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Author Topic: Digital Landscapes?  (Read 4660 times)
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« on: June 15, 2004, 08:28:04 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']There's no need to clue you in, because Rockwell doesn't have a clue.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

Michael[/font]
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2004, 03:01:37 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']As he mentioned in the article, "All of my colleagues who've already switched to digital all say they'd never return to film. I firmly believe that if Ansel Adams was alive today, he'd be exploring the possibilities that digital has to offer." Bravo.[/font]
[font color=\'#000000\']Actually, Ansel says as much in his book Examples: The Making of 40 Photographs. Something along the lines of "the next logical step in the development of technology would be the electronic image, and I hope to live to see it." If anyone really cares, I can dig up the exact wording and page number and all that.[/font]
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« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2004, 05:17:51 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']"I eagerly await new concepts and processes.
I believe that the electronic image will be the next major advance.
Such systems will have their own inherent and inescapable structural characteristics,
and the artist and functional practitioner will again strive to comprehend and control them".

Ansel Adams in The Negative
Carmel, California
March 1981[/font]
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gtal
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« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2004, 12:16:46 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']I think that discussing other people's personal preferences (or what they may have been) is guesswork at best. Photography offers us a wide range of tools and techniques to express our vision and it only makes sense that different people will have different approaches that work best for them. I don't care much for those who preach any creative approach or set of tools as the one and only "right way".

So, in that context, here are my personal thoughts and you may agree or disagree with them as you please:

To me, creative photography starts with a vision and ends with a print, and those two extremes of the process are just about all that matters. What happens from one end to the other is not all that important - it's just a means of facilitating the transition from visualization to paper. Strange how this interim and unimportant step seems to take up the bulk of the discussion on most photography forums... but that's for another discussion

My guiding principle is - use the right tool for the right job. Keeping that in the back of my mind makes my choices pretty obvious (to me):

I photograph landscapes with the goal of making large prints. To me the role of a camera is to capture my vision with the utmost possible detail. The one purpose my camera serves is as a means of capturing what I find in the field, and effectively carrying it back with me to my "workshop" so I can make it into a print. That's it.

For good or bad, at this point in time the one tool that captures the most amount of detail in a form that is conducive to field work is a 4x5 view camera. Anything else will be a compromise.

Once I have a large piece of film containing what I found in the field, I find the next step to making a great color print is indeed digital. Tools like Photoshop allow me far greater control over the image than anything a chemical darkroom could, and the quality of Ultrachrome, Lightjet/Chromira etc. printers surpasses that of even the finest Ilfochrome. The choice here is obvious too - anything less than masterful image preparation in Photoshop towards a large digital print would be a compromise.

So, just thinking in terms of "horses for courses", I take the best of each technology available to me to produce prints that best represent my vision, and my choices are pretty obvious and independent of any marketing hype or religious debates.

Are these choices set in stone? of course not. Hopefully at some point digital technology will meet and/or surpass what the 4x5 camera gives me and at that point I will have no issue whatsoever with picking the best tool for the job once again.

Now take a step back and think about your own goals as a photographer - what do you want to capture and how do you want to express it? Who do you want to appreciate your work, and where/how do you want it displayed? Having a clear answer to these questions will define what you want to do. Once you know what you want, the choice of tools (and related skills to be learned) will become much more straightforward.

Just think of all the time you'll be saving in futile debates that you can now spend on honing your vision, dreaming up creative expressions, and of course - actually using your tools to make something meaningful.

My 2c...

Guy[/font]
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Lin Evans
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« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2004, 02:35:07 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']
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Without pre-visualizing, Moonrise would not have happened. Without planning, the final neg would not have been even hard to print.

The visualization happend very quickly for this shot, and it was neary missed. The reflection of the sunlight on the white crosses and marker in the cemetary caught Ansel's eye from the road and the "inspiration" for the shot came instantly. He shot two frames because he wasn't absolutely certain about the exposure for the moon on the first and couldn't find his meter. Actually the first one ended up being "the" shot because by the time he got set for the second, the sun had shifted sufficiently that the "moment" was gone.

