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Author Topic: 'Old School' Photography.  (Read 7640 times)
wolfnowl
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« on: November 05, 2013, 01:04:35 AM »
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Thought these might fit in here.

Mike.

Is Old School the Right School for Photography Education?
The graying of traditional photography and why everything is getting re-invented in a form we don't understand.
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Peter McLennan
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« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2013, 10:29:56 AM »
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The answer to "Is Old School the Right School?" IMHO is a resounding NO!

Students spending time learning the correct method for diluting Dektol or how to bulk-load twenty cassettes with Tri-X are wasting their own time and squandering opportunities for learning how to photograph. 

The definition of photography is "Writing with light", not "Dicking About with Arcane and Obsolete Procedures and Technologies"

I open my classes with a slide that says "Welcome!  The Golden Age of Photography is NOW"
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amolitor
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« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2013, 10:54:13 AM »
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All these devices simply enable various ways of working.

Wet plate, sheet film, roll film, digital, and so on. Some approaches work well for one person, some for another. I think it's wise to have some exposure to a variety of approaches. Spending a little time shooting sheet film teaches you the meditative and deliberate approach, where you really really think through each exposure. Working digitally you can work much more iteratively, you can feel your way toward the final picture step by step.

Both are fine approaches. A serious student should, eventually, experience both, and others besides.

Only photographers seem to have this discussion. Musicians don't go on and on about how they're ONLY EVER GOING TO PLAY THE FIDDLE, they learn about the other instruments as well, they learn a little theory, a little bit about scoring for orchestra. Painters do a little this and a little that on the way to becoming a dedicated watercolorist, or whatever.

Photography and computer science seem determined to forget their pasts as quickly as they are made, reasoning that the future cannot be grasped if you're busy looking at the past. This is to the detriment of both, and completely wrong. The future is always best understood in the context of the past, and almost every field of human endeavor grasps this.
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tevo
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« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2013, 01:01:25 PM »
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Great articles. As a young photographer, I find myself caught between the passing era of film photography and the photographers experienced in such a field, and the digital world where people have already had years of experience with the digital medium. I feel the need to achieve a technical mastery of the photographic medium en general, while also using modern digital adaptations to their full potential. At times this seems very difficult, because it requires being ahead of the curve while also having years of experience in the medium itself. It seems to me that I need to embrace the art itself regardless of medium, and utilize the tools I have. Come to think of it, one of the best photographers I know uses a crop sensor- which is generally regarded by graybeards as an inferior photographic medium (lol.)
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Rob C
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« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2013, 03:22:52 PM »
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All these devices simply enable various ways of working.

Wet plate, sheet film, roll film, digital, and so on. Some approaches work well for one person, some for another. I think it's wise to have some exposure to a variety of approaches. Spending a little time shooting sheet film teaches you the meditative and deliberate approach, where you really really think through each exposure. Working digitally you can work much more iteratively, you can feel your way toward the final picture step by step.Both are fine approaches. A serious student should, eventually, experience both, and others besides.

quote]


That's exactly what I used to do with Nikon and Kodachrome, HP3/4 or FP3/4; and also on Hasselblad with TXP 120 or Ektachrome 64. One cassette or film was expected to produce at least one keeper from the girl's take on what she wore and how she worked it in a single set-up; after that, perhaps the same clothes and girl but a different emotional ambience. How else to develop any human shoot?

We didn't need digital to have that option - digital wasn't even on our radars.

I still have the few film images I saved so long ago; would I, with digital files?

;-)

Rob C
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Christoph C. Feldhaim
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« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2013, 03:25:55 PM »
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After all its good to know many things.
Whats mandatory and whats bot - thats another question ... Wink
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amolitor
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« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2013, 04:21:50 PM »
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Digital cameras with the ability to chimp, or shoot tethered, work a lot more like painting.

It's not just you and the subject, sorting it out. It's you, the subject, AND a version of the final product, a half-finished painting if you will. That half finished painting can generate ideas and directions to explore, in ways that you and the subject by itself don't. You could do, and some people did, do something similar with Polaroids, but the pace can really step up with digital.

