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Thread: On Technique

  1. #51
    keithwms's Avatar
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    Why this notion that someone learns techniques and then is finished with that, forever?

    I find myself learning new techniques and also inventing new ones as I go. Sometimes you have a vision and the existing techniques don't work, so you expand them. Thank goodness that the early pioneers of photography didn't learn the existing techniques of salt printing or whatever and then give themselves to pure art! Somebody said, wait, my art requires better techniques, so... what about this, what about that...

    This isn't like school, where you graduate with a piece of paper and settle into one workflow and that's it, done forever. From my perspective, you are either learning new things or you are dying.

    (N.b. I could easily write negative comments about the tendency for academization of art to kill it, but I will hold off on that for now)
    "Only dead fish follow the stream"

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  2. #52

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    Keith,

    I think there is a strong element of anti-science in some of the posts (not yours); along with an illogical disparaging of technique and craft.

    Tom

  3. #53
    Jim Jones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gandolfi View Post
    [/I]. . . The "perfect" photographs have been made long time ago... Why should we/I also do it?

    Proberly for the same reason some still play Rachmaninov...
    Yes, indeed. We live in our mileau, not Rachmaninoff's. Much has happened since his time, such as the greatest war in human history and the expansion of communications from crude B&W TV to the internet. We are not the people our grandparents were. Today's interpretation of Rachmaninoff may have some significance to us that the composer's own performance could not. The printing of Ansel Adams and Edward Weston changed as materials and their vision evolved. A Cole Weston print of his father's negatives is another interpretation of that image. We have the advantage of enjoying both the old and the contemporary performances of photographs as well as music, but it does not stop with us. We are merely stepping stones to the future.

  4. #54
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rudeofus View Post
    Thomas, a lot of people here, and I am definitely including myself in this list would be very happy if we had your level of technical skill and knowledge or ever got close to reaching it. I understand your point that you have reached a level where you prefer to focus on vision and seeing, but for quite a few of us here improvement of our technical skill set will positively improve our images.

    BTW I don't think Michael R tried to rip on you, he just pointed out what I try to say here. What you consider simple technique may be completely out of reach for quite a few here, just read your postings about Rodinal vs. HC110.
    I'm trying to make the point that I don't feel that all those different materials moved me anywhere. All I did was spinning my wheels. It wasn't until I stopped working with lots of different materials that I could start to really develop my portfolios to where I wanted them to be. All it did, in retrospect, was making it difficult for me in the darkroom, wasting tons of paper and time, just because I didn't know what to expect. If you want to, then try this some time (it's how I used to do it):
    1. Use seven different films: APX 100, TMax 100, FP4+, Foma 100, Foma 400, Tri-X, and Delta 3200 (some of them outdated, to make it worse)
    2. Use three developers: Rodinal, Pyrocat, and DD-X
    3. Use a plethora of papers, like: Fotokemika Emaks, Kentmere Bromide, Ilford MGIV, Ilford MGWT, Fotokemika Varycon, and Foma 112.
    4. Use whatever print developer that sounded good: Edwal Ultra Black, Kodak Dektol, Ilford Multigrade, 130, Amidol, and two different lith developers.
    5. Toners.

    Now try go into the darkroom and make something worthwhile. What you end up with is a massive mess of prints that all look different and won't look good together. I was working on eight different portfolios of things I had photographed in the past and present. All of them printed on matt, glossy, warmtone, standard tone, in different developers, from negatives with different properties.
    As I now go through those negs and pick one out to print, it takes me a lot of paper to get to where I want the print to be. So it's wasteful of precious natural resources, as well as time, and it's frustrating beyond belief.

    So, I urge you all to think about your goals, and where you want to end up with your photographs. If you love tinkering in the darkroom, and don't mind spending a lot of time on each print, great! Tinker away. But if you like to develop portfolios and come up with work that consistently looks good, and prints with minimal frustration and waste, then getting to grips with a few good materials and just focusing on the pictures is the best way to go, in my humble opinion.

    I thank you for your kind words, but I just don't wish my experience upon anyone else. Fortunately, some of it was due to the fact that I was hunting bargains, scavenging eBay for the cheapest deal on everything, simply because it was all I could afford. So I can lay some of the blame on that. But the point is still that it got me absolutely nowhere, because here I am reprinting all of those old negatives that I like, with great frustration and tons of paper in the trash can. I can't help but feel that it could have been put to better use if I had it clearly figured out what I wanted to achieve. I wish it would have all been Tri-X and D76, or any other Brand X/Y combination that would have served me consistent results.
    Last edited by Thomas Bertilsson; 10-17-2011 at 09:38 AM. Click to view previous post history.
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  5. #55
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by keithwms View Post
    From my perspective, you are either learning new things or you are dying.
    Yes! Precisely. And learning new things can be anything in the photographic chain of events, from seeing, to cutting nice overmats for your prints. I think we all choose differently what we want to learn, however, and hopefully the decision of what we choose is based on where we want our photography to go.
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  6. #56
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    Well, I for one really didn't say that technique kills anything, nor that it is not important to know what you are doing.
    Knowledge and techniques are tools you can use to expand your creativity to create photographic images, but apart from knowing how to expose skin correctly more or less, you really don't need much to create a photograph that hits the viewer.

