Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 22

Thread: Ansel Adams Digital Scanning?

  1. #1
    Has Been LF Photographer
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Posts
    181

    Ansel Adams Digital Scanning?

    Sometime in the mid to late 1980's, I was in Ansel's home and he was showing a comparison of two 16x20 prints, one was a typical photographic print, the other was from a digital scan of some sort. I believe it was one of the poster prints. He was pointing out how much greater shadow detail he could get in his poster prints than in his original photographic prints. Given the era, I am assuming he made low contrast photographic prints, then had them scanned for printing, adjusting the contrast prior to printing, but that's only a guess.

    Digital scanning was so new at the time, I not only knew nothing about the process, but didn't connect at all with the procedure he was describing. I do remember the remarkable difference in how much better the shadow detail looked in the reproduction than in the photographic print.

    Since we have some folks on this forum who were around then, are there any comments on the process, and what does this indicate for those of us wanting to move our work with LF negatives to a digital darkroom.

  2. #2
    Photographer, Machinist, etc. Jeffrey Sipress's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Santa Barbara, CA
    Posts
    640

    Re: Ansel Adams Digital Scanning?

    It's apples & oranges. What we don't know is what detail is contained in the original negs. I'm sure it is more than adequate, since at least one process retrieved it. Maybe Ansel simply did not print that detail on the particular day he made that particular print. A good scan will get it. But really, what did Ansel want to do with his print?

  3. #3
    Has Been LF Photographer
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Posts
    181

    Re: Ansel Adams Digital Scanning?

    I think it was that he was very pleased with the greater separation in the shadow detail with the scanned image. I'm thinking you touched on the issue at hand and that is that it has to be on the negative in the first place, which means if we develop a technique to get that detail into a print, we've made some gain. Holding detail in the lows and highs was an important factor in his work. That's made apparent in all of his writings.

    I no longer shoot film, but if I did with the intention of scanning the negatives and doing digital work, I'd probably increase my exposure slightly and reduce my development slightly from what I would have done in the days the negatives were used to print on silver paper.

    I guess what was going through my mind in starting this thread, perhaps in the wrong section of the forum, is that are we moving to an era where we may end up with even better digital prints than could be done with silver based papers? I assume we're not there yet.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    2,034

    Re: Ansel Adams Digital Scanning?

    For the record, Ansel died in April, 1984. He had a long history of working with engravers and printers. For them he made soft full scale prints with gray highlights (his term). I believe Ansel was working with George Waters in San Francisco very early in his career and later with Dave Gardner.The engraver would selectively etch the print and produce half-tone engravings with good scale.

    His first experience with laser printing was the publication of his book, Yosemite and the Range of Light in 1979. This may have been around the time you visited him, or perhaps you were a bit later. For the book, he made five sets of duplicate prints and sent them to a like number of printers. He said the results were very different, somewhat related to price, and he settled on NYGS. I have not seen the book for years so will not comment on the quality, but Ansel was very excited with the laser process. He also predicted that electronic images and negative enhancement would be the next advancements in photography. Guess he was correct.

  5. #5
    Has Been LF Photographer
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Posts
    181

    Re: Ansel Adams Digital Scanning?

    Thanks for clarifying things Merg. I am obviously a big murky on details. Comes with age.

    I often think of how exciting it would be to have Ansel alive today and active. He was always the one to learn how to push the available tools to the maximum in producing an expressive print. It would sure be exciting to see what his work with digital would produce.

    I remember his commenting on the video cameras used to film one of the productions featuring him and his work. He was excited to play with some of the camera controls and immediately began to see the possibilities of electronic reproduction.

  6. #6
    Photographer, Machinist, etc. Jeffrey Sipress's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Santa Barbara, CA
    Posts
    640

    Re: Ansel Adams Digital Scanning?

    Deanne, you wrote, "are we moving to an era where we may end up with even better digital prints than could be done with silver based papers? I assume we're not there yet.".

    While this is a highly controversial topic, I believe the answer is a big YES, we are already there. I certainly feel I am. The very fine control of all adjustments, the ability to mask so cleanly (and with smooth gradients), and the opportunity to save and recall the exact settings for repeatability, are all huge factors supporting the current state of digital printing as an improvement. Of course, tradition has a lot to do with the way one thinks, and while it has huge historic significance, it also, sadly, keeps a lot of people from ever stepping outside their own box.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    2,034

    Re: Ansel Adams Digital Scanning?

    Quote Originally Posted by Deane Johnson View Post
    Thanks for clarifying things Merg. I am obviously a big murky on details. Comes with age.

    I often think of how exciting it would be to have Ansel alive today and active. He was always the one to learn how to push the available tools to the maximum in producing an expressive print. It would sure be exciting to see what his work with digital would produce.

    I remember his commenting on the video cameras used to film one of the productions featuring him and his work. He was excited to play with some of the camera controls and immediately began to see the possibilities of electronic reproduction.
    Deane, I knew you meant perhaps a few years prior. I can relate to your age comment, as I just recalled that I was at Ansel's family home in San Francisco before he built on the Coast. Of course I was very young. The Carmel house was special, I assume you received a darkroom tour and cocktail.

