Sorry Ross - don't get your point. "Soul"? "Essence"? I again, don't get it. The idea is to produce a successful image. Your points make absolutely no sense to me.
I understand that there is some unexplainable intrinsic value to you in knowing that the image went directly from film to paper without ever being digitzed but, for me it's about the final image and not how it's been made.
If I wanted a 30x40-inch color print from a 35mm transparency, the only way to achieve it and have it look decent would be through a LightJet print. And, I am one person who has taken a 110 negative and blown it up to 20x30-inches specifically because the image totally falls apart into color blobs until you get back about 10 feet when it all comes together as a photo.
Your Rolex metaphor is not well framed and really inapplicable to the digital process as a fake Rolex is a fake because it's not a Rolex. Using your metaphor, then you probably only listen to vinyl records because CD's don't convey the trueness of the analog waveforms created by the instruments? Never mind the fact that the entire analog recording process has distorted and colored the waveforms in some way starting at the microphone.
Same with film. You can't tell me that any film truly renders a scene exactly the way you see it. Velvia certainly distorts colors in a certain way, as does Provia, Ektachrome, Kodacrome, etc. So, don't give me this pristine analog transition from subject to film image - it just isn't true.
A photograph output through a digital process can, in many ways, look better than the analog equivalent. By this I mean the ability to make a big print with no grain, no distortion, no unsharpness, no edge distortion, falloff, no contrast loss, etc.
Which is truer to your VISION? The distorted analog photo with all of the inherent analog losses, or the digital version that will preserve the look of a transparency on a light box viewed through a good loupe?
Your romanticizing the process. That's OK. I don't care. But, I will bet that you can't tell a color LightJet print from a color analog print without using at least a 10x loupe directly on the print. If that's what it takes, what's the point? Ooohhhhh, it was a really great photo right up until the time I learned it was a LightJet print?
I spent many hours with a group of transparencies (4x5, 6x7) that had been made into 16x20 LightJet prints. I've got LOTS of experience printing color negatives and transparencies. Really, honest, cross my heart, etc., I COULD NOT see a loss of soul, essence, or whatever between the transparencies and the print - and I'm damn critical.
And by the way, the "real thing" can never be rendered in a photo, it's always an interpretation or translation. If you want to see the real thing you have to go there in person and experience whatever it was in person.
Yes, I am romanticizing the medium because that is a big part of it for me. Going on journeys and exploring my surroundings might even be more important than the 'final image'. It's this exploration that often teaches me something new about myself, and it doesn't seem right putting that in a ram chip. I love holding up a piece of film and saying, "I remember this moment in my life, and here is an object in my hand, burned by the light of that moment that I can keep forever". That is the 'soul' and 'essence' of it. In my mind, it couldn't be more real unless I was actually there in person (like you say). It's extremely hard to explain my stance and I surely don't speak for others who use film. I can only try to convey what the overall process is for me.
My only opinion of digital genrated prints, negatives etc, is that to me they look "too" perfect. I had the opportunity to see in person a print by Daniel Fokos done in fuji crystal paper. I have to tell all the print was extremely beautiful, as a matter of fact not a single silver print I have seen had the tones and "feeling" this print had, but underlying all of that the print was just too perfect, I have to admit though, if I had the money I would have bought the print.
To me digital is not bad, and when you see work by Fokos or Osburn you are seeing the best produced in the medium. So it is good when it stands on its own, but when it suddenly becomes the "replacement" for silver or alt methods, I have a big problem with this. Most saw my rant about the "digital platinum glicé". You want to make prints on your light jet print that look similar to platinum, fine, make them the most beautiful they can be, but dont tell me they are the replacement cause then I will laugh very loud. As I said the Fokos print was beautiful but in no way could it be mistaken for a print made from a "real" negaive....just a very different feeling about it.
I would think that a better comparison than a rolex and a rolax watch would be say glassware or pottery. A machine produced product can certainly be great art and perfect in each and every reproduction but a hand made article which is equally beautiful art is something different for many people. Even if the hand made is not as perfect.
There is really nothing WRONG with either approach but they are usually produced and appreciated by different groups.
As in the Platinum example Jorge gives there is a certain "better" quality to the wet process over the digital. In digital there are also "better" prints made then can be done traditionally. It comes down to what is "better" and what you and your audience consider "better" is.
Will digital take over, yes for the majority. Will traditional still have passionate devotees, yes until EPA eliminates heavy metal print processes.
</span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (BobF @ Dec 2 2002, 06:30 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>
Will digital take over, yes for the majority. Will traditional still have passionate devotees, yes until EPA eliminates heavy metal print processes.</td></tr></table><span id='postcolor'>
That's Ok Bob, you all can move to Mexico, that will never happen here....
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I'd like to ask your opinions on making enlarged negatives via digital for use in alternative processes. Since digital is only an intermediate stage and the rest of the process is wet photographic, has the image lost it's analog "quality" and become too perfect at that point - and its soul is lost forever?
Or, during the translation back to an analog medium (via the interpositive contact print to larger film for the final contact print to paper) does it regain its previous "soul" and "essence" because the last process in making the final image is film to paper?
