View Full Version : Digitography and Photo Publications
A bit of background - I'm a purist, and increasingly frustrated with the direction that many mainstream publications and sites are taking. When Pop Photo changed their name and format, I abandoned them as they had become just another of the digital rag-papers. I've slowly abandoned their online forums, as "we" have left and the digitographers and newbies took over. Now it looks like photo.net is slowly beginning their decline.
So, in my search for "real" photography publications and sites, I came by the 37th Frame by Mike Johnston. After downloading their trial and reading the first few pages, I'm set on it.
Now, for the two parts of this post:
Digitography Mike's rant in the sample issue is about the word "image". Read it for yourself, it's great. http://www.37thframe.com/ But anyway, he discusses his words for people who use digital. "digigraph, digitographer [...], digitography".
Does anyone else have "special" words that they use for these...things? I find the idea quite good, and am wondering as to the widespread acceptance of it throughout "our" world.
Publications If anyone can aid me in my search for "real" publications or web sites, it would be appreciated. My magazines currently include Shutterbug (I can't resist all the numbers), View Camera, Camera Arts, LensWork, and now the 37th Frame.
"I'm a purist"
Some people might say that this way of thinking is the cause of many problems.
Many problems as in I don't want the newest techno-crap, and therefore am rocking the boat of the mainstream photo world?
David R Munson
More that an elitist point of view concerning the tools we use to create images is counterproductive. Film or digital, pixels or Plus-X, the purpose is to create an image. To create a false distinction based on the "purity" of a method accomplishes nothing. One can just as easily create utter crap that is inconsequential and easily forgotten on film as on digital. It's all photography - a purist approach is invalid, from my perspective. What's pure? What's real? These are constructed terms that we use in an effort to validate our preferences and distaste for new practices. What one uses doesn't make a bit of difference in the end if the image is good. Nor does it matter what one uses to make an image if, in the end, the image is completely worthless. That we go out and make images is the important thing. I see nothing wrong or "impure" with digital photography. It's just another tool. That's all it is. I use both technologies and often integrate one into the other. I often print my Tri-X negatives on AGFA fiber paper in a real darkroom and will likely do so for many, many years to come. It has nothing to do with purity and everything to do with the fact that I just like to work in the darkroom and just like the way silver prints look. To separate real photography from anything digital with a schism in terms is poinless, as I see it. Digital and traiditional technologies coexist perfectly well as it is. Both are capable of producing fine images, neither is going anywhere.
David - Amen. You have summarized the whole digital analog thing precisely the way I see it. One choice does not negate the other. One does not replace the other. Choose freely, use wisely, make images. That's what is important.
Does anyone else have "special" words that they use for these...things?
Your distain is palpable laddie. Sadly for you, I call "these...things" photographs. No support for your "purist" position here.
I too consider myself a purist - an image purist. David Munson's comments above are spot on; I support them fully. It's all about the image. How you get there is up to you.
The way I get there is I scan my 4x5 Tri-X negatives on a drum scanner and print them with a Epson 7600 using Piezotone inks. Why on earth would I commit such blatant blasphemy? Because, like a number of others, I like the look of digital prints and I like the workflow, just as many others like the look of silver prints and the darkroom workflow. There isn't a wrong or a right here, there is just freedom of choice.
I'm sorry you feel bad. The world is changing, and no one asked your permission, and now they won't stop just because you don't like it. No one said life would be fair son. On the other hand, no one is stopping you from doing what you want. You could start your own publication and have it contain just what you want. You can spend your time with Mike Johnson, even contribute to his website I imagine. You can submit articles to publications like View Camera and try to influence their direction.
Publicly bitching that the world isn't centered on you is pointless, however.
I wasn't intending to publically bitch. I was looking to speak with people who feel the same way, if there are any. I figured I'd have best luck on this board.
