Results 1 to 10 of 10

Thread: I Salute You B&W Artists .... however .....

  1. #1

    I Salute You B&W Artists .... however .....

    You confirm to me my 'feeling' it is not something I could ever be capable of.

    Reading Darin's recent post I am fairly convinced of this. I live to shoot and enjoy my prints. I like matting and framing them. Most of all I love being out there somewhere ... perched on a cliff with my 4 x 5 as the sun comes up or goes down ... working out the problems of how to capture the moment. Every day I watch the atmospherics. Logging on to the weather sites to try and predict the conditions. Thinking about which of my known locations might be the best to head out for. Several times a year I go out scouting locations. Driving the back roads and trying to see see see. Many time the old farmers find me perched on top of my truck with my 'contraption' and stop to talk. I'm becoming an object of curiosity around these parts.

    I'm so glad I have something like photography which I can do myself without too much interference or outside distractions. The kind of complications that can turn art into drudgery. I used to design and build custom homes. It became such a hassle due to labor problems and red tape that I gave it up. Photography is just the opposite. Just about pure joy other than the occaisonal hassel with the lab. The worst that happens is a bad print which is just a few tens of dollars down the drain and then I get to go out and reshoot which is what it's all about for me anyway.

    I'm sure you B&W guys love your darkroom work as much as I love what I'm doing. I sort of envy you but then again, not. I guess I'm lazy. The learning curve for what you do, to me, would seem to make mastering Photoshop easy. Another task I have no desire to accomplish.

    Anyway ... I salute you. Keep up the good work. I wish I had your pain threshold.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    El Portal, CA (Yosemite)
    Posts
    110

    I Salute You B&W Artists .... however .....

    Scott,
    Like scott I use the digital dark room and make color prints. At some point I'd like to make the BW plunge but feel quite intimidated by all the choices regarding developers and such, not to mention the learning curve. In an earlier post I asked about scanning BW or converting Color to BW. I have a copy of Barry Thortnton's (now deceased) Elements of Transition - From traditional to digital monochrome fine prints - a concise but complete guide. Here's a couple of points he mentions:
    Scanning Monochrome Negative: the enhanced contrast at the edges (acutance) suffers compared to original and grain can be an issue. A good approadch would be to use a tanning/staining developer such as Exactol Lux or PMK.

    Scanning Color Negatives: " It is easier to select areas of an image when it is in colour." "The grain of the color film is much less distinct than the conventional monochrome film." He goes on to say that he has had color film processed at branch labs to make perfectly fine negatives for scanning.

    My one question regarding the second approach is how do you get a contact sheet - eg. order a set of prints - expensive.

    I hope I haven't drifted too far off the subject but I thought this would be good food for thought. Of course I would rather quite my day job and appentice with a master black and white printer.

  3. #3
    Abuser of God's Sunlight
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    brooklyn, nyc
    Posts
    5,774

    I Salute You B&W Artists .... however .....

    Scott, just remember that no pain is too great if you're convinced you're a martyr.

    I also think of the words of a great alpinist (might have been Barry Blanchard) talking about climbing:
    "It doesn't have to be fun to be fun."

  4. #4

    I Salute You B&W Artists .... however .....

    paulr,

    GOL (giggling out loud )

  5. #5
    Donald Qualls's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    1,092

    I Salute You B&W Artists .... however .....

    For me, it's very simple: I can afford B&W, more or less. Color (in large format) is completely out of reach. If I have to choose between being limited to B&W and finding a cheaper hobby, I'll shoot B&W, develop my own, and relearn printing (as I'm working on doing). I'll do it with old plate cameras that might well have been used to take my grandmother's wedding pictures in the 1920s. I'll print with the enlarger I got for peanuts, on the cheapest paper I can find until my skills improve enough to warrant better material.

    If you need to photograph, you'll do it the way that works for you. If that means spending money in place of effort, that's great (if you have the money). If it means trading effort and time to replace money you don't have, then so be it.
    If a contact print at arm's length is too small to see, you need a bigger camera. :D

  6. #6
    Abuser of God's Sunlight
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    brooklyn, nyc
    Posts
    5,774

    I Salute You B&W Artists .... however .....

