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  1. #1
    cliveh's Avatar
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    Printing or Capture

    On a previous thread about printing, I mentioned that I thought the taking is everything, as once the image is captured; printing or any other manipulation of the negative to print is capable of infinite variation within time. I realise that the way an image is printed is important, but is this not a secondary skill to capture?

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    Jim Jones's Avatar
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    From conception to the ultimate presentation on paper or screen, photography should be considered as one multifaceted operation. It's like a chain: any weak link affects the the entire chain. Sometimes we can deliberately skimp on the initial capture with intentions of compensating during editing. For example, I didn't need a completely white background in my last film photograph because white could easily be added before digital printing. This could also have been done in a traditional darkroom by masking, but perhaps not as easily as correcting the background before the shoot. The initial capture is inded important, but so is the rest of the process. The reputation of some noted photographers rests partly on their unsung master printers.

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    Maris's Avatar
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    No, "printing" is the ultimate (in the literal sense of ultimate) skill because it produces the actual photograph that is looked at. A critical point that many people neglect is that "printing" isn't in truth printing. It's actually photographing but using photographic emulsion coated on paper rather than film-base. Exposure, development, fix, and wash are essentially the same in principle for film or paper.

    The negative is the subject matter for the second photograph which is executed on paper based emulsion. People who don't make photographs, only camera exposures, often don't realise that classic negative-positive photography is a two stage process, or they don't think it is important because they don't do it themselves. The relationship between a given exposure and a subsequent negative is remarkably free and discretionary. Further along, the relationship between a given negative and a subsequent positive is even more free and discretionary.

    The element that carries through in faithfully conducted photograph-making is the recognizability of original subject matter; what the camera was pointed at. Camera-jockeys looking at the pictures back from the lab remember what they clicked at and think "I did that". All they actually did was snap one piece of subject matter in lieu of another. The product in their hands is heavy with the labour and creative fingerprints of a "keen to please" photo-finishing enterprise. Using a camera to select one piece of subject matter (or clicking at everything and picking the nice ones) can be a clever thing to do but the underlying ethos of subject selection is not uniquely photographic. Painters and draughtsmen have been doing it for centuries.

    There is, I think, an unfortunate tradition in the picture-making arts in that people are acclaimed for work they did not do. When Rembrandt is credited for paintings done by students in his workshop, when Andy Warhol is the "author" of work he neither saw or signed, when Henri Cartier-Bresson becomes a great photographer by making "click" but no photographs, there is an aesthetic swindle afoot. The movie industry has got it right. Look at the credits rolling up the screen. Everyone is acknowledged but only for what they actually did!
    Photography, the word itself, invented and defined by its author Sir John.F.W.Herschel, 14 March 1839 at the Royal Society, Somerset House, London. Quote "...Photography or the application of the Chemical rays of light to the purpose of pictorial representation,..". unquote.

  4. #4
    keithwms's Avatar
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    There have of course been many threads on this general topic. Some among us may argue for the importance of one versus the other- rather silly in my view. Most of us see capture and print more or less equally as part of a whole process.

    I am definitely a 'capture' kind of guy, but still, I usually don't take a shot unless I think I might like to print it.

    In any case, it's clear that 'traditional' printing is becoming rapidly more important with time. This is a time when so many capturers don't print at all; instead they simply show their work online or push it through an inkjet on demand. The value of the individual, hand-crafted traditional print has therefore never been higher.

    One thing I definitely couldn't do is print someone else's negs!!! I tried and... not fun at all for me.
    "Only dead fish follow the stream"

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    zsas's Avatar
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    Cliveh, How would photograms or other cameraless photographs fit into your premise? I think you will see that capture and print are so ingrained that looking at it so basically proves therefore that capture and printing are both at the table with top billing, what came first the printing or the capture...err the chicken or the egg...

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    keithwms's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zsas View Post
    I think you will see that capture and print are so ingrained that looking at it so basically proves therefore that capture and printing are both at the table with top billing, what came first the printing or the capture...err the chicken or the egg...
    Well... then what about slides? I shoot a lot of them and projecting them for others is, to me, every bit as satisfying as seeing them in print. Perhaps even more satisfying, because everyone knows that there is that one slide, that it was completely done with the camera and the light that I had - ~zero manipulation possible
    "Only dead fish follow the stream"

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  7. #7
    zsas's Avatar
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    Ahhh good point but you could choose to cross process or other technical functions post capture that I would argue are at the table too..so maybe capture, process, print are top billing, all ingrained in the art none the less? You could do a cibachrome print too? I guess my point is the art is in all phases, John Nanian's work proves that to me.

  8. #8
    eddie's Avatar
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    Anyone else think the image isn't "captured" until the film is processed? Before that, it's just a latent idea.

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    CPorter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cliveh View Post
    I realise that the way an image is printed is important, but is this not a secondary skill to capture?
    The ultimate goal is the final print, after all, we don't frame negatives. However, I'm one who believes firmly that the capture, which also should should include the subsequent development of the negative, IMO, is the most critical and important part of the process. And, when done smartly, makes the printing of the negative the most fun and rewarding part of the process.

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    zsas's Avatar
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    True but what about Polaroid, there are those .5 seconds that it might be latent....what is "photographic creationism".

    All in all, it is all important in my mind (all aspects of the photographic life cycle). Who is to say one is more important? Think about a massive website, is the graphic designer more important than the security admin or the database admin or the product photog or the content writer or the.....

    I guess I mean with photography we wear many hats and depending on how many they are all equally important because they eventually produce a thing of art.

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