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Thursday, 23 September 2010

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Quoting from your "I quit" column: " I'll probably hang onto my Pentax 67 lenses, on the off chance that Pentax finally comes out with a medium format digital body that I care about."

So, does the 645D interest you?

I went through the same transformation several years ago.
To my surprise it had a shelf life of uncapped developer.

After the liberation I slowly felt stultified by the fact of everything being possible, and by the lack of boundaries. My photography, I felt, was more broad and more easy and especially - it was much more likely to be good. But rarely did these good photographs seem great. Especially when thought of as a body of work rather than individual achievements.
They started to lack some kind of cohesion. I thought it alike to being in college and not picking a major. Wonderful for a year or two, but then it seemed to turn into a simple waste of time.
Carefree eventually felt careless.
So I picked a major.
Film.
Not for the ease. No, for the demands of the craft of it. And perhaps some focus.

"[8x10 versus roll film] One takes a much more considered and deliberate approach in the latter case. Which is good discipline, but can also be stultifying and limiting."


Isn't that rather an argument to use both, depending on mood, time and phase of the moon, rather than pick one over the other?

Being freed from restrictions can prompt a burst of creativity, but having difficult restrictions to contend with can do exactly the same.

There's no doubt that photographers take more chances when shooting digital (because it costs nothing to experiment). That's one of the things I like most about shooting digital.

Of course, few good things come without a catch, and for me personally the downside of this reality is that my digital photos don't mean nearly as much to me as my film photos do (I shoot both, roughly 50/50).

Easy come, easy go, unfortunately.

Here's a question Ctein (and potentially Mike as well): From a pure learning perspective, do you think it was better to have started with film/wet printing before going to digital printing?

Was there anything that you would lose by starting out with digital printing straight away? It sounds like additional effort meant that you had some fairly strong incentives to learn quickly that probably don't exist today (although your old story on flaws in paper comes to mind).

Pak

I concur. Experimentation comes more freely when shooting digital. Organization of the resulting images becomes more daunting and I think settling down with a program like Adobe Lightroom or Apple's Aperture from day one. Figuring out how to handle all that experimentation is of paramount importance or that freeing feeling is soon overwhelmed and begins to feel stifling when faced with an unorganized mess of files dumped into some "Pictures" folder on a hard drive.

As a printer, I also find the wide choices of media almost as equally ripe for experimentation. The artists I work with are much more aware of the subtle attractions of one paper or another, but most photographers, who come from a background of "Ya want that on glossy or matte?" take a little more encouragement to appreciate the differences between, say, Hahnemühle Photo Rag and Canson Rag Photographique, let alone something like a Japanese rice paper. And I admit to a certain guilty pleasure in printing on some of the new metallic papers. Not really "fine art" but for the right images, I sure like that weird silvery surface.

I think this is a pretty common experience moving to fully digital, though it's interesting to hear it from you, coming from such a long, intensive color film background. Love the sugar and cream silos.

I wonder, though, if the final product, even a fantastic print, will have a feeling of lower value than a film produced image, merely because of the increased ease of creation.

Dear Ctein;
I just love your Sugar Silo image, it seems digital is suiting you very well. Furthermore it´s great to see a convincing blue sky shot on a digital camera.
Paul

Ctein,
Thanks for these thoughts. You've put words to feelings I've been struggling with mightily over the past few years.

Going digital has lead me to take chances with my photography as well. But I did spend a lot of time and money before finding the right combination of camera, lenses, computer, and printer that worked with my old film habits.

Unfortunately, walking around with a Leica M9 and a handful of lenses has lead me to take less chances than walking around with an Olympus OM-1N and handful of lenses. Perhaps I need to hang out in more polite surroundings.

I see a Fuji X100 in my future and the M9 setup going to someone less fainthearted than me at carrying around $20,000 worth of digital gear.

"From a pure learning perspective, do you think it was better to have started with film/wet printing before going to digital printing? Was there anything that you would lose by starting out with digital printing straight away?"

