Matt: I am interested in why you think that "nothing will improve your printing as much as printing for others." I am not taking issue with your statement in any way, but I have never printed for anyone else and I would like to know how you think it has improved your printing.
In thinking about master printers, I've sometimes thought of the negative as analogous to a script produced by a playwright, who turns it over to directors and actors for their own interpretations of the work, usually without consulting the author. Even though I very much enjoy the entire process which results in a silver gelatin print, I would love to produce a negative worthy of a master printer's interpretation someday.
But I have been curious about comments by fellow Apugger's in this and other threads about how they don't enjoy various aspects of the darkroom, or they feel the "process" is much less important than getting to the true goal, which is the image. I tried and rejected digital photography because I never felt engaged by the digital workflow (and I didn't care for color work or the look of digital black and white). But what keeps those of you who don't care for the darkroom (and all the frustrations with disappearing product lines) shooting film as opposed to going over to digital? What preserves your dedication to film?
Do you make your own film? Paper emulsion? Developers? Frames? Matting? Lenses?
Originally Posted by baachitraka
Each of these items have a distict roll in the look of the final product, most of us outsource many, if not most, of the tasks required to take a photo. This can be by choice or necessity.
Even if we are shooting wet plates and making paper from pulp and emulsion from raw chemicals we would probably still outsource the making of the glass and the mining of the silver and ....
Specialization doesn't mean quality falls, in fact allowing Ilford to make my film instead of me making it allows me to make higher quality photos with less work.
The difference in outsourcing lab work vs outsourcing film manufacturing is just a line in the sand, its only a matter of degree.
If we have to do the mining, logging, and refining to make our materials, we will have precious little time left over to take take pictures and make prints.
I am quite happy to be able to concentrate my efforts in places i enjoy and have the people around me add to the quality of my work.
Mark Barendt, Beaverton, OR
"We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin
Speaking for myself of course... my lack of printmaking at present has nothing to do with lack of interest in getting [analogue] prints done, eventually.
Originally Posted by ostgardlaw
I simply don't have time to do darkroom stuff. It's certainly not lack of ability or funds or equipment. I can do silver, Pt/Pd, lith, cyano, and have experience with splitgrade etc. and some lovely bleaching tricks that Per V. taught me... R.I.P. Per! I have three enlargers, a bunch of enlarger lenses, access to two darkrooms plus my own spare bathroom which is now full of pyro concoctions... and enough film and paper to sink a battleship.... and two full-time jobs. I also write a lot, so I simply don't have time to fuss over prints. So it is by choice that I don't spend a lot of time in the darkroom.
And I also do a lot of chromes and instant film, still. I consider those to be finished work, at least in the analogue sense.
Plus I do a fair amount of experimental digital and hybrid as well; I have two rather high end digicams and such. I just don't enjoy the digital process for b&w at all. The only part of b&w that I feel I must do with digital now is IR movie project I am working on; alas, without rolls and rolls of HIE it's just the way it has to be.
So, long story short, the printmaking phase is something I can easily put off. I might spend the majority of my time on that eventually, who knows. But for now, having the ideas in my head is more important than getting them on paper.
If I counted the total number of projects going right now, I guess it's a dozen or so. So there's simply not enough time in the day to worry about prints. To put it another way, I have too much respect for prints to half ass them.
Last edited by keithwms; 01-07-2012 at 10:43 AM. Click to view previous post history.
I agree. It's really about where we spend our time. I could live (?) with going to the grave having never printed most of my stuff. If somebody shuffles through the shoebox and sees something worth printing then fine. If not, well I'll be happily shooting a very expensive camera on a big puffy cloud anyway
Originally Posted by markbarendt
Some time ago I tried to think of what kind of photography could allow me to completely own the process from start to finish. The idea being, you know, if my big mouth and lack of respect for my fellow fossilized academics makes me wind up exiled to some shack in Montana ( )... what could I do, photographically?
