Quote Originally Posted by semi-ambivalent View Post
I've always thought that about Michael Kenna's work, the "X plus Y and, bingo'. When I was shooting in the past (70s) I intentionally avoided looking at the work of other photographers as much as possible for fear that I would simply copy them. Or try to. There was so much great and different stuff out there, especially from Japan. It was alluring, if not genuinely mine.

What eventually became what I called my 'style' I owed as much to my not knowing what the hell I was doing as to any pompous magical vision I thought I was on to. Trying to find some sort of 'look' again and this many years later it's pointless to look at the old developing and printing notes and think I can just whip up some duplicates. It's all new, and ready for fresh mistakes.

You are definitely on to something semi-ambivalent. I think the bland nature of photography today is a result of the lack of isolation. One can see everything by everybody and it influences the images one makes. When I started photography I didn't know anyone that did it. There was no internet. Books were few and far in between. The result was that I made horrible negatives. The upside though is that it made me a good printer. I learned everything by trial and error. There is something to be said for that. Once I learned it all though I realized that I needed to forget it too.

From what I can recall about Gibson's methods of developing, and they aren't a magic bullet, he mixes Rodinal in the tank and he uses a specific amount of Rodinal for each roll of film. I do recall a comment he made that he likes a meaty negative. This is evidenced in his prints.

I have seen quite a few of these threads over the years. Gibson gets the look he does by many factors, not just the development of the film. He chooses the light that he likes which no one talks about. He also exposes for the highlights which dumps the shadows into solid black in a print. That is the opposite of the holy grail of rules for photography. Just go to show that rules are for those with no imagination.