Speaking just for myself, oh god yes. In fact one of the reasons I went into photography is that it was a craft that didn't involve computers. I identified early on that I'm no good with computers. (You've never seen me reviewing software, eh?) It's an interesting question, but I don't think I'd even be a photographer myself if digital was all that existed when I was young. You can't change history, and I'd probably still be interested in photography's history, and I'd probably still collect books.

It's not necessarily a bad thing, though. My feeling is that, through the years, photography has attracted certain types of people because of the appeal of the technologies involved. Now, a somewhat different kind of person is getting interested in photography than used to; you saw that more clearly in the early days of digital when there were a lot of flat-out computer people migrating into photography *just because* it was becoming a subset of computer science. I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing to attract and engage a different sort of person for a change.

What I can't decide is whether the new breed are less interested in the visual side of photography--pictures, that is. It seems so to me sometimes, but that might be an illusion based on the very greatly changed interface between photographers and their audience (and I put myself in the "audience" category in this case). I certainly see LOTS more dreadful, cliched, absolutely pointless photography than I ever did when I was young; but that might just be a function of the much greater ease with which anyone can share their photography, and the ease with which I can access it, and the fact that photographers now are not encouraged in any way to be rigorous with their work and their presentation of it.

I've periodically tried to gently nudge people to edit more ruthlessly (the "Tenset" idea), shoot with a purpose or a theme, set learning goals and so forth, and redact their work more rigorously in general; but I don't pretend I have much influence even within the sound of my voice, which doesn't carry very far. And at any rate, photographers aren't doing this because there's little incentive for them to do it. It's not like the world is waiting to reward and remunerate photographers for presenting good, focused, purposefully edited work. Quite the opposite, more good photographers than ever are going completely unremarked.

Mike

"Lots of cream, lots of sugar"
--Winston Wolf (Pulp Fiction, 1994)

My best shots tend to be digital. Though I am old enough to be an veteran film guy the truth is I became interested in photography using a Coolpix 900.


I always felt as though I missed something so about 6 years ago I started shooting, developing and printing B&W film.

Now when I shoot digital I feel as though I'm painting by numbers. Yes easier and maybe more keepers but damn I don't make a dime off this stuff and on my death bed I'll be much more satisfied with the few decent prints that came off the enlarger than the many my computer spit out. :) Just sayin'.

(Then again maybe on my deathbed no one including myself will give a rat's ass about my photography anyway) :)

The thing that makes a great photograph, digital or film, isn't the medium, it's the brain. When you consider, say, Ansel Adams or Cartier-Bresson (I pick them because everybody knows them) you really have in your mind's eye a dozen prints, or even a couple of dozen or a few dozen, out of tens of thousands of exposures they made. To get a great photograph that isn't an accident (which happens), you have to be obsessive about the photography, and then you have to be almost pathologically picky when making the prints. So a lifetime boils down to a dozen "great" shots, which isn't bad, when you consider that hardly anyone does *anything* great. I agree with Ctein that digital can create shifts in shooting style -- night shots, in particular, where you could use up a year's film allowance in a night, and not get a successful shot - but I bet he still doesn't get more than his dozen greats in his lifetime, and the film/digital breakdown will be essentially random. We should all meet here and argue this after Ctein dies.

