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Author Topic: Bruce Keyes on media choices and the creative process  (Read 1900 times)
teddillard
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« on: November 23, 2010, 08:10:02 AM »
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One of our loyal customers is Bruce Keyes, photographer, artist and author of "Spirit of New Orleans".  He really loves the Parrot and Angelica media, and uses almost everything we handle, from canvas to fine-art watercolor, right on through to some of the more exotic fabrics.  I just had a series of long conversations with him for this piece on my blog for Parrot: http://www.parrotcolor.com/store/blog/?p=432 and in the conversation he talked about the choice of media and the creative process. 

Rarely...  ok, never, does he make media decisions before, or during the capture, as I do, with my film-based, visualization dogma ingrained into my process.  He'll shoot, get the best image he can get, and then experiment with media to see what the fit is.  He said to me, sometimes they all live, sometimes they all die- but seldom does he find that one image, on one media, is THE image that says it all.  Every rendering by every media choice has it's own value, and it's own statement. 

Heaven help me for bringing up the Zone System and all that "Visualize the Final Print" hoo-haa, but that's the way I learned, and in moving to digital printmaking, is the way I still work...  Bruce doesn't even teach that, as a foundation of photography.  He said he feels no need to burden his students with that legacy, and that the digital tools are entirely liberating- he suggests the term the "gestalt of the lens", which I amended to be the "gestalt of the paper"- allowing he media to control the image... 

Thoughts on this?  Throughout my education in digital process, I've always felt our challenge is to learn what is unique about the tools and use them for what they can do for us- all this time I've been limiting myself by the idea of what photography should be, not what digital photography and printmaking actually brings to the table.
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neile
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« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2010, 09:29:51 AM »
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I kinda agree with both of you Smiley

I find the zone system was a great learning experience for me to truly understand exposure. It makes ETTR make even more sense to me than it already did. When I capture I care about making sure I have the most amount of data possible at time of capture. Although, in the digital world, I'm placing my highlights perfectly on the histogram. That, to me, is the equivalent of placing your shadows properly at exposure time with film.

Then, when printing rolls around, you select your paper. Just like in the darkroom you'd select a different B&W printing paper depending on your mood ("mmm, I think I'll use Kentmere, I'm lith printing this sucker").

Neil
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Neil Enns
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2010, 09:58:52 AM »
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And I agree with all three of you, especially with Neil. I lived by the Zone system for close to forty years (all of Ansel's Basic Photo books and two Minor White workshops), all of which made it easy to understand the histogram and ETTR when I finally moved to digital.

IMHO, it is still enormously valuable to previsualize the print before exposure, even if you then try to improve on the previsualized image in post-processing.

Eric
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« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2010, 06:19:33 PM »
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I'm not good enough to have a big matrix, but I do visualize four quadrants:  Color-semigloss, Color matte, B&W semigloss, B&W matte.  I definitely think of these outputs when making the image.  Canvas is a 5th that I think about, but I have not yet ventured into the canvas world.  I am excited to try it though, precisely for that reason. There are some images I have that I thought 'canvas' when creating the image.

Dave



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Martin Kristiansen
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« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2010, 12:07:00 AM »
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I think that it is an interesting and valid approach that Mr Keyes uses but it simply doesn't work for me. My images end up looking like I have trolled through my library and done my best to make something work with clever cropping and printing. It always looks like a rescue effort to me. That is just my images I am talking about. I will continue to previsualize because that is what works for me but I will try to be more awake to alternative methods.
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RFPhotography
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« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2010, 07:58:39 AM »
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I'd tend to agree that some images can look good on different media types.  But, generally, one media type will tend to be superior to others; at least in my case. 

I wrote a blog post a while back on selecting media for printing.  I look at it in terms of the type of image.  What I consider to be harder, crisper images - those with fine detail, where I want to maintain sharpness and detail - will work better on what I consider to be 'harder' media - glossier papers and metal.  Photos that are softer with less fine detail - such as impressionistic images - work better on 'softer' media - canvas, matte papers, watercolour papers, velvet and the like. 
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teddillard
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« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2010, 08:16:57 AM »
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I'd be interested in reading that post...  linky?
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Ted Dillard
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« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2010, 06:27:17 PM »
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Sure.  Here it is.
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Sven W
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« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2010, 04:11:16 AM »
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I look at it in terms of the type of image.  What I consider to be harder, crisper images - those with fine detail, where I want to maintain sharpness and detail - will work better on what I consider to be 'harder' media - glossier papers and metal.  Photos that are softer with less fine detail - such as impressionistic images - work better on 'softer' media - canvas, matte papers, watercolour papers, velvet and the like. 

Or the opposite....

/Sven
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Stockholm, Sweden
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« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2010, 06:26:30 AM »
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Or the opposite....

/Sven

Sure, if that's what you like.  It's all personal choice.  Mine is what it is.  Others' is what it is too. 
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teddillard
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« Reply #10 on: November 29, 2010, 08:25:58 AM »
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Sure.  Here it is.

Thanks Bob!  

I just have to say...  one of the reasons I got so all-fired excited about inkjet printing was the watercolor paper.  I don't like old-school photo paper- any of it, and from my old printmaking days (litho, silkscreen, etching, mezzotint) I saw the watercolor paper as a chance to print ink on paper.  There's nothing like it, to me, personally.  So, I naturally printed my painterly-feel photographs on a painterly paper.  (This is what I'm talkin' bout: http://teddillard.com/photo/ )

Now...  one day I printed on a high-gloss paper to proof out some prints I wanted to do on Silver Rag, just because I had it lying around.  I left the print (image #17 in my gallery linked above) on the desk...  a few days later I walked by it and caught it out of the corner of my eye, and had the illusion that I was looking down into a pool of water.  The illusion didn't go away, either- you can look at that print from 3 feet away and feel like you can reach into it.  But only on a gloss paper.  

So I've changed my mind entirely about the best way to print this stuff...  but I don't think I've changed my habit of visualizing.  I'm just now visualizing  different paper.  

I think.   Roll Eyes



« Last Edit: November 29, 2010, 08:27:54 AM by teddillard » Logged

Ted Dillard
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« Reply #11 on: November 29, 2010, 04:49:09 PM »
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Yep!  I can see how you could have that feeling with that photo on high gloss paper.  Stunning gallery as well! 

Out of curiosity, what watercolour paper do you use?  Epson's is bloody awful.  Saw a print on Premier Imaging's watercolour paper last week that looked really nice and may pick up a sample pack tomorrow to try it out.  But definitely looking for ideas.
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teddillard
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« Reply #12 on: November 30, 2010, 10:06:45 AM »
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Thanks!

Well, sorry to beat our own drum, but the Angelica watercolor line is pretty sweet, certainly some of the best I've used.  Saffir just posted a piece on our Natural White Textured, he loves it and finds it a good fit between other types.  Here's his post:
http://davidsaffir.wordpress.com/2010/11/25/part-two-fine-art-paper-from-parrot-digigraphic/

There's another thread here: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=18337.0

Now, me, although that's one of my favorites, I generally like a brighter white, smoother paper.  We're in the final stages of releasing a new upgrade, Angelica Bright White Velvet II is the working name right now, and it wins my highest praise for paper: "YUMMY"!   Grin  

Really sweet stuff, very white, unbelievable gamut, beautiful tooth.  PM me, I can get you set up to get samples as soon as we're live with it.

« Last Edit: November 30, 2010, 10:14:55 AM by teddillard » Logged

Ted Dillard
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