
I do not believe so; but so many here at APUG have suggested that the hybrid printing process is lumped into Alternative processing.
I will start out by bluntly stating that if someone have never seen a ambrotype, dagguerotype, platinum, carbon, AZO contact, up close (yes, the actual physical print) then they really have no business discussing the merits or subject matter of such processes. Basing judgements on a computer monitor jpeg is comparable to saying you like or dislike a new CD not by listening to it but by listening someone hum or sing it for you. To make judgements in such a way makes the person a fool.
I will agree that it is easy for the practitioner of alternative and ULF photography to get trapped into a box as far a subject matter is concerned.
However, it is the process that adds a certain dimension to the subject matter that allows a platinum print or ambrotype to be unique and in many ways exceptional to their silver gelatin cousins. And of course its all subjectve. I can find an enormous amount of pleasure in a simple still life collodion of a flower in a vase or a paltinum print of a row of hats hanging on an ancient wall.
ULF and alternative processes are just variations on a medium that lend themselves more to some ideas then others. Done well, even with what may be considered by some boring subject matter the prints can be stunning.
But like I said it is all subjectve. I can go to flikr and find thousands of really bad photographs. They all want to be Kertesz, Bresson, Frank or Winnogrand. I mean have we not covered all the bases already? It's all boring when considered in the context of 150 years of images that have come before.
"Fundamentally I think we need to rediscover a non-ironic world"
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At the APUG conference we had a selection of large format and small format intermixed in our show.
I think this exhibit for me confirmed that unless the image itself was stunning and well executed, no amount of print *turd* polishing could help .
We had examples of 35mm negative to print that on a print quality basis stood up to the large format work.
From the numerous comments that I overheard it was the image that was the primary concern to the viewer and not the process.
This *turd* polishing happens in all formats and generally this obsession with process is what drives a printer crazy.
Its been said in another post or two of the ability of making enlarged negatives from smaller formats a breath of fresh air for the alternative print processe.
As well I have seen in my own client base photographers taking large format gear and using it like 35mm . This too is refreshing to see.
I think that one can work from both directions , but if the imagery is weak it will show on any process.
On reading the original post what clearly comes to mind first are some of the obvious limitations of collodion and wet plate processes. While they are timeless and beautiful they are fraught with difficulties that nearly always limit them to a studio controlled situation. With these we tend to see the simplest of still life's and at best, some beautiful portraits. Robb Kendrick has done some masterful and beautiful work in this venue. So also has Quinn Jacobsen. Their work stands apart because their subjects are interesting. Very real folk if you will.
To a lesser degree ULF / Platinum also has some limitations. You need a good negative with perfect range for the processes usually using very vintage equipment unless you're a millionaire. All of these add up to let's say less chance of success than a guy with a Nikon.
Mostly though the problem is the subjectivity of the viewer. I would challenge Grant and others with a reciprocal argument. Are you unwilling to make the effort to move to ULF and therefore hiding behind a sour grapes argument that "I'm not going there because it's just a bunch of folks making boring pictures with wild notions of mastery only because it's a big expensive camera etc." No less valid than your original assumptions.
I think that it is true that some innocently are confusing a technique...even a format with the production of fine work. Is this all? No, I think not.
I think that those who produce unique and credible images have found this within themselves before they engage in new techniques and equipment. Unfortunately for those who have not done the peliminary work, it often appears that they never will.
I like what Bob Carnie so eloquently stated.
I think it would be a lot of fun, and a good challenge, to try ULF- but I personally don't have the funding right now to shoot film that costs in upwards of $5 a sheet. I also think that my work and style is perfectly suited to any format 4x5 or smaller. I don't think that I need to shoot in a format in which I am more concerned on how big it is rather than be able to focus all my attention on what I'm actually taking a photo of. Sometimes it seems to me that Alt. Process and ULF photographers feel a lot more secure knowing that if they are shooting with something that is "obscure" that more people will become interested in it- I think this is mainly due to the sheer size of their negative or the chemical makeup of the print.
Originally Posted by jimgalli
grant what you say makes perfect sense. But Ive found in the time Ive been doing this its not the case. People can think that their work is more interesting because of format, obscurity, size... but the point still remains that an image holds its own.
Originally Posted by VoidoidRamone
"I don't think that I need to shoot in a format in which I am more concerned on how big it is rather than be able to focus all my attention on what I'm actually taking a photo of."
that may be true for some (although I dont imagine they would admit it... and it may be completely UNTRUE for others.
Its coming across as some broad far reaching statements that you are making. But that could just be the inadequate process of communicating through typed words on a forum (of which sometimes it can make no sense)
Ill make some assumptions, you shoot with 4x5 or smaller because thats what you feel right with.
assuming that holds true with EVERY other photographer out there its up to them to decide what that is... maybe its minox or maybe its 20x24.
If they seem to believe that just because its bigger its better, well then thats not much different than somone touting that the latest 12MP digicam makes their photos better.
I think you are right in that the image should stand on its own, and the process should back it up. but thats just my personal opinion, I bet theres people out there that think process/craft can stand on its own.
to each their own.