If I'm lucky, I make photographs, not images. Like Mr. Johnston, I personally feel that a photograph is more tangible, something I get more emotionally attached to, than an 'image'. I'm sorry if you don't like it, but it's the way I feel. I don't hate digital, but I also feel that it's one tier below traditional photography as far as my respect is concerned. I'm proud to say that I DON'T know what my exposure looks like until I get back to the darkroom. I'm proud of all the work that goes into a finished photograph. I'm proud of all of the possibilities of error, and the fact that there is no undo button. I'm proud that if my developer is 3 degrees warmer than it should be, I won't get what I want and that photograph may be lost forever. I'm proud of what I call the "Moonrise facttor"; I might have one try at an amazing shot, and not know until I get back whether it worked. Most of all, I'm proud that every single print that I make is unique. As far as I'm concerned, digital is on the same level as photomechanical reproduction. It's a lesser work of art when there are 10,000 prints that are the same. Or, for that matter, two prints that are the same. I WANT each print to be different from each other print - impossible to have two that are the same.
Given that this will probably turn into another analog-vs-digital debate, with which I would not like to sully this forum, I will try not to post anything more.
Let us focus on my other question:
Does anyone have any good publications that they could recommend to me? Anything a little less well known?
David R Munson
How about Aperture?
I understand, I think. Like you, I like taking photographs with film and printing the results on paper. Like it or not, there is a difference in the process, and the results are different too, except maybe for the more abstract renderings. Information and education on the appreciation of traditional photography is getting harder and harder to come by, at least in periodicals like Shutterbug and Popular Photography, who have "jumped ship" but at least have done so honestly and still offer a token of space to traditional(a term I think is more accurate than "analog")photography. The only publications that seriously cater to "traditonal" photographers, that I'm aware of, would be the likes of Phototechniques, B&W(both the USA and GB mags), View Camera and it's sister Camera Arts, and a few others like Lenswork---but even they'll share space with digital(sometimes a lot of space!) I believe you're experienceing the same angst that serious painters must have felt when George Eastman turned photography for the masses loose on the world---it must have been a bad time to be in the portrait painting business. And yet, painting is still with us, and is no doubt more appreciated. Sculpturers still work in marble as well as with fiberglass and resin. There are still deservedly appreciated examples of paintings and sculpture being produced as there are those less inspiring examples. If you want your viewers to appreciate your materials, methods and technique, thats what an "artist statement" is for. Lacking an education in painting, photography, or computers---the only thing you're viewers will likely know is if what they are seeing satisfies something inside of themselves. The idea that digital photography is more or less likely to satisfy a viewer is at best dishonest capitalism and at worst some kind of inferiority complex. Your view of the landscape is yours, and it makes little difference if you've got a $30,000 digi back, a coffee can with a pinhole, a paint box and easel, a Sinar with a Grandagon out front, a 12 piece box of crayolas and newsprint tablet, or a P&S Elph. If you've got the time to criticize someone elses toys, thats time that could be better spent developing your own eye and technique. ---Just my 2-cents! If it seems like the rest of the universe has left you choking on digital dust(as the latest copy of Pop Photo unashamedly wants us to believe) don't fall for that propaganda. Use the materials and techniques that you enjoy and that you are comfortable with. As for the semantic arguement over what constitutes a photograph--an image taken with a camera or committed by a computer, don't sweat it! There are much bigger issues to worry about. Keep shooting film & Good Luck!
John, thanks for the positive reply.
Yeah, I guess the best way to put it, is that I feel more of a connection with traditional photography, and can best express myself in that medium. For me, digital just isn't right - too expensive, too wuick, and lacking that "something" of the traditional darkroom and process.
As to the landscape, yeah, they're all ways. But when you're looking for the quality that I want, nothing can beat shooting 8x10.
Thanks for the suggestions on publications.
PS - As to "analog" or "traditional", I also prefer the term traditional, but in fast-typed replies, analog is easier for my fingers to find.
"Does anyone have any good publications that they could recommend to me? Anything a little less well known?"
"How about Aperture?"
every time I subscribe, about one in the four issues seems to really be any good. Then, when I let my subscription lapse, another good one invariably comes out....
David R Munson
Sadly Tim, that does seem to be the way it goes.