The answer at which I arrived is leaf prints and cyanos and such. Those are things that anybody can completely own. But that's about it. Pretty astounding when you think about how most of us rely on others for materials and recipes etc. It's very hard to be completely self-reliant in photography. I can do it, from a chemistry standpoint, but then there is the issue of how I spend my time.
One other stray point, I think we all need to show a lot more respect for the amazing work of people who brought us all these wonderful materials and processes. My own research work is very tangentially exposed to that and I have nothing but awe and respect for people who make it so easy for us to, you know, basically point and shoot. (Jack Mitchell, R.I.P. too)
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Blast again this lack of easy multiquote on APUG. On well, Notepad to the rescue:
This is pretty much my position too. I saw the Bresson exhibit at the High in Atlanta. Much of it was very impressive, but not so much for the print quality. OTOH, while I appreciate and enjoy viewing such work, I really don't have any desire to do that kind of thing. It isn't "me" or what I seek to express. Further, I too thoroughly enjoy the process of analog photography and especially the darkroom. While I like shooting film I honestly enjoy printing more. If I didn't enjoy that process I'd just shoot digital - if I shot at all.
Originally Posted by MaximusM3
Can't say I could, but then again I don't have any real desire to do so. This image isn't that impressive to me. It's good, don't get me wrong, a little well-seen moment out of time, but it doesn't have much emotional appeal to me.
Originally Posted by cliveh
I have my 2011 (13 month) Ansel Adams wall calendar hanging above my computer desk as I type this. The January 2012 image is "Road and fog, Del Monte Forest, Pebble Beach California, 1964." The only image of it I could find online looks like someone has digitally "toned" it to the detriment of this image so I won't post the link. Still, for me it has a lot more appeal than the above HCB image. I grew up in a rural environment. That image speaks of wonder and mystery in nature to me. You don't have to agree, of course.
Most of Adam's images may be timeless and people-less, but they are far from emotionally abstract, at least to me.
Originally Posted by keithwms
I wonder if there is some correlation with preference for "Adams-esque" versus "HCB style" photos with rural versus urban experience and preference? In any case, I'm certainly not an "Adams wannabe" as pretentious as that would be, I'm a "Roger wannabe" who happens to find the work of Adams, Weston, and more recently Sexton and Barnbaum and such quite inspiring. I don't seek to emulate it, but it often does convey a timeless beauty to me.
HCB's photos are at their best when they capture social conditions (his Moscow series, both of them) and big worldly events, or else little slices out of normal time like the image above or the puddle jumper or Mario's Bike. Nothing wrong with that, but it's nothing I'm worth a damn at most of the time nor something I aspire to.
I agree about the prints at the MOMA/High exhibit. They varied from frankly almost poor (my modern judgment of some of the early ones printed in the style then popular so not entirely fair) through mediocre to pretty good, and for the most part improved over time, but I don't recall any that were particularly striking as prints. The images, well some were superb to me and some "meh" as one would expect with such a large collection of anyone's images. Tastes always vary.
Originally Posted by ParkerSmithPhoto
Why do photography? For me it's partly expressive, "here's something I saw and stopped long enough to notice, take a look through my eyes if you'd like" and, frankly, also largely about the process. Not whether it's done to 1/10th stop accuracy but rather that I simply enjoy the process. I like taking a fairly complex, rather scientific (but thank goodness not, for me, digital - I'm a network engineer and the last thing I want to do for art is to sit down in front of a computer again) process and using it to share what I saw.
I totally agree that the work of Weston would not be Weston if someone else were just at Big Sur using a large format camera developing in Pyro and printing with Amidol. But on the other hand, those were the tools Weston chose, so in that sense they are a part of how he expressed himself. I don't think they would have been the same images had he had available and used digital processes. Not that they'd necessarily be worse, just different. Unlike Weston we do have a choice. So use what you prefer, whether it's because of the results or because we enjoy the process.
