Originally Posted by smieglitz
I don't do Alt Process but someday I'd like to dabble in it. If I was going to take an alt-process like a Van Dyke or the like, I'd probably be photographing old stuff. I'm sure this stuff would be great at a Civil War re-enactment encampment.
Wow - this topic obviously touches nerves on both sides and in the end brought out some typical internet ugliness. Let me say that for the most part, I am with Joe on this topic. Although Les McClean made an important point early on that the image and process should work in concert to become the final work. Having looked at some of the work from the "anti-alt" (yes, an overgeneralization, like most of this thread) camp accusing the work of being boring, I am struck by the similarities of the work I see from some in that group. Very colorful images either taken seemingly randomly or in a self-concious effort to be cute or clever. That's cool, if it's what floats your boat. For me, a few clicks on these images and I'm done. To each his/her own AS IT SHOULD BE.
Finally, let me dispell some myths by those who think practitioners of alt-processes do them because they are difficult/expensive/etc. Obvioulsy, those who think that way haven't done them and are plain WRONG! I use the processes that I do because I love the way they look and what they do for the feel and atmopsphere of the images. The other reason is that they are EASY and FUN (two characteristics I find important to getting work done). I've done lots of gelatin silver and cibachrome printing in the past and let me tell you platinum printing is MUCH easier than either of these. But, if you don't like the aesthetic qualities of the process, easy and fun don't matter. There is a relatively small learning curve, but once you're beyond that (which can be learned in a weekend), life is a breeze. Even collodion, which has a steeper curve, is amazingly quick and easy once you're over the hump. I can make a FINISHED collodion plate in less time than it takes me to process film. Yes, I have to use a camera on a tripod and can't take pictures of things that move very fast, but so what? I also use hand-held cameras and make prints from digital negatives when the subject calls for it. I've been in the UK for nearly 3 weeks and have made hundreds of images, mostly on digital, but some on film. I brought a small tripod and haven't used it once.
In the end, boring like beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and there's plenty of both to go around. Do what makes you happy and don't fret about how and what others are doing, because in the long run, most of the rest of the world really doesn't care.
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Originally Posted by billschwab
The first point, about being held to a higher standard, is indeed pretty much what I said in an earlier post, in which I also mentioned Sturgeon's Law. Perhaps the rest of this post may throw further light on this, or perhaps it may not.
The second point, about an unexpectedly high percentage of dull prints is, again as I have already said, an impression. It derives from looking at pictures of all kinds for several decades; it would be difficult, if not impossible, to quantify, and giving examples would in any case be invidious. It certainly isn't based on the work of anyone in this forum.
Ultimately my argument comes down to something very close to the statement that Mr. Callow found surprising. To enlarge upon this:
I have tried, and very much like, POP and Argyrotype. I have tried and don't care for cyanotype and gum bichromate. I haven't tried platinum because it seems to me suitable only for some subjects and styles, and I don't work in those styles. Also the cost alarms me. I haven't tried salted paper simply because I haven't got around to it. What I like or dislike as a process doesn't signify: different people like (and get good results from) different processes. I make the list only to show that I am not unfamiliar with alternative processes.
Frances is a good enough bromoilist that Fotospeed use (or at least used) one of her pictures as part of their display material, and good enough at hand colouring that she has demonstrated both Spotpen and Marshall's Oils on the manufacturers' or importers' stands, including at photokina.
Learnin all of this involves or involved quite a bit of effort, over and above what (for want of a better term) I have called the 'easy' processes. Now comes the second part of the argument, an expansion of "Would I be proud of this if I had done it?".
When I look at one of my successful alternative process pics, I think, "Yes, it was well worth the effort." I imagine others must feel the same with their successful prints, and when I admire someone else's successful picture, I think, "That was a lot of work and beautifully executed." If I look at an unsuccessful picture, I think, "He went to all that trouble -- and that was all that happened."
Success and lack of success? Yes, it's personal, a matter of opinion (without the capital letters in this case). But to pretend that one should never judge anything is clearly nonsense. If we don't judge our own work, we'll never get better, and comparing our own work with that of others must again necessarily involve judgement. So must comparing the work of two other photographers.
One last point, when I say that alternative process users 'ought' to have picked up more than the average amount of aesthetic sensibility in their quest, I do not use 'ought' in an imperative sense. Rather I use it in the sense of 'I am surprised when someone has been interested in photography for a long time, and clearly devotes a good deal of time and effort to it, has not picked up in passing a fair amount of aesthetic sensibility by osmosis and practice.'