JC

"my digital photos don't mean nearly as much to me as my film photos do"
I´m also suffering the same disease!
I´m under the impression that we could all learn a lot from Ctein´s perspective on making images. He doesn´t seem to be a gear freak and uses what is most convenient to his immediate needs and whatever produces sufficient quality for his very high standards.
It´s a case of it´s NOT the journey and instead it´s the DESTINATION. Our gear fetish and fond memories of whatever developer with so and so film are just one more hurdle added to an all ready complicated craft. In my case it´s time to take more of a pragmatic perspective in my work and view my cameras and everything surrounding them in my photographic process in a lesser romantic light and recognizing them as nothing more than tools whether digital or film.
My sincerest apologies Ctein if my assumptions are absolutely wrong.
Paul

Ironically, switching from film to digital had precisely the opposite effect for me. I learned photography shooting K64. The die was cast the moment the shutter clicked. This workflow was quite basic; the rolls of film went off in the mail and came back in the form of those little yellow boxes a week later with no further effort on my part. The finished product was a gem-like transparency on my light box, and all it took from me was 1/125th sec and about 50¢. The near-impossibility of getting a worthwhile print from my slides in the traditional darkroom pretty much ended the process there.

Things started to change when I scanned my slides and printed digitally. The technical demands of the workflow started imposing constraints on the capture phase, though this was well worth it for the resulting print quality. I standardized on Provia 100F because it scanned so well.

Since I started using digital cameras, what I want from my final print has come to require an increasingly elaborate capture process. I love large panoramic prints with beautiful light and sharpness from foreground to horizon. Consequently I'm exposing multiple frames for focus blending, exposure blending and stitching, with the goal of a single excellent print. The process requires a lot of planning and oganization. Not infrequently I can only cover one or two compositions before the compelling light is gone. When everything works out, the final print is wonderful. (Well, at least I like it.) But it's a lot less spontaneous than burning through 36 exposure rolls of slide film.

Applause, applause. Sometimes when things change, they don't stay the same; they get better.

Mike -- your criticism a couple of years ago (you said I didn't know which were my keepers) led me to put up a completely different website, with a much stronger thematic organization. (Unfortunately, it's a pain to update, so I never do.)

I sold my last film camera and lenses a few years back, but still look at my negatives and slides with a degree of nostalgia. I find digital capture so much easier, and delight at being able to take multiple exposures, playing around with apertures and shutter speeds. I love the immediacy, but I find digital images still to be transient. Most of what I shoot I delete within 24 hours. For every image I print, I have looked at it many times on a screen, done the PP, cropping, levels, etc, etc, etc: when the final image comes off the printer I'm a bit bored of it.

That was never the case with film, where it was always a delight to unwrap the developed prints to (sometimes) discover a serendipitously perfect photo, for which I'd hoped for success and waited for weeks.

I'm not sure digital's immediate revelations will ever give me that shiver of anticipation. At the risk of being slightly sexist, it's a bit like unwrapping a new girlfriend: it feels better if you have had to wait a while. For that reason, while I'm currently not shooting film, I may well go back to it.

Of course, I realise that while I sit cogitating the possibility, film companies and labs are struggling to get by, so I need to make my mind up sooner not later.

I took up photography again about five years ago at the age of 60. Having shot as a kid with the proverbial basement darkroom, I understood the basics but had no real skills.

Digital photography has made it possible to learn quickly and ramp up both my artistic and technical skills at a speed that is simply not possible with film. As a fully employed man of that age, learning the art and the craft using film would have been too daunting a task with probably not enough years to get to the level that I have achieved to date.(My photographer and artist friends can testify as to my achievement). The instant feedback, the meta data and the ability to simply shoot with out consideration of cost made all this possible. The internet itself, with sites like this one and Lu La and DP Review (lots of chaff to ignore there) also provided a tremendous amount of information that was otherwise unattainable as a practical matter.

I shot for about two years before buying a printer and was wonder struck the first time I saw my work on paper instead of those big monitor pixels. Here too I have had to learn a new and rewarding craft.

I think I 2005 was a good year to start with the explosion in affordable quality and the new software that made this, for me, a wonderful and continuing adventure.

I'm with Ctein. The limitations of any medium create a limited aesthetic. It may be a very fine one but it has boundaries. When it's been around for a while, its heroes and gurus merge and establish those boundaries and then everyone can see the target to aim for and all is well with the world.