The interesting point is that what he "visualized" and later "created" and what he shot were entirely different animals. The shot was made at somewhere around 4:20 pm in the afternoon - still completely daylight - and 10 years later he was still tweaking both the negative and prints. After selective burning, Kodak intensifier and lots of skills in both the darkroom and printing the finished prints had little resemblence in time to the actual scene, but looked like a very late evening sundown, nearly night time. Also interestingly enough no two prints made by Ansel himself are quite the same. Of course the reproductions now available are quite uniform, but having had the pleasure of seeing many of his original prints I can tell you that they differ appreciably.

Today Iglesia Catolica San Juan del Chama, the small church seen in Moonrise, is in sad state of disrepair and the little gravel road is a four lane highway. Hernandez is an exceedingly poor community - even "trashy" would be an accurate description. It appears from the weeds and such that the church is no longer being used and what were tiny bushes when Ansel made his photo are now large trees. It's hardly possible to see the cemetary or the actual view he had from the road and there are houses, sheds, junked cars and trailer houses blocking the view from the road.

It's a shame that the New Mexico Historical Society and the Catholic church couldn't get together and provide some funding to preserve this place, but each year when I pass by it seems to simply be worse. Below are a couple images I shot a couple weeks ago of the front and back. In the front shot I removed some power lines and a transformer from the view. In the back I had to use a 400mm telephoto from the road (notice the "no photos" sign by the cemetary and a broken one which just says No P near the corner of the church) to get a glimpse of both the church back and portions of the cemetary which were once easly seen from the road.

Jus posting for those who may be interested in what the years can do........

Lin



[/font]
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Samantha
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« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2004, 06:34:53 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']Kent Rockwell says you can't shoot landscapes on digital.

But he doesn't explain why, just says it in passing.  Would someone pu-leaze clue me in???  Thanks.[/font]
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Graham Welland
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« Reply #6 on: June 15, 2004, 08:33:09 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']Regarding KR's comments: complete and utter rubbish. Even a quick look at Michael's work here will tell you that.

Can you shoot landscapes on a 3mp digital that will look better than a 4x5 when printed 20x30" and above? No.

Can you shoot great landscapes on a 5/8/11/14/16mp camera/back that produce outstanding images up to A3 and above? Absolutely, and then some.

Will a scanned 8x10 be better quality and have more subtle detail when printed at a large size? Probably, unless you're paying out at least $30k+ for a digital back and appropriate glass.

I read this week in Digital Photographer that Colin Prior, one of the great proponents of 6x17 panoramics is now in the process of switching to digital (1Ds, not digital back MF). As he mentioned in the article, "All of my colleagues who've already switched to digital all say they'd never return to film. I firmly believe that if Ansel Adams was alive today, he'd be exploring the possibilities that digital has to offer." Bravo.

Also, I'd pay for a Colin Prior landscape on digital or printed from film. I don't see anything from KR that I'd consider paying for ... who'd you believe?

Colin Prior's Web Site.

It's a shame that Ken Rockwell makes such dumb statements at times. He actually has some useful information and reasoned views on his site.[/font]
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« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2004, 03:17:55 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']I hear the similar sentiment most often from traditional film shooters who have NOT yet learneed how to properly post-process a digital capture.  

More often than not they are referring to a perceived lack of micro detail often visible in some areas of a digital file, notable predominantly in things like green leaves.  Of course they've usually captured the image as a jpeg and when you inquire about the technical aspects of the image they answer something like, "What do you mean by 'raw'?"[/font]
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Graham Welland
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« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2004, 11:16:44 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']
Quote
"I eagerly await new concepts and processes.
I believe that the electronic image will be the next major advance.
Such systems will have their own inherent and inescapable structural characteristics,
and the artist and functional practitioner will again strive to comprehend and control them".

Ansel Adams in The Negative
Carmel, California
March 1981
Absolutely!

Actually the 'Making of' book is a testament to post-production if ever there was one.

