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Thread: TANSTAAFL

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    TANSTAAFL

    This acronym was popularized by the great SF author Robert Heinlein although it appears to have been in existence for sometime previously. For the few recently born under a cabbage leaf it stands for "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch." But more about this a bit later.

    I thought that the reason that people were still willing to do wet photography, and perhaps the reason for APUG's existence, was a desire to get the most from our photographs by asserting control over the development process. But it seems that every month or so there is a post by someone seeking some sort of "automatic" processing whether with the use of divided development, stand development, monobath, etc. The posters seem to want to put film in a tank, pour in a developer, walk away, and hope for the best. Isn't this concept contrary to the ideal of analog photography?

    This brings us back to the concept of no free lunch. If you want quality then you have to be willing to pay atention to details. For those that are either unwilling or incapable of making an extra effort there is an easy solution to your problem -- if is called DIGITAL photography. There I've said it and I feel better.
    A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.

    ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

  2. #2
    David Brown's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gerald C Koch View Post
    ... it seems that every month or so there is a post by someone seeking some sort of "automatic" processing whether with the use of divided development, stand development, monobath, etc. The posters seem to want to put film in a tank, pour in a developer, walk away, and hope for the best. Isn't this concept contrary to the ideal of analog photography?
    I think they're not necessarily looking for automatic processing as much as just the "magic bullet" for perfect negatives every time. Because you know it's out there ...

    EDIT: - Oh, I think I just saw the latest thread you're talking about ...
    Last edited by David Brown; 05-02-2011 at 02:14 PM. Click to view previous post history.

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    Rick A's Avatar
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    You know there is so a perfect negative, Kodak sezso. "Just push the button and we'll do the rest." The pictures all came back perfect. Wait a minute, you didn't get a perfect picture? Not your fault, you just need a better camera, you know, the one that does all the work for you.
    Rick A
    Argentum aevum

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    Ottrdaemmerung's Avatar
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    There's indeed a formula for getting a perfect negative from analog processing:
    FAIL AT IT! -- many times over.
    You'll then get into a routine and make fewer mistakes. But the wondrousness of the process is the point. An organic process like film photography means that you are always beholden to the wondrousness of the process FIRST. If the process decides that you have done everything correctly and that you deserve the perfect negative, then you will get the perfect negative.
    website | Flickr
    "Embrace the negative with absolution, your final positive reward." --IQ, "The Province," Frequency

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    BetterSense's Avatar
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    The posters seem to want to put film in a tank, pour in a developer, walk away, and hope for the best.
    Sounds good to me!

    Isn't this concept contrary to the ideal of analog photography?
    No, and I don't know where you could have possibly come up with that. I don't do analog photography because it's hard, or because it's expensive, or because it's anachronistic or any other reason than that I think analog photographs are beautiful.
    This brings us back to the concept of no free lunch. If you want quality then you have to be willing to pay atention to details.
    Photographs have many qualities. As the photographer, I decide which details are important.
    f/22 and be there.

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    Bettersense,

    My post was based on a number of different postings over the last year. I specifically mentioned four different "automatic" techniques which have all appeared in posts to summarize this fact. It is something that I have been thinking of for some time. You were not being singled out which is why this thread appears under philosophy and not under BW development or under your OP.
    A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.

    ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

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    BetterSense's Avatar
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    I don't feel singled out, but I still don't see why we should feel that analog photography should be hard, or that doing something the easy way is "cheating", or that something being hard and complicated automatically makes it "higher quality".
    f/22 and be there.

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    BetterSense,

    You are correct when you say that harder is not necessarily better. But when someone wants to use one of the easy methods mentioned they do sacrifice something. For example, with two bath developers or monobaths you lose contrast control over your negatives.
    A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.

    ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

  9. #9
    BetterSense's Avatar
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    Yes, you lose contrast control, but you also gain something as well...a certain degree of freedom. As you yourself say, TANSTAAFL, and everything has a tradeoff.

    Also, there is this new thing called variable contrast paper.
    f/22 and be there.

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    Yes, you can use a VC paper but what if your favorite paper doesn't come as VC? We can keep trading gotchas all day. I stand by my OP that there are no shortcuts to quality.
    A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.

    ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

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