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Wednesday, 23 February 2011


Well in that case it sounds like the single purpose camera will make life much simpler.

I'm glad there is someone who feels like I do, and willing to comment publicly about it, concerning film vs. digital. I'm NOT trying to reignite the issue, as I do (finally) like digital, having used film since 1960 until 2005 or so. When I shoot digital (now 99.8%) I have this vague unease about incompleteness, or something, when shooting, and compensate with volume, hoping that at least one will be great! (I mostly shot 35 and 120 before) This could be an advantage, providing I have the time to process and study the increased number of images. I suppose that it's a matter of self control....I could force myself to shoot as if I'm using MF on a tripod...but I guess I'm having too much fun getting ALL the angles I had been missing with film.

So it's all down to self-discipline then?
In that case I have no hope.
I think you hit it on the head with the mention of intermittant poverty and in my case intermittant digital, as I created a workflow similar to yours, then lost my darkroom and went digital out of practicality, then got bored and went back to film. It took four years of using film before I could use anything other than the laundry and now I have a purpose built darkroom it'll take me at least a year to catch up. Have to say though that returning to a hand craft is a total joy.

I don't have a 'touch once' method for digital simply because they keep improving the technology for processing and I'm always learning new stuff. More than once I've gone back and trashed my earlier edits in favor of something I had newly learned or new software allowed me to do that I couldn't before.

I was never a great printer, much less a great photographer, and most of the shooting I did, I did for money (at newspapers.) Most of that time, I'd turn in the film, the newspaper lab would do the contacts, the editors would pick the shot and the crop, I'd write the story, and then something would happen to the negs -- I think they were filed - but I didn't care about that. When I worked for a newspaper that wanted me to do the printing, I did it, with a $90 enlarger, and then, not too much later, threw everything away -- the perfect one-touch. "News" lasts a very short time, and I never had much patience for the paper-and-chemicals routine.

So digital photography was a revelation for me -- might be for you (Mike) as well. Get Lightroom 3, spend fifty bucks on the Luminous Landscape video on LR3 if you can't talk them into some "professional courtesy deal," and everything you just describe can be done literally in four or five minutes. You stick the SD card into the SD slot on the side of the iMac, it pops up on the desktop almost instantly, you open LR3, which scans for any photos not imported, lists them and give you the option to import. They are then imported into a contact sheet, and as that is happening, you can start looking at the"negs," and if one catches your eye, you can do an instant work print, up to 13x19 on my printer.

If you have the attention span of a gnat, which I do, this is about a hundred orders of magnitude better than the wet darkroom, and the prints-in-the-closet routine. Then, if you get lucky, some day the hard drive will blow up, and you can start over without guilt.

Works for me.


Interesting... I had a very similar approach to darkroom work. Shoot during the week, run film while watching TV Saturday night, proof and do work prints on Sunday morning and about once a month do finished prints on Sunday as well.

And I agree with the difficulty of transferring this to digital. Too much freedom, in this case, erodes the necessity for method.

But I'm learning. I shoot all week, download my card(s) every day or two, settle in for a round of printing every week or two. It helps to keep a big stack of blank paper of my favorite size(s).

What's missing in the process is the work print. I suppose I should start making more 8.5x11s (the new 8x10) on my C88 and sticking them up on the wall.


Mike, it's really B&W and upfront cost verses per image.

It the film b&w word, your significant cost are all upfront. Bessler did not give away enlargers expecting to make a profit on materials (ink & paper.) Epson, Canon, and HP do basically give away printers.

Plus, almost all digital is done in color, always a more complex and costly option. If you want to establish a digital b&w work flow based on the best parts of your past, it's not hard to do, just takes more work/investment upfront, just like it did in the past.

First, buy an DSLR you can live with for a long time, get it converted to B&W - essentially means removing the Bayer screen.

Second, get an ink jet and paper set you like, and invest in a bulk ink system for B&W.

Third, re-establish your contact/work print/finals process in Lightroom or a RIP like ImagePrint and your done.

This will take a lot of upfront work, just like it use to :)



The most insightful observation you made is that it is so much easier to say than do. The fact that being systematic will keep you on top is not rocket science (although the method you use can come close to rocket science, I suppose). The problem is always in the doing.

