Not too many of us have access to an 8x10 enlarger, and thus if we shoot 8x10, contact printing is the only option. I was with Doug and Mike at the recent Michael and Paula workshop, and of course, after looking at Michael's and Paula's prints "live" and "up close", the results with Azo and Amidol are-de minimus-exceptional. Tom and C6 have a wonderful point though: There are great prints made using an enlarger. Furthermore, from many examples that I have noted from fellow APUG members, there is some GREAT work being done by many of our members. Of course, not having the opportunity to hold and examine these prints ( as opposed to viewing over the internet ), makes comparison with Azo prints impossible. We are lucky to have the opportunity to make our photographs using diverse techniques, and one would agree that it is hard to say that one method is "always superior" ( my words ) to another. However, allow me to repeat that Mike was also with us at the workshop. His work with many different techniques ( Platinum, Azo, contact printing on traditional enlarging paper, etc. ) was exceptional, and illustrates the points that many of us are making: It is the artist who is using the tools, and not the tools that are using the artist. Memorable images can be made in many ways.
It certainly would be informative to see a series of prints made by John Sexton and compare the range of tones with prints made on Azo using Amidol by a Master using such materials, i.e., Michael or Paula. Would one still be entirely convinced that Azo/Amidol has a higher demonstrable range of tones, and is "better"? Simply wondering without any value judgments...without appearing sexist or silly, the situation might be similar when trying to say which beautiful woman does one favor, i.e., the blonde or the red head. To return to reality, the kinds of objective evaluation of prints and/or negatives produced with chemicals or techniques that are reputed to be "better" might, in fact, show very little differences when viewed under similar conditions by an unbiased audience. The observers would not be able to handle the prints...simply observe two prints of the same subject made from the same negative, framed and matted the same way, lighting the same of course...printed to a similar DMax ( if possible ), etc., etc. Not talking about prints that are of a different "color", i.e., platinum in which one might be able to tell the difference from such color ( unless one could tone a conventional print to mimic the tone of a platinum prints ). However, such objective evaluations are not easily available. I am reminded of a post on APUG which pointed out that such "blind observers" (sic) have not been able to tell the difference from a print made on RC VC paper from one made on FB RC paper. Not talking about longevity, etc...simply saying that both papers processed to archival standards for that particular paper yielded results that could not be differentiated.
The "upshot" appears to me to be that a given photographer might always think that the techniques he or she uses to produce a photographic that captures their personal "vision" is superior to another technique that might also have been utilized.
Last edited by Mahler_one; 03-23-2009 at 04:11 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Reason: typos, corrections, additions