Film Photography: How any could masrer film and darkroom work?

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star shooter
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Film Photography: How any could masrer film and darkroom work?
2 months ago

While it's sad to see the demise of film, chemicals and darkroom work, I wonder how many could master film as good as they do now with digital. Not many I reckon.

Digital has in many ways, allowed many more to ge into the art but it has also made us lazy too, in the way we expect an instant picture and if we don't like we take another.

But let's roll back to a time when you had no idea if the image was good until the film was developed and fix then inspected under the enlarger. Back then those who could take on a job and produce results and when a prof. photog. was in great demand, are all gone.

In a world that expects instant results, digital photography has unfortunately, created a race of mind-sets that after a few takes, they go about calling themselves 'prof. photographers' How pathetic.

Look how the wedding photog. industry has suffered from el cheapo digital shutterbugs. More and more of the profession is being lost to those who think because they have a wiz bang setup, they're God's gift to the art. How pathetic.

Ron Poelman
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In reply to star shooter, 2 months ago
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Ron.
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Wheatfield7
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Re: Film Photography: How any could masrer film and darkroom work?
In reply to star shooter, 2 months ago

star shooter wrote:

Look how the wedding photog. industry has suffered from el cheapo digital shutterbugs. More and more of the profession is being lost to those who think because they have a wiz bang setup, they're God's gift to the art. How pathetic.

The wedding photography business started it's decline with the advent of auto everything SLR cameras in the 1980s. Your complaint predates digital photography by about a quarter century.

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MisterBG
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Re: Film Photography: How any could masrer film and darkroom work?
In reply to star shooter, 2 months ago

star shooter wrote:

While it's sad to see the demise of film, chemicals and darkroom work, I wonder how many could master film as good as they do now with digital. Not many I reckon.

Don't judge others by your own ability

Digital has in many ways, allowed many more to ge into the art but it has also made us lazy too, in the way we expect an instant picture and if we don't like we take another.

Nothing wrong with that. With film you had to wait hours or days to see your results, by which time it was too late to take an alternative.
If digital has opened up the possibility of photography to many more people it can only be a good thing, but please don't mistake it for art.

But let's roll back to a time when you had no idea if the image was good until the film was developed and fix then inspected under the enlarger. Back then those who could take on a job and produce results and when a prof. photog. was in great demand, are all gone.

Professional photographers used to take hundreds of shots in the hope that a handful met their brief.
Amateurs could not afford that approach.
With digital there is the ability to take as many shots as you like, effectively at no cost.
In the days of film I was always aware of the cost when I pressed the shutter release, and I was slightly inhibited by it.
The advent of digital has allowed me to experiment much more and I believe my photography has improved as a result.

In a world that expects instant results, digital photography has unfortunately, created a race of mind-sets that after a few takes, they go about calling themselves 'prof. photographers' How pathetic.

Agree, but I'm not sure that you can blame digital specifically for that.
Many people seem to append the word "photography" to their signature as if it makes them something special.
The definition of "Professional Photographer" is simple - it is someone who earns the majority of their income from the business of photography.

Look how the wedding photog. industry has suffered from el cheapo digital shutterbugs. More and more of the profession is being lost to those who think because they have a wiz bang setup, they're God's gift to the art. How pathetic.

Wedding photography is not "art" it's purely record photography.
Any "art" might come from the ability to arrange poses and settings.

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PenPix
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Re: Film Photography: How any could masrer film and darkroom work?
In reply to star shooter, 2 months ago

I worked most of my career processing film and printing pictures in commercial bulk, custom B&W, and 1-hour labs. Now i'm neck deep into digital printing. Contrary to your argument(?), I have seen photography improve with the introduction of digital cameras.

Because people are able to see their images right away, they are also able to retake and correct the mistakes they made. The result…. I see fewer garbage pictures than I did with film and I see more quality images than I did I did with film. instant feedback is an powerful learning tool.

Open your eyes and LOOK at the amazing pictures that are taken with digital cameras today. It's the artist who makes the painting, not the brush.

(Just for the record I do not miss the film and chemistry days.  After 15 years of that, digital is a breath of fresh air… literally.  Some of those chemicals are dirty, noxious, and toxic.)

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Art Jacks
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Re: Film Photography: How any could masrer film and darkroom work?
In reply to star shooter, 2 months ago

I certainly did not take hundreds of shot hoping to get one right in my starting out days, working with 5x4 cameras concentrated the mind on ensuring that the viewpoint was suitable, there was nothing distracting or unwanted intruding into the image, then there was the camera operation, dark cloth over head, focussing the inverted image on the screen, closing the aperture to give the required DoF, take exposure reading with a hand held meter, apply settings to lens, insert dark slide, remove sheath and turn it ready to replace after making the exposure, cock shutter and fire, replace sheath and remove dark slide. This may seem long winded but it taught me to check everything before making the exposure, this is a discipline I follow to this day even though I now am totally digital, make sure everything that is possible is done in camera which saves time back at the computer.