It can be remarkably freeing when you know you've divested yourself of tedium merely by being systematic, but there just is no way (at least for me) to remain systematic for any sustained length of time. For me at least it can be as binding at times, as it is freeing at others.

Of course, once you let it lapse it becomes a mountain eventually, on which you will have to get cracking.

Mike, I'm a privateer like you. I wouldn't want to work in the touch-once mode; Since still photo is mostly a hobby for me, I can wait 'til later to examine my negs(files). I routinely discover interesting shots from originals that I made one, two, or more years ago. Digital has made that 'reexamination process' more likely to occur: faster, easier, and generally way more productive than it ever was with film.

Very healthy workflow, Mike. When I pick up film again, that would be the way to do it.

My version of "touch once" is make sure to print anything worthwhile out of the endless array of Lightroom thumbnails. Workprint = cheap glossy Epson; Fine Print = baryta etc fancy sheet. Either way, carefully stored.

No scanners needed to illustrate this post, btw: reasonable snapshots with any digicam would do: not to accurately convert the workprints to jpegs but to show them as real objects; curls, surface sheen and all.

"So digital photography was a revelation for me -- might be for you (Mike) as well."

I've been shooting almost exclusively digital since 2003. And my last 150 or so rolls of film are still awaiting development. FWIW.


Mike: That's almost exactly my method. Works great to this day. I just wish you'd written this a few years ago when I was starting out with film shooting: would have saved me the trouble of working it out for myself.

The only difference for me is that I'm making exhibition prints from time to time to show.

Silver on fiber paper: yummy!

Re: John Camp's "do it digital in 4 minutes", well, um that's a severe underestimation of the time it takes to do a beautiful work print, at least for me, even digitally, in color. Anyway, if it's worth shooting, it's worth shooting on film!


Your workflow is one that is often recommended by the digital gurus!!! At least its equivalent is.

Their version is to import into Aperture/Lightroom/Whatever... Do a full screen pass over ALL of them, quickly. As you go rate them crudely (usually the number keys, 1-5), using eg. reject(1), ignore, or promote(2). Filter the selection so you only see those rated 2 or above. If there is many, do another pass where you rate the best of those slightly higher (eg 3 ;-)). Maybe rate a few gems at the max.

So after a few passes you only see the best of that shoot/upload. Note that you haven't deleted any, but the filtering hides the duds.

Works great for me - when I have the discipline.


Dear Mike,

Sweet column!

My darkroom workflow has been surprisingly similar to yours. I've even been able to pretty much “touch once” my digital photographs with an analogous workflow. ( I really, really need to learn Lightroom, though.)

What has totally hammered me, though, is the hybrid stuff. A number of the negatives I just wrote about scanning are being scanned for the FOURTH time! Each time I scanned the film previously, I did it at a quality level well beyond what I needed. In fact, I did it at the highest level I could imagine ever needing in the future.

Each time, five years later, I would discover needs I never imagined. It's getting rather annoying.

I'd really, truly love to be able to say this is the very last time. The problem is that these newest scans are not technical perfection. They are merely the absolute highest quality I can get from equipment I can afford. My current scans average three quarters of a gigabyte in size; perfect ones would exceed 5 GB. I cannot imagine what I would need such monstrous scans for.

But they would be measurably better, and consequently I am fearful. Very fearful

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

I have a partial system...
step 1:
Within 1-3 days of shooting, I download RAW + jpeg, and star any jpeg my gut tells me is "cool".
step 2:
Every two weeks my wife selects starred jpegs and saves them as a grouping to print and mail to our relatives. Prints get mailed off within 3 days of that pick. I go back at that point and start adding a handful of the better shots to a "best of" grouping.
step 3:
I never get around to bringing the RAWs into Photoshop and making "final edits" and finished prints.