Digital removes many of those creative barriers. It's no longer enough to produce technically perfect cliches because it's relatively easy. Now you are expected to exploit the medium and move the boundaries forward. The trouble is, what target can you aim for and where are those boundaries? Where are the new aesthetic standards worthy of the possibilities?

The establishment is still so hidebound I think it will take a few decades before the digital generation can nominate it's Ansell Adams, but for me going backwards is not the answer.

I miss the ability to close the darkroom door, turn off the lights and leave the world outside. While inside, I immersed myself in the craft of creating a physical piece of art.

Now I sit at the same machine an office worker would use, while bouncing between e-mail, facebook, Photoshop - and being interrupted by client calls.

I might as well have gone to law school.

The digital darkroom is not an enjoyable experience.

I have a drawer full of undeveloped film that I have occasionally shot during the years after I switched to digital. Someday I'll get around to developing it.

Sure, digital opens up lots of creative doors if your creative muse kicks in after you have pressed the shutter.

It is as if this article has gently miffed the disciplinarians and introverts in the readership, by suggesting that something, anything, could come easier instead of only through harder work and more time alone.

I always found film photography to be extremely limiting in photographic terms.

A lot of the pro-film defences I read in the comments are about the experience the photographer has when going through the process. It's one thing to be a photographer because you enjoy the experience. It's another to be driven by the images you need to get out.

Dear Rob,

Yes, the 645D interests me, and I will be testing it if it's ever officially imported into the US. But I didn't end up hanging onto my Pentax 67 lenses; decided that the designs were too old and the lenses too large and that if I did ever manage to get that camera, I'd want the currently-designed lenses for it.

~~~~~~~~

Dear Janne,

You could make that argument… And then I could argue that I should also have a swing-lens panoramic camera to make those kinds of photos… And a 20 x 24" view camera for when nothing less than the contact print will do… And… And of course the pack mule to carry all of it.

If these were “difficult restrictions” for me, I would broaden my operating base. But, as I said, I never seem to have a shortage of wonderful things to photograph, no matter what equipment I'm using. Someone else might feel stifled by the restricted choice, but that isn't me.

~~~~~~~~

Dear Pak,

Are you asking about the past or the future? If it's about the past, I have to say I've observed as many photographers who were hampered by darkroom experience when they moved to digital as were helped by. Some of that darkoom experience helps with digital, a great deal of it is irrelevant, and some of it hurts. Misconceptions and poor working habits and approaches (from the digital point of view) abound. God, I could write 10 columns about those. The value of previous darkoom experiences very much a mixed bag.

So, if the question you're really asking is whether I think it would help someone, in the abstract, to learn wet darkroom printing before going into digital, I would absently, positively say no. The hundreds of hours they would spend to become proficient in darkroom techniques would be much better spent learning the tools and media they will be working with. I would say emphatically and unequivocally that if your objective is to do digital photography and printing, learning film techniques first is a serious misuse of your time and energy.

~~~~~~~~

Dear Jon Krumm,

Let me tell you a story. About 30 years ago I was showing a print of which I was justly proud to Bob Nadler, and I started to go into a monologue of everything I had to do to make that photograph and print work. He cut me off in midstream saying, “Nobody cares how hard you had to work when they look at your photograph.”

He was absolutely right. It's irrelevant to the artistic audience. And eventually I came to realize that it was irrelevant, period.

It does not matter how much or how little work I put into a print. It does not matter if a print takes me an hour to completion or two weeks (and, yes, it has run to those extremes). It does not matter if I know instantly how to print it, (in the darkroom or on the computer), or if I have to ponder the matter for months or even years (and, yes, that has also happened). All that matters is the artistic success of the final result.

If what floats your boat is the craft of printing, then enjoy that. For me, craft always has been and always will be a means to an artistic end. And while there is no sin in having to work very hard to achieve that end, there is no virtue in it either.

pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
======================================
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 
======================================

Dear John Camp,

Yes, I quite agree. I don't think going all digital will change the frequency with which I make great photographs (which is to say, very rarely), it just bends my head in a different direction.

It's strange, though, that you would pick night photography as a realm where it would make a great difference. For me, there's very little difference photographing with film or digital at night. I mastered high-quality nighttime photography back when I was in college. It was routine for me by the time I was in my early 20s. As comfortable and familiar for me as photographing on a sunny day. The only fly in the ointment was having to put up with severe reciprocity failure in films, which meant a flashlight and a book accompanied me everywhere. There wasn't a lot else to do during those 15-45 min. exposures! It's a good thing I was extremely good at this; bracketing would have been out of the question.

In any case, making night photographs digitally hasn't made the photography any easier, but it sure has made it faster.

What has made a big difference to my nighttime photography is digital printing. The characteristic curve shapes of silver halide films and papers are not at all ideal for night photography. I did a lot of masking in the darkroom to try to cope with that, and said coping was only fractionally successful. But put a scanner and Photoshop in my hands, and I can make those characteristic curves go anywhere I want. And I do. Overall I am much happier with the quality of my nighttime prints made digitally, whether from film or digital photographs.