    There is no doubt in my mind, although speculation serves no real purpose, that Ansel would be engrossed in the digital revolution. His appetite for new ideas was immense and you phrase it well, " to push the availabe tools to the maximum in producing an expressive print". He embraced Land with his Polaroid process, learned to photograph in color and lived to see the advent of laser technology. His legacy will rightfully be his accomplishments with the gelatin silver process, but his would be a welcome voice in this period of transitition to a different process. For some, silver remains the preferred choice, myself included.

  8. #8

    Re: Ansel Adams Digital Scanning?

    Hello,

    Adams was primarily concerned about the interaction of light on light sensitive media. Indeed, this is pretty much the description of photography anyway -- painting with light. But I'd wager that Adams would have embraced digital only insofar as he'd be able to pre-visualize and capture that vision precisely. The real question (the fun hypotehetical) would be how Adams might have changed his workflow to embrace both the shot at the time the shutter is pressed and the shot and its options in Photoshop.
    Document digitization service
    Last edited by daisydaisy; 11-Aug-2017 at 05:25. Reason: spelling mistake

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Posts
    1,122

    Re: Ansel Adams Digital Scanning?

    Quote Originally Posted by Deane Johnson View Post
    ...Since we have some folks on this forum who were around then, are there any comments on the process, and what does this indicate for those of us wanting to move our work with LF negatives to a digital darkroom.
    Moving negatives to digital process is something really straight, it only consists in regular scanning and mastering Photoshop, this also includes proofing. Easy, plain and powerful.

    Mastering PS also includes making a print look sharp (if one wants sharpness), so care should be taken when resizing images to right printing size...

    This is something very easy today, even with color, the EPSON 20000 uses 12 inks... awesome !!!

    But you obtain a pure (and perfect) industrial reprography result.



    Quote Originally Posted by Merg Ross View Post
    ...He also predicted that electronic images and negative enhancement would be the next advancements in photography. Guess he was correct.
    I'm considering the Alan Ross way, this is advanced digital masking on film negatives. ...By accurate calibrations and PS one can (laser) print a mask that solves the most boring darkroom effort, while allowing photographer concentrate in the hand crafting of the important details of the print. It is also very cost efective.

    It also can be considered what Salgado's team (Amazonas) did for Genesis, and for Taschen... They processed digital shots to be printed in Delta 100 film (8x10, 4 images per sheet) with a Kodak LTV Rhino to later be wet printed with a 4x5 enlarger and traditional agfa paper.


    So today we have pure digital, pure analog and also amazing hybrid ways...

    But analog is what is having more prestige every day.

    Commercial photography will remain digital, of course, but I feel a return to analog. As a side example of this trend right now we can see Dunkirk projected in 70mm film. Star Wars VIII The Last Jedi (Dec 2017) has been shot and will also be projected with film, this may gross some 2 Billion again, plus 3 more in merchandising.

    So IMHO today having analog skills may be a privilege, and going digital is perhaps the wrong way if one wants to add some (deserved) prestige to his product.

    Kilian Jornet could ascend Everest with an Helicopter. This summer he ascended it two times in a week night naked, straigth from base camp, north face, no fixed rope, no oxygen, solo and running. This is prestige, not the chopper.

  10. #10
    tgtaylor's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Posts
    3,794

    Re: Ansel Adams Digital Scanning?

    "...These later-day pictoralists [as she called Strand, Stieglitz, and Steichen; she did not name Adams since he was sitting in the audience] did not know they were pictoralists. They were what I can only call, for want of a better word, the advanced or super-pictoralists school. The tendency here was to be very precious, very exclusive, very jealous of authority, excluding all others who would enter the sanctified portals of art. The individual picture like a painting was the thing...above all the perfect print. Subjectivity predominates...[and then we have] the imitators of abstract painting, the pure design, the cracked windowpane or the cracked paint. I think this represents the end...in desperation they might yet resort to stripping the emulsion off the paper, or spattering the print with hypo." Bernice Abbott in Atget

    Thomas

Similar Threads

  1. The Ansel Adams Gallery Yosemite Workshops for 2009
    By Carlos R Herrera in forum Announcements
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 6-Oct-2008, 13:43
  2. A couple of Ansel Adams exhibits.
    By Joe Lipka in forum Announcements
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 8-Oct-2007, 05:34
  3. Andre Kertez vs Ansel Adams
    By Rob Pietri in forum On Photography
    Replies: 14
    Last Post: 6-Mar-2005, 20:58
  4. Ansel Adams, Christopher James and Making Photographs
    By Rory_3532 in forum On Photography
    Replies: 26
    Last Post: 26-Jan-2004, 13:06
  5. Ansel Adams NOT among century's most influential?
    By Stewart Ethier in forum On Photography
    Replies: 11
    Last Post: 2-Jul-2000, 15:43

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •