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Author Topic: Four Cats Bar  (Read 2970 times)
RSL
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« Reply #20 on: August 26, 2010, 03:41:05 PM »
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Seamus, +1. For me at least, the first print in the darkroom almost always was a test, so I could really see what I was dealing with instead of trying to figure it out from a contact sheet. But I often make a good print first shot out with digital. Since I shoot raw I always need to sharpen, but an astonishing number of times that's all I have to do. Of course a well calibrated screen and a well calibrated printer pretty much can take the place of the old darkroom test print.
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Rob C
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« Reply #21 on: August 27, 2010, 09:10:46 AM »
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I don't think we disagree.

In the wet, instinct knew where to draw the line; in the digital realm it seems so tempting to try just another tweak more...

And no, I don't think it is always necessary to use all the knobs and whistles that come with Photoshop of anything else. In neither case am I saying that a first printing is always, if ever, going to be right, but the temptation with digital will be to try something, just because one can, and yes I agree, many digital ones do look pretty good as is. The trick is leaving them there.

Having said that, since trying to stick to the ETR system, I find more messing about is required, always in the direction of cutting the apparent exposure of the RAW. Okay, that's possibly the price of getting more detail in the darker areas, but is still feels dumb overexposing in camera only to cut back in the computer. Even if it works!

Rob C
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seamus finn
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« Reply #22 on: August 28, 2010, 03:22:43 AM »
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In the wet, instinct knew where to draw the line; in the digital realm it seems so tempting to try just another tweak more...


Tempting, yes, Rob C. The big difference, however, is you can always simply undo that unnecessary tweak without wasting yet another half box of obscenely expensive paper - not to mention precious time. Anyway, what photoghrapher, artist, snapper (whatever you care to call the species) worthy of the name can resist just another tweak in tne eternal search for that elusive other level? It's just too damned irresistible, especially for those of us who spent the best days of our lives breathing in toxic fumes in the pursuit of print excellence.
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Rob C
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« Reply #23 on: August 28, 2010, 04:17:54 AM »
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Well, having spent too long doing exactly what you describe (printing), and damn well too, if I may say so, I do not wholly agree about the temptation with real paper printing. I have to go back to my statement about that certain gut feeling: it was there as a confirmation that one had nailed the shot; the time to stop was just understood without any sense of maybe about it.

Neither can I agree with the thing about obscene costs of the wet medium. Okay, I'm clearly speaking of my time when I was doing all that darkroom stuff, which was really until the mid-late 70s, and cost was never a problem because a client was paying for it all. (Post late-70s I worked pretty well exclusively on transparency material.) For me, transparencies were not only the medium of necessity for reproduction, but specialising also allowed me to concentrate/hone my technique to suit it. I almost invariably used Kodachrome 64 Pro with a few Ektachromes when 6x6 was demanded, which was not often.

(There's a funny/sad tale associated with my b/w printing. I was invited to a soirée at the advertising offices of House of Fraser in Glasgow, one night, and as I was chatting to one of the design staff, I asked him who the author was of one of the shots pinned up on the wall. It was of my favourite model, looked amazingly good, and I wondered who had crept up behind me when I wasn't looking and had done such a cool job in nipping some of the work. The guy looked at me, said Rob, what a cheap way of looking for a compliment! Hell's bloody bells, it was one of my own shots and I didn't even remember having shot it or printing it! I felt an absolute asshole! Which just goes to show that there are indeed very good busy times in any business. If only they lasted!)

I have now made the jump to Word; I hadn’t expected this post to be very long. What follows will probably be somewhat disjointed because I can’t see your post any longer, as I don’t want to keep jumping from here to LuLa, which would be as awkward as just using the currently hopeless little box that marks the new paradigm of progress ;-)

As far as digital print tweaking goes, yes, you can undo what turns out to be a step too far, but the point is to know where that step lies before you feel obliged to take it.

Many people claim that their calibrated systems save them from having to do any testing beyond what they see on the monitor. This may mean two things: they have wonderful systems; they are geniuses. Myself, though the monitor is calibrated, even with b/w I have to tweak way beyond what looks optimal on the monitor. In other words, WYSInotWYG in my case! In the event, I probably, no, certainly end up wasting far more time and paper with digital print testing than I ever did with wet. And this time, there are no external clients: I’m in the mug’s game of being my own!

Not having researched equivalent paper prices for wet v. digital printing, I can’t tell you which is, sheet per sheet, the more expensive these days, but it would be irrelevant as I can’t realistically consume the water that non-plastic prints require for washing. But I tell you this: I would love to produce Kodak WSG 2D prints instead of these Hahne Rags that I do!

Have fun!