Another vote for Blindspot, though. I'm a big fan of B+W, too, though that may not fit your taste. And I'm not talking about the B&W magazine for "collectors of fine B&W photography" or whatever it is. The long title of the magazine in question is "Not Only B+W." Doesn't seem to be too mainstream, but then it probably doesn't have big mass appeal, either.
digital and chemistry based photography are really two different media. Or at least they can be. each has unique qualities integral to the specific media. Most of us work in a hybrid of the two medias. Isuspect digital imaging will unleash chem. based photography in ways we cannot see now , in much the same way photography freed the art of painting to evolve. here is what i see as digital imaging's chief attributre: near instant feedback,near instant ability to "broadcast" or "publish". easier to manipulate or "fix" as is your want. I like not having the physical hassles of filing & finding film or worries about the film being damaged or lost if i send it to a client or a lab. i findthat when I open an image on my monitor, whether shot with a digital camera or a film image that has been scanned, I can see into the iamge in ways I don't get when looking at a piece of film no matter the size. I really like shooting digitally as I find I explore the possibilities of of a situation much more in depth than I do with a film camera: not "machine gunning' a scene in hopes of getting something but really getting into what is happening in the moment.
What do I dislike about digital imaging? The machine process or rather the being tied t omachines which only requitre the use of my finger tips and eyes-- I miss the sensuousness of handling film and paper,the entire process somehow seems less meditative. The constant learning curve seems to be making me much more of a technician or a technocrat than I was before. it isn't a matter of craft (there is plenty of room to be a craftsperson in both digital and chemical photography) but of something else. I never have enjoyed technique for the sheer shake of mastering technique, as I see it that is a sort of dry masturbation, yet here I am having to be the photographer, the processing lab and to a large extent the film manufacturer as well and all three areas need a lot of attention to be done well. On top of that I have the pressure to continue making a living from photography.
Photovision is a fine mag that excludes any digital processes. They are a bit extreme, having for instance declined to publish Chris Jordan's (Seattle) work because it is printed on the Epson 9600.
Photovison no longer has a non digital policy and Steve Anchell has resigned for that reason.
Jason, you are definitely not alone, but the opinions you presented have been rehashed in this an other forums to death and many of us who feel the the "traditional" way is superior (so far, who knows in the future) are just tired of going round and round with this. My advice, dont let it bother you, do what you like and in the long run time will tell which medium is preferred by people.
"I don't want the newest techno-crap"
If we take this approach to its logical conclusion, do we end up with Heliography, the technique invented in 1826 by Niepce, who made the first photograph ?
"He set up a camera obscura, placed within it a polished pewter plate coated with bitumen of Judea (an asphalt derivative of petroleum), and uncapped the lens. After a day-long exposure of eight hours, the plate was removed and the latent image of the view from the window was rendered visible by washing it with a mixture of oil of lavender and white petroleum which dissolved away the parts of the bitumen which had not been hardened by light."
(See The World's First Photograph at http://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibitions/permanent/wfp/index.html (http://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibitions/permanent/wfp/index.html" target="_blank))
I don't intend to be personally critical. Some times, it's easier to state your personal preferences, without having to justify them along philosophical grounds. The history of art is full of invention.
Purist? I prefer to think of myself as a photographic luddite. I had no gripe with the digital crowd until the day I walked into my "pro supply shop" and tried to buy some 4x5 Tri-X. "Oh, sorry Jim we don't have any." Oh, damn, I need it now, OK I'll take some HP5. "No, I mean we don't have ANY" A year later and Ilford MGFB IV is special order. Now all my shopping is mail order.
Now I dearly love my 8x10 and yet I think of this digital world as good. Why? Because in the very near future a 8x10 contact print will be considered esoteric high art. Maybe even today. Why else are the digit heads trying to make inkjets sound like silver? Or re-defining "archival" downwards toward 5, 10, 15 years?
Lucky for me I have a nice pension and don't have to make a living at this. Bad luck for Jason who will have to evolve or starve. Accept digital for making a living and keep the 8x10 for personal work.
Let's remember you sent this message via cyberspace and not stone tablet.