~~~~~~~~

Dear Paul,

Oh, you nailed it. Gear for me is the means to an end, and I am not at all emotionally invested in the means.


pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
======================================
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 
======================================

I am back to film as a hobbyist. There is no fun of being a digital camera hobbist using Epson printer and Mac OS X. May be it is good for working artist or just as a worker but what fun is in it.

Every picture I taken with my Pentax 67, Hasselblad 203FE and 8x10, I treasured. They might be imperfect. But it is more a serious hobbyist thing done than using my D70/D200/300 for the 100,000+ pictures taken. I hold the camera shoot one slide and off I go! DO not even think twice and the Velvia 50 slide come out as I expect it is!

Even the technical side is a bit more challenging and "fun". Just learning BTZS currently. Guessing what is meant by ISO speed point using 1.3 SBR etc. is fun, as I still do not get it after 1 day! Trying to find a palm or hacking an iPhone to run emulated Palm OS on iphone plus running Win XP in VM Fusion of Mac OSX ... is part of the fun I guess. Matrix and Inception a bit you know. Looking for a way to align my 4x5 Beseler using the to-be-arrived Versalab Parallel would be also fun ...

All those different camera body are also fun ...

Sorry having too many fun to quit film but to quit digitial. After all as 1 in 100 million digitial shooter is less fun than as 1 in <1 million film shooter I think.


I am venturing outside of the comfortable and familiar neighborhoods. I'm willing to take greater risks and roll the dice more often, because the stakes aren't as high.

Hmmm. And maybe therein lies the key...

If I don't have a clear photographic task, I tend to leave my camera(s) alone now. I've been shooting the close and familiar for quite a while. I'm kinda out of inspiration with the known neighbourhoods. The ratio of keepers towards what-was-I-thinking is quite low there.

But when I go somewhere I haven't been, I usually find more keepers in the resulting photos.

OTOH, it may be that I'm just seeing things I don't already have on the disk.

But still, I don't think the recommendations of going out of the beaten paths to jumpstart your (generic you) inspiration are useless.

OTTH, I also agree with ... don't remember whether it was Alan Briot or Michael Reichmann - I read it on Luminous Landscape - that you can expect one great shot per month.

Sure, digital opens up lots of creative doors if your creative muse kicks in after you have pressed the shutter.

No, that's not it at all.

If in fact your creative muse kicks in after you have pressed the shutter -- you can do that in the darkroom, or with film scans, just as well as with digital captures.

They're independent.

Digital capture has different characteristics than film. These differences change what situations you can press the shutter on, what pre-visualized images you can actually achieve. One of the most blatantly obvious, which Ctein mentioned, is the lack of reciprocity failure in digital.

Dear Richard,

Errr, pronoun trouble. (Thank you, Daffy Duck!)