The following steps are purely optional, but are illustrative of the... difficulties... of my method.

step 4:
I tell myself I will do a "best of" project for each year. This does not occur.
step 5:
I tell myself I need to get a monitor calibrator before it is worth my time.
step 6:
I read the KEH paper catalog from cover to cover. Maybe I need a better camera.
step 7:
I speculate about how large I could print if I just bought a Large Format camera. I start circling things in the catalog.
step 8:
The catalog now has lots of numbers scribbled in the margin. I decide it would be just as cheap to buy a new DSLR. Maybe an A-850.
step 9:
In an effort to get back to making prints again, I wonder how many negatives I have left to scan. Or how to organize them.
I start comparing the price of a used Nikon 9000 to a K-5.
step 10:
I decide I definitely can't afford to shoot film anymore. Not enough time or money. Am reminded that I have three frames left in the TLR, which I can send off for a CLA as soon as I'm done.
step 10:
Decide that I would have more keepers to print from if I had better high ISO performance. Notice that the A55 is pretty good and loads cheaper than the K-5. I find a discussion of vintage cameras with a soft focus lenses.
step 11:
Due to a database error, I fail to buy a Vest Pocket Kodak from KEH. (It uses 127 film.) I start thinking dark thoughts about the demise of film. Stay up late reading threads on the Film & Processing sub forum on Photo.net. I begin price checking an A55.
step 12:
Can't stop thinking about soft focus lenses. Discover home made lens forum on flickr, start looking at options at SurplusShed. Realize that normal focal length meniscus lenses aren't compatible with the flange-back distance on DSLRs.
Look up reviews of NEX-5.
step 13:
Read article on "Inkjet Print Survivability". Reminded that I haven't printed any best of's for this year yet. Decide to read all of the comments, and wait for followup articles to appear.

My system in film was similar to Mike's - process, sleeve, contact, work print, everything marked with a uniquely identifying number (YYYY-MM-DD-roll #-frame) so I could find them all again.

In digital, I'm using essentially the same numbering system, and I make work prints as well (two to a letter-sized sheet, then cut, so a bit bigger than 5x7)

The part that I need to develop better touch once discipline is keywording. Without that, photos are lost in the stream.

The only thing that saves my bacon, time and again, is that numbering habit - when someone says, hey I'd like a print of this photo from your blog, all I have to do is look at the filename and I know exactly where to find it.

Mike, I love the "prints on the wall" thing. I think I have wanted to do that and just never got the space for more than one at a time. The rest of my workflow was much like yours.
My workprints were put in boxes, showed around to friends and my favorites floated up to the top until the next time for a show and those images would have final prints made.
Then an odd thing happened, I switched to color. It seemed easy and logical, I suddenly had color processing equipment at hand, so it was cheaper, quicker and easier to shoot and print color. No trays to set up and then clean up and so on.
But the odd thing was that it took me much longer to "see" in color than it had in B&W. It was years before I wanted to take anything beyond the workprint stage.
It was actually easier to transition to digital, I just copied the look I finally liked from the color darkroom. And yes, it sounds backward and limiting to just copy the look of Portra NC film, I think it is in many ways.
And like you I have no idea how the whole process of moving and updating filing systems will play out in the long run. We had all sort of figured out how to file film negatives. This is unknown territory.

I recently taught first-year undergrads studying for a BA in photography in London. During an early formative assessment, I was very surprised to see so few of the 20-strong group look at their work full screen when making a selection of client-worthy pictures from their shoots; even fewer looked at the 1:1 views. (In Lightroom, this would usually be done using the compare mode) that you might use when deciding between shots that are apparently identical but which might vary in sharpness. You can pick your best shot from five or 10 very quickly.)

I always look at every image of a shoot full screen for a few seconds and have always taught photographers privately to do just that. I'd originally expected these students in their late teens and early 20s to demand more from their software and their images (technically) than photographers in their 40s and 50s making the transition to a quick digital workflow. Turned out to be completely the other way around.

Photography aside, "touch once" was one of those time management fads that didn't work.

Your putting up the workprints to view for a while really resonates with me. I make a few quick prints on my small Epson, then tape the prints to the inside of the glass doors on the bookcases in my studio/office. It’s rather nice seeing them under glass, actually. After a few days, I know which images are the selects. It’s as if they choose me, in a way.

