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Thread: Masters

  1. #31
    mikewhi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EricR
    This is the biggest lump of doo doo I have ever read here. Mike get a grip old buddy.
    What part is 'doo doo'? Plenty of 'masters' made bad negatives, and plenty of 'masters' post-visualize. What is the 'doo doo' in that? Have you never heard of either? As for 'tricks', why does one need to intensify, bleach, make masks, do a lot of dodging and burning, etc? To make up for problems with the negative, that's why. If the negative lacks contrast, you can add that into the print with these techniques. But wouldn't it have been better to create the negative with the correct contraast (density range) in the first place?

    There is nothing wrong with anything I wrote, just what you read into it.

    -Mike

  2. #32
    mikewhi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cheryl Jacobs
    Just saw your follow-up post, Mike. Sorry, but this doesn't seem very consistent with your first statement.
    What I wrote was: "Eugene Smith made horrible negatives (an old girlfriend was a student of his, this according to her), but he should could print well from them."

    Seems consistent to me.

    All I was trying to say is that he made negatives that were 'horrible' in the sense that they were not exposed with so much care that he knew he got the correct shadow detail and that he devloped for the correct highlight density for what he wanted. He was a photojournalist, afterall and one can't meter too carefully when someone is shooting at you. So he ended up with negatives of widely varying quality. He had to know a lot of darkroom 'tricks' to get what he wanted. He was adamant that noone print from his negatives except for him. He did this because the negatives had to be intrepreted heavily - by looking at the negative it was certainly not obvious what needed to be accentuated to get the image that he wanted.

    -Mike

  3. #33
    mikewhi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cheryl Jacobs
    I think that the implication that those with innovative darkroom technique, or the knowledge of how to pull a great print out of a less-than-optimal neg are doing it to cover sloppy technique or inability to shoot properly -- well, that's just bullsh*t, to be blunt.

    - CJ
    So, you are just telling me that you are the type of photographer that I was describing. One that cannot carefully craft negatives because of your subject matter and the way that you shoot. Nowhere did I 'imply' that this indicated photographic imcompentence. That's in your head, not in my words. If I said that, quote me and point it out.

    My personal style is that I create as perfect a negative as I can and I'm sure that APUG is full of LF'ers that do the same. With these negatives, I don't need to employ a lot of darkroom 'technique' to get a good print - I spend that time behind the camera making the negative.

    I have also not disparaged anyone for either technique. The final print is what matters. So long as these darkroom techniques are employed in such a way that they don't blemish the final print then I have no issue with them.

    I'm afraid this thread is falling into the old trap of people reading what someone writes, intrepreting the words, adding meaning and then blaming the original author for their intpreretations. I think people here should be a little too smart for that and should recognize when they're reading into what is written.

    I'm signing off this thread......

    -Mike

    -Mike

  4. #34

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    You did say this didn't you?

    "1) In my experience the more darkroom 'tricks' one knows implies that the photographer routinely produces negatives of, shall we say, widely varying technical quality. They often expose in a haphazard way and work in the darkroom later to pull a good print from the negative. Others have no idea what they wan t in the final print when they expose, make exposures that will provide some information in the negative and then 'post-visualize' in the darkroom. To pull good images from these negatives can require all sorts of manipulaations (including nose oil). I know very few darkroom tricks and techniques."

    If one does not want to be misquoted they should take better care in making very clear what they wanted to say. This is a vague jab at those who may not create the technically perfect negative. For you, the making of the camera is the most important part of the photographic process. And yes there are those who follow this train of thought. Others see the camera as one tool and the darkroom as another. These folks, I am afraid do previsualize and know that the combination of a good negative and darkroom wizardry will create the art the are looking to achieve.

    In my mind those who use the most tools to craft a fine print of something more than just technical perfection are the much better photographers.


    Remember a perfectly exposed negative that prints very easily, of a crappy subject is still crap.
    Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the opportunities for pleasure, but it has great difficulty in generating joy. Pope Paul VI

    So, I think the "greats" were true to their visions, once their visions no longer sucked. Ralph Barker 12/2004

  5. #35
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    So Mike how many "Masters" have you printed along side? I bet none. So your opinions are just that, opinions based on little if any factual knowledge. I myself have printed elbow to elbow with some of the greats. I have seen their negs and what you are proposing is just BS. Part of the reason for using these "tricks" as you call them is to facilitate the necessary extra steps required to get just what the photographer had PRE-VISUALIZED. Not post-visualized as you put forth. Not everything can be achieved thru perfect exposure and development. To create a truly expressive print I will use whatever techniques I have in my kit to achieve what I had in my minds eye when I began to create the neg.
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  6. #36
    Cheryl Jacobs's Avatar
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    As Mark pointed out quite well, I don't believe I misinterpreted anything. I took the original post in its entirety, and believe I read and understood exactly what was written, and in the spirit of what was written. The original post was quite derogatory in nature toward those whose negs are not what you consider to be consistently high quality. You made no allowance for difference in subject matter or film format, or anything else. The post was quite condescending in tone.

