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Thread: On Technique

  1. #81

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    I'm not sure I'd agree with HCB much, whether on photography or food. I suspect a fair number of people cook with game they've hunted themselves, and in terms of photography, the print is a very important avenue of expression. It strikes me as a rather intellectually limited attitude.

    Tom

  2. #82
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helinophoto View Post
    Well, Steiner isn't unique in this respect, here's a direct quote from the fore-mentioned Bresson:

    "Actually, I'm not all that interested in the subject of photography. Once the picture is in the box, I'm not all that interested in what happens next. Hunters, after all, aren't cooks."
    - Henri Cartier-Bresson

    Hmmmm.......
    The thread started with the quote from a photojournalist and this is true for most of them. Shouldn't after all be this way? Why should a photojournalist be concerned with anything else but capturing an image? That is what it is asked of them. They are not asked to use unsharp masks, dodge, burn, do somersaults in the darkroom and deliver a pretty print. Their job is to capture events, moments. Their mind should be free and clear to do that without any concerns for what happens after the shutter is clicked. Their technique is concentrated on composition and a basic knowledge of exposure. Most of them had others do their printing anyway.
    As you step away from photojournalism, you have people like Ralph Gibson who have simply found their voice and use basic materials to deliver visual pleasure to viewers. Tri-X, Rodinal, overexpose, over-develop, grade 4-5 paper.
    Then we have landscape, fine art photographers, who need to go deeper into darkroom technique to achieve something worth framing and hanging on a wall. After all, a perfectly exposed image of of the sea, a couple of rocks, and pretty clouds, is usually quite boring unless we start burning corners, dodging water, darkening clouds, and tone it all cute. Then it becomes about technical process, with content being secondary.

    In closing, we really can't generalize here. Why fault any photojournalist for not being overly concerned about technique when so many aspects of of photographic technique do not really apply or are asked for to deliver a successful image that engages the viewer because of content?

  3. #83

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    Massimo,

    It is not faulting the photojournalist. More faulting the assumption that if one is a photo journalist there is limited value in craft, technique, "vision", printing etc. for everyone else.

    Landscape is a difficult subject to do well; but I really do not understand your aversion to nature... Bad work can be done with all subject matter.

    Tom

  4. #84
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Kershaw View Post
    Massimo,

    It is not faulting the photojournalist. More faulting the assumption that if one is a photo journalist there is limited value in craft, technique, "vision", printing etc. for everyone else.

    Landscape is a difficult subject to do well; but I really do not understand your aversion to nature... Bad work can be done with all subject matter.

    Tom
    Tom,

    I don't think there is limited value for everyone else at all. In fact, I think that the different aspects should not be confused and that comparisons are futile. I don't have aversion to nature, as I do landscape as well, like many others here. I appreciate the work of photojournalists more for a number of reasons but that's just my taste and opinion. I can appreciate the hard work that goes into both categories but again, when it comes to technique, requirements are different and therefore I find comparisons not to be quite fair. My comments about landscape are not made in a derogatory manner but to outline the fact that demands are different from a technical standpoint and a deeper knowledge of process and materials is required to deliver something worthwhile.

    Best,

    Max

  5. #85

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    I'd agree about some comparisons being unfair. However, technical skill required often depends on the negative and works along side a judgement on aesthetic grounds as to contrast levels, print colour etc; although I disagree that landscape, however it might be defined, requires substantial manipulation to be interesting.

    And anyway, a photojournalist's negative might well provide plenty of challenge to the printer for exhibition results; compared to the more integrated approach of a photographer who is reasonably consistent in exposure and is aware of how they want to print the negative in their own darkroom.

    Tom

  6. #86
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Kershaw View Post
    I'd agree about some comparisons being unfair. However, technical skill required often depends on the negative and works along side a judgement on aesthetic grounds as to contrast levels, print colour etc; although I disagree that landscape, however it might be defined, requires substantial manipulation to be interesting.

    And anyway, a photojournalist's negative might well provide plenty of challenge to the printer for exhibition results; compared to the more integrated approach of a photographer who is reasonably consistent in exposure and is aware of how they want to print the negative in their own darkroom.

    Tom
    True, my landscape comment is a generalization, as not all needs manipulation to be interesting. On the other hand it is true that extensive manipulation is often used as a crutch for poor content...and then there is everything in between

    Photojournalists negatives were invariably the nightmare of printers. But photojournalists got paid to deliver images and printers got paid to print their tough negatives. Everyone was happy. For us who photograph and print (and not professionally under assignment pressures), technical requirements are obviously different and need to be at a higher level to achieve meaningful results. Having said that, I do believe there has to be a fine balance between creativity/vision and the technical side, where the latter should not become an obsession and therefore be a hinder to someone's progress.