I recall seeing the images of Moonrise over Hernandez as straight prints from the negatives and then Ansel's final masterpieces. You can bet that he'd have relished being a true Photoshop guru, particularly as he got older and the appeal of the chemical darkroom wore off.[/font]
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Graham
Hank
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« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2004, 10:56:57 AM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']I was on the road while this conversation was taking place, but am reviving it briefly- both to compliment the respondents on their thoughtful views, and of course to pile on my two pennies.

I think that most of us as photographers still have a whole lot to learn about Photoshop and its capabilities.  Much of the judgement layed upon digital photos is, in fact, an evaluation of the PS skills used in prepping them.  Many of us are aware that as photographers duffing away at images, we only use about 5% of the tools and capabilities of Photoshop.  Graphic artists who have used the program for many years and really know its nooks and crannies will take your breath away with how well they can process a photo.  I think I can say with some confidence that all of us who have only used the program to prep our own photos are missing a lot that is hidden in other, less visited parts of the program and in techniques developed there.

The best way to illustrate that is with an example.  Look at the current cover of the Tamrac catalog.  The image was originally captured as an 8.9mb horizontal image using the Canon D30 with its 3mb sensor, and the cover reflects only the left half of that file.  The "original" of the cover image was therefore a 4.5mb file, and considering that it used only half the sensor, effectively even a 1.5mb sensor.  Yet the graphic artist used that foundation to produce a highly detailed 8 1/2x11 image.  

I thought I had my act together pretty well in Photoshop, but that example of post-processing has sent me back to the drawing board.  I didn't do as well while producing an 8x10 from the whole file.[/font]
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howard smith
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« Reply #10 on: July 29, 2004, 12:50:32 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']I have to go back a couple of posts.  If "The Making ..." is a testiment to post-production, it is at least the same for planning and pre-visualizing.  Without that, all the post-production would not have helped much.

Without pre-visualizing, Moonrise would not have happened.  Without planning, the final neg would not have been even hard to print.

The book speaks volumes against "shoot 'em all and sort 'em later."[/font]
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mtomalty
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« Reply #11 on: August 10, 2004, 12:31:17 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']
Quote
Quote
Without pre-visualizing, Moonrise would not have happened.  Without planning, the final neg would not have been even hard to print.

The visualization happend very quickly for this shot, and it was neary missed. The reflection of the sunlight on the white crosses and marker in the cemetary caught Ansel's eye from the road and the "inspiration" for the shot came instantly. He shot two frames because he wasn't absolutely certain about the exposure for the moon on the first and couldn't find his meter. Actually the first one ended up being "the" shot because by the time he got set for the second, the sun had shifted sufficiently that the "moment" was gone.

The interesting point is that what he "visualized" and later "created" and what he shot were entirely different animals. The shot was made at somewhere around 4:20 pm in the afternoon - still completely daylight - and 10 years later he was still tweaking both the negative and prints. After selective burning, Kodak intensifier and lots of skills in both the darkroom and printing the finished prints had little resemblence in time to the actual scene, but looked like a very late evening sundown, nearly night time. Also interestingly enough no two prints made by Ansel himself are quite the same. Of course the reproductions now available are quite uniform, but having had the pleasure of seeing many of his original prints I can tell you that they differ appreciably.

Today Iglesia Catolica San Juan del Chama, the small church seen in Moonrise, is in sad state of disrepair and the little gravel road is a four lane highway. Hernandez is an exceedingly poor community - even "trashy" would be an accurate description. It appears from the weeds and such that the church is no longer being used and what were tiny bushes when Ansel made his photo are now large trees. It's hardly possible to see the cemetary or the actual view he had from the road and there are houses, sheds, junked cars and trailer houses blocking the view from the road.

It's a shame that the New Mexico Historical Society and the Catholic church couldn't get together and provide some funding to preserve this place, but each year when I pass by it seems to simply be worse. Below are a couple images I shot a couple weeks ago of the front and back. In the front shot I removed some power lines and a transformer from the view. In the back I had to use a 400mm telephoto from the road (notice the "no photos" sign by the cemetary and a broken one which just says No P near the corner of the church) to get a glimpse of both the church back and portions of the cemetary which were once easly seen from the road.

Jus posting for those who may be interested in what the years can do........

Lin

 

Mark[/font]
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