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Thread: Pt/Pd Prints From In-Camera Negatives Vs. prints From Digital Negatives.

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    Pt/Pd Prints From In-Camera Negatives Vs. prints From Digital Negatives.

    I have been asked by former students to discuss the differences between in-camera and digitally generated negatives for Pt/Pd printing.

    Advantages of Pt/pd Printing from In-camera Negatives

    • The Pt/Pd print from an in-camera negative is the benchmark of Pt/Pd imagery.
    • Vision is transferred directly from the ground glass to the negative. No intermediate steps.
    • Viewing the image up side down is a distinct aid in learning to see in a contemplative study- a characteristic of most nineteenth century processes. Compositional elements of images are enhanced over subject matter.
    • Selective viewing is prioritized because the photographer is limited by the weight and cost of film.
    • The tonalities and lines per mm clarity of an in-camera negative are superior to digitally generated negatives. This is obvious in silver gelatin contact printing, but not as noticeable with hand-coated processes.
    • The H & D curve of film creates images that characterize the distribution of tonalities of film-based photography.
    • Pre-visualization from color to B & W is less complicated than working from a computer. The mental transfer from color to monochrome can occur instantaneously as the film is exposed.
    • Film must be selectively exposed and developed to match paper characteristics. (In the hands of an expert, Pt/Pd prints may reach a level of sublimity unmatched by most photographic processes).
    • It is likely that, following this era of computerization; prints made by historical processes will maintain their artistic and monetary value more than their digitally generated counterparts.
    • In documentary or journalistic photography the print made from an in-camera negative has more credibility. (See the National Geographic cover photo of the Pyramids).

    Disadvantages of Pt/pd Printing from In-camera Negatives

    • The equipment is cumbersome. In most cases, it requires an introspective approach to image making.
    • The size of the image is determined by the size of the camera. Cropping can only be done by masking or “guillotining” the negative.
    • Certain types of film are scarce and becoming more so.
    • Today it is nearly impossible to transport large film by air.
    • Film has limited shelf life.
    • Extreme care must be taken in the field to prevent light leaks, dust and scratches. Routinely, prints must be spotted.
    • Film must be selectively exposed and developed to match paper characteristics. “Bracketing” is nearly impossible. In the hands of the less experienced, many unprintable negatives may occur.
    • Because of the H & D curve, to achieve separation of print shadows, lower Zone III levels must be printed at 90% Dmax. (See Minor White Convincing Black).
    • Reproduction of images in web site or book form requires scans of large negatives or photographing of actual prints.


    Advantages of Pt/pd Printing from Digitally Generated Negatives

    • Small and intermediate cameras can be used. In many cases, a tripod is not necessary, opening the opportunities for more spontaneous imagery.
    • No airport hassle with security cretins.
    • It is much easier to get an acceptable image with computerization. With digital capture, most exposures are perfect. They can be transferred from RGB color to monochrome and honed to satisfaction with raw and Photoshop editing.
    • Darkroom tools, such a dodging and burning are built-in Photoshop tools and are easily used. (Or misused- See disadvantages).
    • With newer technology and the hand-coated print, the lines per mm. (dpi) from 8 and 12 bit printers is virtually the same as from an in-camera negative. With larger prints, the average viewing distance is twice the diagonal of the print, obscuring any difference in print acuity between in-camera and digitally generated negatives.
    • With the straight-line curve given to digital images, print shadows can include Dmax reflective densities.
    • It is easy to produce prints with posterized prints paper-white highlights and black-black shadows (to wow the NY crowd). (See disadvantages).
    • Image size is not determined by camera size. (See monstrous-sized prints).
    • Reproduction of images in web site or book form is easier working from digital files.


    Disadvantages of Pt/pd Printing from Digitally Generated Negatives

    • Without visual discipline gained from exposing film in the field, a “motor drive” approach may occur when hammering out digital images.
    • Working digitally, weeks or months later, the photographer may have problems in recreating the mood and particulars at the time of exposure when viewing hundreds of screen images of the same subject.
    • The highlight portion of a straight-line paper curve is linear, as opposed to the paper “toe”, found in film-based Pt/Pd printing. This can give an unnatural effect; however, it can be modified using Mark Nelson’s hybrid correction curves.
    • Working digitally, there is no limit to size, leading to Pt/Pd prints of monstrous size to accommodate the market.
    • Without experience in the field, there is a tendency for a photographer to get obsessed with the image on the monitor, placing a barrier between the visualization and the monochrome image.
    • Perfect is the enemy of good. Applying an in-camera negative to hand coated paper is a funky process, full of imperfections. No two prints are exactly identical. This is the charm of the non-silver methods. The many tools in Photoshop can lead to a form of perfection, where such darkroom maneuvers, such as dodging and burning or changing paper grades can take on a “mechanical” appearance.
    • Over-sharpening is the bane of digital imagery. This may work in commercial photography, but when attempting to match the standards set in Pt/Pd printing, significant Photoshop skills are needed.
    • Many RGB image on the monitor are spectacular. For the undisciplined eye, color beats monochrome nine times out of ten. For personal achievement and satisfaction, a different frame of mind is needed. (See Edward Weston).
    • A “Photoshopped” image will, may times, contain an element of doubt. For this reason digital images are usually not admitted during legal proceedings.

