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

Started Jul 24, 2014 | Discussions
bford Senior Member • Posts: 1,489
Re: Film Photography: How any could masrer film and darkroom work?

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

i know what it feels like to go on my favorite roller coasters but that doesn't mean I no longer get excited riding them.

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John aka bosjohn21

bford Senior Member • Posts: 1,489
Re: Film Photography: How any could masrer film and darkroom work?

JoEick wrote:

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.

the key words there is how you want it. No one is forcing you to do more digitally than you did in the darkroom.

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.

Not a fair comparison since there was no analog equivalent of stitching panoramas.

mostlyboringphotog Senior Member • Posts: 7,907
Re: Film Photography: How any could masrer film and darkroom work?

bford wrote:

JoEick wrote:

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.

the key words there is how you want it. No one is forcing you to do more digitally than you did in the darkroom.

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.

Not a fair comparison since there was no analog equivalent of stitching panoramas.

Indeed, when you get 50 sliders with 150 levels in each slider, there are more atoms in the universe than all the combination you could try....

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bford Senior Member • Posts: 1,489
Re: Film Photography: How any could masrer film and darkroom work?

mostlyboringphotog wrote:

bford wrote:

JoEick wrote:

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.

the key words there is how you want it. No one is forcing you to do more digitally than you did in the darkroom.

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.

Not a fair comparison since there was no analog equivalent of stitching panoramas.

Indeed, when you get 50 sliders with 150 levels in each slider, there are more atoms in the universe than all the combination you could try....

It's not that complicated. In the darkroom one would at the most basic level control crop, exposure, contrast and color balance. Going further one could do things like dodge and burn freehand or through masks, and unsharp mask. Outside of the ability to digitally control highlights and shadows, in most cases I do only the things I did in the darkroom in Lightroom. That's all most of my images need.

A lot of tools in many image editing apps are not even necessary or are doing the same thing you can do with another tool. I think many of the developers of those apps are simply cramming in as much stuff as they can to make the app seem more capable than it really is. Paint Shop Pro and a lot of plugins are good examples of that.

fmian
fmian Senior Member • Posts: 1,600
Re: Film Photography: How any could masrer film and darkroom work?

star shooter wrote:

While it's sad to see the demise of film, chemicals and darkroom work,

It's actually surging up as of late. More people buying, shooting, processing and printing from film.

I wonder how many could master film as good as they do now with digital. Not many I reckon.

From the forums and groups I see, there is a lot of crap being shot. Just like digital. So in my eyes the statement that shooting film makes you a better photographer holds little truth.

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.

Yeah, you are making wild assumptions there. I know if my photo will be good or not as soon as I hit the shutter button. I choose all the parameters and control the lighting when I can. I know how much exposure comp I am making and I am seeing the scene through the viewfinder. I know if I shook the camera or not, or if someone blinked during shutter release. If I have a feeling that one of those is an issue, then I take the shot again. I don't need an LCD preview screen. I have intuition and it is almost always correct. It's when you take away manual control and let an auto setting look after parts of your shot that people start to be unsure of things.

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DenWil
DenWil Veteran Member • Posts: 3,314
With study, effort, time and desire of course people could.

star shooter wrote:

While it's sad to see the demise of film, chemicals and darkroom work,

Ah yes, the demise.   If digital cameras started getting the jobs in 2002 that demise is  a dozen years ongoing now. And counting.

I wonder how many could master film as good as they do now with digital. Not many I reckon.

No strong arguments here. But I believe with study, effort, desire and time new masters would emerge.

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.

There's a plug-in to make even the most pock marked  full figured  girl a a reality TV star… unfortunately when she shows up for the in person interview...

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.

Artistically, visually and market wise,  I know exactly what I have the minute I click the shutter and I can often tell before processing or editing which frame  will be the image used.  Technically,  the error rate is so small at this point  as to be a non issue.  Yes  the E-6  film could be physically damaged or there could be a problem in the B&W processing.  Very rare.