This would apply to ANY long-term practitioner, regardless of their medium. I simply make the assumption, perhaps unjustified, that anyone going for alternative processes or ULF is likely to have a good deal of experience of photography in general.
I posed this same question (as Grants) to myself a while back, as I had thoughts that many are format dependant-that because they used a ULF they had created something special. In a sense, they had. Could the image have been made with a smaller format? Many could be. If it's a great image, than format is irrelevant. One could also argue that those who shoot color are dependant upon the color in the scene to "make" the image. Remove the color and does the image hold it's own? Some do, many don't.
A good compostition is a good composition regardless. But, that in itself doesn't necessarily make a good photograph either.
I wasn't much of a fan of MAS work, as I had only seen it in magazines and books. I had always admired his dedication and craft though. At the recent Silver conference I saw over 100 of his prints. The ones I had seen before as reproductions and thought little of, were an entirely new discovery up close and personal. The missing elements are almost indescribable. Now, not all his images ignite me, but many did where they had not before. I would argue that some would not have that impact if shot with smaller format and enlarged and cropped. Some would.
This basically touches upon the age old question of what constitutes art, and there isn't a definitive answer for that IMHO.
Subjectivity. No matter what the format, process or technical mastery, some images will resonate with the viewer, and some won't.
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"I invent nothing, I rediscover". Auguste Rodin
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If an image can't stand up one its own, no process or technique will save it...unless the photog is just going with trickery and BS. If the image can stand up on its own, it opens the doors as to the many different ways it can be interpreted.
I agree with some of whats been said and dis-agree with some. The one thing that is missed so far is that even given all the different processes and formatts by all the analog people here,there are so many different experiance levels. People interested in different approaches to reslove thier couriosity about whatever it is that they have chosen as a pathway to image creation. All the images are not going to stand the test of time. But we are here to share our growth. Absolutely "some images fail". In any process! Some images are ganged into a process where they may do better as something else. The use of the galleries and the honost response from the viewing team here at APUG will help guide some of this. I know I've benefitted greatly from some of the responses. But weeding out what helps and is personal egenda is tricky also. Anyway, I suggest we look at this stuff for what it is. People at different levels of experiance with different oppertunities for personal growth and allow for some experimentation along the way. The Right brain left brain thing is tough. One will impose itself on all of us. Sometimes no brain at all appears, the fact that there is work in progress is most important! As a person with individual tastes I'd say 85% of what I see does not hold my interest but that means nothing to the masses at large. How can we make a blanket statement about process or formats or even film vs digital when it is only personal preferance.
Stop trying to get into my mind, There is nothing there!
[COLOR=RoyalBlue]Quote: "How can we make a blanket statement about process or formats or even film vs digital when it is only personal preferance."[/COLOR]
I think this sums it up about as well as anything that I have read. I certainly do not want to stack my subjective opinion up as being objective reality...I think that it is really arrogant to do that. So who can really claim to have the basis to judge?
Let's face it, anything fresh and new is going to run into a ton of bullshit from the establishment...that means the photographer's establishment.
As a person with individual tastes I'd say 85% of what I see does not hold my interest but that means nothing to the masses at large. How can we make a blanket statement about process or formats or even film vs digital when it is only personal preferance.[/QUOTE]
I may up that to 90% in my opinion. Making a blank statement about alt/ulf is rediculous there is plenty of really bad 35mm, 120, 4x5 and so on. Maybe the point was originally being made that just because you do ulf and gum over plat doesn't make it good work. I have a ulf camera and I can print any alt process I want but I continue to do silver because I enjoy it. I don't think doing more gum or plat or whatever would improve my images one bit. Now albumen on the other hand... :-)
Well, this whole thread got started without the benefit of having the controversial thread guidelines posted yet.
It really should have started "Have you ever noticed ultra large format practitioners and alternative process printers who insist that their negatives make the most sublime prints, but i think they are sad, sad, lame misguided subhuman wannabe's who think that what they do is art, but everyone knows that Ansel Adams hated platinum prints, and who are we to argue with that?"
It think that would have started out things on the right foot without this namby-pamby polite disagreement between peers. Stated that way, we could have had all-out war right from the start without all this tiresome build-up.