I enjoyed my darkroom days but would not want to return to that system, my digital image adjustments do not involve any more than I would have done in a wet darkroom, contrast adjustment, some local dodging and burning and a small amount of cropping but it is all done before a piece of printing paper is used, none of the ' it's nearly right but needs a little more printing in in that corner etc ' must be better for the planet ?

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MoreorLess
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Re: Film Photography: How any could masrer film and darkroom work?
In reply to MisterBG, 2 months ago

MisterBG wrote:

Wedding photography is not "art" it's purely record photography.
Any "art" might come from the ability to arrange poses and settings.

That seems a bit harsh as there is potential for artistic input and I would call many of the top wedding photographers artists but generally I do think you've hit on the biggest reason for the decline in pro photography. Digital might have opened up the art of photography to more people but its made the craft of it vastly easier so many careers that survived on that craft are no longer needed.

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Joe Pineapples
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Re: Film Photography: How any could masrer film and darkroom work?
In reply to MisterBG, 2 months ago

MisterBG wrote:

[snip]

Professional photographers used to take hundreds of shots in the hope that a handful met their brief.

[snip]

That is quite wrong in general.

I used to work with a guy who started a cadetship with the photography bureau of a newspaper, and he would be sent out with a 5x4 press camera and a single film holder to cover some event with the reassuring words "Don't forget you've got a second sheet of film in the other side if you stuff-up the first shot."

The mainstays of quality wedding photography were the Hasselblad and the Mamiya RB67. Try taking "hundreds of shots" for some of the key scenes in a wedding with those fellas!

J.

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Dennis
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Re: Film Photography: How any could masrer film and darkroom work?
In reply to star shooter, 2 months ago

star shooter wrote:

While it's sad to see the demise of film, chemicals and darkroom work, I wonder how many could master film as good as they do now with digital. Not many I reckon.

Maybe, maybe not, but it really doesn't matter.

But let's roll back to a time when you had no idea if the image was good until the film was developed and fix then inspected under the enlarger. Back then those who could take on a job and produce results and when a prof. photog. was in great demand, are all gone.

How are they all gone ?  You had pros before; you have pros now.  You had hacks before; you have hacks now.  I see no shortage of competent professional photographers out there.  OTOH, I attended a wedding back in the 90's where a weekend warrior shot with a midrange Nikon camera, consumer grade lens, Kodak Gold film that he dropped off at a local 1-hour processing lab and got back several hundred seriously underexposed negatives because his flash wasn't working right.  The poor bride put together an album made primarily of pictures I took while I was there.  Point is: amateurs posing as pros have always been part of the business.

In a world that expects instant results, digital photography has unfortunately, created a race of mind-sets that after a few takes, they go about calling themselves 'prof. photographers' How pathetic.

If you say so.  I don't see anything different about the situation today versus yesterday, and I certainly don't see a "race" of such mindsets.

Look how the wedding photog. industry has suffered from el cheapo digital shutterbugs. More and more of the profession is being lost to those who think because they have a wiz bang setup, they're God's gift to the art. How pathetic.

Again, if you say so.  I don't have any great industry insights, but I think there are plenty of competent pros out there today, just as there were pre-digital.

The flipside of this coin is that there are plenty of consumers who think that anyone with a camera should be able to take perfectly adequate pictures, and therefore demand services for unreasonable rates ... these people create demand for hacks who are willing to work cheap.

- Dennis

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carlvalle com
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Re: Film Photography: How any could masrer film and darkroom work?
In reply to Dennis, 2 months ago

i demand serious rates for weddings, which is why i don't do many. I don't enjoy that much intense work, and don't really want to do it. The irony is that if i was actually to shoot a wedding set, at very high rates, i probably would turn in un-inspired technically great images. I really think that is what most pro film guys did too, back in the day with the mamiya, you only took the careful pre-visualized images to fill in the blanks on a 50 page album. The new guys can take more chances with high asa and zoom glass, they should be able to get punchier images.

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Weegee
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One word: POLAROID
In reply to carlvalle com, 2 months ago

I used to go through cases of the stuff in 8 x 10, 4 x 5 and packs. Without it, many "great" photographers would not have been called "great." Of course, I'm talking about studio and commercial photography in general. I had a Polaroid back for my Nikon F2 ( could take 2 shots on a piece of Polaroid film ) that I would mainly use for exposure ( it was about as good as the first LCDs on digital cameras in the early 2000 ).

