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Thread: thoughts on switching from film to digital for Pt/Pd

  1. #1

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    thoughts on switching from film to digital for Pt/Pd

    Over the past few months have read that two (master) Platinum/Palladium printers have switched from capturing their images with LF and ULF film cameras, scanning, and making digital negatives to simply shooting digital and then going directly to making digital negatives.

    I did three Whole Plate Pt/Pl prints. One shot on Whole Plate film, scanned, made a digital negative, and printed a Pt/Pl print. Second shot on 6x7 film, scanned, made a digital negative, and printed a Pt/Pl print. Third shot with a Nikon D4, made a digital negative, and printed a Pt/Pl print. There are slight differences in the tonalities but sharpness a toss up. Showed them to some fellow photographers. All agreed that they differed a bit in their tonalities, but to pick out which was which not possible. The Achilles heal to this comparison might be that all were printed from digital negatives. Printing directly from film negatives verses digital negatives, the prints might look a lot different, but I print only from calibrated digital negatives to save a lot of $$.

    Was wondering what other photographer's thoughts were on this.

  2. #2
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Re: thoughts on switching from film to digital for Pt/Pl

    My workflow (in-camera negatives directly to Pt/pd and also carbon) is part of my whole artistic endeavor from seeing the light, so to speak, to framing the print. No cropping, no burning/dodging...what I put on the film goes into the print. For that reason I am not interested in printing from inkjet negatives

    It is just the way I prefer to work. Printing from inkjet negatives satisfies your desires for the what you want in the print. Since one's tools do have an effect on how one works, the images themselves might change depending on your tool for capturing the light. Not just sharpness, tonality, etc, but what and how you photograph. It certainly does for me.
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  3. #3
    Mark Sawyer's Avatar
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    Re: thoughts on switching from film to digital for Pt/Pd

    All the differences you saw in the tests could be compensated for as you accumulated experience, regardless of which you and your test audience of fellow photographers preferred.

    The moral/religious/tradition argument says your mortal soul will roast in Hell for eternity for doing historic processes digitally, so don't do it.

    The pragmatic argument says it's easier in that it reduces the necessary skill set and time/effort commitment, and since the outcome is the same, why not?

    It's always the photographer's call...
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

  4. #4
    jp's Avatar
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    Re: thoughts on switching from film to digital for Pt/Pd

    I wouldn't disrespect someone working with digital negatives when the results are good.

    I know Tillman Crane has been mixing it up with some digital capture and some LF capture. Perhaps nobody is fussier for pt/pd. He started making digital negatives years ago so as to be able to make a LF captured photographs printable in more than one size for certain exhibiting needs. Now he also uses a Fuji digital camera as some scenes are more practically photographed with a small casual camera (such as street scenes). My observation is that if you know how to make the prints you like with LF negatives and you add digital negatives, it's not a crutch or religious transgression, but just another skill for that alt process medium. The person who can do both is then more skilled than the person who only does digital negatives or only LF contact prints.

    David Aimone, kinda popular on Flickr for LF figure photos, does alt process with digital negatives from LF and small format sources.. He's made some real nice kallitypes toned with gold or pt/pd. The LF images have the LF look, and the small format are mostly with lenses that provide the desired look, like some obscure old MF camera. or a DSLR with the Velvet56 for example. He's putting the work in and not taking shortcuts.

    Koichiro Kurita makes 8x10 alt process contact prints AND big enlargements using film internegatives rather than digital negatives. I have no idea how he gets film that big... But his 8x10s are stunning and the big prints a little less so. Perhaps he should use digital negatives...

  5. #5

    Re: thoughts on switching from film to digital for Pt/Pd

    Not an alt printer here, but I would think Vaughn hit on the real key point here. Each format has its own working pace and flow. Will your work tolerate the change in that flow. I think that will have a bigger impact on your work than any technical issues.

  6. #6
    LF/ULF Carbon Printer Jim Fitzgerald's Avatar
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    Re: thoughts on switching from film to digital for Pt/Pl

    Quote Originally Posted by Vaughn View Post
    My workflow (in-camera negatives directly to Pt/pd and also carbon) is part of my whole artistic endeavor from seeing the light, so to speak, to framing the print. No cropping, no burning/dodging...what I put on the film goes into the print. For that reason I am not interested in printing from inkjet negatives

    It is just the way I prefer to work. Printing from inkjet negatives satisfies your desires for the what you want in the print. Since one's tools do have an effect on how one works, the images themselves might change depending on your tool for capturing the light. Not just sharpness, tonality, etc, but what and how you photograph. It certainly does for me.
    I'm with Vaughn on this subject. For me and my vision and the way I work with 8x10, 11x14, 8x20 and 14x17 cameras that I hand crafted I see no other way to produce my work. I think we are a dying breed as just about every post about Alt. printing I see has some reference to digital negatives. Right or wrong it is up to the artist to decide. Just not for me.

  7. #7
    tgtaylor's Avatar
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    Re: thoughts on switching from film to digital for Pt/Pd

    All of my alternative prints are made from 8x10 and 5x7 in-camera negatives. That said I have thousands of negatives shot on 35mm to LF that were not processed for alternative printing. Since it is not practical to go back and reshoot them, one day I will teach myself how to make a digital negative so that I can print them as an alternative process.

    Thomas

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    Re: thoughts on switching from film to digital for Pt/Pd

    I think it depends in large measure how large you wish to print. Without a digital negative, you can only print as large as your largest camera film size. For many of use that would be 4x5.

  9. #9

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    Re: thoughts on switching from film to digital for Pt/Pd

    I print pt/pd from both in-camera and digital negatives. I like 'em both, but prints from in-camera negatives somehow look "smoother" than from digital negs. I'm sure that's a poor adjective to use and really doesn't say anything, but it's the kind of thing you'd have to see side-by-side. The one major advantage to digital negs, to me, is that they allow me to print pt/pd from any film format, any digital capture, or even from my phone! A couple of days ago, I made a lovely 5x7 print on Weston Diploma Parchment from an iPhone 6 capture. Without access to a digital negative I couldn't have produced this print. Just sayin...

    One word of caution if you decide to pursue the digital negative path...not all methods of generating a digital negative are equal, in my experience. Over the years, I've tried several different methods and "systems" and only a couple have worked well for me. YMMV, of course. I would highly recommend a workshop from someone like Kerik Kouklis to learn how to properly craft a digital negative. This will save oodles of time, IMO.

  10. #10

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    Re: thoughts on switching from film to digital for Pt/Pd

    @Alan

    Have you tried Mark Nelson's system? If so, what did you think of it?

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