  7. #87
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Kershaw View Post

    And anyway, a photojournalist's negative might well provide plenty of challenge to the printer for exhibition results; compared to the more integrated approach of a photographer who is reasonably consistent in exposure and is aware of how they want to print the negative in their own darkroom.

    Tom
    PJ style work and environmental portraits are what I enjoy shooting most and over the years I have become very proficient at nailing exposure to make my printing easier.

    Good exposure is always my intent but I never wait to find the perfect exposure when a great composition pops up.

    The old saying "f/8 and be there" is an important recognition of the fact that fiddling with exposure and focus takes time and that time is a luxury that a PJ probably will not have. It also comes from understanding that in PJ work detail in the shadows and highlights are often a detriment/distraction.
    Mark Barendt, Beaverton, OR

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  8. #88

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    Quote Originally Posted by markbarendt View Post
    PJ style work and environmental portraits are what I enjoy shooting most and over the years I have become very proficient at nailing exposure to make my printing easier.

    Good exposure is always my intent but I never wait to find the perfect exposure when a great composition pops up.

    The old saying "f/8 and be there" is an important recognition of the fact that fiddling with exposure and focus takes time and that time is a luxury that a PJ probably will not have. It also comes from understanding that in PJ work detail in the shadows and highlights are often a detriment/distraction.
    I think the problem appears when the photographer / journalist thinks or pretends to think that they need to have no understanding of exposure and the photographic process what-so-ever, and that somehow that ignorance will make them a more "connected" and "creative" person.

    Tom

  9. #89

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    On the other hand it is true that extensive manipulation is often used as a crutch for poor content.
    - well I can agree with that.

    I do believe there has to be a fine balance between creativity/vision and the technical side, where the latter should not become an obsession and therefore be a hinder to someone's progress.
    - the latter part of this is particularly true. Conducting vast numbers of tests is not particularly interesting if it is done to the detriment of creative work; although I would not include development of new processes and lab work in this assessment; more along the path of overwrought testing of minute and insignificant details associated with already well understood processes.

    From personal experience, in spring of 2009 I spent a significant amount of time and effort exploring different photographic paper and developer combinations along with toning and other techniques in an attempt to systematise my understanding of how particular results could be achieved, what worked and what didn't. - there are many vague assertions in books and on the internet that become questionably when tested in a reasonably systematic manner, and in certain instances may or may not be associated with the differing characteristics of modern materials. The conclusion being I now have a demonstrably better understanding of the practical use of photographic paper in the darkroom, and how to go about getting to a particular point.

    Tom

  10. #90
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Bertilsson View Post
    Does that make sense? I fought so hard for so many years, struggling to improve the work I put out, for the very simple reason that I plainly didn't understand that the shortcomings were not of my materials, but that it was instead me and how I approached it. After ditching my attempts at finding the end of my photographic rainbow by swapping materials, I mostly don't have to try very hard in the darkroom at all, and that helps me enjoy the craft infinitely more. There is more time to shoot, more time to process film, and when I go into the darkroom, I come out happy, unless I decide to bring old negatives in with me.
    Makes perfect sense to me. For me the the issue wasn't constantly switching films, but rather trying all sorts of zone system tricks to get that one perfect negative that will print with no effort. I don't know where I got that stupid notion from, but it's a fool's errand. The best thing I figured put was to quickly and accurately expose to get enough density on the negative, and then to just develop to get a negative that prints well on grade 2 paper, on average. If it ideally needs N+1 or N-1 simply changing the filter or paper grade will get you a good print. Mucking around with calculators, notes and tables to determine exposure resulted in missed pictures, and takes me out of seeing the image so the ones I do take aren't as good.

    So now if I wanted to try out a new film I'd buy 10 rolls and devote about three of them to film testing in an afternoon with both a gray card and real subjects. After that I'd know my film speed and development time close enough to get easily printed negatives. But for now I am happy with Across and TMY2, so no need to do this until they change either one. Then just go take pictures to your heart's content and don't worry about the development. I just load them in the Jobo and let it do the work.

    I do however continue to experiment with filters in the field to learn the responses for both films. So I guess I do like to experiment and focus on technique. But I'm hoping to get to the point where I can look at the scene and determine I want an orange filter and not second guess myself into try three different ones. Then I'll be able to focus even more in just seeing the image.

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