It's completely different from shooting sheet film, not just because the former is slower and more expensive, but because that half-finished painting simply isn't there. It's you, the camera, the subject, and your ideas.

Maybe other people can visualize their final pictures better than I can, but I really find that "half finished painting" to be a game changer@
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Isaac
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« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2013, 05:36:31 PM »
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Working digitally you can work much more iteratively, you can feel your way toward the final picture step by step.
That's exactly what I used to do with Nikon and Kodachrome...

The delay while you get film processed makes it quite unlike seeing what was done that same minute.

The cost of of film and processing excluded many. They did need digital to have that option.
 
I still have the few film images I saved so long ago; would I, with digital files?

Yes, as long as you transferred digital files to newer media as it became commonplace.
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jjj
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« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2013, 08:35:35 PM »
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It seems to me that I need to embrace the art itself regardless of medium, and utilize the tools I have.
Absolutely.

 
Quote
Come to think of it, one of the best photographers I know uses a crop sensor- which is generally regarded by graybeards as an inferior photographic medium (lol.)
Disliked by those who prefer larger formats, not 'greybeards'. Inferior is also the wrong word. If you need the look a larger sensor gives you, then a crop sensor is the wrong tool. If you use the right tool for the job in hand, then that is the 'superior' tool. On other occasions a different tool may be better.
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Peter McLennan
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« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2013, 12:13:04 PM »
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The OP referred to whether older chemical technologies or digital were better for learning photography.
 
I fought this battle two decades ago at a film school.  Since it was a "film" school, the entrenched instructors insisted on using film to teach film.  Fair enough.  However, equipment contention was high and the high cost of film and processing precluded experimentation.  The entire class produced a five films in two years.

Using digital video equipment, every one of my digital film school students had continuous access to their own camera and each student had 24 hr access to an edit station.  Instead of working on a "whole class" film, each student was able to make several films over a period of about two months. 

Guess who learned the most about film-making?
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Christoph C. Feldhaim
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« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2013, 02:20:07 PM »
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The OP referred to whether older chemical technologies or digital were better for learning photography.
 
I fought this battle two decades ago at a film school.  Since it was a "film" school, the entrenched instructors insisted on using film to teach film.  Fair enough.  However, equipment contention was high and the high cost of film and processing precluded experimentation.  The entire class produced a five films in two years.

Using digital video equipment, every one of my digital film school students had continuous access to their own camera and each student had 24 hr access to an edit station.  Instead of working on a "whole class" film, each student was able to make several films over a period of about two months. 

Guess who learned the most about film-making?

Disclaimer: I have no formal photographic or artistic education.

That said I believe digital is very effective for several reasons.
But I also believe film - with all the hassle (I start hating scanning btw - would prefer either darkroom or full digital) gives you an experience which I believe is harder to achieve with digital.
And vice versa ...

The issue is speed.

Speed has 2 sides - things go faster - but speedy technique tempts to overlook the things that need time.

I want to digress into the field of the other arts.
There are many different tools and techniques: Pencil, Graphite Blocks, Coal, Watercolors, Oil, Etching, etc.
A fast tool, like a graphite block has advantages and disadvantages -its a fast tool, very good not only for certain purposes, but also for a certain mindset or attitude towards the process. (My English leaves me here for the best expression - I simply assume you know what I mean)
Other techniques - lets say sculpting with marble - need a totally different mindset.
The tools play an important role - and whats good for one artist might be bad for another.

The digital process is several orders of magnitude faster than working with film and this doesn't mean its inferior - its just different.

So - from a certain point of view I believe learning film photography - even when going digital for the rest of your photographic life - makes a lot of sense.
But from a different one - equally valid - it would be complete BS.
It depends where you want to go.

A good teacher should know if for a certain student learning film is a good idea and for another possibly not.

my € 0.02

Cheers
~Chris
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Rob C
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« Reply #11 on: November 06, 2013, 04:06:02 PM »
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I think it comes down to expectations.