A quick point here. When folks talk about not being able to tell a print is digital "even with a loupe" I think they're missing the forest for the trees. Even the very best digital prints or prints from digitally produced negatives look digital from across the room: no need to stick your nose in it, the USM and, as Jorge mentions the overcorrections just always stick out like a sore thumb. Also, I've seen very few digital procedures that didn't lose the feel of the lens. As in, you can often tell at a glance that a print from 35mm was made with a Leitz lens, not a Nikkor, or that a large format contact print was made from a negative shot with a dagor, not a Sironar. This subtle but, to some very important, aspect of the print doesn't survive digital processing, just as it seldom survives reproduction whether with modern scanning or traditional process camera separations. I think we should use whatever methods and media get the results we want, but I also think the distinction between a photographic print and one made with digital intervention is technically and visually valid.
As an aside, I'm working on several book projects. The pictures are made with big cameras, and the only kind of prints I'll ever show will be traditional contact prints, probably in Pt/Pd. But I use digital tools to make workprints (equivalent to the 35mm proofsheet). And the reproductions for the books will be made by scanning directly from the negatives and then working in PShop with the palladium prints used as visual guide. Hmm, so, is the final result a book of photographs, or something else?
Several comments -
Ross, I understand perfectly what you mean about holding up a piece of film. I have not gone totally digital for kind of the same reason. Let me explain. Each film has it's own intrinsic "qualities." These qualities cannot be duplicated by the digital image recording process (in my opinion) at this time.
For example, Provia has a totally different way of rendering blue, green, and red than Kodachrome, and of course, by extension all of the other colors made from blue, green, and red. It has to do with the spectral response characteristics of the film, which are very complicated and are related to how the film is constructed, D-log response curves for each emulsion layer, color response due to exposure, scene contrast, light color temperature, etc.
I don't think you can duplicate that digitally because the inter-relationship of the film construction and response to light (brightness, color temperature, contrast range, etc.) cannot be quantified as a single "look like XX film" setting on either a digital camera or in post processing. There are just too many variables that are inter-related, and whose effect on the final image cannot be predicted because of the random mix and resulting film response.
The software (whether in the digital camera or computer) cannot compute the total randomness of the ever changing single event - the film response to the scene variables. I also know that I, as a human being, cannot predict or imagine the film's response - so I cannot "correct to look like" in post processing.
I am amazed at the colors that come back from some exposures. Some colors are exactly like I remember, but others have been totally transformed. This is especially true when I apply filters which further add to the complexity. The closest explanation I can come up with is part of Chaos Theory in which random events are repeatable, but not predictible.
These statements, of course, are all predicated on photos take outdoors under random conditions, and not indoors with contolled light qualities.
HOWEVER, I totally separate the taking process, from the image printing process. This is why I have no problem with LightJet prints from color film. They are as true to the original film (and in some ways better as stated previously), than analog printing processes. They also use the same silver-based print materials and processing, so the final result is not an ink-jet print on some type of paper, but a print on photographic paper.
To me there is no loss of "essence" or "soul" through this image reproduction chain as the special scene "qualities" have been recorded and fixed at the time of exposure. The printing process then becomes the means to translate, as closely as possible, the photographer's original vision. If I can better render that through a digital printing process - how can that possibly degrade the image or is special qualities?
In fact, why not address the transmogrification and degradation of the image as a "negative aspect" of the analog print process? There are down sides to analog which are conveniently ignored by the "not enthused with digital" crowd. What is the loss of essence caused by image contrast change, loss of sharpness, uneven illumination across the print, color crossover, etc.?
Or, is all that okay just because it's expected as part of the total analog process?
I would agree that the well-done LightJet from a drum scan has surpassed most traditional forms of enlargement for reproductions from color transparencies. I use this process, because the result comes out looking like a very good reversal print with the same surface qualities as a traditional reversal print on color paper.
For B&W, though, output to color paper or to inkjet in its various forms are just other media, as gum bichromate is different from silver is different from vandyke is different from platinum is different from photogravure. I've seen excellent B&W inkjets, but they look like inkjets and could never be mistaken for silver prints or any other medium. One could do outstanding work with digital materials, but it would look different from work made with traditional B&W materials, and while I enjoy looking at some digital B&W prints made by people who work with digital media, they just aren't the materials that speak to me for my own work.
***>>"... folks talk about not being able to tell a print is digital "even with a loupe"<<<***
If you are talking about my previous post, I never said you couldn't see the changes "even with a loupe." In fact, I said it would take a 10x loupe to see that is was a digital print.
***>>This subtle but, to some very important, aspect of the print doesn't survive digital processing, just as it seldom survives reproduction whether with modern scanning or traditional process camera separations. <<***
Uh, yeah, and there is no degredation or changes using analog reproduction processes? I guess you can conveniently ignore those in order to support your point of view?
When the very choice of enlarger lens can have a great effect on the final print - you know, that the preservation/loss statement about analog versus digital is total BS. You just want to THINK that there are no changes and that come through analog reproduction.
Testing in my darkroom under carefully controlled conditions using a Schneider Componon and a Rodenstock Apo Rodagon show distinct differences in reproduction of red colors. Perfect preservation of qualities through analog reproduction?
Hahhhhhaaahhaaahhaahhaaa - got proof to the point the Rodenstock rep asked me for copies of the prints to show his accounts the difference between the enlarging lenses. How does that change the "look" generated by the Leitz, Nikon, Fuji, or whatever taking lens?
If you are complaining about losses let's not pretend it is intrinsic to only one process - at least be honest about it.