*YOUR* muse might not kick in that way, by MY Muse kicks in before I press the shutter. That was kinda the point of the whole column!

~~~~~~

Dear Dennis,

Everyone's experience with photography is different. As a dye transfer printer, I've done the "rarity" thing. These days I'm close to one in a billion! Once upon a time I found that fun, but that was a very long time ago. Mostly, for me, the rarity's always been about money, not pleasure.

'Course with a name like "Ctein" maybe I come with rarity built in? {VBG}

pax / Ctein

I found Kosch´s featured comment to be so true about peoples reticence and hang ups with ink jet prints compared to traditional images. Maybe one of Ctein´s advantages over most of us,(also well deserved may I add)is he is an established artist and those who now begin to buy ink jet prints from him have no doubts about the quality, as it´s reasonable to assume that if he had such high standards of quality in dye transfer prints there isn´t any reason to doubt that having gone over to digital it´s because he can equal or surpass his work produced in the darkroom. I´m sure Kosch´s digital prints could equal his silver halide prints no doubt, but probably Kosch and most of us are still unknown enough to be able to promote a "new" photographic medium. As Kosch quite rightly concludes one day technology will win the struggle and perhaps we should let the big guys introduce this new medium to the public while we persevere on the traditional methods for now at least in public.
Paul

David - "No that's not it at all"

Maybe I was a bit cryptic. I meant that digital capture offers two temptations. That of laziness for those of us without enough self-discipline when selecting shots. And that of limitless knob twiddling after the event which, I think you'll agree, even for mere mortals, can go well beyond what most people would have tried in the darkroom. (HDR anyone? - I'm not sneering, but I know a lot of people who are getting into photography who would benefit a lot more from taking time looking for their own subject style instead of heading straight for the computer)

Now I put these forward only as temptations for those of us not blessed with self discipline and end-to-end vision - not as de-facto repercussions of using digital.

Dear Paul,

I charge a lot less for my digital prints than I do for a dye transfer. But, I can afford to! The high price of dye transfer is dictated by the huge amount of labor involved. I'll spend hours on a digital print, getting it just so, but that's nothing compared to DT. Except for bulk print sales via TOP, there's no way I could sell a dye transfer for what I sell a digital print for; I wouldn't make enough per hour to live on.

I've never cared about getting top dollar for my work; I've only wanted enough that I could live comfortably.

'Course, it doesn't matter if you're charging $100 or $1000 for a print, if no one is buying your work at all.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dear Richard,

Oh, there is limitless knob-twiddling possible in the darkroom, even with the conventional wet processes. Trust me; I've twiddled most of them at one time or another.

And then there's dye transfer, which is like wet Photoshop. Mere darkroom mortals can't even begin to imagine the number and degrees of control I have with that process. I'm convinced that no one has ever mastered dye transfer; it's simply too complex.

Funny though, that you should mention HDR? Been there, done that. That's how I made this print:

http://ctein.com/eclipse.htm

Nine transfers from different matrices, instead of the usual three, to print different exposure ranges. A single exposure just didn't cut it.

Sheer hell-- that's the one that took me two weeks to get right. Ain't never gonna do that again, nohow, noway.

pax / Ctein

Opening up more options certainly gives people more options for endless tweaking, or for choice paralysis. On the other hand, making things easier and quicker means that people without an interest in the tech for its own sake, or who find it hard, are more likely to achieve technical competence (which could be important, if they have an interesting artistic vision).

Yeah, it'll probably make some modest changes in who succeeds in photography and who does not.

I shuffle around with any old camera, shoot willy-nilly at anything and everything that glitters, sparkles, or shines. Every single picture I make is perfect, simply because I can't be bothered to insert film or a memory card. Why does photography have to produce an object, be it physical or digital?

My technique uses no further resources, and leaves behind no evidence of my godawful artistic sense for others to have to dispose of after my richly deserved demise.

Pressing the button is the only thing I can do, but when I do it, there's no one better. Whose to say there's no art in that?

