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Saturday, 19 June 2010


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What are you going to print with the 90% digital work? You mentioned you had given up on the HP printer.

Dear Mike,

Aside from the blatant error, which is that you ever gave up film, people routinely seem to get printing and photographing conflated in error-yielding ways. Hardly the same thing.

pax / Ctein


I'm enjoying the darkroom posts, it brings back many memories. My best darkroom work was done in a 5' square bathroom in a small music store I operated in the 1980s. It was so small I had to use the 1-tray method, which turned out to be very efficient. Film development had to be done at night because the door wasn't completely light tight.


Info on black and white digital printing at
I-Trak 2.1 http://www.cjcom.net/itrak.htm

Well "experienced photographer still uses digital" doesn't have the same bite somehow. Heck, you were an editor (still are, of TOP), so the headline writing business is in your veins.

The Pope is still Catholic. Bears - um - recycle nutrition in the woods. Earth still turning. Sun still burning. Price of fish unaffected.

I've got about 40 rolls of 120 in the freezer (a mix of old Velvia 50 and Portra, with one lone roll of SFX200 infrared), and another 30 or so rolls of 35mm. My question is do I buy a used 35mm Nikon to do justice to the 35mm, toss it away in the trash, or is there a market for perfectly preserved unexposed film stock?


Why not digitize all your negatives
and print up the ones you like on an
ink jet printer (dye or pigment)?
What's the attraction of silver-gelatin

It's the authentic medium for this work. The negatives were made to be silver-gelatin prints; it's the medium for which the pictures were conceived; it's what all the "vintage" originals are.


What about that Mamiya 7 you just bought with proceeds from Ctein's print sale? You're not going to let that beautiful camera collect dust, are you? If you are, please send it my way. I will happily pay postage.

Dear Paul,

Aside from the 'artistic compatibility' reason Mike mentioned, there are two other reasons.

1) Enjoyment. Mike LIKES darkroom printing. That alone is sufficient to justify the decision. Mike does photography for pleasure, not for work.

2) Efficiency and economy. Unless Mike is a lot faster and better at digital printing and a lot slower and worse at darkroom printing than I believe, he can print faster in the darkroom and for less money.

The difference can be considerable. I'm quite adept in both environments, but I can turn out a custom darkroom print from scratch in 1/3-1/4 the time it takes me to scan a negative and make a custom digital print of comparable quality. It also costs me less than half as much.

Those are not inconsiderable losses! It vexes me that I care nothing for conventional darkroom printing any longer. It means I can print far less of my work, and it guarantees that I will never, ever get caught up on my printing. Not that it was all that likely, but this simply makes it impossible.

Enjoyment is by far the most important reason and should trump everything else, but artistic coherency and economic/time efficiency are not things to be ignored.

pax / Ctein

One suggestion for an accessory for your darkroom: a small, cheap, netbook computer. We're all behind you spending extended time printing, but we want to read about it. A little remote blogging post would stop you feeling guilty about spending all your time down there in the dark.

I am currently after 8 years of abstinence shooting BW again. In my favorite formats: 35mm with a OM1 dated from 1976, mint, which I bought for 50 dollars with a Zuiko 50 mm 1,8, and 4x5, my beloved landscape machine. I confess I got into it for sheer boredom of having to go to work with a Canon DSLR AGAIN, same viewfinder, same lens everybody else on planet Earth has (almost, and if not probably a clone of it), and getting the same "look" for my images. I rebelled, got my humble Cambo film survibvor, 32 sheets of Fomapan 100, and went to the studio and shot a full fashion editorial spread on it. Beautiful, and so much fun. Lesson learned: it's very healthy to change your shooting conditions every now and then so you keep your skills going strong. Using the same stuff every day can bore a little and detract from your creativity. Shooting film has got my imagination going again. I have to previsualize and imagine what my photograph is going to look like. This is a very strong selling point of film for me after 8 years shooting digital cameras.

Come on Mike - you know you wanna join us neo-film hipsters really. The first stage is to admit it to yourself.


Why do you think people care so much? Going back to film... Switching to Nikon... Switched to Canon... Uses primes... Uses zooms... That´s neverending madness.

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