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  1. #21
    jp498's Avatar
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    I think the OP is taking too many photos or isn't editing them down enough if they are 1000 images behind, assuming they aren't a serious pro working on an overwhelming project.

    What I do depends on the weather for me. If it's rainy, I go in the darkroom and process or print. Dark is also a good time to process or print. Sunny or gray daytime is a good time to photograph. Being a business owner and parent, spare time isn't a consistent schedule; I have to take advantage of it when it happens.

    I try to process film as soon as I have a certain minimum based on my equipment and time. I like to do at least like 2 rolls or film (35/120) or 6 4x5 (combiplan) or any multiple of 8x10 (tray). I consider it wasteful of time to do develop and clean up just for a single roll of film or a couple 4x5s or a single 8x10. Yeh, individual photos can be special, but my free time is special to, and there is no way to get back free time.

    As far as filing, I cut them up (the rolls), and file them away the next day so they can't accumulate much dust hanging around.

    I start my printing session doing contact prints for any negative pages or negatives that need it. Then I go from collective batch mode into individual image mode and work through making prints of images I like. I never get through this step in the same session. I start it and have to clean up when I get too tired.

    Then I find another evening to make more prints. I have to sort of prioritize, otherwise I'd never be caught up. Some images I decide don't look as nice on the negative/proof as I envisioned in the field. Some negatives are technically excellent, but won't be necessary (such as a sequence of really nice portraits when I only need to present one or two), and some are great and what I expected and should be printed. This understanding helps me prioritize when I have my printing interests and time constraints are not compatible.

  2. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Merg Ross View Post
    My system is a little different in that I don't proof anything, just read the negatives and print the best. Some are easy to eliminate on initial reading, and others on the first print. With years of experience, I know pretty much if I have a keeper or a looser without spending a lot of time.
    I have to agree with Merg here. Read the neg, it'll tell you a lot. Composition, subject (ie, eyes closed or not, etc), does it look like it'll print well, cropping needed, etc...

    Also, you're probably shooting too much. Do you proof every single frame? Make a contact sheet and use a loupe to decide. Or as another poster suggested, scan the neg file page, lo-res to decide.

    On a 36 exposure roll, I'll probably pick 2-10 to proof based on a reading. Of those, maybe 2-4 make it to a complete 8x10 finished print, with an occasional 11x14 print or two as well.

    On a 10-12 exposure med format roll, maybe 1-4 frames will see a full workup, but that varies.

    I tend to proof on 5x7 paper, sometimes 8x10 and live with the results for a few days. Then I make another edit and go back in to make a finished print of the chosen frames at the final size.

    I think most of the positive action/effort in making art comes from taking the time to make good decisions. I used to be anxious about getting it all done, but I settled in to a slower approach and my work is much better now and more considered.

  3. #23
    5stringdeath's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jp498 View Post
    I think the OP is taking too many photos or isn't editing them down enough if they are 1000 images behind
    I find this a very constraining statement. Sure, we all have different methods of working ... it could just as easily be said you don't take enough photos.

    (Nothing personal, just playing devils advocate)

    Its said that Garry Winogrand died with over 10,000 undeveloped exposures ... sure you could argue he shot too much, but he was obsessed and edited down some fine books.

    Anyhow how much someone shoots shouldn't be the issue here, it should be helping them find a workflow that suits that style / lifestyle. I binge shoot all the time ... course then I have to immerse myself in the film/printing process to deal with that. I have never once felt bad about how much film I've shot, and I still enjoy looking back and re-editing old work. My sensibilities are different now than when I shot some of my older film so I often find images that interest me now that didn't then. Deep psychological discussions may follow

    I am in no way saying people who shoot very carefully and sparsely are wrong either. I have many friends who work this way and make great photographs. I would never suggest they change their methodology.

    All I know is, in the end, I've never regretted taking a photograph, but there are a few I regret not taking.

    edit: i re-read what I quoted from you and notice you didnt' just mention shooting, but editing as well ... so yes, I can and will agree that editing is an artform in itself and despite how much film one shoots its an important skill.

    But again, if one has the passion to feel 1,000 photos need to be printed, then there is only one thing to do ... find the time!

  4. #24

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    Well, I'd like to amend my post to say he's shooting too much if he feels it's a problem and a burden to keep up with.

    I also find it find unusual that Ian is proofing on Lodima. Why would you proof on such an expensive paper? You can see everything on the negative, at least enough to know whether you should proceed further...

    (BTW, Ian is a wonderful photographer and you should visit his site to enjoy his images.)

  5. #25
    Ian Leake's Avatar
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    Some interesting posts overnight - thanks for your comments.

    Two thoughts: (1) on whether I'm, shooting too much; and (2) on reading negatives. The first is easy. No I'm not. The opposite in fact - I'm not making enough negatives. The second point is more complex.

    I used to select negatives for printing by looking at them on a lightbox, just as a couple of you have suggested. But I've realised there are several problems with that approach. Firstly, it's not possible to read the subtleties of body language on a negative (I can't anyway). Yes you can see if the eyes are open or shut, but does a slight tilt of the head work or not? I believe a proper print is required for this.

    The second problem is that choosing from the negatives pushes you towards selecting the obvious pictures - the ones you know will work. More subtle compositions, especially those which don't work back to front and with inverted tones, can easily be missed.

    The third problem is more of a question: how can I learn unless I see the print? Suppose a model blinked as the shutter fired. Should I discard the negative because her eyes are closed or print it to look at the rest of the composition? How about if the lighting is a bit off? Again, looking at the print will tell me where I went wrong. Or what if the composition just sucks? Obviously I saw something that appealed to me because I made the picture, but to understand what appeals and what I need to avoid in the future requires a print.