    Dick Arentz

  2. #2
    In the desert...
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    Re: Pt/Pd Prints From In-Camera Negatives Vs. prints From Digital Negatives.

    Thanks Dick, good post.

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    Re: Pt/Pd Prints From In-Camera Negatives Vs. prints From Digital Negatives.

    "A “Photoshopped” image will, may times, contain an element of doubt. For this reason digital images are usually not admitted during legal proceedings."

    I don't know where this myth got started but it is indeed a myth. Digital images have to be authenticated just as film images must be in order to be admitted into evidence. The method of authentication may be somewhat different and there may be more objections on the ground that the image has been altered. But as a general rule digital images are as admissible into evidence as film images in both federal court and every State court I know of.

    For anyone who'd like to delve deeper into this subject, here's a good short, simple article about it
    .
    http://www.crime-scene-investigator....ofdigital.html
    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.

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    Maris Rusis's Avatar
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    Re: Pt/Pd Prints From In-Camera Negatives Vs. prints From Digital Negatives.

    Pt/Pd "prints" from photographic negatives and digital negatives are actually photographs although it seems unfashionable to call them such.

    In the first case the final result (Pt/Pd) is a photograph of a photograph; a negative of a negative, hence a positive. The original negative is linked to something in the real world by a direct physical photographic relationship.

    The second case is a modern update of the cliche verre process that had some extended popularity in the nineteenth century. The classic cliche verre technique started with a glass plate coated in opaque black. A design or drawing was scratched through the black opaque. The cliche verre plate was then exposed in contact with photographic paper which after processing showed the picture as fine black lines on a white background. Cliche verre offered the appearance of an etching or engraving without complex, skill intensive, and expensive workshop technology.

    The cliche verre plate offers a relationship to the real world that is the same as a painting or a drawing namely optional, malleable, editable or fictitious. The digital equivalent, a print-out negative offers the same thing. Conspicuously the print-out negative does not have a direct physical photographic relationship to things in the real world.

    In a nutshell, it's photographs of photographs versus photographs of drawings. Creditable art is possible either way.
    Photography:first utterance. Sir John Herschel, 14 March 1839 at the Royal Society. "...Photography or the application of the Chemical rays of light to the purpose of pictorial representation,..".

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    Re: Pt/Pd Prints From In-Camera Negatives Vs. prints From Digital Negatives.

    Thanks, Dick. When you write "Digital negative", do you mean negatives made by inkjet printers, or imagesetters, or both?

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    Re: Pt/Pd Prints From In-Camera Negatives Vs. prints From Digital Negatives.

    or silver negatives from Lambda output?
    Quote Originally Posted by Jay DeFehr View Post
    Thanks, Dick. When you write "Digital negative", do you mean negatives made by inkjet printers, or imagesetters, or both?

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    Re: Pt/Pd Prints From In-Camera Negatives Vs. prints From Digital Negatives.

    Bob,

    I'm not familiar with the Lambda process, but I assume it's similar to an imagesetter negative made by laser exposure of silver film?

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    bob carnie's Avatar
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    Re: Pt/Pd Prints From In-Camera Negatives Vs. prints From Digital Negatives.

    Jay
    There is no random dot laid down it is a beam of red green and blue light onto ortho silver film and then put into HC110 for development.
    I have been playing with this for over a year with some very good results.
    Bob
    Quote Originally Posted by Jay DeFehr View Post
    Bob,

    I'm not familiar with the Lambda process, but I assume it's similar to an imagesetter negative made by laser exposure of silver film?

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    Re: Pt/Pd Prints From In-Camera Negatives Vs. prints From Digital Negatives.

    Bob,

    So the lambda process doesn't use a laser light source? What kind of pattern does it make on the film? How is contrast controlled? By development? What advantages, if any, does the lambda process offer over the imagesetter process? Do you have a link to a good description of the process? I'm very interested in learning about this. Thanks!

  10. #10
    bob carnie's Avatar
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    Re: Pt/Pd Prints From In-Camera Negatives Vs. prints From Digital Negatives.

    Jay the lambda would be considered a large image setter.
    Yes it does have RGB lasers, google lambda 76plus and that is what I am using.
    Some people refer to image setter negs using stocastic or random dot onto film.
    that is not what I do, I am using ortho film and imaging directly to the film with no dot or screen angles.
    Contrast is controlled in Photo Shop,
    Basically I lay tone down on film much like I would on fibre paper.
    I am using 400ppi and when louped you see film grain if your source is scanned film.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay DeFehr View Post
    Bob,

    So the lambda process doesn't use a laser light source? What kind of pattern does it make on the film? How is contrast controlled? By development? What advantages, if any, does the lambda process offer over the imagesetter process? Do you have a link to a good description of the process? I'm very interested in learning about this. Thanks!

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