"Why else are the digit heads trying to make inkjets sound like silver? Or re-defining "archival" downwards toward 5, 10, 15 years?"
Surely rather hard to do, when "archival" doesn't mean that in the first place? We digit heads also prefer at least 75 to 200 years for our prints.
"Photovison no longer has a non digital policy and Steve Anchell has resigned for that reason."
Now it's a shame he decided to go, but hopefully the magazine will become more interesting now. Though I don't believe it was just the non-digital policy that was holding it back from having the potential to become a good magazine.
I'd like a magazine with a no-digital policy. Too bad, it looks like I missed it.
Well, when the time comes, I will accept digital for commercial work. But for now, I do so little paid work, that my ETRS fills that job. The 8x10 is greayt for my personal work, I love it. And for architecture, which I intend to start doing more of when I get a shorter lens, it's also great. When cost becomes more of an issue, I'll cut down on the 8x10 and do 4x5. For that matter, once I go off to college, I can forget enlargements from 8x10.
> For that matter, once I go off to college, I can forget enlargements from > 8x10.
Dear Ms. Dixon; Your argument with quoting me is flawed in that I did not invent the word “archival” (true meaning: Of, pertaining to, or kept in archives) It has been in standard use in the photo industry for years pertaining to the life expectancy of a print. Of which I assume you are fully aware.
I have before me the Freestyle catalog with an ad for Epson Matte Heavyweight papers “Great for printing photos…up to 25 years fade resistance can be obtained when stored properly” How about this? Epson 2200 printer: “Epson lightfastness rating of 80 years on specialty media displayed indoors and under glass”. What might “specialty media“ be if not the heavyweight matte? The matte is known to have a longer life than some of the other papers.
Now I will be the first to admit that 25 or 80 years is a quantum leap from my quote of 5, 10 or 15 years. I do seem to remember though, when the early inkjet prints life expectancy was measured in months.
I have seen 150 plus year old prints of William Henry Fox Talbot. Both salted paper and carbon. Wait, carbon? Isn’t that the word that the digital folks are using to make the carbon ink digital prints seem like the very old standard carbon-dichromate process? And just who are the digit heads trying to fool with the word Giclee? Or pigment prints?
The point of my note was to encourage Jason to accept digital as a fact of photographic life. Adapt and overcome or keep photography as a personal art.
While I do believe that you “prefer 75 to 200 years for your prints” I think you may have to adapt to a wet darkroom and silver to reach that lofty goal. At least for the time being.
As to the archival debate, look at those old Platinum and Palladium prints. They're still beautiful. And, by the way, antique prints that are dry mounted fare much better than those that are not.
About the 8x10, most schools that I looked into don't have 8x10 enlargement facilities for undergrads, especially underclassmen.
>About the 8x10, most schools that I looked into don't have 8x10 enlargement >facilities for undergrads, especially underclassmen.
Jason, this is perhaps where the purist argument falls apart? a partly wet and a partly digital workflow easily overcomes such things.
A used Powerlook III scanner, a decent Epson printer and a nice 8x10 transparency or neg can yield wonderful enlargments, as many photographers here can attest to. This is especially (but not only) so for colour. Why would you hobble yourself out of a sense of purity?
Your argument with quoting me is flawed in that I did not invent the word “archival” (true meaning: Of, pertaining to, or kept in archives) It has been in standard use in the photo industry for years pertaining to the life expectancy of a print. Of which I assume you are fully aware
It has generally been used inaccurately and sloppily in this sense - most often as a marketing tool by film and paper manufacturers. There is, as such, no accepted definition of "archival" as meaning any particular period of longevity. In this sense it is basically meaningless - what is "archival" in this sense for a colour print compared to a platinum print for example, is totally different. It's just poor and lazy use of the terminology, one which photographic technicians and archivists constantly have to fight with. In effect what it means is that Kodak or the such can label a paper or a process "archival" as a means of marketing, when it means nothing. You are correct in saying the (true meaning: Of, pertaining to, or kept in archives) although it should also included reference to something kept in archival conditions or according to accepted archival standards and processes.