    On the lighter side, I find it a bit odd that in your follow-up post, Mike, you mentioned Eugene Smith as one whose true talent was in the darkroom -- and also felt it necessary to mention his mental and emotional defects. LOL. So, Smith's mental illness contributed to his being better at shooting haphazardly from the trenches under gunfire, and less able to make a great neg? That's kinda funny, if you look at it in a certain way. Regardless, I think most photographers would give their right arm to be able to produce prints like Smith's, although the loss of a limb might make printing a bit more tricky....

  7. #37
    Art Vandalay's Avatar
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    Like Cheryl, I was also confused by the mention of EWS's mental stability!!!! What does that have to do with anything? As a matter of fact, I think a certain amount of instability, or what we call 'craziness' is, is present in many of the great artists. Of course I should preface that by saying that I rarely include AA or EW in my list of outstanding artists. I find that stable, calm, normal people create stable, calm, normal images - in other words, effing BORING!!!

    But I digress. I'll have to get a copy of the Darkroom where Smith wrote about his techniques. I might be totally misquoting him, but I believe he said that he did have a great handle on the exposure and found that a 'technically perfect neg' was not his goal. It may have been one or more of the other photographers in the book but it's a statement that I've seen before. A technically perfect neg is meaningless and darkroom manipulation is just another tool to create, it's a part of the process.

    In addition, EWS did not spend most of his time ducking behind rocks, dodging bullets and taking shots without the luxury of reading the scene. Most of his greatest works were his documentary projects which he spent years on and immersed himself in the subject. He did have time to get exactly what he wanted.

  8. #38
    mikewhi's Avatar
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    "A technically perfect neg is meaningless"
    Nonsense. You must not make and print from very many negatives if you think this is true, unless you have some odd definition of what 'technically perfect is'. To me, technically perfect is a negative that will produce the image desired when the shutter was tripped. It can be 'thin', have a full range of densities, whatever. But it must have a correlation with the image desired. I don't have much regard for a negative that is exposed, processed, printed, cropped over and over, printed many times until the photographer finally discovers an image in there somewhere. To me, that isn't photography.

    As for the mention of his mental instability, I think it was an essential part of his personality and most certainly influenced even his technical approach to his photography. If he had Adult ADD, for instance, could he even concentrate on the technical aspects long enouch or even care about them? I have always thought of EWS as being ssomething of the Van Gough or Hemingway of photography, brilliant, disturbed, and very self-destructive.

    -Mike

  9. #39
    Cheryl Jacobs's Avatar
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    For what it's worth, I have adult AD/HD. Yep, it's possible to concentrate long enough to be technically sound and proficient. I'm only slightly self-destructive, so I'm a bit disadvantaged when compared to Eugene Smith.

    I'm betting most people wouldn't think of a thin neg as being technically perfect. Your definition of "technically perfect" matches my definition of "technically sound" or the somewhat less polished "unscrewed up".

  10. #40
    Art Vandalay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikewhi
    "A technically perfect neg is meaningless"
    Nonsense. You must not make and print from very many negatives if you think this is true, unless you have some odd definition of what 'technically perfect is'. To me, technically perfect is a negative that will produce the image desired when the shutter was tripped. It can be 'thin', have a full range of densities, whatever. But it must have a correlation with the image desired. I don't have much regard for a negative that is exposed, processed, printed, cropped over and over, printed many times until the photographer finally discovers an image in there somewhere. To me, that isn't photography.
    Earlier you had a much more precise definition of what this was but now it seems you are talking about something much more subjective and only in the mind of the person tripping the shutter - ie it is only perfect to the photographer. This is what I mean by it being meaningless. I will say that I prefer your last definition because you are giving the creator the benefit of the doubt.

    As for you not having much regard for a negative created in your desired mode I can honestly say I have never been to an exhibition that gave a description of how a negative was created and printed, nor is the negative ever on display with the print. For all you know images that you admire may have been made in the exact way that you seem to have no regard for. Unless you only admire your own work.

    I have worked with quite a few negatives although probably not with the care that you do. It's not my style of shooting and I feel no remorse or embarassment about it either. The one thing I have found with this site is that there seems to be an inordinate amount of energy and time spent with the superficiality of photography and techniques, and very little time spent on the deeper aspects of photography. There are some good works and good photographers on here but I can't help but feel some would benefit from throwing their spotmeters away, grabbing a good 35mm, going somewhere that isn't already quite pretty and banging off a few rolls. Spending years trying to get perfect technique, before going out an acutually doing something original (in ones own sphere) seems like a very insecure excuse for creating bland photographs - "The image is a boring as hell but I got Zone 7 exactly where I previsualized it. Wow!"

    Just to be fair, I also realize that I need to get off my butt and spend more time in the darkroom.

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