I come back to Adam's score/performance analogy. Some musicians are composers and not very good at or maybe interested in performing, and many (more) performers are good performers but not composers. A musician can be either alone or both, as suits their ability and interests, but they are still musicians. So HCB, Avedon etc. certainly were photographers as were Adams, Weston etc. (I don't think anyone here dispute that, of course.) Neither approach is better; it depends on what you want to do, both what you want to express (the result) and the process you prefer.
For me, again, I love darkroom work, probably more than shooting film. Not everyone will feel the same way, and that's fine.
That's very interesting Roger, and I'm glad you wrote that. Would you be willing to try to put into words what sorts of emotions a particular Adams photograph conveys to you? Maybe in another thread. It'd be a very interesting thing to discuss. For me, the most successful Adams photographs are the ones that are the lest emotionally abstract, as I described it. For example, Moonrise is one of very few that has some deliberate trace of humanity and some implied statement about it. (and I suppose that it is also his most successful image, strictly from a sales point)
Originally Posted by Roger Cole
Actually, I've thought that some regular discussion of the "classic" film images is long overdue...
Adams' musical analogy is something that tells us more about him than we might realize. He was actually a quite good musician. But he was not much of a composer. That's not meant to be a poke at him, but I do wonder why people feel the need to use these analogies at all, when they are so full of holes. I seriously doubt that Adams would want to have that quote pulled out as often as it is, he knew very well that it's a coarse analogy at best.
Last edited by keithwms; 01-07-2012 at 12:07 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Maybe I misunderstood "emotionally abstract." I think I took that to mean "emotionally void" or "dull" and those aren't the same things.
Originally Posted by keithwms
But yeah, I could probably write about that, given time (which I don't have now, we are getting ready to head to the High to see "Picasso to Warhol.")
The one I'm looking at on my calendar expresses timeless calm and quiet mornings to me. I've been in the TN mountains where I grew up on days that looked much like that, with allowances for the different trees. Far from "Wagnerian" as some people have called some AA photos, this one is meditative to me.
That notion of a neg being a script, or a score is great chatter for cocktail hour but that's about it as far as I'm concerned. There is some truth to it of course, but the reality might be more that some photographers view the art as "the whole process"... and some feel that the whole process must be done by the exact same individual whereas others feel that some parts of the process can be done by others "to the artists specifications". Few, I'm assuming, outside of a news reporting environment would take the attitude of "I capture; You do whatever you want with it". That happens in the news world where the shooter turned over teh exposed film and might not ever see it again, but probably not in the art world. I've often wondered in the fashion world who really takes credit for being the "artist" when it is a team collaboration of AD (artist), photographer (artist), photoshop artist, layout artist, makeup artist, model (artist), and customer (proably not really an artist but I bet they think they are).
Originally Posted by ostgardlaw
Re: the term "Master Printer"... I know there are such people and they are to be highly respected, but I doubt if they often have full authority to re-interpret however they want. I know the printer I worked with (I would not consider myself "great" not him a "master", but we worked well together) would print to my direction and often also deliver another interpretation. I always felt bad for him when I'd look at both and frown... but that was the opportunity for both of us to re-magine where the image could go. For me it was humbling; for him it was a combination of insulting and humbling. I really relate to what Matt King said in his last post. That is what I have experienced but I'm the guy who likes shooting and knows what the final product "should" look like... but dislike the darkroom aspects of the process. The relationship I had with my printer was a relationship of trust, comon vision, and respect. How that relationship happened, IDK but when it did we both knew that we were having fun together. Unfortunately he is gone and I'm still here. I do little printing anymore because of that. When time permits I hope to be able to take all of my darkroom equipment out of storage and see if I can learn to like that part of the process.
Oh how I wish I had read this before typing my last post. Had that been the case I'd simply say, "me too... except I never had the pleasure of meeting Per V, nor have I yet seriously moved toward serious digital experimentation (at least since my adolescent days.)
Originally Posted by keithwms