As for digital papers, depending on the process (inkjet, lightjet) there are many that are rated up to 75 years f display and 200 years for dark ("archival") storage. These combined with the correct inks - pigment or carbon based. (and yes, these terms are used because it describes what the inks are made of - pigment versus dye or whatever).
I know there are those who hold no truck with the accelerated testing process. However, I have yet to see their papers and data on how and why they disagree - generally it is just a constantly repeated denial of their validity. These tests are carried out by conservation scientists with expertise in papers, inks, and many other processes who have developed and tested the procedures over many years, at places like RIT and who take into account many factors over and above the accelerated testing itself. Having done research myself at the image permanence institute on both watercolour paints and painting and also photographic prints, I can certainly say it is nowhere near as simplistic as it's critics would like to point out.
I'm not sure whether most schools are setup to scan 8x10. However, the reason why I went digital was for the amazing quality - especially that of an 8x10 contact print. If I'm going to digital, I might as well shoot 4x5 or smaller.
But more to the point, my main problem with digital is that every print is the same. I'd sooner give up 8x10 and shoot 4x5 or even only rollfilm before I gave up the uniqueness of every print.
Also, I DON'T LIKE the look of a digital print. I go into so many galleries and see digital color prints and just say to myself "ugh". I can't really explain in a subjective manner, but they just look different from a well-done silver print or Cibachrome, in a bad way. It's an entirely subjective thing.
If I do bow to the digital future and decide to work in digital (whether to save money or because that's the only way I can get business) I'd just assume do digital capture as well. It's the print that I'm after, and if I can't have an optical print, I might as well not have a negative either, at least for my less-important and commercial stuff.
Although interpretation obviously varies in common usage, I believe the preference in "art circles" for the term "image" over either "picture" or "photograph" is an effort to recognize the artistic control of the photographer. For similar reasons, the verb "make" seems to be preferred over "take" when referring to the creation of the image.
On my last trip to Death Valley, I decided to have a go at the Racetrack. On previous trips, using a Dodge Neon rental, I quite frankly didn’t have the stones, since it’s about 30 mi. to the moving rocks from the nearest paved road. So I asked a ranger how the road was, and, looking at the Neon, she said “No Way!” ……But…… Never being too big on authority figures, or common sense for that matter, the decision was made: Go for it. A real no brainer.
After about 10 mi., the front end high centered in a washout; broke out the jack; got it off; kept going.
Almost all of the moving rocks were surrounded with footprints, so I stomped around in 110 deg. heat and finally found one that would work in an image. The camera would have to be about 6” off the ground for the shot to come together…..too low for the tripod, so off came my boots and anything else that I could stuff under the camera. Composition and focus was accomplished while stretched out flat on the cracked mud which felt like a stove-top. ……spent the night, watched Mars pop first into the sky and fell asleep with my glasses on.
To me, that’s what photography is about.
Image, picture, digital , analog, who cares?
I know there are those who hold no truck with the accelerated testing process. However, I have yet to see their papers and data on how and why they disagree
Here is the paper and data you requested. This study shows that doing accelerated tests without taking into account airborne pollutants significantly changes the results of the tests. Wilhelm and RIT do only light and dark tests without taking into account airborne pollutants, and given the results of this paper it is clear that an estimate of 75 years is optimistic at best.
Actually, I think if you took a years worth of each Magazine -
4x Aperture, 4x ViewCamera, 4x PhotoVision (And 1 x DoubleTake as they only seem to be able to get out one issue a year...)
You would have a pretty decent magazine. Of Course it's like Cable TV - you have to buy all the dross to get a few decent channels.
Mind you, if you have a decent News Stand in town (nearest one to me that stocks any of these is about 1000 miles away....) I guess you can do that.