My digital discipline starts with the picture taking, where the first rule is to shoot no more and just as discriminately as I did with film. This way the work seems just as important, just as intentional. If one waits until the editing phase, it's too late, and no longer the same creative process.

After that, I naturally had to come up with a new workflow to edit and print in a similarly disciplined manner. That process was encumbered early on by a steep digital learning curve. The learning is never-ending, but changes to the process are now few and in small increments. Many aspects, such as a room to display and contemplate work prints for fine printing, haven't changed. And, yes, I still look at each and every picture, now on a big screen is all. I also still love to mat and frame a very select few, mostly for gifts.

My photography is just as real to me as it was in my film days. It's the discipline that Mike speaks about that has been absolutely key to keeping it such.

One more thing...Mike, considering that you have so many boxes of work prints, do you have a system to locate a negative from the prints, should a particular image shout 'print me'?

"do you have a system to locate a negative from the prints?"

No, and, unfortunately, I have a number of negatives that are effectively lost...it worries me.


I'm still in the analog world, but everyone of my slides gets gets its few seconds in the halogen light. Then, things get nasty with a 60-70% cull to get things manageable (a 2 week trip usually results 500 slides trimmed down to 200- just can't deal with more!). These are then boxed in slide trays and that is that. Yes, I'd like to print off the better ones (and sometime do digitally), but with a slide as the base product it's always downhill from there- regardless of cost or technology. Looking at them? Of course! Switch on the projector and slot in the slide tray...... just close the curtains first.

Digital Workflow:

A: I shoot RAW and JPEG in both digital camera's I own.

B: If I use a Pana lens I work from JPEG if it is possible *(speed), else I work from RAW.

C: I always proces during the evening of the day I shot the pictures, that way I can still recall the whys and the hows of each and every shot.

JPEG Proces using Linux on a 6 year old HP8032 Laptop:

Step 1: Use Gwenview to check every (I mean every picture I took that day). I proces the ones I like. I do this via rightclick "edit this picture in GIMP".

Step 2: First I correct lens issues and perspective issues using filters and perspective tools in GIMP. I also "definitively" frame a shot at this stage

Step 3: Then I correct color issues using automatic white balance correction and if needed the curve (used as needed).

Step 4: I check what I need to with the picture (added correction like cleaning up a frame, and memorise that for a rainy day.

Step 5: I save the picture in a directory marked by Year, Month, Cameratype and using a name which indicates where the picture has been taken. So a picture can be in a directory called LX3 November 2010 and it can be called Düsseldorf 15.jpg it will be stored in the subdirectory "Work done on it".

Step 6: I send that directory to my big computer a 5 year old HP desktop restored by moi as a difference copy. So only the new files are added, thus providing emidiate backup.

Step 7: If not last picture goto step 1 else Step 8:

Step 8: Save the RAW and the JPG into the directory LX3 November 2010 subdirectory RAWJPEG on HP Desktop and backup on external drive if SD Card needs formatting.

RAW proces using the HP desktop directly.

Step 1: Use Silkypics to edit the RAW file

Step 2: Edit lens errors in Silkypics (CA and barrel distortion still present).

Step 3: If possible edit perspective in Silkypics.

Step 4: Develop as a TIFF

Step 5: Use GIMP (on Windows) to open the TIFF (page 1 only) and to correct colors (see JPEG proces).

Step 6: Correct perspective in GIMP if Silky's algorithm couldn't be used or did not correct completely.

Step 7: Treat according to step 5 JPG onwards.

D: On a rainy day (which are plentyfull where I live). Go over the shots once more and edit the more problematic ones using everything in the book. Sometimes that means returning to the RAW to do a faux HDR shot, sometimes it means editing a whole day on a single picture. If I think a picture deserves a days work of editing that is my problem. Store these as name + number + a till z if needed to mark every step of the proces.

E: Make a full backup of the directory containing photo's once a month.

This way I sort of know what I'm doing and also what I'm supposed to be doing next. Even if I don't get around doing it I can always check the dates and figures and since all pictures have a untouched first workup I can find them also quite easely, as the correspondig raw and jpegs straight of the camera will be datemarked the same day.

