I don’t know if this is relevant and muddies the water of the discussion but I was reading Ansel Adams (book 3 the Print) and he does discuss in chapter 5 ‘The fine print: Control of Values’ and opens with. ‘The differences between the various stages of work prints leading to the fine print are often quite subtle, and require meticulous craftsmanship. Even the best equipment and competent procedure, the control of print quality is sometimes very difficult. I know from experience that there are no shortcuts to excellence. Inadequate attention to procedure or to archival considerations will yield less-than-optimum results. However, the technical issues of printing must not be allowed to overwhelm the aesthetic purposes; the final statement should be logical and complete, and transcends the mechanics employed.’
He then goes onto describe what the differences between a work print and a fine print are and also describes a number of procedures for subtle print control. In concluding he states that
‘the qualities that make one print “just right” and another only “almost right” are intangible, and impossible to express in words. Once you know what truly fine prints look, trust your initiative reactions to your own prints’
‘In evaluating the print some of the qualities to look for include:
-Are the high values distinct and “open”, so they convey a sense of substance and texture without appearing drab or flat?
- Are the shadow values luminous and not overly heavy?
-Is the texture and substance in the dry print in all areas where you sought to reveal it
Does the print overall convey an ‘impression of light’
Although this is not of full explanation of what a fine art photograph should look or be like, I think Ansel Adams in this chapter of his book does go in some way to describe the subtle differences of your average run of the mill print to an excellent fine art photographic print.
I personally have seen a fair number of what I believe to be excellent fine photographic art prints from masters of photography such as Irving Penn, Edward Weston, Kenro Izu etc.. The differences between good and excellent fine art prints are subtle but they are there to see the trained and knowledgeable eye and are very rewarding.
I don’t know how good this artists prints were priced at $800 that the intial post on this thread mentions, but if they conform to what Ansel Adams describes as ‘just right’ as opposed to ‘almost right’ he should have a few valid responses to those people that think his work is not ‘Fine Art’
Anyway just my 2c