    Donald, I'm facing the same dilemma right now. I have a project I want to do in color and can't fathom spending $5 every time I click the shutter. Especially while learning ... I want to feel free to take a lot of bad pictures. So i'm borrowing a friend's hasselblad. Why not? the price is reasonable, and after doing it for a while i'll know if it will be worth my while to start spending big money on film and processing, or if i should stick with the smaller negs.

  7. #7
    Photographer, Machinist, etc. Jeffrey Sipress's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Santa Barbara, CA
    Posts
    640

    I Salute You B&W Artists .... however .....

    Scott, I assume that you are enjoying your digital darkroom, since you only said what you are NOT doing, rather than what you actually do. If so, why are you envying the B&W guys when you can certainly work in that medium as well? I do, and I love it.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Dec 1997
    Location
    Baraboo, Wisconsin
    Posts
    7,695

    I Salute You B&W Artists .... however .....

    "I'm sure you B&W guys love your darkroom work as much as I love what I'm doing. I sort of envy you but then again, not. I guess I'm lazy. The learning curve for what you do, to me, would seem to make mastering Photoshop easy. "

    That's an odd statement. It seems to assume that black and white is done strictly in the darkroom. Actually there are many many fine art photographers doing digital black and white (by "digital" in this context I mean photographing with film, scanning, and printing digitally). The degree of "acceptance" of digital black and white by the art "establishment" isn't important to me, I do what I do because I like it, but I did notice that B&W magazine just announced that they've eliminated that stupid policy they used to have of accepting only submissions done in darrooms. In no way am I suggesting that digital black and white is better in any way so there's no need to start that argument, only that there are a whole lot of fine art photographers doing it.

    In my opinion, and based on my 20 or so years of darkroom printing and 4 or so of digital, there's no comparison between "mastering Photoshop" and learning to make at least acceptable prints in the darkroom, the Photoshop/digital learning curve is about 20 times as steep.
    Brian Ellis
    Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you do criticize them you'll be
    a mile away and you'll have their shoes.

  9. #9
    Format Omnivore Brian C. Miller's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 1999
    Location
    Everett, WA
    Posts
    2,961

    I Salute You B&W Artists .... however .....

    I use digital for color and photo-chemical for black & white.

    Which has the higher learning curve? I don't know.

    For B&W, I first went through HC110, TMax, D76, and I don't know what else before I got my head straight and decided to stick with Xtol. Weegee the Magnificent (aka Arthur Fellig, NYC news photographer), gave the advice to stop screwing around with chemicals, pick something, and stick with it. The time to switch chemicals is when you find that what you are using sucks for some reason.

    I use Clayton stop bath and fixer because their products are odorless. Well, at least an amazingly low amount of odor. I use Ilford Multigrade developer for paper because it works better with RC paper than Kodak Dektol.

    I get much better B&W prints with an enlarger than with my scanner and printer. The cost to upgrade my scanner and printer to match the quality of my B&W prints is probably over $2000, at least. It costs 25 cents or so for an RC print, less than a buck for fiber.

    Both photo and digital take time to set up a work flow. Digital equipment needs to be calibrated. The darkroom process needs to be calibrated, too. After calibration, you then develop a good process to produce a good product.

    Do you need to "master Photoshop" to produce good prints? I don't think so, I think its the 80/20 rule: Most of what needs to be done only takes 20% of Photoshop resources, its the remaining 20% that uses the other 80% of what Photoshop can do.
    "It's the way to educate your eyes. Stare. Pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long." - Walker Evans

  10. #10

    I Salute You B&W Artists .... however .....

    I dunno'...reading Scott's post seems to indicate to me that he's shooting and framing, and leaving the developing and printing up to the lab. Certainly a viable way to do things if you're more interested in gathering the images than printing them...we each have our own loves in photography. Nothing I see in his message indicates that he's printing anything digitally.

    So, Scott...assuming that you're doing what makes you happy (whether having the lab print or using the computer), then I say, "Bravo!" Do what makes you happy.

    Personally I've used both a darkroom and a computer for printing. For the microscopic amount of color work that I do, the inkjet printer is my favored way of doing things. For the vast majority of my work, which is in B&W, I use the darkroom. Is it better / worse / harder / easier / faster / slower / less capable / more capable / etc.? I could not possibly care less. I do it because I love doing it. Forget the digital vs. analog wars...do what makes you happy.

    Be well.

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
  •