Back then those who could take on a job and produce results and when a prof. photog. was in great demand,are all gone.

Not quite. Unless a few guys in Manhattan- among others- have croaked and I missed the reports.

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.

Can't comment on family work. I'm a WTF language , Sterling with a hooker  joke  kinda guy.  Not exactly a new kind of family friendly personality. Lol.

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denniswilliams

MatsP
MatsP Senior Member • Posts: 2,285
Re: Film Photography: How any could masrer film and darkroom work?

Film was fun but I can't say I miss it. I started 12 years old with 6x9 and made direct prints myself in the bathroom. Then 24x36 and enlarging with Focomat enlargers in labs I had access to via the university photo club and later at the architectural school where I tuted a little. After that period I abandobed b/w and shot mostly slides. It took a week to get a Kodachrome back via mail. With Echtacrome a lab could make it the same day. I used slides at job presentations but mostly for myself, friends and family. Later I, and my family and friends were bored of the endless slide shows and I shot negative colour film. I could get prints in three days via mail or in one hour at instant print labs. For younger readers, this was how it was.

Film was expensive and developing and printing as well in the long run so you had to economise.You didn't shoot if you wasn't sure to get s good picture. From a roll of 36 frames I normally took away around five, maybe up to ten sometimes that were badly exposed or totally uninteresting. That's a quite acceptable keeper rate, don't you think?

Today, with digital, you just shoot and hopefully you get a ten percent keeper rate. Or less. Well, I'm exaggerating a little. I still try to get good plctures. But I can afford the luxury to try different exposures and angles and keep the one which appears to be best. Which ends up in say a 20-25% keeper rate.

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Mark Smith Veteran Member • Posts: 6,336
Re: Film Photography: How any could masrer film and darkroom work?
3

Joe Pineapples wrote:

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.

+++

This was my experience too, I used a Hasselblad and Rolleiflex for nearly all weddings. Often you would be given a limited amount of rolls, most weddings were 3-5 rolls so you'd be given a spare roll in a box with a customer release sheet that they'd sign for extras.

Portraits and commercial were similar, depending on the package.

I can remember taking 4x5 shots of a large country house for an estate agent, the house was valued in the millions, I did it in 3 darkslides (6 shots)

I never shot hundreds just to get 1-2 Ok if I did that I'd have been unemployed quite soon...

Toccata47 Senior Member • Posts: 2,800
I think you had to be 13

My middle school offered a year long photography course that included hours every week of self directed time in the darkroom. While I won't claim mastery from the experience, I can say that darkroom "work" is much more simple than some might expect.

Incidentally, the hypothetical situation does not ring true. One would know their negative was good as soon as it was developed, you don't need to print first. Developing negatives isn't complicated. It's a simple matter of chemistry and time, and the formulas for such were included on every film package.

You're also forgetting that instant photography has been around for ages. Everyone had a polariod in the 80's and some even used them for decent photography.

See here for example. (nudity warning)

http://www.americansuburbx.com/series-2/c/carlo-mollino-polaroids-1962-1973

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.

Mark Smith Veteran Member • Posts: 6,336
Re: Film Photography: How any could masrer film and darkroom work?

bford wrote:

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.

the key words there is how you want it. No one is forcing you to do more digitally than you did in the darkroom.

I find clients do, 25 years ago it was almost unheard of to ask for opening 'blinkers' eyes, enhancing skin and age shifting. Making people slimmer, larger breasted etc etc

Not a fair comparison since there was no analog equivalent of stitching panoramas.

We did that a few times. You could take several shots and print them cutting and aligning and mount on board. After that you would copy them in the studio on 8x10 film.

I remember doing a huge one from several negatives of Hong Kong Harbour at night with fireworks for the reception backdrop of a large company–so there very much was/is an analogue version of panoramic stitching.

