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Thread: A few comments on experimentation in photography.

  1. #1
    I see in black and white.
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Webster City, Iowa

    A few comments on experimentation in photography.

    I've always experimented in my photography. Some things have worked and some things haven't. The most memorable mistake I've made is developing a 35mm roll of Fuji Superia 400 in the same tank as a roll of TMAX 100, at the same time, because I thought it was another roll of the TMAX. Weirdly, the images turned out. In fact, I'd go so far to say that most of them were very nice images, and some even benefited from the slightly pinkish tone the whites took on when scanned. I never tried printing them because I had no access to a darkroom, and I had no printer either. It was only my second time developing film.

    Fast forward to now, and my recent adoption of large format. I'm wanting to get more serious about photography and focus more on studio work than the grab shots I've done previously. I'll be doing a lot of things for the first time: printing, still life, studio portraiture, large format. It's a lot to learn at once, but I am up to the challenge, however considerable it may be.

    However, I *am* concerned about one thing: I do not want to lose my experimental nature in chasing the perfect image. I think that's why I'm buying cheap mystery lenses. I think that's why I decided that I'd stick with shooting mostly expired or short dated film. I think that's why I'm itching to try the Efke Positive paper even though most have said that it's way too contrasty.

    Some responses I've gotten here and otherwhere lately make me think that a lot of people discourage experimentation. I don't think that should be the case for a few reasons. I'll try to explain to the best of my ability.

    I'm a young person. I turn 25 on the 15th. The future of film will be, eventually, left to me. I take that seriously. Film is something I've enjoyed for almost 10 years now, and I hope to enjoy it for many, many more to come. I hope my children will get to enjoy it. One of the things that brought me to film was the ability to readily experiment with different factors. Overexposure, underexposure, overdevelopment, underdevelopment, paper negatives, pinhole cameras, plastic fantastic cameras, old lenses with no names, cheap one elements of who-knows-what origin...this is the stuff I'm interested in. While I may not always get great results with these things, everything I've gotten from them is a learning experience and valuable. Large format is a veritable treasure trove of experiments waiting to happen. I want to giggle like a little school girl when I think of all the fun I can have with barrel lenses and older lenses and the various films and contact printing and alternative processes. I want to be serious about my work, sure, but I don't want to stop having fun with photography.

    I don't see anything wrong with that.

    I have a Rodenstock Geronar in my possession. It will be my normal lens on my Graphic View. It's a pretty average setup. It will work well for multiple types of shooting. For the other stuff, I'll have the Ilex whatsit, the Rank Taylor Hobson (apparently) POS, and, possibly, one other cheap lens of unknown origin. All will be used for serious photography, but for different reasons. And I'll have fun with them all. Because, in my mind, that's all it's about.

    I'd like to sell some stuff, sure. Making money off of photography would be great, and it would make my boyfriend realize that there *is* something to this whole thing I'm interested in. But it isn't the first and foremost goal. The first goal is expressing myself and putting the images out there that *I'm* proud of, whether they're made with the newest $1500 lens or the $.99 crapastigmat I bought off Ebay. The end result is what matters.

    So this is why I do this crazy stuff. Just figured that, if I'm going to be spending lots of time around here, you should know.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Sep 2003

    Re: A few comments on experimentation in photography.

    I'm guessing you've misunderstood some of the comments. Nobody is discouraging experimenting. It's just we've made many of the screw ups ourselves.

    You'll find plenty of wierd and strange ideas here that have resulted in great results. But you'll find others that don't.

  3. #3
    I see in black and white.
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Webster City, Iowa

    Re: A few comments on experimentation in photography.

    I just wanted to let people know where I stand.

    I don't consider them screw-ups, really. They're valuable learning tools.

    In any case, I really hope to be able to add valuable insight occasionally once I've gotten the hang of things. I'm finding using a large format camera very similar to smaller format in ways, but very different in others, as I'm sure most people did when they started. I hope to share many "mistakes" with you all.

  4. #4
    3d Visual Effects artist
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Culver City, CA

    Re: A few comments on experimentation in photography.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie Brim View Post
    So this is why I do this crazy stuff. Just figured that, if I'm going to be spending lots of time around here, you should know.
    I think you are along the same wavelength as quite a few others here, myself included. Sure, I enjoy making (er, trying to make?) the "perfect image" that I know exactly what it's going to turn out like. But experimentation is fun, and the unknown is enticing Maybe some of us on the younger side of the curve tend to do this a bit more often than others who are more rooted in their photography? Maybe so? Maybe not.

    One of the first photos I took when I got my speed graphic was rapidly rotating the entire camera as I clicked the focal plane shutter, and ended up with this

    Daniel Buck - 3d VFX artist
    3d work:
    photography: -

  5. #5

    Re: A few comments on experimentation in photography.

    Glad to see I am not the only one experimenting. My usual short comment to other people is that I do many things with film that one is technically not supposed to do. At one time, I was doing so much push or pull processing at one point that the main lab I use started putting "process normally" on the few that needed normal processing.

    You might also want to try playing with Polaroids, if you have not done that already. While Polaroid materials are disappearing, some of the techniques can be adjusted for use with Fuji Instant films.


    Gordon Moat Photography

  6. #6
    Greg Lockrey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Temperance, MI

    Re: A few comments on experimentation in photography.

    And we can always call it part of our "artistic vision".
    Greg Lockrey

    Wealth is a state of mind.
    Money is just a tool.
    Happiness is pedaling +25mph on a smooth road.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Dec 2001

    Re: A few comments on experimentation in photography.

    Different people learn in different ways. And no two of us have the same preferences.

    Stephanie, the only substantive criticism I'd make of you is that it isn't clear you've learned how to learn efficiently.

    Otherwise, as long as you're happy with what you're doing, I'm happy for you.

  8. #8
    Whatever David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2000
    Honolulu, Hawai'i

    Re: A few comments on experimentation in photography.

    I think the desire to experiment is one of the things that attracts many people to large format. It's a more flexible set of tools than, say, a rigid-body camera with a proprietary lens mount or a format that tends to demand enlargement and makes it harder to experiment with contact-printing processes. You're in the right place.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    May 2006

    Re: A few comments on experimentation in photography.

    If you're going to fail, fail spectacularly

  10. #10
    multi format
    Join Date
    Feb 2001

    Re: A few comments on experimentation in photography.

    have fun stephanie,
    and enjoy your "mistakes", you will
    learn from and enjoy making them the most.

    Last edited by jnanian; 20-Jun-2008 at 06:12.

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