Darkroom work had a certain soothing affect on me. Processing was a satisfying experience with many interesting variables. But the "piece de resistance" was seeing the print magically fade in as the developer took affect on the blank sheet of white paper! Sort of like the old Polaroid SX-70.

Finally, there was nothing like an evening set aside to make prints. The tools included a bottle of Jack Daniels, some Miles Davis vinyl 33rpm albums and a good sodium vapor safe light. At the end of the night I had 7 good prints and 40 mediocre ones in the wastebasket.

Those were the days!

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ShawnHoke
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Re: One word: POLAROID
In reply to Weegee, 2 months ago

Weegee wrote:

Darkroom work had a certain soothing affect on me. Processing was a satisfying experience with many interesting variables. But the "piece de resistance" was seeing the print magically fade in as the developer took affect on the blank sheet of white paper! Sort of like the old Polaroid SX-70.

Finally, there was nothing like an evening set aside to make prints. The tools included a bottle of Jack Daniels, some Miles Davis vinyl 33rpm albums and a good sodium vapor safe light. At the end of the night I had 7 good prints and 40 mediocre ones in the wastebasket.

Those were the days!

Very important tools! I still do 8x10 contact prints in my tiny bathroom. Even though I've fully embraced digital processing these days, there's nothing like the darkroom. I'll probably never give it up.

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JoEick
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Re: Film Photography: How any could masrer film and darkroom work?
In reply to star shooter, 2 months ago

I've found that digital has greatly increased my post work since using film back in the day. With film I would take 5 hours tops to finish a difficult print and a few more to hand tint it if needed.

With digital I can sometimes take way over 30 hours to finish one shot. Digital has made things both easier and more complex depending on how you want it.

This shot here is over 30 images focus stacked, exposure blended, and panorama stitched. Entirely by hand on the computer with little automation, since I get better result doing it manually. I stopped counting the time after 30 hours on the computer.

http://www.johaneickmeyer.com/Landscapes/PHOTOS/28156309_gzmw4w#!i=2380109366&k=bMMc2jq&lb=1&s=A

This image here was also difficult in term of complexity. It was exposure blended, focus stacked, vertical panorama, light painted, zoom blended, perspective blended, and some other secret sauce.

http://www.johaneickmeyer.com/Landscapes/PHOTOS/28156309_gzmw4w#!i=2719539430&k=JLVmKSn&lb=1&s=A

Anyone who says digital has made everything easier, has never pushed digital to its limits. It has made things vastly more complex and difficult for those who choose to make the best of it.

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tko
tko
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are you lazy?
In reply to star shooter, 2 months ago

I can't stand posts that tell US how lazy the rest of us are. Posts with blanket criticism that show the author is ignorant of our current culture. Posts that complain and whine, but the poster has no point and no solution, and isn't willing to lead the way.

Please speak for yourself, not for me! Then go out and look for the good, for 95% of everything, at anytime, is bad, and finding thing to complain about is easy.

Great professional photographers are still in demand. But the bar has been raised. It's no longer good enough to be "adequate." You have to be great. The average person today has been shooting some type of photo since they were preten. A lot of them are junk. But, just like anything else, from basketball to violin players, a tiny percentage are going to grow up and be great. Be happy everyone is shooting!

The greatest photos in history are being produced today. Period. If you can't find 'em, that's your problem.

star shooter wrote:

While it's sad to see the demise of film, chemicals and darkroom work, I wonder how many could master film as good as they do now with digital. Not many I reckon.

Digital has in many ways, allowed many more to ge into the art but it has also made us lazy too, in the way we expect an instant picture and if we don't like we take another.

But let's roll back to a time when you had no idea if the image was good until the film was developed and fix then inspected under the enlarger. Back then those who could take on a job and produce results and when a prof. photog. was in great demand, are all gone.

In a world that expects instant results, digital photography has unfortunately, created a race of mind-sets that after a few takes, they go about calling themselves 'prof. photographers' How pathetic.

Look how the wedding photog. industry has suffered from el cheapo digital shutterbugs. More and more of the profession is being lost to those who think because they have a wiz bang setup, they're God's gift to the art. How pathetic.