    Off course one shouldn't forget that almost every guy with a camera that did photography before us, left something for others to go on with and build upon.

    But there is a major difference between applying pure technical knowledge and think that you are creating something and using your technical knowledge as a tool to accomplish the idea/vision you have and use the tools differently to achieve new things.

    My post was written with a slightly sharp pen though, I can see that, I'm just trying to say that there is a huge difference between a technically great photograph and a great photograph, the latter can be unsharp, blocked shadows, burned out highlights and still hit you right in the old blood-pump

    Painters use new technique and materials all the time, but it is always the final photo that is the most important, they use/invent tools to accomplish their creative idea.

    I'm no master at all (I'm just your average joe-schmoe snapper), but I've taken a few "good" photos, technically. But I can honestly say that I've never taken an "important" photograph or a photo that I love and want to hang on my own wall, or a photo that convey emotion, feeling, messages etc, probably don't have they eye for it, but it is still a fun and rewarding art-form.

    [edit]
    Regarding the zone system, it must be a widely used misconception that he invented it then, because you woun't have to read many books before you see that many actually state that he is infact the father/inventer of the zone system, in other literature he is noted as the one who perfected the system.
    Anyway, can we all agree that he contributed to it atleast?
    [/edit]
    Last edited by Helinophoto; 10-17-2011 at 10:05 AM. Click to view previous post history.
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  7. #57
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=Michael R 1974;1248730]
    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Bertilsson View Post

    Sorry about that Thomas I really didn't mean it as an attack or anything negative at all. Apologize if it came off that way. Hopefully I can get you to resume beginning to like me
    Is OK. Thanks. It's entirely possible I overreacted and jumped to conclusions. Let's move forward.
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  8. #58
    VaryaV's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by keithwms View Post
    From my perspective, you are either learning new things or you are dying.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Bertilsson View Post
    Yes! Precisely. And learning new things can be anything in the photographic chain of events, from seeing, to cutting nice overmats for your prints. I think we all choose differently what we want to learn, however, and hopefully the decision of what we choose is based on where we want our photography to go.
    And for me, the 'learning new things or dying' is equivalent to 'creatively pushing' my ideas into new territory, or previously unexplored. Whether I achieve that goal or not, it must be attempted. That is the 'alive' part. But I do think the two must go hand in hand. An artist must aspire to reach all levels of quality not just in ideas but in the print as well. Relying solely on plotting curves will kill your creativity as an artist and continuously turning in shoddy work will not convince anyone of your skills, and the end result will be the same. I have seen too many conceptual artists use that as a lame excuse for turning in crap, it's not excusable. But that is a subject for different debate.
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  9. #59

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Kershaw View Post
    Ansel Adams did not "create" the zone system. The Zone System is a rough and very useful practical approximation for sensitometry, inherent in all film photographical. Not being concerned with exposure is bizarre; for a start it makes printing much more straightforward.


    Tom
    i agree with you that ansel adams didn't invent the zone system,
    it was used by 19th century photographers who had to deal with ortho
    film and glass plates in order to judge and understand exposure
    and the tonal range of their materials ...

    but i disagree with you that not being concerned with exposure is bizarre.
    very infrequently do i concern myself with a light meter,
    or the asa of my film ( or paper )
    or the time that my film develops. ... no matter the asa, or the scene or the film ( color as well )
    it all gets processed for the same time in the same developer ( at the same time ) ... 28mins.
    sheet film prints well with a flood light ( like with azo )
    roll film will either contact print, enlarge or skan ...

    my only technique is that i look through the lens ( or not ) and press the shutter.
    you may not enjoy the photographs that i make, but they are made with very little technique ... or care for exposure of materials
    silver magnets, trickle tanks sold
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  10. #60
    VaryaV's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jnanian View Post
    my only technique is that i look through the lens ( or not ) and press the shutter.
    you may not enjoy the photographs that i make, but they are made with very little technique ... or care for exposure of materials
    And your work is both very creative and beautiful to look at, so you must be doing something right.
    Sourdough, salami and blue cheese... and 2 dogs drooling with such sad, sad eyes. ... they're working me... they know I'll cave!

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