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  1. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Leake View Post
    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.
    So the answer for you, Ian, is to continue doing exactly what you're doing because that's the way you work and it works for you.

  2. #32

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    jp498, eh...I think that it is not a matter of pride, but process. Perhaps the tonality of a digi jpg on the back of a DSLR wont give a fair representation to the subject or the photographer of an aesthetic to be achieved in the final print. Fuji's instant film offerings are a far cry from representing a platinum print, so those might not be a viable option either.


    I know the backlogged blues, too. I have a tendency to shoot, not develop, shoot, not develop....then repeat repeat repeat...until every cigar box is full of film boxes and rolls. One of the ways that I have combatted this tendency is to really dedicate myself to projects and shoots that will result in pieces to a whole. I can shoot shoot shoot, but because I want to know how they will look with the rest of the project or how a body of work has grown, I feel I am more motivated to keep up my work.
    Are you shooting too much? I dont think so. I feel that finding the ballance between behind the camera and in the darkroom is dependant on how you feel and how motivated you are to a ceartain task. I do it by working on small series of images, so I stay motivated to finish, but thats me. I hope that the OP find his new workflow works out well for him.

    --shooting too much? having to choose between film and food...answer? Buy cheaper food!
    M. David Farrell, Jr.

    ----------------------------------------------
    ~Buying a Nikon doesn not make you a photographer. It makes you a Nikon owner!

    ~Everybody has a photographic memory, but not everybody has film!

  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by jp498 View Post
    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.
    Yes, in many cases, but not always.

    Quote Originally Posted by jp498 View Post
    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.
    There's nothing wrong with using digital in the way you describe if it works for you. I use digital cameras elsewhere (e.g. when exploring a place) but I find that switching backwards and forwards in the studio is more disruptive than beneficial.

    Unfortunately Polaroid in 8x10 is dead. First it became cost prohibitive and then it became unobtainable. I made my last 8x10 Polaroid over a year ago and have got rid of all the processing kit. It's extinct. (I have no interest in making a medium format instant print when I'm working with an 8x10 - there's no point.)

    Quote Originally Posted by jp498 View Post
    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.
    I find that working with a model over multiple sittings is far more productive for the kind of pictures I want to make. It's not a matter of 'pride' or 'crackpot' or 'process' - it's simply a matter of what works for me. Most of the models I work with understand this and like the fact that I value them as a person not as a disposable thing.

  4. #34
    Ian Leake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PVia View Post
    So the answer for you, Ian, is to continue doing exactly what you're doing because that's the way you work and it works for you.
    It seems to be working, but I'm always interested in what other people are doing because there are always things to learn.

  5. #35

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    I'm better at taking photographs, than I am at actually taking the time to print them. What works best for me is to shoot lots, then in one or two sessions make really quick contact prints or scans. Personally, I find that only when I have a number of worthwhile pictures do I find inspiration to print. And the best thing for me about having them all set out en masse, is that I'll often find a series or decide on a style of printing for a particular set... so rather than printing the odd photograph here and there, I'm going into the darkroom in a mindset to produce several prints that compliment each other. I find this is a more productive way to work, and less wasteful because I'm not reprinting images that don't sit well with others from the same collection.

  6. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Leake View Post
    With Lodima grade 2 and a vacuum frame, I can expose 4 prints at a time under a light bulb. This really boosts throughput.
    Ian,

    Thanks for the tip. I use a 16x20 vacuum easel and Lodima/Azo; the thought of making 4 proof prints at once never occurred to me. THAT can be a real time saver when you get back from a trip and have 150+ 8x10 negatives to proof.

    I have always enjoyed seeing your work. It is inspirational!
    John Bowen

  7. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Solarize View Post
    Personally, I find that only when I have a number of worthwhile pictures do I find inspiration to print. And the best thing for me about having them all set out en masse, is that I'll often find a series or decide on a style of printing for a particular set... so rather than printing the odd photograph here and there, I'm going into the darkroom in a mindset to produce several prints that compliment each other. I find this is a more productive way to work, and less wasteful because I'm not reprinting images that don't sit well with others from the same collection.
    I really like this idea. One thing I've found over the years is that as my printing gets better I find myself wanting to reprint lots of old favourites so I have an up-to-date portfolio. This is completely impractical, of course, but knowing that doesn't stop me wanting to do it :rolleyes:

    Quote Originally Posted by jgjbowen View Post
    Thanks for the tip. I use a 16x20 vacuum easel and Lodima/Azo; the thought of making 4 proof prints at once never occurred to me. THAT can be a real time saver when you get back from a trip and have 150+ 8x10 negatives to proof.
    Thank Michael A Smith not me. It's just one of many tips that he's freely shared.

    And thanks for your nice feedback

  8. #38

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    I have not read the entire thread, but will explain what I have always done.

    No doubt others are better at reading negatives than I am, but I cannot tell what a print will look like until I print it. I proof every negative I make--even if it is out of focus from a windblown camera, or fogged because of some weird glitch. I do this so I can see, as a photograph, what I saw on the ground glass. I then spend a week or so going through the proofs before printing. The proofs and the negatives of those that are obviously no good get thrown in the trash; the others either get printed or thrown out if not as good as I thought when I make the prints.

    Now for the important part. I believe that by seeing in photographic form what you saw on the ground glass--by dealing with the negative either by printing it or discarding it--you can learn from our own work and continue to grow.

    Among the photographers work that I have seen where they do not do this, the photographs get repetitive. Ansel Adams had 40,000 unprinted negatives when he died. According to his biographer, Mary Alinder, his last significant photograph was made in 1951--when he was only 49 years old! I believe that his failure to deal with his own work in a full way was a significant factor in the end of his growth as a photographer. Recall that John Szarkowski wrote in Looking at Photographs that the genuinely creative period of most photographers has rarely exceeded ten or fifteen years. I believe that not dealing fully with one's own work is a contributing factor to the end of one's growth period as a photographer.

    So make at least a proof print of every negative you make.

    Michael A. Smith

  9. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael A. Smith View Post

    So make at least a proof print of every negative you make.

    Michael A. Smith
    Michael,

    This point is relevant to myself at the moment as I'm going through my negatives making reasonable quality 8x10" fibre base prints from my medium format negatives (not every frame) so I can get some kind of a handle on what I've photographed in the last two or three years.

    Tom

  10. #40
    Les
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    Michael,
    I thank you for this post. What you say is one of the most important observations I have seen here. No matter what stage we are at, we can only grow by observing our own work and determining what we accept and reject as a representation of what we saw on the ground glass or what we wanted to convey in the final print.
    Les

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