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    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.

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    Photographer, Machinist, etc. Jeffrey Sipress's Avatar
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    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?

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    Re: Ansel Adams Digital Scanning?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pere Casals View Post
    ...
    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.
    ...
    In the early days of digital I used to dream about ways to make masks to apply to my ULF negatives for printing in carbon. But by the time I figured out how to do it I discovered that there was vastly more control possible by just adjusting the image file in PS and printing a digital negative.

    But it might be interesting even today to make masks and print directly some of the old negatives. In what book or article does Alan Ross describe his advanced method of making digital masks?

    Sandy
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    Re: Ansel Adams Digital Scanning?

    Quote Originally Posted by sanking View Post
    In the early days of digital I used to dream about ways to make masks to apply to my ULF negatives for printing in carbon. But by the time I figured out how to do it I discovered that there was vastly more control possible by just adjusting the image file in PS and printing a digital negative.

    But it might be interesting even today to make masks and print directly some of the old negatives. In what book or article does Alan Ross describe his advanced method of making digital masks?

    Sandy
    Hello sandy,

    Here:

    http://phototechmag.com/selective-ma...onal-darkroom/

    http://phototechmag.com/selective-di...sking-part-ii/

    http://phototechmag.com/an-introduct...asking-part-i/ (not digital)

    It only works with diffusion enlargers, not with condenser ones.

    Also his web site, http://www.alanrossphotography.com/t...ctive-masking/





    Well, for what you do I also think that printing a digital negative is the straighter way, as you contact copy and you may not need the extra blocking power that silver has compared to ink . But if a printed digital negative is enlarged then the print may show pixelization because printers are targeting human sight capability, so enlarging it will be like looking a digital print with a magnifier.

    It is possible to print very high quality negatives with a Kodak LTV Rhino, but this is fancy gear. Half of Salgado's Genesis exhibition was made in this way.

    But the Ross way is powerful, still very analog but solving challenging problems, and it also has the unsharp masking effect.

    The Alan Ross documents (paid) are very practical and proposed workflow has a lot of wisdom. IMHO more LF photographers should consider seriously that trend... it is a way comeback to darkroom.

    I'm not saying that printing (contact copy) from a digital negative is wrong, not at all, but printing the original negative (enlarged or not) with the aid of a digital mask is also powerful, you don't need a high quality scan and a basic laser printer is perfect, because the mask itself do not need to be sharp. Sharpness (if one wants that) is provided by the original negative and perhaps by the unsharp masking from the mask.

    Lynn Radeka also describes digital masks...

    I was aware of that since this discussion http://www.largeformatphotography.in...=1#post1358817 , since then I'm exploring that way, I've to use it in practice !!!

    Regards
    Last edited by Pere Casals; 10-Aug-2017 at 16:07.

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    Re: Ansel Adams Digital Scanning?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pere Casals View Post
    Hello sandy,
    ....
    Well, for what you do I also think that printing a digital negative is the straighter way, as you contact copy and you may not need the extra blocking power that silver has compared to ink . But if a printed digital negative is enlarged then the print may show pixelization because printers are targeting human sight capability, so enlarging it will be like looking a digital print with a magnifier.....

    Regards
    Hola Pere,

    Or how do you guys greet each other in Catalan? Should remember that because I lived in Barecelona for a few months back in the 1980s. I do remember all those signs advising people to "no pisat a l'herba."

    I am not seeing any pixelation on my carbon prints, or any other digital artifacts for that matter. Even when looking at the print through a magnifier the image looks continuous tone. Perhaps it is being blurred slightly in contact printing.

    Thanks for the links.

    Best,

    Sandy
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    Re: Ansel Adams Digital Scanning?

    Quote Originally Posted by sanking View Post
    Hola Pere,

    Or how do you guys greet each other in Catalan? Should remember that because I lived in Barecelona for a few months back in the 1980s. I do remember all those signs advising people to "no pisat a l'herba."

    I am not seeing any pixelation on my carbon prints, or any other digital artifacts for that matter. Even when looking at the print through a magnifier the image looks continuous tone. Perhaps it is being blurred slightly in contact printing.

    Thanks for the links.

    Best,

    Sandy
    It is also Hola in Cat, I also was living in BCN, since 86 to 95... as a student and having jobs... Now you would see a lot of changes, the Sagrada Familia alone receives near 5 million tourists... now the city receives some 30 million people yearly, cruise harbour looks dunkirk In winter tourism is less pressing and adds some cosmopolite ambient...

    I've just made some preliminary tests with digital laser printed (Brother) masks, when enlarged with the diffuser layer between the negative and the mask pixelation cannot be seen, I suspect that at some enlargement ratio it should be seen if diffuser not in place.


    I was amazed when I saw that Ross was using Cyan an Magenta colors form CMYK printers, just like contrast filters... this is a powerful idea !!

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    Re: Ansel Adams Digital Scanning?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pere Casals View Post
    It is also Hola in Cat, I also was living in BCN, since 86 to 95... as a student and having jobs... Now you would see a lot of changes, the Sagrada Familia alone receives near 5 million tourists... now the city receives some 30 million people yearly, cruise harbour looks dunkirk In winter tourism is less pressing and adds some cosmopolite ambient...
    .....
    !!
    Pere,

    My grand daughter spent a month in Barcelona earlier this summer and sent me some pictures of her visit to the Sagrada Famila so I am aware that it has become a huge tourist attraction. When I lived there in the spring of 1987 I went there several times on Sunday morning and was often the only person there.

    Sandy
    http://www.sandykingphotography.com/
    For discussion and information about carbon transfer please visit the carbon group at Yahoo.
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