Great thread going on here.... I think we can all agree that there are so many combinations of silver based materials out there that eyes will glaze over... That said, the adage of keeping it simple in my mind is paramount. I've been down the path of trying to control EVERY detail about making an image to the point where it has actually got in the way.... I, like everyone else here has tried all sorts of films, developers, papers, toners and combinations... I learned fairly early on that material choice, and equipment choice should not get in the way of your vision. While it certainly helps if you do know the technical side of the equation well enough, only if it becomes second nature by sticking with a combination long enough to know how it can be used. It should not involve too much over thinking as it will distract the main goal which is the creative process.. It adds stress in what should really be an enjoyable step.
I have settled on a few materials over the last few years, like Thomas mentioned, to create a similar look to the images so that bodies of work can be cohesive. The key for me is CONSISTENCY in the use of the equipment, knowledge of materials, and your own personal vision that knows how to bring all this together without over analyzing all the options. As our work evolves, often, the techniques, equipment, and materials evolve as well. However, for me its usually a gradual process, there are no really abrubt material/equipment or 180 degree changes for me any longer.... Unless a major change happens and a product I use is no longer available!! I have found what works well for me at this point in my evolution, others will need to make their own mind up too.
With as many choices as we still have in the analog world, it can be daunting for some who are new to it, but it should not deter anyone from learning..... and learning using whatever equipment, and materials they choose. All I would say is that learn as much as you can about a particular combination before switching to something else. To some, it might be fun by switching things up all the time, if that floats your boat, then by all means go ahead...YMMV... And that's what is so cool about analog photography.... There is no wrong or right way to do what we do...
Originally Posted by Michael R 1974
No reason to be disappointed, really. Having a conversation/debate, doesn't mean that I have to agree with your views and vice-versa. It's okay. It doesn't have to be a pissing contest and no one should try to impose one's views/beliefs on others. It's okay to disagree.
As far as Adam's early work, what does that prove? That me and you enjoy his early work more than the later wizardry? Or that if his later work didn't have all the "zing", it wouldn't be hanging in museums and collectors wouldn't be paying thousands (or millions) for a print?
As far as the music analogy, we're talking opposite ends of the spectrum, and then there is everything in between. You can't play classical music without knowing theory but that doesn't guarantee you success. Still need to have enormous talent. Just like it's true that great classical players can't play jazz or blues because they are too constricted by technique and can't play with their guts. They just know how to read notes. Improvisation and feeling is not what they were taught. Technique is important but it's not everything and when it comes to photography, it is nothing without a good eye and creative vision, which needs nurturing more than anything else, for me of course. I think that here we all agree to the same things and we are saying it in different ways, which creates conflict. It is all very simple. Again, know your materials and what they can do for you. Then go out and take pictures. If they're good, and someone else enjoys them, besides, you, great.
Fair enough, Max. These types of threads inevitably end up being somewhat about "what is art". And that kind of thing always me riled up. My original point was simply that there is no causal relationship between interest in the technical minutia of the process, and seeing.
My partying thought, as I have already spent too much time here...
You know what the biggest obstacle is for me in photography and what gets me frustrated? Not being THERE. Being there, wherever that may be, is what a photographer needs. It's visual stimulation, places, people, events. Not technique (yes, we need to know some basics but you get my drift). We all live in our little cocoons, typing on our computers and posting on APUG. All it means is that we're not out there making photographs and we're all playing armchair quarterbacks. Kind of sad actually. It gives APUG a raison d'etre but it also means that we are constricting ourselves and wasting time. Life's too short. Oh yeah..and most of us do have day jobs, which makes all of this even more peculiar
What else am I supposed to do at work if not typing messages on APUG?
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Maybe you could sneak off and process some film?
"Make good art!"
- Neil Gaiman
"...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera".
- Yousuf Karsh
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit".
A particularly interesting quote from someone whose very first photograph was really, really good. ("Sleeping Boy, Budapest, 1912"; to my surprise I can't find a copy online, but it's a terrific example of seeing for composition.)
Originally Posted by keithwms
This is kind of a slippery topic since there's no real definition of "technique". At one extreme, remembering not to open the box of sheet film in room light is a "technique", and failing to learn that one will mess up your images in a hurry!
San Diego, CA, USA
The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
-The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_
Work? Who said anything about work???
Originally Posted by Michael R 1974
If you don't want to stand behind our troops, please feel free to stand in front of them.
It’s not clear to me what Steiner really means when she says “I never learned anything. I’m happy to say that after 39 years, I have managed not to know too much about photography”. As other posters have mentioned, this has the potential of sounding somewhat arrogant, as in ‘I’m too cool and my art is so great that I don’t even have to consider technique.’
Somehow, there’s something wrong with saying that “. . .after 39 years. . .I never learned anything. . .” and then to claim that “. . .I’m happy to say” it. I’m sorry, but as a teacher who has always advocated life-long learning to my students, this kind of attitude isn’t good.
Take a look as I did and decide for yourself whether not Ms. Steiner’s level of technical ability has had a negative impact on the overall quality of her work.
You can view her work online here:
Good photography is an appropriate blend of good visual content and good technique – technique that is at least sufficiently adequate so as not to detract from the visual message. The problem comes if we think we can compensate for the lack of one by obsessing about the other.
I strive to have good technique, but I’m not a slave to it, or allow it to dominate the image making process. I try to make visual content my first priority, and then work to make sure that the technical aspects are always good enough to convey the visual message.
This modicum of technical proficiency that we’re talking about is certainly not too difficult to attain for the vast majority of us who want to make good photographs. What’s hard to understand is why someone would boast about their ignorance, rather than look for ways to improve all aspects of their work.