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Thread: digital vs traditional photography

  1. #1

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    digital vs traditional photography

    The source of this contreps is the print. How it is made.

    People like Jorge G. (I don't want to mangle the spelling of your name) rightfully are proud of the immense amount of hand work put into making an individual print -One result is that no two prints are exactly the same. And do not like the technical / mechanical separation between the maker's hands and the final product. they also decry the production line making of identical prints once you have the 'digital negative tuned the way you want it to appear. I think that this principled stand is well ground in traditional artisanal craft. there is also the fact that you can always hold the original image -- negative or transparency --in your hands. This too has great intellectual as well as emotional weight. And you always are aware that a person is completely responsible for the fragile piece of paper you are looking at.

    Those who like digital work often base their claim on the finer degree of control over the process -- the ability to tune small areas in the image that will be printed in ways that 'wet darkroom' advocates cannot. They see it as a logical end of "Zone System" type thinking about getting the image printed in a way that blends the emotional and intellectual impulse of the photographer with a high degree of technological control. my belief is that these people more strongly value the content of the image over how he final print is made.

    In the end both camps are right -- but have chosen different paths.

    perhaps the ultimate in photographic imaging and print making will be a type of enlarger that allows the photographer to work from a digital image yet print it using traditional methods of enlarger, maybe dodging and burning tools and chemical developers on silver halide or platinum-palladium papers.

  2. #2
    Format Omnivore Brian C. Miller's Avatar
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    digital vs traditional photography

    I've always thought that a great Photoshop plugin would be to create a transparency mask with different grey densities and colors for variable contrast paper. It would compare image A with image B, calculate the differences, then print out an appropriate mask. Use the mask with your normal enlarger setup, and get an excellent print with less chance of error.
    "It's the way to educate your eyes. Stare. Pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long." - Walker Evans

  3. #3

  4. #4

    digital vs traditional photography

    Ellis, there is already an enlarger that forms a digital image on a LCD screen which then can be projected onto silver paper. I dont recall the name exactly, I want to say is a Durst but I am not sure. Some people are working on enlarging onto Azo and I know for sure there is a Durst head than can project into pt/pd, thing is, with exception of the azo experiments, these enlargers are in the tens of thousands of dollars.

    I will only disagree with you in the sense that I beleive just as strongly in the content of a photograph as those using ink jet, where I diverge from them is in beleiving that the process is also part of the content. I do pt/pd because I feel it gives the viewer not only a "message" or something to admire, but also a tactile and spatial quality not present in other processes. Brooks Jensen in Lensworks says we should learn to see in 2 dimensions, I disagree with him. I think we should strive to give our photographs depth and in fact make it look like a little window. I am lucky that I have been able to acheive this, more than people telling my prints are beautiful they comment how they "feel" like they can touch the rocks, or that they are looking through a window. I have met my goal, and this is only because of the process I chose, I could not do this with silver and rarely (with few exceptions) have I seen it acheived by others.

    IMO we should strive to go beyond making pretty photographs, they should have depth, they should transport the viewer and make him/her like they are where you were taking the pictures. IOW, the photographs should be "hypnotic" and draw the viewer into them. IMO saying that content is all that matters without taking into account how the process affects the content is an easy way out, and a fallacy that I cannot do anything PS does. Yes it would take me more time, but I can have just as much control over every inch of the print as does anybody using PS, I am just not conviced such degree of control is necessary and that it is the basis of the extraordinary content many mention.

    In any case, I guess you are posting this in an effort to "make peace" and as such I think RichSBV said it best, in the end who cares if we disagree? Someone calling me a Luddite does not affect the quality of my photography.

  5. #5

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    digital vs traditional photography

    I hope I am not out of place, but a month or so ago, I was with a group of large format photographers who had an opportunity to see a prototype enlarger at Jensen Optical. Built over a Durst 10 x 10 chassis, it projects a color digital image to photographic chemically process paper. We were all very impressed with the prints produced by this system.

    You can dodge and burn and everything else in photoshop and then print out directly without creating a (inter)negative.

  6. #6
    Format Omnivore Brian C. Miller's Avatar
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    digital vs traditional photography

    Actually, a cheap digital printer could be produced which would wipe a laser over photographic paper to produce the image. Then the paper is developed normally.

    Years ago I was told by one of my profs that its easy to digitally control a mirror, bounce a laser off of it, and produce a TV image from it. Same thing should apply to a paper printer.

    Hmm, stepper motor to feed the paper, laser, voice coil-mirror assembly, supporting circuitry.....

    (insert Jaws theme here)
    "It's the way to educate your eyes. Stare. Pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long." - Walker Evans

  7. #7

    digital vs traditional photography

    I met a guy who wanted to put pt/pd solution in ink jet cartridges and then print the picture just like an ink jet print, all he would have to do then is expose to UV light and develop. I never knew what happened with his idea......

  8. #8

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    digital vs traditional photography

    jorge - so would the image be based on the amount/density of solution, rather than the amount of exposure (as normally controlled by the negative).

    Odd. Interesting if it can work.

    --

    Always food for thought Ellis. I'm in a hybrid workflow of my own, in that prints are digital, but are mounted and ebedded in an encaustic type of finish which requires a huge amount of hand work. And indeed, each is very much original and unreproducible.

    But the final product is arguably not even really a photograph anymore, perhaps an assemblage or summat.

    Anyhow, happy thoughts before bedtime.

  9. #9

    digital vs traditional photography

    jorge - so would the image be based on the amount/density of solution, rather than the amount of exposure (as normally controlled by the negative).

    That was the idea, I thought it was interesting too...but never heard from the guy again. I guess he did not know I was a Luddite and thought I might steal his idea... :-)

  10. #10
    Abuser of God's Sunlight
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    digital vs traditional photography

    The first people I knew who had a part-digital workflow were doing this, but with contact prints. Basically making enlarged digital copynegs, In most cases it required a lot of frustrating back and forth with confused service bureaus, but in the end the results were usually really nice.

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