Where to begin? Where to begin?
There are several posts I would like to reply to. I'll start with Aggie.
Aggie, unlike your instructor at the AA workshop, I did know Ansel. I used to stop by and visit whenever I was in Carmel teaching a workshop. I'd show him my latest work and ask how I could improve. He'd say, keep working. We’d repeat this every time I stopped by.
I for one could not say definitively if he "would love digital." But knowing what I do, I feel his attitude would have been similar to mine: Digital is a young art form that should be recognized, but it's not what I do. This was his attitude towards color, in general (he did work with color for a while, but he never embraced it as part of his work).
Second, although I laud Michael Smith's attempt to keep AZO alive, despite Eastman's indifference, this is the problem I'm speaking of: Photographers giving money to Eastman. (Michael and Paula are among the best photographers and instructors in the U.S. today, so this is not meant as a critique of them, personally.)
Bergger Fine Art Papers was importing Bergger double weight Contact Supreme paper into this country and nobody would buy it. They preferred to use single weight AZO. Photographers continued to use AZO, and Bergger, to my knowledge, no longer tries to sell Contact Supreme in the U.S.
The following is an excerpt from an unpublished article comparing Bergger Contact 2 (Supreme) with AZO. It was written by Burkhardt Kiegland, an ULF practitioner from Austria. It was never published as Kodak announced the discontinuance of AZO and Michael had not yet intervened. This is unedited, so the grammar might be bad.
“Two years ago I received the first test package of a new contact paper made by this French company and the results did look promising to my eyes. Fine tuning the emulsion, getting the optimum fiber base and more testing, however, took a lot more time, but finally the paper is on the market- in sizes 8x10" up to 20x24".
Similar to Kodak’s AZO the emulsion of Bergger Contact 2 is a silver chloride emulsion but includes some more components. Besides the silver chloride. a certain amount of silver bromides cares for some more speed and silver iodide adds to the special characteristic of the tones. The fiber base is premium weight and I recognize the beautiful bright white base which shows, when air dried, that very delicate, smooth and lively surface we know from the other Bergger Prestige premium papers.”
(Note: Burkhardt and John Horowy, the U.S. importer of Bergger, don’t like each other. So much so that John requested to see the article before publication as he was convinced Burkhardt intended to diss his product. Anyone thinking Burkhardt was in the pocket of Bergger is mistaken.)
The point I wish to make is this: When Kodak does drop AZO, when Ilford stops making film, our recourse for paper and film will be the small manufacturers: Bergger, Forte, FOMA, Efke, Cachet. If we don’t start supporting them now, they won’t be there. They’ll be out of business and Eastman will be laughing all the way to the bank, if they care enough to laugh (actually, I don’t think they have a sense of humor, anyway).
I suggest that LF photographers STOP using T-max, Tri-X, and AZO and start using Bergger BPF film. Request John Horowy to start importing Contact Supreme again. Use FOMA large format films, Cachet papers (which I think are excellent), Forte (which Bruce Barnbaum thinks is excellent), and so on.
What? Fomapan is not as good as Tri-X? Oh, heck. After 33 years, three books on darkroom technique, and 24 years of teaching b/w photography, my experience says it’s the photographer not the material. If you can make a good image on Tri-X, do a little testing and your images will be every bit as good on Bergger BPF or Fomapan 200.
Start supporting the little guy now, not later. It will be too late.
My next point has to do with something posted by Jim68134. He mentions the sales of LF on E-bay and elsewhere. Interest in LF is up, in fact, I think it is the only growing area in photography. Nobody knows for certain why, though I’ve heard several explanations. My own guess is that after sitting in front of a computer screen all day, the visual artist drawn to photography, feels comfortable looking at the LF “screen.” At the same time, it gets them away from the loathsome eye-killing, butt spreading computer and into the fresh air. I may be off base on this one, but it sounds reasonable to me!
Jorge, the price for PV in Brazil is $49.95 per year, which includes postage. Or have it sent to a friend in the U.S., who can forward it to you once every two months (after they read it, of course). What are friends for anyway?
Oh, and, Aggie, the patent for HC-110 is in The Film Developing Cookbook, but I don’t think you want to try and make it from scratch.
Anyway, Ansel used HC-110 for about 3 years, and gave it high marks. He was in the payroll of Kodak at the time, kind of a beta tester. He confided to me, years later, that he stopped using it because it wasn’t as good as he initially thought. Buy Paterson developers, they’re among the best off-the-shelf, or use Wimberly’s WD2D available from the Photographers’ Formulary.
Good god, is this guy long winded! That’s because I think about these issues all the time, but APUG is the only place I can write about them. I couldn’t publish any of this in PV and keep my job.