Not simple, but hey as a former computer nerd, prosseses like these are transfered into my DNA. And the cost of all this are limited to a defunct laptop running freeware and a second hand desktop bought for 200 euro and upgraded with a second disk bought for 70 euro. Software is essentially free except for a Windows XP license that came with the second hand computer. And printing........I don't print unless there is a reason to do so. Then I can be maticulous and work up picture new from scratch or know that I can get away with printing the work in progress, never bigger then A4.

Greetings, Ed

Greetings, Ed


"My current scans average three quarters of a gigabyte in size; perfect ones would exceed 5 GB. I cannot imagine what I would need such monstrous scans for."

Is this large format ? I did a fair bit of research into scanning and kind of came to the conclusion that with a frame of 6x6, any scan over about 450MB in 16bit was not getting any extra useful information at all. At that size I am scanning right down to the grain on Kodak E100G which is a very fine grain film.

When comparing the 450MB/16bit drum scan to a 300MB/16bit scan from an Imacon 949 (or Hasselblad X5) the extra edge given by the larger drum scan is very small, being ever so slightly better with *slightly* more shadow detail, but allows you to go for a bigger uninterpolated print.

So I am very interested to know what you need 5GB for. Do tell.


I have a big hard drive (with multiple redundancies/backups) with a folder called "Photographs". Inside that are folders by year "2006", "2007", etc. Inside each of those are folders roughly by shoot "2007-06-17_Yellowstone", or if I've just been screwing around for a few days/weeks and dump my card "2007-08-17_Misc". I dump my memory cards into these dated and labeled folders and make a solemn vow to never modify those files.

This gets me pretty far, keeps this chronological, orderly, backed up, and its quick and easy.

My next step varies, but generally I'll make a sub-folder called simply "copy" and copy all the jpeg files that I like into this folder. In there, I'll edit the files, delete some of them, or grab the raw file and edit that, usually saving the file as OIRGNAME_Mod.jpg or ORIGNAME_Web.jpg if its been downsized and sharpened. Sometimes I'll skip the copy folder and just save the modified files alongside the originals.

But this is where my system lets me down.

How do I make a slideshow of my best images? They are scattered all over the place.

Just traded some work time to a commercial photographer for his Beseler 23c - I'm about to learn all about this stuff first hand. I haven't developed or printed since high school.

Many of my most fulfilling photographic experiences have come from touching stuff again.

Like most business fads, I think "touch once" was an interesting idea that addresses certain issues that some people have, and which got blown all out of proportion and promoted as a panacea. These things would be a lot less destructive if they'd identify what problems they really addressed!

And like other people, I, too, have found that my increasing skill and the increasing quality of the tools I use has let me do good things with some old shots that I couldn't do at the time I took them. Going back into old photos is how I find these. Just looking at my selections at the time doesn't do it, these were largely rejected at the time.

On the other hand, I need to do more work-printing and tacking them up on the wall, or at least find a good digital equivalent (I mean a digital way that I'll frequently see the images at large sizes in day-to-day life; whether seeing them as digital vs. as print would make a difference, I'd have to find out experimentally).

My normal digital workflow does involve seeing each image enlarged (full-screen). And that's something that was never part of my B&W film workflow. Not 5 seconds; that is, not even a promise of 5 seconds. However, I can make a technical reject in a lot less than 5 seconds sometimes (I could delete those in the field, and sometimes do if there isn't something I should be shooting instead; but there's usually something to shoot, so they get deleted later), so the average may be over 5 seconds for pictures that ever had a chance.

Incidentally, Photo Mechanic is the top-end tool for reviewing / editing / rating (in the "selection" sense of editing). I can flip through RAW files about as fast as my fingers can flick. I tend towards shooting heavily, so the best tool for this phase is important to me. For careful thoughtful art shooters, I wouldn't think you'd need it (Ctein certainly doesn't seem to need it). ("Art" may not be the relevant point there, but it's attached in my head so I'll leave it for now.)

Dear Robert,

Hmmm,y'know, I've written about this subject in my book DIGITAL RESTORATION and in articles for PHOTO Techniques magazine, but I don't think I've ever written a column about it. Okay, next week's topic!