    Lastly, I'm still trying to find a way to engage with models in the post-polaroid world. In the past I used a lot of Polaroids in the studio. Seeing the printed picture enabled the model to understand where I was trying to go - and this enabled her to work with me to achieve that goal. I'm hoping that by developing and proofing immediately after the sitting then this collaborative engagement will be possible again. OK, the discussion will have to be spread over several sittings, but I prefer to work that way anyway.

    Regarding why I proof on Lodima, that's easy to answer. Compared to platinum it's cheap and easy. I can make lots of proofs quickly without much effort. And it's got a long enough range to match my platinum negatives (as I noted on an earlier post, I tried this once with RC paper but it didn't show enough detail).

    Thanks again for all your comments and suggestions. There's plenty of food for thought here.

  6. #26

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    ian

    i think it is GOOD to have a backlog.
    time sometimes helps images that might have fallen through
    the cracks of a proof and later final print ... rise to the surface.
    i have gone back to images years later and realized that there was one
    or two that i overlooked. they weren't the images that fit my state of mind
    back when i proofed and printed the final images ( i didn't always have a 9 year backlog! ).

    i guess what i am trying to say is don't be in such a rush

  7. #27
    jp498's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 5stringdeath View Post
    I find this a very constraining statement. Sure, we all have different methods of working ... it could just as easily be said you don't take enough photos.

    (Nothing personal, just playing devils advocate)

    Its said that Garry Winogrand died with over 10,000 undeveloped exposures ... sure you could argue he shot too much, but he was obsessed and edited down some fine books.
    Absolutely different working methods will saddle us with less or more negatives. I've done sports, weddings, nature/landscapes, candids, portraits, and each has different methods of working to some extent.

    In terms of editing and shooting going together, it's really apparent in the digital world now. It's always been there, but it's sort of come to a head.

    People will shoot 3000 photos (because each shot "costs nothing") at a wedding instead of 300, and they'll get stuck in front of a computer several times longer than necessary because they have so much to go through. Their end product isn't any better; they might have gotten a couple more lucky shots, but the whole things potentially suffers because they rushed the editing process. Sports is different; someone takes thousands of shots, and it's someone elses job many times to pick a much smaller quantity of keepers and it has to be done quick before it's old news.

    Winogrand may well have been able to produce several more nice books and inspired more photographers if he hadn't been behind to that extent.

    People often use the excuse of objectivity in the review and fresh perspective for obscenely long delays between shooting and printing, sometimes it's 100% bs, sometimes it's real and helpful, but I don't initially take their reason at face value. For me, I don't like to drag out the image making process too much, but it happens to a certain extent and we have complete control over it at all times.

    I don't take enough photos enough either, but the darkroom aspect is just one of many factors partially regulating that.

  8. #28
    jp498's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Leake View Post
    The second problem is that choosing from the negatives pushes you towards selecting the obvious pictures - the ones you know will work. More subtle compositions, especially those which don't work back to front and with inverted tones, can easily be missed.

    The third problem is more of a question: how can I learn unless I see the print? Suppose a model blinked as the shutter fired. Should I discard the negative because her eyes are closed or print it to look at the rest of the composition? How about if the lighting is a bit off? Again, looking at the print will tell me where I went wrong. Or what if the composition just sucks? Obviously I saw something that appealed to me because I made the picture, but to understand what appeals and what I need to avoid in the future requires a print.

    Lastly, I'm still trying to find a way to engage with models in the post-polaroid world. In the past I used a lot of Polaroids in the studio. Seeing the printed picture enabled the model to understand where I was trying to go - and this enabled her to work with me to achieve that goal. I'm hoping that by developing and proofing immediately after the sitting then this collaborative engagement will be possible again. OK, the discussion will have to be spread over several sittings, but I prefer to work that way anyway.

    Thanks again for all your comments and suggestions. There's plenty of food for thought here.
    Composition should be readable by the negative most of the time. Some abstraction that the negative provides lets you see the composition separated from the details. For example an s-curve in the composition works flipped just as well as when you saw it.

    As far as lighting, either get it right when you take the photo, or use quick contact prints to verify; detail isn't important. When using artificial lighting, I use my DSLR to verify lighting. You could use this with your model too. It's not a preference, just another tool. I do have a Fuji instant back on the way, so the polaroid method isn't dead presently. This would reduce the need for multiple sittings. While some might consider it trolling, and it's not directed to you, nothing says crackpot like telling someone to come back for another sitting another time because I'm too proud of analog photography to use a DSLR to check the lighting and practice a pose.

  9. #29
    Shawn Dougherty's Avatar
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    jp498,
    You speak (write) very matter-of-factly on a wide range of subjects... You must be one hell of a photographer.
    Last edited by Shawn Dougherty; 07-13-2010 at 09:55 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  10. #30
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    I like the idea of proofing, and do it myself. Unfortunately I can't afford to have the electrical in my new darkroom installed for another couple of months (argh!) so I employ evil digital techniques in the meantime.

    But to translate the pictures help a lot of the frames to find their way to me, and they would have otherwise gone un-noticed if I hadn't proofed.

    Ian, perhaps you can consider different ways of proofing? It is after all just a proof to give you a rough idea of what's on the film, to see possibilities.

    About pre-exposure proofing... If I had a DSLR I might employ it, and models are just as important to the creative flow as the photographers. Models know themselves best, and it is definitely a collaboration.
    Coming back to work with the same model over and over again builds trust and a type of repertoire, so a second sitting is, in my opinion, almost required to get the best results. But that's just me.

    Good luck, Ian. It's so nice to hear you're back in the darkroom!

    - Thomas
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

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