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  1. #1
    Jadedoto's Avatar
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    A rose by another othe- what the?

    This is a bit rambling, but I'm trying to distill my thoughts over 4 shots of espresso...

    ...is still a rose, no? Well, if Shakespeare can immortalize the single most beautiful and dangerous plant (to my younger second cousin anyway), then why can't I?

    The background: I got really bored in the darkroom the other day, so I decided to start printing a few of my first "real negatives" (as in, I finally bought negative sheets so that I could keep them in some sane order). One of them I picked was from every photographer's first "Real" shoot: the flower study. A Rose. Simply, a rose.

    It's a nice image, and I still like it- and it's interesting to see how a picture can change when you don't look at the negative for... several months. Well, almost a year or so (I just started processing myself not too long ago, so hey). I had a flurry of emotions while printing that ranged from psychotic to euphoric to angry, and so I just let it fly. The final result? Everything from enlarging onto 4x5 film to print a positive to contacting the 35mm, to contacting the positive to 4x5 film and all variations of solarizing and double exposing among them... But still I just didn't feel it. Why?


    What is it that gets you going in the darkroom? Lately I seem to just get bored, and with my commitment to wet photography, it makes my heart ache to look at my dear photographer friend's Flickr and realize that my style isn't refined or changed at all. Albeit I'm 17 (and so is she!), it seems with her digital camera, she's getting ahead where I'm staying behind (I used to be the one teaching her technique and pushing her to develop her own style!). In times like these, how is film going to really push ahead to stay relevant?

    Moreover, how am I to develop my style and truly learn where I'm going if I can't shoot much because of prohibitive costs? I really don't want to stop doing this, but even though people tell me my work is awesome and "oh boy it's refreshing to see someone as young as you doing traditional methods!", I'm not feeling it.

    It makes me think that maybe all the technical information that's been crammed into my head (I'm a very technical guy, I skim it once and have it memorized) has overpowered my artist's instinct. I recall my early work when I didn't know about how and why it worked- I just knew it worked. The prints from Walgreens showed me that (on BW400CN and an SRT-201)- and I fell in love with BW! But has technical data hindered my art? I made it this summer to a very selective art program in my state, but am I an artist? Do I make art or just technical statements?

    How are young analog photographers like me going to stay afloat in an all-digital world that I'll be living in when I'm 40, 50 or even 80 years old? I love the magic of the darkroom, but for growing purposes, would it be a crime for me to buy a digital camera to learn style?
    Vincent Purcell
    Lexington KY Photographer + Media Artist
    http://vincenttpurcell.com

  2. #2

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    Printing a picture that interests me, that gets me going. Something that I care about, or something that I want to share with someone or friends. That's my motivation. Without this, darkroom 'work' becomes a chore. It's not fulfilling to me. And i'll find other things to do. If i'm not taking pictures of something that I care about, I don't take pictures at all. Or I try not to.

    My other advice would be to not worry so much. Take pictures, have fun. If you aren't having fun, find a way to do so. Or find something else to do. The last thing you want is to hate taking pictures or printing. That is the worst feeling, to have loved doing something so much only to begin hating it.

  3. #3
    MurrayMinchin's Avatar
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    OK, I'll give this a shot...

    #1) You're 17 and you're seeking answers from those more experienced than you. For this you get 1000 bonus points

    #2) You're asking questions of yourself at 17. For that you get 10,000 bonus points

    #3) Create.

    #4) Create by whatever means or media available.

    #5) Follow those creations which lead you down the most tantalizing paths towards further discovery.

    That's about it, I think, except to say that any artist who stops questioning themselves is dead in the water. You seem to be starting out with your head up, looking for the signs...this promises to be an interesting journey!

    Murray
    _________________________________________
    Note to self: Turn your negatives into positives.

  4. #4
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jadedoto View Post
    This is a bit rambling, but I'm trying to distill my thoughts over 4 shots of espresso...

    ...is still a rose, no? Well, if Shakespeare can immortalize the single most beautiful and dangerous plant (to my younger second cousin anyway), then why can't I?

    The background: I got really bored in the darkroom the other day, so I decided to start printing a few of my first "real negatives" (as in, I finally bought negative sheets so that I could keep them in some sane order). One of them I picked was from every photographer's first "Real" shoot: the flower study. A Rose. Simply, a rose.

    It's a nice image, and I still like it- and it's interesting to see how a picture can change when you don't look at the negative for... several months. Well, almost a year or so (I just started processing myself not too long ago, so hey). I had a flurry of emotions while printing that ranged from psychotic to euphoric to angry, and so I just let it fly. The final result? Everything from enlarging onto 4x5 film to print a positive to contacting the 35mm, to contacting the positive to 4x5 film and all variations of solarizing and double exposing among them... But still I just didn't feel it. Why?


