Originally Posted by Thomas Bertilsson
No doubt about that! But as with all things there's always someone asking "Why?" and this is what we are doing in this thread, the simple answers may be enough for you, but that's not the case for all of us, hence why this thread goes on!
Your addition to this thread returns to another interesting perspective, though you bring it up from the other side; The audience. It's indeed interesting and it would be even more interesting to find out how affected by the styles of the different times (read fashion) the audience is, and how this possibly may drive the artists as well!
Good luck with your quest. I mean it, and not facetiously.
Usually when I am at museums, or galleries, looking at prints, eavesdropping on conversations, or talking to other people, I don't hear them talking about grain, sharpness, resolution, etc. It has a lot more to do with the genius of the idea, how the picture affects them, how they like the composition, and how they react to it. The only ones I hear doing so are other photographers. No rule without exception, but that's been true in my experience.
I do what I can with my pictures to express myself to the best of my ability, as I hope you and everybody else does. There's something inside, a feeling, a situation, something we wish to share and tell the world about that is special. How we let it out is individual, and a choice at an artist's discretion. Either they make pictures for themselves, how they feel it fits what they wish to express, or they make the picture to sell, listening to their audience and understanding what they want or need, commissioned or otherwise. Or, more likely, it's a combination of both.
Anything goes, basically. Some like a cool idea, others a more refined approach. Some like to make small photogravures, and others like to make 40" by one mile long inkjets. Some like grain, others dislike it, and a third category don't care (that's the category I'm in).
OK but is it what you are looking for in a picture? Is the "most realistic and technically optimal way possible" the ultimate goal in photography? To me , you make a confusion between the mean and the goal (or between significans and signification if you prefer).
Originally Posted by Felinik
sometimes the answer is ...
there is no special reason
no hidden agenda
no buck the system
no try to be different
no tick people off
its just-because ...
that is why i asked you about your work
because the reason you photograph the way you do, is just because you do ...
In a discussion around a subject like the one in this thread, the reasoning about facts, theories, and the reflections and analysis around those, will lead to an interesting development of the discussion.
That I/you/we just "do" is not adding anything, it's like asking why do we love, a thing, a person, etc. The answer can be "because it feels good", OR we can instead find out more about the psychological and physical things that brings us to that mental state, and analyze them in order to find out how it works... In a bigger picture...
My working definition of perfection has been approximately what you propose.
Originally Posted by Felinik
But recently I have been challenging my definition of "perfect".
I'm not changing my definition permanently, but instead see it as expanding my range.
To continue a project I started to help tkamiya, I picked up 3 rolls of Tri-X Saturday to continue exploring graininess. The core of the idea was to throw out the traditional definition and create a new definition. The changed definition is clear: Instead of trying for minimum grain, try for maximum grain.
It was such a pleasure to review historic texts and find scientists were "always" working towards the other goal. So when I found passages saying what "not to do" I just took note to do the exact opposite. My test results tell me to use lower EI (e.g., 250) and "look" for scenes which are primarily medium gray. Then develop in Dektol 1:9 for a "less than normal" time.
Now you throw out an additional challenge I had NOT originally considered. I was still planning to make perfectly sharp, well-focused images. But it intrigues me, and I think that it will add to the overall impact of images to make shots deliberately blurry, unusually focused.
tkamiya holds a very high standard of quality, spending hours to print a specific negative and throwing out many results that I would find aesthetically satisying. I hold a high standard of quality (similar to yours) as an ideal, but then I accept what results I get as-is. Mistakes are noted and corrected for future images. Prints I get, remain what they are. I reserve the right to make dramatic future improvements. But for the most part, I stop when I reach a realistic look.
Documentary photographers work at a bit of a disadvantage compared to landscape photographers. They witness an exceptional situation, with little control over it. People in the photograph complicate matters by their changing facial expressions. Many important things happen in dark shadow. Even if they were to hold a high standard in mind, there may be many shots that do not live up to the ideal, but which satisfy the moment they wanted to show.
I'll grant that sloppy practice and uneducated darkroom technique can also lead to the exact same result. This might be what irks you.
richard albertine told me once to " let it vignette "
bill, your methodology is perfection !
I'm not sure there can be such a thing as perfection re: such as you use as an example. Movement and feeling could be considered a more realistic representation of that moment than something frozen at a high shutter speed. One's definition of realistic and technically optimal can be very broad.
Originally Posted by Felinik
Following that, who's to say that moments in time *need* to be frozen and can't be allowed to flow in time ?
It seems that the consensus is (without actually saying or agreeing on this) that any technique that better communicates the message of the moment is good. The point has been made a couple times about blur that at times it may be a more realistic representation. Could something similar be said about grain?
Now the original post's reaction was probably not to photos where the grain and blur flawlessly combined to communicate the moment. What about photos where large grain & blur are merely for stylized purposed and not adding anything? I guess that would just be bad art, bad, not because of grain & blur in the picture but because of poor composition and communication.
I think that whatever the picture needs, shooting conditions dictate, or a photographers chosen tools dictate is what translates into how the final picture shows in terms of technical quality. Whether we end up liking it or not is entirely subjective. One man's ceiling is another man's floor; either a picture grabs our attention, or it doesn't.
Originally Posted by horacekenneth
It's probably safe to say that the cream tends to float to the top, and if you consider what represents 'the cream' you see everything from wild and crazy exposures by famous documentary and street photographers, happily existing alongside meticulous artists and printers who pay a lot of attention to the technical quality from beginning to end. Different priorities.
I find it interesting to note that printers like Sid Kaplan, Gene Nocon, Pablo Inirio, and other printers like them, did everything they could to print every negative that passed through their darkroom on commission to print with the very best of their ability, whether it is a meticulously exposed and processed negative, or quickly exposed, grainy, and push processed 35mm neg. Why is that? Because they are all good photographs, in one way or another (or several), and they demand respect and attention.
Look at this masterpiece of James Dean, by Dennis Stock: Link
Now consider how Pablo Inirio had to fight the negative in order to get what he thought would be enough visual impact to impress: Link
Why would such attention be paid to a grainy photograph where not much is in focus?
I guess I feel that the grain can add to an image as much as someone else might think it subtracts, but in the end it just IS, and we live with it. We all have different opinions of what we like and dislike.