For folks with an extensive wet darkroom experience, that experience helps greatly to understand how good an image can look, and why it might fail to go where you want it to go. You learn a lot about contrast, for example, and how it changes your message, and I don't think that looking at a monitor with a Curves Tool under your finger is the best way to get sensitized! The temptation to extremes is possibly too strong for the neophyte to resist, and colour is an even greater minefield for fresh minds.

If the 'student' is thinking art as a future, then I think the wet world is a better bet; in fact, if he can afford it now since most film/paper choices have fled the market, I'd ignore digital altogether. I understand that for galleristas, wet still rules the price factor. What's not to like?

If it's professional work he has in mind, then I think it simply has to be digital: that's what makes (and allows) that world to go round.

If just for amateur fun, then probably digital first and if he later finds he likes photography enough to put in the time, then he can try out the wet later.

Rob C

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jjj
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« Reply #12 on: November 07, 2013, 07:07:57 PM »
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I think it comes down to expectations.
Indeed it does. And yours may be very different from a 20 year old's.

Quote
For folks with an extensive wet darkroom experience, that experience helps greatly to understand how good an image can look, and why it might fail to go where you want it to go. You learn a lot about contrast, for example, and how it changes your message, and I don't think that looking at a monitor with a Curves Tool under your finger is the best way to get sensitized! The temptation to extremes is possibly too strong for the neophyte to resist, and colour is an even greater minefield for fresh minds.
Alternatively.
For folks with an extensive photoshop experience, that experience helps greatly to understand how good an image can look, and why it might fail to go where you want it to go. You learn a lot about contrast, for example, and how it changes your message, and I don't think that looking at a print sloshing around in the developing dish is the best way to get sensitised!
 Tongue

Quote
If the 'student' is thinking art as a future, then I think the wet world is a better bet; in fact, if he can afford it now since most film/paper choices have fled the market, I'd ignore digital altogether. I understand that for galleristas, wet still rules the price factor.
No need, just call your prints 'giclée' as a contrived French neologism for inkjet sounds so much more chic and trés expensive. It also being French slang for ejaculate seems apt considering the pretentious usage.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2013, 05:25:42 AM by jjj » Logged

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Rhossydd
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« Reply #13 on: November 08, 2013, 04:42:37 AM »
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Alternatively.
For folks with an extensive photoshop experience, that experience helps greatly to understand how good an image can look, and why it might fail to go where you want it to go. You learn a lot about contrast, for example, and how it changes your message, and I don't think that looking at a print sloshing around in the developing dish is the best way to get sensitised!
Absolutely.
You can probably learn more about the effects of contrast and it's application to changing an image's impact and mood in a morning with software than you'd learn in a month in a darkroom.
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Rob C
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« Reply #14 on: November 08, 2013, 05:45:48 AM »
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Inevitably, the gulfs remain until the end of the world.

;-)

Rob C
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petermfiore
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« Reply #15 on: November 08, 2013, 06:01:39 AM »
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There are gulfs and then there are the oceans disguised as gulfs....

Peter
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Rob C
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« Reply #16 on: November 09, 2013, 02:55:12 AM »
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There are gulfs and then there are the oceans disguised as gulfs....

Peter


That's deep!

;-)

Rob C
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RSL
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« Reply #17 on: November 09, 2013, 10:12:42 AM »
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You guys should be doing stand-up.
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Christoph C. Feldhaim
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« Reply #18 on: November 09, 2013, 04:34:41 PM »
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There wicked gulfs disguising as as gulf disguised oceans ... Tongue
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langier
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« Reply #19 on: November 10, 2013, 11:07:25 AM »
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In the first article, we've got a badly-composed, badly-lit and badly crafted digital photo of a darkroom and an ok shot of a film canister and tank…

The bottom line is not what we think but what our customers will accept. For me, the proof is what hangs on the wall, gets downloaded from my site or gets ink on paper. How I got there is entirely up to me.

Good craft is good craft whether it is done in the darkroom or on in an iPhone.
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