This is an idea that I've heard expressed elsewhere, but I've discovered it for myself again and again: I enjoy my digital photos much more the longer it's been since I made them. Going back of photos that I took 1/2/3 years ago is usually much more enjoyable and efficient. I'm able to pick out the top 1% much more quickly and take more delight in finding them.

When I look through photos soon after taking them, I'm more often disappointed than not. The photos so rarely meet or exceed the experience of taking them.

I've had a very busy past year and there are a lot of pictures I've taken that I haven't looked at yet. I'm just starting to look through some now and I'm really enjoying the experience.

There are some interesting comments here. My two cents:

I learned in the darkroom and loved it! I despised color darkroom work because it felt quite limited (get the color right and you're finished). I liked the ability to transform in the B&W darkroom. As a night shooter, I eventually embraced digital capture (circa 2003), because of the lack of reciprocity failure mentioned above. All of a sudden, I could make many images in a night instead of just 6-10. What a HUGE difference! I would stay up all night to shoot and that basically ruined the following day's productivity. This led to a return to color work as the ability to transform the image was now available.

I understand when some folks like the "process" with chemical photography. It was fun for me and fun to teach. I just think that in the end, it's the final piece of art that matters. I'm just not interested in what it took to get there.

I like the idea that digital imaging makes it easier to craft a wonderful print. Now that it's not as hard, photographers are forced to put some thought into what they are showing. No more boring but well-crafted images! Push the medium forward.

In saying that, I realize the benefits of dealing with limitations, but I don't believe in leaving limitations in place for the sake of a lack of direction or creativity. Why not work with glass plates? Salted paper negatives?

Ctein nailed it for me here: "Oh, you nailed it. Gear for me is the means to an end, and I am not at all emotionally invested in the means."

Also great to see this:
“Nobody cares how hard you had to work when they look at your photograph.”

I tell my students that all of the time!

also...

I mostly shot with a Mamiya RZ and a Cambo 4x5. I do wish I could afford a digital back for the Mamiya--that was a great camera.

Ctein - I take your point that there are "endless" tweaking possibilities in the darkroom, but It takes someone with patience skill and vision (such as yourself) to make creative use of them. On the other hand anyone can tweak things on the computer.

Just to be clear, my point is aimed at people who are looking to develop their eye and their creativity - not people who already confident with their craft and are looking for more ways to enable it. For some folks, the ease and promiscuity of digital might lead to them mistaking knob twiddling for creativity. To take a simple, extreme case, someone mentioned to me the other day that they convert most of their images to B+W because "it makes them look more artistic" - without really considering why B+W might be appropriate for a particular image, or even how best to manipulate the conversion. They just click the "B+W" button. Even people who don't now what Photoshop is convert or manipulate their iPhone photos using one of the many photo apps, so the ethos of digital manipulation becomes mainstream. I think this can lead to a "shoot first think later" mentality.

So, does digital expand your creativity? If you're Ctein I'm sure it does, but I don't think it's necessarily good for everyone.

Richard: "...convert most of their images to B+W because 'it makes them look more artistic' - without really considering why B+W might be appropriate for a particular image, or even how best to manipulate the conversion."

To play devil's advocate for a moment: is there any difference when someone buys a manual film camera and loads it with black and white film - we can apply just the same characterisations, surely, and be just as right or wrong in doing so?

We have the same difficulty in distinguishing selfdiscipline from selfindulgence there, as in what you satirise as clicking "the B+W button".

regards, RP

Can I ask Kosch what batteries he uses for the OM2N and whether he has made any mods to accomodate them and does he make any exposure compensation just in case he is using higher rated batteries?
One sentence 3 questions.

RP - "is there any difference when someone buys a manual film camera and loads it with black and white film - "

I only picked B+W conversion as an example of deferring creativity until after the shutter button has been pressed.

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