I wrote a post for this thread a day ago, but the power supply went dead on me and I lost everything I'd scribbled. Your sigh of relief is premature: I'll try again now.
The Huntington article is far from funny, amusing or anything other than damn well bang on target.
Several fellow posters have espoused musical analogies which, unfortunately for me, fall upon musically impaired ears and so I shall refrain from taking part on that score; sorry about that. However, I don't think there is any basis for such a comparison at all, any more than for flying (another thing I can't do) or film-making.
There is a sort of divide line that I think exists within the spectrum of photographers represented here; there's the kind with landscape interests where, I'd imagine, there is little need for the mass processing of a couple of hundred images at a pop; then there is the commercial type with such a possibility, accompanied by the wedding and photoreporter who will both undoubtedly have hundreds if not thousands of clicks to sift through at the end of each shoot.
I fall into a different category these days, where I shoot ever less and seem to be doing not a lot more than closeups of small painted areas. If I shoot four exposures in pursuit of the 'right' side of the histo then that's overkill! So what does software mean to me? As long as I can do curves, layers and some cropping, then that's about as important as software is to me. The only thing PS6 fails to deliver is correction of verticals, which though I have done it on later versions of the system, I still find 6 a far more instinctive process. I don't really have to think about using 6; I didn't really have to think about printing in a wet darkroom either.
There is nonsense spoken and/or written about the relationship between photographer and printer. During my early years in the business as an employee, I learned how to pring b/w to a very high level - we were an industrial unit and accurate b/w related to engineering information that was vital to purpose, exactly as was the case with colour, where jet engine flame tubes and their colours provided highly important info to the engineers who needed the unit's services. You had to learn to print colour damn accurately. I ended up doing the colour printing for quite a while. So I think I knew something about it at the time.
Now, we come to the commercial world where we meet the thing about photographers farming out their printing. This has, in my personal experience of that world, little to do with the photographer's ability and much to do with cost, time and turnover of quantity. From the start, I was determined to be a one-man band and do the whole thing myself. I was absolutely convinced that my pre-self-employed experience had made me as good a printer as any I'd find outside my own work space. I did all my stuff myself except for two types: large blow-ups on paper roll that I hadn't the space to produce; colour prints of any size other than some Cibas that I had to do once in a while. Why not do pos/neg colour printing when I was pretty good at it? Scale. Too expensive to keep a system going for the relatively low volume of throughput. My experience of both outside services was pretty bad and much as I had feared it would be. Why? Cost. No lab was willing to go that one test more to get the colour print exactly on target, citing commercially acceptable as their matra; even the b/w were seldom close to matching the guide prints I supplied, though I can accept that prints don't scale up to such extremes very well - I was doing shop and exhibition display shots for fashion stores and manufacturers as extensions to normal usage, which was press ads. and publicity prints. Thank goodness most of my later work was limited to Kodachrome! Color transparencies were really a liberation; how simple it was to collect the slides, stick 'em on the lightbox and edit it all in a very short time.
Whether digital capture has turned us into lesser or greater snappers is not really a true topic for debate: those raised on the tit of a pixel will be totally comfortable with it; those of us raised on milk will perhaps not be as assured for much of the time, possibly not even because of technical doubts but from frustration born of an earlier, more straightforward and gut experience now lost to us.
If you bring press shooters into the discussion, their needs are all about speed and, in the old days, the newspapers had their own darkrooms. Why would (or could) you do your own printing in a normal day's work when staff were employed to do it for you? In my opinion, that's the main reason many 'stars' didn't often print their own work - neither time nor opportunity.
One can debate the idea of whether a great printer can make a greater print than can a great photographer; this depends, I'd suggest, on how close a supervision the photographer can or is permitted to apply to the printer. I would, though, accept that a pro printer will always be able to produce better prints from a dud photographer than will that photographer himself; but, unless he prints his own stuff, how does he know where he has being going wrong before he reaches the printing stage? Having said that, I do not believe that a good photographer will ever accept another printer's version of his work with anything but reluctance.
We can only be honest when we are being subjective in matters such as this.
Off to fry up some old spuds and a new egg.
I think your post ad a really interesting focus. I agree in most of the parts and may disagree in others.
There is no doubt that photographers can acheive very good printings and consider that this step is an all part of the artistic process where they want to have the perfect control over. That is absolutely fine. It can happens for deep artistic reasons or for economical reasons, depending each case.
You also have artists who are more "sofware" orientated and others more "photography" orientated and it's fine, nothing to say about that.
There are people who take a lot of inspiration in learning how to master the latest software availables, and it is part of their work.
There is no rule, no one has the magic clew, neither is right or wrong. Everyone has the right to work in the way he wants.
But what is involved in this topic and in Huntington (I found it well written and agree 100%), is in what kind of wheel are we "obliged", in other words, the relevance of such a frecuency of relearning. When I'm complaining about that, saying that it is not normal at all, that there is something else behind the scene, I do it from a point of view and training of someone who was born with these tools. I'm trained to updating all the time...but I've decided to move away from this crazy and no-sense race. Again, it is not the evolution, it is the speed and the "short-life" products we are inundated.
The amount of time spending in updating, but also looking for the correct information, is ENORMOUS. I think that this rate of changings have reached a point where it distract more than it helps, it is like a good meal, you know, an overdose and instead of enjoying you get sick and vomite.
Well, if onces think that all these tools are made to make us a better life, more creative, more artistic, more exiting...I can't avoid to think it is very romantic and naive feeling. These are made to make maximum profits to the companies, regardeless of the healph impact among users.
The relation photographer-printer make all sense to me because we are more and more "independant" or we beleive so, but we are manipulated.
I work in advertising you know, people are manipulated to a point they do not imagine. We studdy them, we know their minds, we have tricks against anti(s).
Very very precised studdies about mass mind, individual groups etc...The most easy to manipulate, (to force them to consume) are the youngest. Because they tend to have a very strong but very immature relation with their tools.
We put them pressure in order to make them beleive that they need the lastest, that they will have the best and if not they will be out of race. Of course it is not true. I'm one of these guys, I'm from this side so I know what I'm talking about. And I will leave soon this job because it goes more and more against my values.
Are updating good? Of course, but in fact, in 5 time updates, only one is a real step (more or less). All the rest are unsignificant updates that we can call garbages but they look so. Then, the big ones every 4 years, the revolution promised. Another 6 months of headaches...and again in little updates etc...
People think they live in an happy world with these wonderful new tools...yes, a lot are wonderfull it is true, but what they do not want to accept, is that they have not increased virtuosity at all. They just make things easier, more accurate, more reliable...but there is a cost. If you see it, if you understand where it really is, you can avoid it keeping the benefits of technology, if not...you just spend your time and money with no rest to increments bank accounts of others that manipulate you. And you are not a new Amsel Adams...either.
I do not play this stupid race any more. If some wants to, all my respect, they are free to do it.