    What is it that gets you going in the darkroom? Lately I seem to just get bored, and with my commitment to wet photography, it makes my heart ache to look at my dear photographer friend's Flickr and realize that my style isn't refined or changed at all. Albeit I'm 17 (and so is she!), it seems with her digital camera, she's getting ahead where I'm staying behind (I used to be the one teaching her technique and pushing her to develop her own style!). In times like these, how is film going to really push ahead to stay relevant?

    Moreover, how am I to develop my style and truly learn where I'm going if I can't shoot much because of prohibitive costs? I really don't want to stop doing this, but even though people tell me my work is awesome and "oh boy it's refreshing to see someone as young as you doing traditional methods!", I'm not feeling it.

    It makes me think that maybe all the technical information that's been crammed into my head (I'm a very technical guy, I skim it once and have it memorized) has overpowered my artist's instinct. I recall my early work when I didn't know about how and why it worked- I just knew it worked. The prints from Walgreens showed me that (on BW400CN and an SRT-201)- and I fell in love with BW! But has technical data hindered my art? I made it this summer to a very selective art program in my state, but am I an artist? Do I make art or just technical statements?

    How are young analog photographers like me going to stay afloat in an all-digital world that I'll be living in when I'm 40, 50 or even 80 years old? I love the magic of the darkroom, but for growing purposes, would it be a crime for me to buy a digital camera to learn style?
    It sounds like you've reached the first of many overwhelming-points that we all go through in life. Life comes at you in fits and starts, with lots of brain-freezes in between. Maybe you just need to walk away for a little while, and do something else creative, to give all that technical stuff time to percolate and become meaningful. Maybe find another interest of yours and try to make your photography a part of it. No matter what, don't worry about "finding your style". That will take as long as it takes.

    The biggest mistake you can make is to think that a tool will give you a style. The only style you'll get by buying ANOTHER tool is an expensive lifestyle. You've already got the foundations of a style - you like black and white, you have some subjects you like... build on that. What's important is that you learn to make images that reflect how YOU see... your own unique perspective and composition.

  5. #5
    Paul VanAudenhove's Avatar
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    I think it's just part of a progression we all go through. We start taking pictures with enthusiasm, but no real technical skill. Then we progress though learning the technical aspects - in short we learn techniques, but not when to apply them. Then it seems we clue in to the fact that craft is part of the art... and so we progress....

    You will probably receive as many approaches as there are posters; some you will agrre with, some not. But everyone who takes the time to post is interested in help you, and has someting to say. It's up to the individual to take what is applicable to them.... Good Heavens we can be an entertaining bunch!

  6. #6

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    "Moreover, how am I to develop my style and truly learn where I'm going if I can't shoot much because of prohibitive costs?"

    Digital cost just as much if not more.

    Do yourself a favor and buy yourself a digital camera. It's the only way to find out if it's right for you. It might wind up to be like falling in love with a few different girls before you marry the right one, but you'll never know till you try.
    W.A. Crider

  7. #7
    Jadedoto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by waynecrider View Post
    "Moreover, how am I to develop my style and truly learn where I'm going if I can't shoot much because of prohibitive costs?"

    Digital cost just as much if not more.

    Do yourself a favor and buy yourself a digital camera. It's the only way to find out if it's right for you. It might wind up to be like falling in love with a few different girls before you marry the right one, but you'll never know till you try.
    I don't know about falling in love with girls now

    I shot with a digital for three weeks (A D70) while at the Governor's School, and I realized that the whole technique thing, well, it was impossible to bother me because I didn't have too much say in the matter.

    I enjoyed digital, but when the prints came out, eh, not so much.


    Thanks for all the replies everyone, they make me feel a lot better
    Vincent Purcell
    Lexington KY Photographer + Media Artist
    http://vincenttpurcell.com

  8. #8
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jadedoto View Post
    The final result? Everything from enlarging onto 4x5 film to print a positive to contacting the 35mm, to contacting the positive to 4x5 film and all variations of solarizing and double exposing among them... But still I just didn't feel it. Why?
    Why? Perhaps the starkest truth is that this was not in fact a good picture, one which really holds what you want to do.