The Darkroom Cookbook
The Variable Contrast Printing Manual
The Film Developing Cookbook
The Nude at Big Sur
I think that's half right. I think I've suggested this before but I'll do it again. People should look up neanderthal woodworking. While some of the people are older folks many are fairly computer literate. Not the sort that would be considered luddites. Yet they would rather work with a seventy year old hand tool then the latest power tool. Why? Partly because it's about the trip not the end. Most of us have more then enough labour saving gadgets. We instead want to get our hands dirty. We want to see the shavings or we want to smell the stop bath. Small companies have sprung up to make tools that the big boys haven't made since before the Korean war. It's one thing if you're a production setup producing a hundred items a week but this place the discussion isn't about mass production. It's about how many keepers a year.
Originally Posted by Steve Anchell
I agree Robert. There is a rediscovery of old methods, tools and techniques in a variety of areas. I think it has to do with making a final piece that has a little bit of soul to it. I will probably be criticized by those who use computers, power tools etc, but I believe that to more one is literally in touch with the work in progress, the more of themself that is revealed in the final piece, the more of that soul is embodied.
That is the magic of photography. What the eye sees, and the mind interprets, can only reach fruition through hands on tools and methods of processing and printing. It didn't matter if it was a dagureretype (sp?) gum, platinum contact or enlarged on silver gelatin, there has always been a connection between the brain and the hands in all aspects of all processes. The computer severs that connection. The computer to me is a souless tool. Excellent in many ways for many applications (now for ex.) but lacking in soul.
What is next? A computer program that will run mechanical blasters and chisels and hammers to produce 21st century Davids and Venus de Milos?
Just bury me when I'm gone with my Japanese saws, old metal lathe and used LF cameras.
Steve, thanks for your kind comments about our work.
But despite what you say, the Bergger Contact Supreme paper is not a true contact printing paper; it is not a silver chloride paper. It does not have the same long scale that silver chloride papers have. Many papers have silver chloride in them. They are called "chloro-bromide" papers. They are not, as the Bergger paper is not, a silver chloride contact printing paper.
So what is the big deal about "silver chloride contact printing paper." Simply this: it has a longer scale and more separation in the mid-tones. And fine prints on it have more sense of dimensionality than do other silver prints.
When the Bergger paper first came to this country--no, even before it came to this country--I was given some to test. (Both John Horowy and Burkhardt Kiegeland are friends.) It did not begin to compare to Azo. Which is why we did not switch to it. And this was before we were selling Azo. I would have switched in a heartbeat if it was better than Azo.
If Burkhardt's article, was, as you say, written before Paula and I stepped in to save Azo, it was written when he was still Berggers representative, both in Europe and in the US. So there is a little bit of conflict of interest there. (I was writing about Azo years before we started selling it and when a dealership was first offered to us by Kodak we turned it down and found a camera store [Freestyle] that would stock it. So conflict of interest cannot be pinned on Paula and me. It was only when Freestyle called us and told us they were getting out of selling Azo, that we took it over. If we did not, it would have been gone a few years ago. (The reason Freestyle got rid of Azo was that the ownership changed and they wanted to follow the 80/20 rule: 80% of sales come from 20% of the products. They dumped 80%, or close to it, of their products. I have been told they have since seen the error of their ways and now stock lots of products, but they are too late for Azo.)
Now, I have seen fine prints on this Bergger paper. It is a fine paper, but it is not Azo.
Why you would recommend that people stop buying and using the only contact printing paper in the world (and I have hundreds of unsolicited testimonials from people who say this is the finest silver paper they have ever used), is a mystery to me. All of this stuff should be driven, I would think, by what gives the best results, not by a political or ideological agenda. I have always been a "lone wolf"--no institutional affiliations. And I am always on the side of those who are independent. I do not and will not, however, compromise quality for the sake of championing an idea that I "should" support something when it is inferior.
And, although they have usually not been so in the past, in this instance anyhow, Kodak has been extremely responsive. Grade 3 Azo was discontinued. Finished. And since that was the case Grade 2 could not be far behind. But I talked to them and convinced them to reverse their decision, even though they will not be making a profit from it. I'm just one person--not an institution. If people were serious about saving Tri-X they would work at it and do it, or at least give it their best shot. I had to work at saving Azo. It was not a matter of a couple of phone calls.
Bottom line: Since you champion a traditional wet darkroom way of working over digital, I cannot understand your advocating not buying a great paper--in my opinion the best silver paper on the market. And even if my opinion is not correct, it is still an excellent product, no doubt about that.
I thought this was about championing a traditional way of working in photography rather than a digital way. I did not think it was a vendetta against a particular company, even if, generally speaking, that company leaves a lot to be desired.
Michael A. Smith
Now, although we do not know each other well, Steve Anchell and I have met and we are friendly and I like the guy and encourage people to subscribe to his magazine. (I like most all independent effort.)