Summary version:

You asked: "So I am very interested to know what you need 5GB for."

What I said previously:"I cannot imagine what I would need such monstrous scans for."

But that's not the problem. The problem is that such scans would contain more information, and so there is a greater than zero probability that in the future I will find that I do need them.

Why do they contain more information? Because even at 4800 PPI (what I'm scanning my 6 x 7 cm film at) I don't actually RESOLVE film grain. I merely image it. Resolving film grain requires scan resolutions in excess of 10,000 PPI.

What's the difference between imaging and resolving? Point your digital camera at the night sky and open the shutter for 5 seconds or so. You'll be able to image stars. But you won't actually be resolving them. Each stellar image will fill an entire pixel, but the stars themselves are thousands of times smaller. Same situation exists when you scan film.

Imaging, rather than resolving, film grain produces subtle distortions in edge acutance and more importantly tonal values in the extreme highlights and shadows. It's a small thing, but it's real.

And this is why I live in terror of at some future time having to make FIFTH scans of my film.

A request to everyone, please. Don't respond to this post with technical questions, challenges, etc.about scanning. Don't want to hijack the comments thread. I'll give you a whole column to do that on next week.

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

Thanks for the post, Mike.

As an amateur film/darkroom shooter I'm using a similar system. It's easy to get behind if you're trigger happy in the field so I'm trying not to spray.

You've mentioned the 35 images per roll routine and the PrintFile product you use. I haven't been able to use those without scratching the negatives. Maybe too much dust in the house. I use the PrintFile ff35 fold flap design, which is perfect, and leaves no trace on the negatives whatsoever because they're protected in the fold flap before being inserted. The downside is they're arranged in strips of six which ruins everything for contact printing. I end up with a messy bunch of slightly overlapping sixes going horizontalish, if you can picture that. Bet you'd hate it. :-)

As far as scanning work prints goes, if you're not too picky about quality (I know, I know) you might be able to use your print/fax/copier. I have a Canon MX310 in my office that I use, and while it won't make art (that's what the darkroom is for), at least you have a digital copy. Here is a small example of an 8X10 work print, but the scanner will go up to 100mb files or so.

I appreciate reading these workflow write ups, which are very interesting, and offer mine up for what it's worth.

First, I use a DAM (digital asset management) program; in my case, Aperture. It is extremely useful for 3 primary reasons:

1. RAW processing is built-in. I've found the basic conversions are fine as a base line. When I need more from a file the program offers a quite comprehensive suite of tools to work on a photograph, such that I really don't need to take it into Photoshop, although the program does have a provision for round-tripping files to Photoshop

2. File organization and meta-data: the program keeps track of where the files are, as well as keeps track of the data associated with each file. It's great, and a little work after sorting means I've got relevant metadata like names and places associated with files. More importantly, I can then make "smart albums" that pick and choose among the various criteria, to help find or remember images that mean something to me

3. Back up. Aperture uses "vaults," which helps one keep back ups easy -- and, as we all are told continuously, if a back up isn't easy, it doesn't happen. Because back ups are incremental, a daily update of the vault takes only a few minutes. I also keep my photos on an external drive, and shuttle the drive between work and home, such that I can keep a few back ups remotely. I supplement this scheme with a SuperDuper clone of my Aperture library, which I occasionally use to insure it works.


So with Aperture, the process is pretty simple:

1. Import the files (mine are RAW). Back up the import ("Vaults"). The files are imported into an existing "Project", usually organized by year/month. However, for what I can atemporal photographs (say, photos of jobs), these are simply moved over to the appropriate job number

2. First sort: cull duds (with a handy reject key)

3. Second sort: rate images, one at a time, zooming in on each file for critical sharpness or detail. Frequently I'll fix white balance or even cropping for a bunch of images at once before sorting, so that I can more see the photo for what it could be. The sort is then keeper low (**), keeper middle (***), keeper high (****) and select (*****), and has worked out to about 15% high and less than 2% select

4. I'll then work on most high and select files. Most of these are destined for either an online gallery or a photo book, but not all