Rob C




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seamus finn
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« Reply #24 on: August 28, 2010, 06:47:18 AM »
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Well, having spent too long doing exactly what you describe (printing), and damn well too, if I may say so, I do not wholly agree about the temptation with real paper printing. I have to go back to my statement about that certain gut feeling: it was there as a confirmation that one had nailed the shot; the time to stop was just understood without any sense of maybe about it.


Rob, I spent nearly forty years as a newspaper editor,  and  saw photo journos making outstanding prints purely by that  instinct you speak of -  mostly in less than optimal darkroom conditions. They had the ability to weave  a magic spell of burning, dodging and manipulation with the hands after just a brief glance at the image on the board.  They were underrated craftsmen who made the job look easy. When I took it up myself as a hobby years ago, I found it wasn’t  easy at all to achieve that ‘certain gut feeling’ although I suppose I managed to reach some level of instinctive competence after a good while learning.   

I look back on those days with considerable fondness. It seemed great fun at the time. Many hours were spent in total isolation in my home darkroom up in an attic where the cares of the  world  never impinged. It was all about THE PRINT. The fact that it was damned hard work never occurred to me not did it bother me that I, and not a rich client, was paying for everything. . I was lucky that I could get chemicals, paper and the like at cost through the newspaper  but it still wasn’t cheap.  Later, I managed to sell a few prints here and there, take part in a few exhibitions, put on a few shows in local galleries and  so on, but I never found the work getting any easier., especially when I got bitten by the chemical toning bug.

My home darkroom is still in place - a monument to nostalgia, perhaps. The other day, I went up and stood for a few minutes, recalling the many enjoyable/frustrating/exhilerating hours spent there. Then I asked myself the crucial question: would I do it now, forsake the digital world and go back to that place?  Make that instinctive leap in the dark and nail that print  by pure feeling. The answer was an emphatic NO!

OK, the mystique of the old darkroom workers may be gone, that sense of a magician emerging from the dark clutching an outstanding creation, but I believe the instinct remains as true as ever. Despite the digital tweaks, buttons, knobs and all, it still takes instinct to nail that print..
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kikashi
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« Reply #25 on: August 28, 2010, 02:07:26 PM »
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In other words, WYSInotWYG in my case!
I long time ago, I read a spoof flyer for a new OS which boasted WYGIWYG, or "What you get is what you get. Want to know how your document will look when it's printed? Print it and look at it!"

Strikes a chord with me, certainly.

Jeremy
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Rob C
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« Reply #26 on: August 29, 2010, 09:12:34 AM »
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Seamus - I don't really now what to say; there is nothing on paper that please me as much as a good WSG 2D print, but like you, I no longer have the strength of character to do it again. My current office was set up as an office-cum-darkroom, with running water and lightproofing - I even put in an air-con, the only one in the house. But, the reality of water scarcity coupled with hatred for multigraded plastic sheets stopped me in my tracks. As did a first heart-attack, which made pouring large trays of chemicals back into winchesters a fairly dumb expercise for someone suddenly left with minimal physical strenght!

Regarding newspaper photographers, I think that the talent that many had, which most amazed me, was the one for guestimating flash exposure in so many difficult situations. I always dreaded that sort of work; thank God is was always in b/w with plenty of room for winging it! In my case, at least.

I'll try to upload a shot here of one such assignment I did for the Scottish Design Centre in Glasgow, a shot that happened by the skin of its teeth, for having been booked to cover the visit (I did exhibitions for them) I was then refused entry by the security people until the PR man came rushing back to his office to escort me into the room, personally. Left hand, right hand...

Oh well, the pic seems to have loaded, but I popped the button too quickly to finish the post, the thread for which I seem to have lost.

Ah, yes, I’ve reread the post and now know what I was going to comment upon: the skills with the hands.

Though PS is pretty cool – I’d be the first to admit it allows tiny local tricks beyond a pair of hands (mine, at least), where hands did work better was in burning in or holding back parts of skies, corners of prints and general areas where a gradient is needed. It was so much quicker, too.

Here, I am thinking mainly in terms of b/w, which is my principal area of interest, despite the look of the website, which is mainly colour because it remains more true to the work that it represents than later games with conversion. But for pure pleasure, it is b/w every time (on paper) but that could well be influenced by my less than happy results with colour, particularly with reds, which always seem to be the Achilles heel of anything I do in that medium. For example, both the last shots in the two galleries depend on colour to work – I can’t print them to my satisfaction.

Perhaps photography should be thought of as a game of frustration, of attrition – a sort of personal punishment for the hubris of thinking one had talent!

;-)

Rob C


« Last Edit: August 29, 2010, 09:32:48 AM by Rob C » Logged

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