MatsP
MatsP Senior Member • Posts: 2,285
Re: I think you had to be 13

I know Polaroid was very popular in the US but for some reason it never reached the similar use here in Europe. I think it was romoured to give bad quality and the film was rather expensive. Although I now know photographers like Robert Mapplethorpe used it (I discovered that to my astonishment when I read Patti Smith's book "Just kids"). In Europe more ambitious amateurs preferred slides while negative film was most popular for ordinary family and travel snapshots. There were lots of labs based on delivery by mail that obtained fast service to a very low price (and sometimes duobious quality). Best printing quality outside pro labs was obtained from the one-hour labs that were common at least in bigger cities, to a somewhat higher price.

Developing b/w film is not very compicated but mastering an enlarger and making prints is an art you never reach full skills in as an amateur. Not talking about colour prints! I know, been there, done that!

For me who is grown up on film it's easy to think of jpg direct out of camera as slides and raw and using LR as darkroom work.

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bford Senior Member • Posts: 1,489
Re: Film Photography: How any could masrer film and darkroom work?

Mark Smith wrote:

Joe Pineapples wrote:

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.

+++

This was my experience too, I used a Hasselblad and Rolleiflex for nearly all weddings. Often you would be given a limited amount of rolls, most weddings were 3-5 rolls so you'd be given a spare roll in a box with a customer release sheet that they'd sign for extras.

Portraits and commercial were similar, depending on the package.

I can remember taking 4x5 shots of a large country house for an estate agent, the house was valued in the millions, I did it in 3 darkslides (6 shots)

I never shot hundreds just to get 1-2 Ok if I did that I'd have been unemployed quite soon...

I'm guessing the person up top was referring to photographers shooting 35mm. There is truth to that in that case.

bford Senior Member • Posts: 1,489
Re: Film Photography: How any could masrer film and darkroom work?

Mark Smith wrote:

bford wrote:

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.

the key words there is how you want it. No one is forcing you to do more digitally than you did in the darkroom.

I find clients do, 25 years ago it was almost unheard of to ask for opening 'blinkers' eyes, enhancing skin and age shifting. Making people slimmer, larger breasted etc etc

that's still up to you though. Retouching photos can also be a distracting and endless pit for a photography business.

Not a fair comparison since there was no analog equivalent of stitching panoramas.

We did that a few times. You could take several shots and print them cutting and aligning and mount on board. After that you would copy them in the studio on 8x10 film.

I remember doing a huge one from several negatives of Hong Kong Harbour at night with fireworks for the reception backdrop of a large company–so there very much was/is an analogue version of panoramic stitching.

i'm sure that involved far fewer steps than the example provided. those using 8x10 in their darkroom were also a very small minority.

bford Senior Member • Posts: 1,489
Re: I think you had to be 13

Toccata47 wrote:

My middle school offered a year long photography course that included hours every week of self directed time in the darkroom. While I won't claim mastery from the experience, I can say that darkroom "work" is much more simple than some might expect.

Incidentally, the hypothetical situation does not ring true. One would know their negative was good as soon as it was developed, you don't need to print first. Developing negatives isn't complicated. It's a simple matter of chemistry and time, and the formulas for such were included on every film package.

it wasn't even really worth developing your own film since it was so cheap just to get the film developed. Then you could do your own printing. The printing was the fun part.

You're also forgetting that instant photography has been around for ages. Everyone had a polariod in the 80's and some even used them for decent photography.

See here for example. (nudity warning)

http://www.americansuburbx.com/series-2/c/carlo-mollino-polaroids-1962-1973

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.

bford Senior Member • Posts: 1,489
Re: I think you had to be 13

MatsP wrote:

I know Polaroid was very popular in the US but for some reason it never reached the similar use here in Europe

. I think it was romoured to give bad quality and the film was rather expensive. Although I now know photographers like Robert Mapplethorpe used it (I discovered that to my astonishment when I read Patti Smith's book "Just kids"). In Europe more ambitious amateurs preferred slides while negative film was most popular for ordinary family and travel snapshots. There were lots of labs based on delivery by mail that obtained fast service to a very low price (and sometimes duobious quality). Best printing quality outside pro labs was obtained from the one-hour labs that were common at least in bigger cities, to a somewhat higher price.