When you, and most of the persons responding here, refer to "digital" it looks like the reference actually is to use of a digital camera, as though nothing could be done digitally without a digital camera. That is, of course, incorrect. Many, many people use and process film traditionally and then scan and print digitally. That to me combines the best of both worlds. Printing digitally eliminates most of the "drudge" or non-creative part of darkroom work (mixing chemicals, jiggling trays, cleaning trays, drying prints, etc.) so that you focus entirely on the creative aspects. Plus you have far greater control over the look of the print when printing digitally than you do in a traditional darkroom. If you prefer a traditional darkroom that's fine, my only real point is that "digital" photography isn't limited to use of a digital camera.
I susbscribed to Aperture for five or six years. I seldom found anything in it that really interested me. It's very avante garde and "fine art" (for lack of a better term) oriented, very little "traditional" photography in it. I recently went through the sixty or so issues I had on hand to find the ones that I really liked. There were seven out of the sixty that I liked well enough to keep, the rest went out with the trash. I don't mean to suggest that it isn't a very fine publication or that there's anything wrong with avante garde, just that its editorial policies and my tastes were very different. For my tastes LensWork is the best publication going.
I have been lurking on this post, and have finally decided to put my two cents in.
First off....you are probably never going to find a magazine that is completely "film and darkroom" based anymore. Magazines depend on advertising, and there are just to few companies out now that are "digital free". In a perfect world....publications don't depend on advertising. If you can find enough people to spend $24.95 on a slick advert free mag that will be digital free, let me know. Advertisers complain...publications give in. A paralell example is "hot rod" magazines....they finally gave in and are showing "import" cars in the mags. In the car world "american" vs "import" is the "film" vs "digital" arguement. But....as we all see two "like" things can coexist, and people are starting to realize that the process may be different but the end result is the same.
As with anything, craft is a means to an end if taken to seriously. Almost a century ago, there where photographers bemoaning the change from glass plates to film. Would you want to be lumped in with them??? Photography is about making, taking, and showing pictures. The end result is an image....and viewers could care less about the road taken to achieve that point. How many people do you know want to sit and here about you processing the film??? Do viewers really care what camera Gene Smith used during the Japan period??? (a nikon F)
Mike Johnston's 37th frame is interesting (it used to be published in PHOTO TECHNIQUES) but have you ever looked at any of his photos??? For all of his ranting....he can't back it up.
There are many phototgraphers (myself included) who relized a while ago that bitching about digital was a waste of time. I love film, but I don't like darkrooms. When I started in photography (around 11 years ago, and I was younger than you are now) I loved the darkroom, but after a few years...it got tiresome. In my NYC apartment...having a darkroom is not really an option (altough since I have a 4x5 enlarger...I am pondering it), and judging from your previous posts....you have the space right now. But think about later on when you might not. Rental and school darkrooms are not fun, espiecally after having your own.
This is where the computer comes in. Being able to shoot on film, and to all the "post shooting" work (with the exception of processing) on the Mac, allows me to pet my dogs, talk with my soon to be wife and indulge in bad habits such as smoking and drinking coffee.
I am not saying the beauty of a silver print is bad, in fact it is wonderful and I still do print B&W in the darkroom. But in terms of color....I see almost no difference between a digital vs ciba/c print. If anything you get more control in the computer than you do in the darkroom. Plus, every magazine you find anyway (digital or not) is layed out and separated on a computer. So...being anti-digital kinda backs you into a wall.
I understand your viewpoint, but I feel you should try out "digital" printing (and shooting if you can) before taking a stance. If I was judge printing on the gallery prints I have seen....I would take up welding as an art form.
D. Kevin Gibson
"Also, I DON'T LIKE the look of a digital print. I go into so many galleries and see digital color prints and just say to myself "ugh". I can't really explain in a subjective manner, but they just look different from a well-done silver print or Cibachrome, in a bad way. It's an entirely subjective thing."
You don't mention a (well done) C print? Which of course looks very different from Cibachrome. And remember a lightjet print is basically a C Print (Dye Coupler/chromogenic print). Depending on the photograph, it can be pretty hard to tell if it's a lightjet or a darkroom print. Yet many of todays best color photogoraphers shoot negative, not transparency film (and may print via the darkroom or the lightjet or both - and indeed many don't announce the process of their print - they just describe it as a Color dye coupler print or whatever - you have no idea how they printed it - no do you have any real need to know).