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bosjohn21
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Re: Film Photography: How any could masrer film and darkroom work?
In reply to star shooter, 2 months ago

you cannot roll back the clock so I would embrace the new technology and lean what it can do for you. Lamenting the passing of film darkroom is emotionally satisfying but not productive. Also don't lump together professional photographers that is folks who make all or a large part of their income from doing photography with gifted photographers, they may make money but that does not mean they are artists, but then this has always been true. What is a greater concern is the publics much lower expectations for images and music reproduction etc. Reintroducing hi quality images no matter the process and educating the public taste will be a more fruitful way to benefit all of us amateur and pro alike.

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contadorfan
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Re: One word: POLAROID
In reply to Weegee, 2 months ago

Weegee wrote:


Finally, there was nothing like an evening set aside to make prints. The tools included a bottle of Jack Daniels, some Miles Davis vinyl 33rpm albums and a good sodium vapor safe light. At the end of the night I had 7 good prints and 40 mediocre ones in the wastebasket.

Those were the days!

You sound more like W. Eugene Smith than Weegee.  Except I think he liked vodka.  In his later years, he had a tv with a red cellophane wrapper on the screen so he could watch tv while printing. But music was a favorite companion in the darkroom.

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bford
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Re: Film Photography: How any could masrer film and darkroom work?
In reply to star shooter, 2 months ago

star shooter wrote:

While it's sad to see the demise of film, chemicals and darkroom work, I wonder how many could master film as good as they do now with digital. Not many I reckon.

to be proficient in the task, few people would be able to since few people have that patience today.

To match what is possible with digital editing, no one would be able to. There are things you can do with digital editing that you can't do with film.

Digital has in many ways, allowed many more to ge into the art but it has also made us lazy too, in the way we expect an instant picture and if we don't like we take another.

speak for yourself.

But let's roll back to a time when you had no idea if the image was good until the film was developed and fix then inspected under the enlarger. Back then those who could take on a job and produce results and when a prof. photog. was in great demand, are all gone.

if you understood exposure, your camera, and the quality of film being used then it never should have been a surprise to see your results. I always had an accurate idea of what my exposed film would look like.

In a world that expects instant results, digital photography has unfortunately, created a race of mind-sets that after a few takes, they go about calling themselves 'prof. photographers' How pathetic.

random keepers from machine gun style of shooting with digital will not go very far in the professional market.

Look how the wedding photog. industry has suffered from el cheapo digital shutterbugs. More and more of the profession is being lost to those who think because they have a wiz bang setup, they're God's gift to the art. How pathetic.

I think that situation is really exaggerated.

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bosjohn21
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Re: Film Photography: How any could masrer film and darkroom work?
In reply to bford, 2 months ago

bford wrote:

if you understood exposure, your camera, and the quality of film being used then it never should have been a surprise to see your results. I always had an accurate idea of what my exposed film would look like.

You mean to tell me with a perfectly straight face you lost the awe of watching and image come up or the joy of seeing your negs come out of the processing can and seeing wow I really nailed those wow then your a better man than most

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mostlyboringphotog
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Re: Film Photography: How any could masrer film and darkroom work?
In reply to bosjohn21, 2 months ago

bosjohn21 wrote:

bford wrote:

if you understood exposure, your camera, and the quality of film being used then it never should have been a surprise to see your results. I always had an accurate idea of what my exposed film would look like.

You mean to tell me with a perfectly straight face you lost the awe of watching and image come up or the joy of seeing your negs come out of the processing can and seeing wow I really nailed those wow then your a better man than most

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John aka bosjohn21

We have name for you "old timer"

Ahh, the anticipation of opening the JOBO drum and saying to yourself "what the heck??"

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mostlyboringphotog
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Re: One word: POLAROID
In reply to Weegee, 2 months ago

Weegee wrote:

I used to go through cases of the stuff in 8 x 10, 4 x 5 and packs. Without it, many "great" photographers would not have been called "great." Of course, I'm talking about studio and commercial photography in general. I had a Polaroid back for my Nikon F2 ( could take 2 shots on a piece of Polaroid film ) that I would mainly use for exposure ( it was about as good as the first LCDs on digital cameras in the early 2000 ).

Darkroom work had a certain soothing affect on me. Processing was a satisfying experience with many interesting variables. But the "piece de resistance" was seeing the print magically fade in as the developer took affect on the blank sheet of white paper! Sort of like the old Polaroid SX-70.

Finally, there was nothing like an evening set aside to make prints. The tools included a bottle of Jack Daniels, some Miles Davis vinyl 33rpm albums and a good sodium vapor safe light. At the end of the night I had 7 good prints and 40 mediocre ones in the wastebasket.

Those were the days!

So were the "Wet Collodion" days...

I'm kidding and share you sentiment but gone to the dark  side and PP away.

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