Developing b/w film is not very compicated but mastering an enlarger and making prints is an art you never reach full skills in as an amateur. Not talking about colour prints! I know, been there, done that!

For me who is grown up on film it's easy to think of jpg direct out of camera as slides and raw and using LR as darkroom work.

you can't speak of Europe in such a way. You are comparing a country to a continent of countries with many different markets at the time and obviously many different cultures. I doubt very much you would know how popular Polaroid was in each country throughout Europe. Perhaps one or a few countries, maybe.

a person did not need to be a professional to master darkroom printing. It's really not very difficult.

tedolf
tedolf Forum Pro • Posts: 25,656
Not many.......

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.

that is why there were not that many professional photographers in that era.

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 high school I used to make $$ by taking team photo's and sports photo's and sold them to my team mates.  I think I charged $5.00 for an 8" x 10" team photo and $2.00 for a 5" x 7" action shot.  I had a Pentax ME with a 40mm and a 135mm lens.  In a year I probably sold 100 team photo's and maybe two dozen action shots.  It was a lot of work and not much $$.

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.

It was a ton of work and hours spent in the dark room.  Really, it wasn't worth it.

Look how the wedding photog. industry has suffered from el cheapo digital shutterbugs.

My daughter is one of them.  It was frightening to see how quickly she advanced by using a live view camera and a few old rangefinder lenses.

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 barrier to entry is much lower but ultimately the artistic eye still separates the professionals form everyone else.  That and actually showing up on time, getting the job done and anticipating problems.

Tedolph

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MatsP
MatsP Senior Member • Posts: 2,285
Re: I think you had to be 13

I have no statistics but my impression from travelling in the US, Canada and lots of European countries before the digital era is that Polaroid caneras were much more common among Americans than others. In my own country they were not very popular. People here used Instamatic or film compacts.

Regarding making enlarged prints: It's not very difficult make one technically. But I know of many talented and renown photographers who didn't trust their own skills but gladly handed over the print making to specialists to get the best out of their photos. One example is Christer Strömholm.

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Toccata47 Senior Member • Posts: 2,800
Re: I think you had to be 13

bford wrote:

it wasn't even really worth developing your own film since it was so cheap just to get the film developed. Then you could do your own printing. The printing was the fun part.

I worked in a photo lab in college and can count on one hand the number of times someone asked for such. It makes a lot more sense to pay for development in the digital age because scanners don't require dark rooms and associative chemicals. If you have those things already, you might as well save yourself a couple of trips and do it yourself in less time.

PS-the lab techs use to keep a box of "personal" photos they would cull as they processed negatives by hand...for qc purposes, of course. Totally gross.

PVCdroid
PVCdroid Senior Member • Posts: 4,348
Re: Film Photography: How any could masrer film and darkroom work?

PenPix wrote:

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.)

Absolutely. These young whipper snappers (lol) don't know how easy they've got it. It was a PITA and required patience and a real dedication to the hobby or profession. It's a very simple process now. I would estimate most on these forums would not have gone to that extent. Clearly there were labs for professionals and amateurs, especially for color and few did their own color work. What is lacking now is a creativeness to the process. I see so many that are so involved in pixel analysis instead of the creative nature of photography. I view photographers now as nerds. I viewed photographers before digital as artists.

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PVCdroid
PVCdroid Senior Member • Posts: 4,348
Re: I think you had to be 13

bford wrote:

it wasn't even really worth developing your own film since it was so cheap just to get the film developed. Then you could do your own printing. The printing was the fun part.

As a teenager I used to buy my Tri-X in large rolls and load my own cartridges and then develop my own film. I would count to 40 or 42 clicks on the film roller and then get 38 shots to a roll of 35mm. That was pretty simple and saved quite a bit. If I were an adult at the time I probably would have had that paid for though but I didn't trust labs much except for color work.

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