But it just hit me. Kodak doesn't advertise in Photo Vision. Steve, not liking a company's business practices cannot be a reason to knock a superior product. Kodak will not put the small, newer, companies out of business no matter how many people buy Azo (or Tri-X or T-Max or whatever they have.)
So relax about Kodak. Instead, put your efforts into getting more subscribers. If I can help you do that, let me know.
Michael A. Smith
Sponsored Ad. (Subscribers to APUG have the option to remove this ad.)
I like the smaller companies, but I use what works for me. That's Tri-X and Azo and Kodachrome, but it's also Cachet Expo and Oriental Seagull and TF-4, PMK, ABC from PhotoFormulary, and Ilford MGIV FB and RC, and Agfa Neutol WA and Sistan, and Provia and Astia, and once in a while Fomapan T200.
I'd seriously consider giving up Tri-X more or less, if Delta 400 Pro came in sheet sizes. I've asked Ilford, and the answer is that the old Delta 400 didn't sell well in 4x5", but the new Delta 400 is much better than the old.
I'm happy to say I've always supported the "little guys"...
EFKE and MACO films (when I'm not using Ilford FP4+ or HP5+ - never liked the Deltas).
Kentmere, Bergger, Oriental papers except for "proofs" on Ilford.
Home-made developers (I'm a "little guy", too!).
No, I haven't tried AZO yet. I've got a pack of Bergger Contact to finish fist
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
>I'm happy to say I've always supported the "little guys"...
Well I supporthose!}:^)>
Let's face it. Digital is the "hot puppy of the future". As more and more resources are put into its development and marketing, the less and less will our choices become. There is merit in both Steve and Michaels positions. We must fight for the things we like and support those that support analog materials. But, we must also keep an eye out for alternatives ,when the day
of the "bottom line", forces us to "switch rather than fight a loosing cause".
Personnally, I'll always be analog. "Rather the sweat on my brow, than the mouse callous on my index finger!"
Grain- it's a three dimensional problem.
I am in accord with you on all of your points, including our mutual respect.
My point has to do with the writing on the wall, which I see. That is, Ilford, Kodak, and Agfa, will someday, perhaps not even in our life time, drop silver-based products. In the meantime, the smaller companies, including Bergger, Cachet, Foma, etc. are struggling to maintain any kind of foothold in this country (I have no idea what the markets are like in Europe). So, we buy Tri-X because we like it better than Fomapan. Okay. Fomapan stops importing, Kodak discontinues Tri-X, then we can coat our own film.
Alternatively, we can start learning to work with Fomapan, let Kodak do what Kodak does, and twenty years from now future generations of photographers will have materials to work with, thanks to our foresight.
One of these two is my vision of the future.
As far as AZO, I have not used AZO since 1977, when I was working almost exclusively with 8x10" film and ABC pyro. I have not tried Bergger Contact Supreme, which is why I quoted Burkhardt, not my own experience. If, as you say, Contact Supreme can't do what AZO does, and the only way to create the fine images you and Paula are well known for, is to convince Eastman to make it, then I would not, for one moment, suggest you do otherwise.
My point was: if there is an alternative, use it or lose it.
Finally, your assumption that I have a vendetta against Kodak because they don't advertise in PV needs to be reassessed. Neither Kodak, Ilford, Agfa, Bergger, Foma, Efke, Paterson, Oriental, Nikon, Canon, Wisner, Canham, Sprint, or Delta 1 advertise in PV.
My "vendetta" against Kodak has to do with over a decade of personal observation of the companies practices. As a result of my work, I have many friends inside Kodak, and many friends from the old R&D labs no longer with Kodak, who have kept me informed of internal developments and policies over the years.
Kodak, and Kodak alone, scares me when it comes to the future of our craft.
The Darkroom Cookbook
The Variable Contrast Printing Manual
The Film Developing Cookbook
The Nude at Big Sur
Well Michael lets not make this an azo issue. We all know the Bergger paper is not a contact paper equal to azo, you have said it many times. The issue is the support that should be given to Kodak in view of the support they give to people commited to film and paper.You are the best example of Kodak's nasty practices. Every few months you are held hostage by Kodak and forced to buy more inventory so they dont remove azo. It is the same in every line, they change and remove things from inventory without a second thought to the users. Frankly, given how badly managed the company is I am susprised it is still around. Film users made it great, and digital is buring it. But they dont care, and dont care about us who have used their products for decades. All they care is to sell the new digital toy to the next generation, BTW a toy which in most cases is better made by a smaller better run company. How come Epson has been eating their lunch on printers? and yet they insist on removing analog materials in favor of a division which has yet to give them profit. I say, I am with Steve, let Kodak go under and start using other people.