Or don't you like C prints either?
C prints are ok. But I hulike using transparency film. I've shot with most of the Kodak and Fuji films in both color negative and transparency, and prefer Fuji trans film. I just like the look of it. As to digital prints, they do have a 'look' - lots of times, in big gallery prints, it's the noise that gives it away. Being someone whose worst enemy is grain, noise isn't something I like.
And as to how they printed it, yes I do have a need to know. Cibachrome has a longer lifespan than other color processes, especially digital prints. Do I have actual proof that it will hold up 200 years? No. But it's what I trust for my work, and that's the most powerful statement I can make.
If you are taking the purist standpoint....than a cibachrome is a no-no.
Dye Transfer.........is the pursit method for color.
sorry meant "purist" nor pursit.....
D. Kevin Gibson
But that's really no different than saying you don't like someone's prints because they pushed their Tri-X to 800 and it's grainy, or they used a developer that exaggerate grain. If you take an 8x10 100iso transparency and print it up nice and big on Ilfochrome say (and try finding someone these days who can do that well for you - it was always difficult - it's even more so now) and then take the same transparency get a high quality hi-res drum scan made and print it on a light jet the same size and you are going to get no more noise than you do grain - which is to say, virtually none.
Or if the printer used an old fungusy Wollensak enlarging lens to make his Ilfochromes they aren’t going to look that great. Same as if the other person used a cheap(ish) flatbed to make their scans for digital prints. I’d challenge you to find any distracting noise (or any noise at all ) in any of Chris Jordan’s big digital exhibition prints from transparencies, for example. Not unless you stand there with a loupe – and then you’d see the grain if it was an Ilfochrome.
In addition lightjet materials such as Fuji Crystal Archive and Kodak Endura have around the same longevity rating as Ilfochrome (whatever it actually turns out to be). So that’s a non-issue
I think this dislike of digital is much more a gut reaction than anything seriously based on fact? (which is entirely acceptable – but at least bolster it with facts that hold together if you are going to turn to facts).
And certainly prints from color negs can have a different feel – but the work is varied – it’s hard to turn you back on the work from the likes of Misrach or Sternfeld or Meyerowitz or Struth or Beahn & McPhee or Paul Graham (who btw has a great show just going up at MOMA’s PS1). As has been said, in the end it’s not really about the process (which can be fun or dreary depending on your outlook) – it doesn’t matter if you are hand making your own beautiful platinum prints, contact printing on AZO, developing and printing your own ilfochromes, getting a lab monkey to print from your C41 8x10 negs or scanning and printing on a lightjet or Epson 9600 – it’s the end result that counts.
(as for Dye Transfer – yummy – but try and find someone to do it, then price out a 6’ print… :-) - and I’ve noted a number of dye transfer mavens who seem to have jumped straight to digital prints now that the materials are all but extinct)
As to not liking digital prints: I don't know how many times I've gone into a gallery and seen a print with what I characterize as one of the 'digital looks' and just said 'ugh'. Whenever I ask, it's always a digital. Yes, my eye is trained enough that I can tell digital from traditional in many cases. But the way I make that distinction is by that "look", the look that I don't like.
BTW, I do most of my work in B&W. Well...on probably something like 60/40 but I LIKE B&W more. Color I don't print too large, partly because of cost.
I'm leaving it here. It's a personal choice, and one which I'm not likely to reverse. I like the connection to the process. I like being able to tell people that from the time that the film came out of the box to the time that the print was mounted and framed, it was not touched or acted on by anything other than me - no other person, no machine, no computer. The final product is solely my skill and craft, without any external aids. Though at times I do use a Jobo for film development, I still control the timing.
If you are shooting 5x7 or 8x10 then you can of course just make contact prints. Nicholas Nixon has only made contact prints of his esteemed body of work (you should look it up if you are not familiar with it) for the past decade or two. Richard Avedon's current series of portraits in "The New Yorker" are, for all intents and purposes and with rare exception, contact prints from 8x10 B&W negatives.
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