    Or maybe it is not a good picture now because you haven't found the way to see it yet.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jadedoto View Post
    What is it that gets you going in the darkroom? Lately I seem to just get bored, and with my commitment to wet photography, it makes my heart ache to look at my dear photographer friend's Flickr and realize that my style isn't refined or changed at all. Albeit I'm 17 (and so is she!), it seems with her digital camera, she's getting ahead where I'm staying behind (I used to be the one teaching her technique and pushing her to develop her own style!). In times like these, how is film going to really push ahead to stay relevant?
    Style is not a set of decisions that govern your picturemaking before you click the shutter. Style is the residual of what people see from what you have done. As for it not being refined yet, well, not everyone is Arthur Rimbaud.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jadedoto View Post
    Moreover, how am I to develop my style and truly learn where I'm going if I can't shoot much because of prohibitive costs? I really don't want to stop doing this, but even though people tell me my work is awesome and "oh boy it's refreshing to see someone as young as you doing traditional methods!", I'm not feeling it.
    <Old codger's voice> Get a job! </end old codgerness> No, I'm not kidding. My current job is feeding my film expenses. Granted, Provia 400X is now 20$ a roll of 35mm, but bulk film remains pretty cheap. Expired film abounds in the classifieds of photo sites. I only buy new, fresh film when I'm doing something important.

    You seem to be using 35mm, so I don't see a reason for you not to bulk load. For 60$ I must get about 15-20 rolls of 36exp. At that price, I can shoot just as if it were digital and try all sorts of things.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jadedoto View Post
    How are young analog photographers like me going to stay afloat in an all-digital world that I'll be living in when I'm 40, 50 or even 80 years old? I love the magic of the darkroom, but for growing purposes, would it be a crime for me to buy a digital camera to learn style?
    Do you need APUG's absolution to shoot digital? Go ahead, do what you feel is right. Many people here use digital, and they're not ashamed. They just don't discuss it here because the point of the forum is to focus on the film part of life.

    If you want to develop yourself, it's not about getting a different toy, it's about thinking about what you are doing, receiving tougher criticisms than people thinking you are awesome, comparing your work with that of others, exchanging ideas, reverse engineering the work of artists you admire, developing an artistic culture, and all sorts of other things that are human, not technical.

    Here's a big old cliché of gender, but I would not be surprised if your friend has in fact a very active interpersonal life about her photo. Women communicate more; men often think reading yet another book on the Zone System will make them better photographers. Being wired to other people is what makes you grow, even if these people are dead and their work is all that remains; art is a form of communication after all.
    Last edited by Michel Hardy-Vallée; 07-25-2007 at 10:57 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    Using film since before it was hip.


    "One of the most singular characters of the hyposulphites, is the property their solutions possess of dissolving muriate of silver and retaining it in considerable quantity in permanent solution" — Sir John Frederick William Herschel, "On the Hyposulphurous Acid and its Compounds." The Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, Vol. 1 (8 Jan. 1819): 8-29. p. 11

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  9. #9

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    I'm 22 and can certainly sympathise with how you feel. A few months ago I switched to shooting 4x5 exclusively, and despite having fallen in love with the process I have yet to make a negative that I am really pleased with. I'll second the suggestion on bulk loading 35mm. In combination with doing your own processing and printing it will cut down on the cost quite a bit. I would also suggest sticking with one lens. If you have a zoom, pick one focal length and just use that, or you can save up for a bit and get a 50mm. Second hand 50mm f/1.8 manual focus lenses usually sell for practically a song. The most important thing about art I learned from Julia Cameron (the author, not the photographer.) The most important thing about art is MAKING art. Don't worry about whether or not you are a "real" artist, what your message is, or if what you are doing is good or not. Just get out of your own way and CREATE. This is very hard for me, because as you seem to be I am a perfectionist. Perfectionism is only good if it doesn't get in the way of your work. While I am not the biggest fan of Ansel Adams, I was reading an interview in B+W magazine from a former apprentice of AA's. He said that while working with AA he was struck by the fact that Ansel made an awful lot of very ordinary photographs. This resonates strongly with me because I frequently expect every shot to be perfect, which it won't be, and expecting that will only give me photographer's block.

    I can see I'm starting to ramble, but basically my point is to keep it SIMPLE, and just enjoy taking pictures. Play with the camera, regain the feelings that made you fall in love with it. Sooner or later, something good will come of your shooting. It may take 1 roll, it may take 5. Just do your best, but don't get in your own damn way!

    Best of luck,

    - Justin

  10. #10
    mjs
    mjs is offline

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    Progress doesn't come in a smooth curve; it's more like a ziggurat. You make some progress for a while, then you're on a plateau and it seems like you're pushing mud uphill. Dedication is working through the plateaus; giving up is what separates those who teach from those who do. Or something like that. Don't give up! Keep pushing and nagging and flailing away at the bugger and eventually it will get better. Good luck!

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