5. With the duds gone, I keyword all the photographs. First pass place, second pass names of people in them or type of photograph, sometimes a third pass for activity or photo quality

6. Update the Vault again. A middle-of-the-night script (easy to do in SuperDuper) clones the Aperture library to another external drive

7. Each project (date) or project (job) has associated smart albums, culling automatically best-ofs (based on ratings). In the overall library there are other smart albums for collecting images based on screening out other criteria like type of photo or good images of certain people. Finally, I have geek smart albums: best by aperture, best by shutter speed, best by lens, etc., in which it's fun to spot trends, real or imagined

8. Finally, as the year progresses, I manually drag copies of those ten or so pictures that are worth it to a "best of" by year album in two categories, general and portraits. I also export the high and select images to .jpg on an little external drive, which I give to my mother to keep when she visits. If nothing else, those images would be of interest to my family, already sorted/worked on, and easy to enjoy

In reading this thread, I see that one great addition to this for me would be to print-for-evaluation and hang photographs I think I like, to see if they still sing after a time. Back in architecture school we used to say when you're stuck, change scale or change medium, and printing is definitely changing a medium in this otherwise all-digital process

"...I can't seem to take digital shooting as seriously as "real photography"... I could never take color photography seriously either, and I could never accept using RC paper for finished prints."

Mike, you've always seemed like a man with highly developed aesthetic sensibilities. Thanks for confirming that in writing. :-)

Note that I'm talking just about my own photography, not that of others. Of course.


I look at every image full-screen, but also find that it is helpful to look at a small thumbnail of the same picture at the same time.

Many of my favorite photographs are visually interesting in both large and small sizes.

Random thoughts:

My main rule in the darkroom was that if I could not get a decent print in 4 or 5 tries the picture probably wasn't any good to begin with and I should cut my losses. This almost always works.

The same rule can also be applied to digital... you take a few shots at it in Lightroom/Photoshop, and if you can't make it look right you know you've done something wrong and you give up for now.

I "one touch" things in Lightroom and I generally "print" by posting processed pictures to a web site. Occasionally I'll also bring files to Costco and have them run my prints in their digital printing machine. This works pretty well.

I think I shoot more frames of digital than I did of film. But why not? Digital lets you do that. I see no reason to get caught up in some kind of contest to see how sparingly you can shoot pictures before you get a good one.

I kinda wish there were a digital process that gave you something that looks and feels like a B&W fiber print. But there isn't. And I miss that, but not enough to set up a darkroom again and put up with the breathing problems and rashes caused by the chemicals.

Kia ora.

> Every second or third evening, I'd
> develop a tank of film...for three rolls of 35mm

Yes, I need to start doing that for at least every 3 or 6 rolls that gather, otherwise I'm going to keep facing this, which took *more* than all day.


BATS! Cool. Daddy's Highway....


I would like to say that the issue of making work prints in my (now permanent) darkroom has 're-liberated' my photography from the substantial cost of doing this digitally: indeed I would like to attest to the fact that digital home printing is far more expensive than wet printing if you want to do proofing and end quality prints.
At present I have my Sony A900 sitting in a camera store awaiting sale, which means I am 100% film for the first time in 6 years and I am much happier and more motivated.
Your fine article, Mike, has touched upon the great joy of film which is that I can pick up one of many boxes of negatives, contacts and work prints and get more pleasure, involvement and desire to make great prints than sifting through my digital archive. My methods are approximately half way to your standards, Mike, but I can, in about 20 seconds, pull out a contact sheet and some 10x8's of my first child crawling over the carpet from 15 years ago and that gives me much joy that I cannot 'get into' with digital.
I'm not pro this or anti that but I have found where my head and heart lie.

"The Path to Freedom: My (Former) 'Touch-Once' Method"

Been with my old dear almost 19 years and still no kids.

It's a good method

I've noticed the same thing Simon Griffee mentions -- looking at photos in different sizes is interesting and relevant (and corresponds to seeing any final print from different distances). I don't think I believe in rules like "a great photo must look great at all distances"; but doing so is at least an interesting aspect of a photo.

(Simon clearly isn't asserting any such rule; I'm just preemptively emphasizing that I'm not either.)

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