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  1. #1
    bmac's Avatar
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    AZO isn't For Everyone...

    [color=black]Now that it is getting dark earlier in the evening, I've had a chance to do a little printing in my makeshift garage darkroom. I've been doing some tests with different materials.[/color]

    [color=black] [/color]

    [color=black]I brought in three prints from the same negative to work today to see what my non photographer coworkers thought of them. I didn’t label the prints in any way, and I quickly mounted them to plain white matte boards.[/color]

    [color=black] [/color]

    [color=black]I decided to do some non scientific tests to see which version of the print normal people are drawn to. I understand that to do a truly scientific test I would have to develop a negative especially for the tonal scale of each paper, and this could be a major flaw in the "test".[/color]

    [color=black] [/color]

    [color=black]Print #1 was AZO gr 2 Dev in Smith's Amidol[/color]

    [color=black] [/color]

    [color=black]Print #2 was Ilford MGRC @Gr2 [/color][color=black]Pearl[/color][color=black] Finish developed in generic Dektol[/color]

    [color=black] [/color]

    [color=black]Print #3 was Forte Polywarmtone @Gr2 in Neutol WA 1+7[/color]

    [color=black] [/color]

    [color=black]The majority of people were drawn to the Ilford RC print, saying they liked the tones it captured, the finish of the paper, and the way the scene looked "natural"[/color]

    [color=black] [/color]

    [color=black]2nd most liked was the AZO print. Those who liked it were drawn to the 3 dimensional look of the print. A couple people said the print looked moodier, or colder.[/color]

    [color=black] [/color]

    [color=black]One person liked the Polywarmtone print saying it looked cool that I printed in brown and white. [/color]

    [color=black] [/color]

    [color=black]I'm not sure which print I like best yet, but it is making me rethink my approach a little.[/color]

    [color=black] [/color]

    [color=black]Any thoughts or comments?[/color]

    [font=Times New Roman][size=3] [/size][/font]
    hi!

  2. #2
    Alex Hawley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmac
    [color=black]I decided to do some non scientific tests to see which version of the print normal people are drawn to. I understand that to do a truly scientific test I would have to develop a negative especially for the tonal scale of each paper, and this could be a major flaw in the "test".[/color]
    Brian, would your viewers know that the tonal scales were matched? I kinda doubt it. The viewers are only concerned about what looks best to them in respect to each individual's personal taste. That is also a valid "testing" method as long as you feel you did the best you could with each print, in my opinion.
    Semper Fi & God Bless America
    My Photography Blog

  3. #3

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    Brian,

    You've already identified a problem in your test. The question that I would have is what grade did you use on the Ilford and the PW?

    That having been said, I have often been public in my opinion that I can produce equal or better prints on papers other then Azo. The thing that I recognize, though, is that I haven't reached the potential of Azo as a material. I could see that was true when I actually saw some of Michael Smith's and Paula Chamlee's prints.

    There have been others like Jim Shanesy who has told me that he has made some really good prints on other papers.

    I think that part of the equation is the SuperXX film that Michael and Paula use. That film, according to the published H and D curve that I saw is almost linear in it's ability to build contrast. It seems almost to not shoulder. It would be nice if we had it available today. But that is not to be. I think that Michael Smith may have known something when he bought $85,000 worth of SuperXX film

  4. #4

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    Another thing to consider is whether the same negative would print better on Grade 3 AZO. It is very difficult to get a negative to print well on "new" Grade 2. However, with the new Grade 3 sometimes a negative is just right. In any case, AZO is not the easiest of paper to work with because it is all in the negative.
    Francesco

  5. #5
    bmac's Avatar
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    Don, All prints were done at basically Gr 2 using ilford filters.

    Francesco. I plan on doing just that, trying a few on Gr 3

    Jdef, The point in my exercise was to see what the general public preferred, what they thought looked best. I find that non photographer feedback is very valuable.

    Would you decide to use the most popular material
    I am not making any decissions on materials at this point, but I do find it interesting that they lean toward the look of the ilford print.

    The point thus far is (in my limited survey) that paper selection does matter, and there are other choices for contact printing than AZO.

    I am not giving up on AZO, I have several negatives that print beautifully on it. This was just a survey for (shits n' giggles)
    hi!

  6. #6
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    To throw out another varible, try Per Volquartz's method too. He uses what would be the same as J&C classic paper. He uses the fine art Gylcin paper developer. I'm sure there would be a close match to this in the darkroom cookbook.

    I trust Per's assumption on this. He says (and he has taken Michael and Paula's class) that he can get just as good if not better results using this combination. I don't know, I haven't tried it yet.
    Non Digital Diva

  7. #7
    bmac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jdef
    "I find that non photographer feedback is very valuable."

    In what sense?
    Feedback in general helps me with refining my vision, etc. I sometimes find that photographer's get too caught up in technical matters, whereis non photographers focus more on the content of the image.

    I am sensing that the point of your question might be who am I making photos for, the public, or myself. The answer my friend is both I am happy when I make a technically correct print for myself, but get much more joy when someone purchases one of my prints because they "like it".
    hi!

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by bmac
    I am happy when I make a technically correct print for myself, but get much more joy when someone purchases one of my prints because they "like it".
    I agree Brian. Nothing more (extra) fulfilling than someone telling you that the print they purchased from you is hanging on their wall.
    Francesco

  9. #9

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    Brian,
    For large and medium format, I standardize on Tri-x 320 in Pyrocat. I use three papers primarily. Bergger VCCB, Ilford Warm Tone FB, AZO - in that order. I most like the warm, romantic feeling of the Bergger. Nothing touches the deep blacks and highlight differentiation of the AZO and the Ilford is a very nice compromise between the two. If I had to stop using any of these papers, the AZO would be the first to go, followed by the Ilford.
    You're right, non photographer feedback is very important.

  10. #10

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    I could try the same experiment if my box of Azo G3 would just show up!!

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