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Monday, 07 June 2010


Mike, you might start off with paraphrasing "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times".
Rick in CO


I too love the letterpress idea, but will buy in whatever format you decide, physical or electronic. Consider this a "strongly supportive" post for the idea of a darkroom series.

If you go letterpress, would you consider including a few small "real" prints, pasted to the pages - perhaps similar to the original Camera Work? This would not likely be feasible for a large print run, but perhaps for the first 25 or 100 copies? Brooks Jensen has a technique used a few years back in Lenswork to "mass" produce silver prints that may lessen the effort to produce so many prints, especially if burning and dodging are involved.

Included real prints provide the opportunity to visually show your readers concepts that you are trying to get across in a way that a reproduction or text cannot. There is something visceral about a print that is missing in electronic communication, despite all the advantages of electronic media. A direct author to reader connection.


Those of us that shot film before (or alongside) digital and gradually gave up, are tending to realize that something almost intangible is missing from our digital experience.

Feel free to see (or almost see, or hear) the nearly intangible benefits to film (and tube audio) all you like; but please leave me out of it!

I shot film before, and then alongside, digital, and then gave up film entirely. I gave up film basically as fast as the technology got good enough and I could afford it. Digital is better in all ways except camera weight and size than film photography ever was for me.

I am one of "those of us who"...and I strongly disagree with you. Nothing wrong with disagreement, your opinion is as good as mine. But let's keep the rhetoric turned down to what you can support! Not everybody with that experience is on your side of this argument.

The olden days? Don't get me started on the olden days! The young'uns have no idea what it was like. Let me tell you it was no fun being a custom printer in those ancient eras.

Why, I remember my very first darkroom like it was yesterday. That coal-fired, steam driven enlarger was truly torturous to use. And the print spotting? It took weeks! All that fly ash floating around the darkroom, you know... (we hadn't invented ventilation yet).

But still, it would've been even worse without the enlarger; those darkrooms were practically arctic (we hadn't invented heating, yet, either). Why I remember setting up crushed ice water baths for film development in order to WARM UP the developer enough to get it to function!

Still, even that had its benefits. Processing good old Kodak Half-X in A-1 developer (they hadn't worked their way up to the D's yet) at 1°C came in at two weeks for normal contrast, so you only needed to agitate the film cans every six hours. Not much of a problem nor distraction from the daily routine of mining the hogs and refinishing the cattle, so long as you remembered to wind the rooster so it'd get you up for that early-morning agitation.

Sure, the print turnaround times weren't great, but the film exposures took forever anyway. You want to talk about slow film? Oh, don't get me started, don't get me started...

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

Dear folks,

I think Mike's entirely right to be looking at going the VERY small press route on this book. Sales of traditional photographic craft books are extremely small these days. I will, of course, be happy to hook him up with my editor at Focal Press when he has the manuscript done. Since he is insistent upon writing the whole thing before trying to sell it, I don't see any harm in giving it a try, other than possibly a bit of a delay in self-publication. but I'd be real surprised if they go for it.

Sales of the second edition of POST EXPOSURE were extremely low. The average, since the book came out, has been only 10 copies a month. This past year, it averaged 4-5 copies a month. Even by Focal Press standards, that is mighty low.

They have no intention of producing a third edition, and I don't blame them. I'm contemplating doing an electronic book myself, as those rights stayed with me. But I haven't yet decided if it will be a new version of Post Exposure, expanded by 50% to encompass digital printing and workflow, or if I'll write an entirely new book. There are pros and cons to both approaches. And, most importantly, I haven't decided whether or not to do it at all.

At least if I did it electronically, it would be very cheap "per copy." I could probably sell the book for $9.95 as a PDF, formatted both for reasonable screen reading and for printing out as a dead-paper copy. I'd probably even break even on an hourly for my time when all was said and done. Maybe.

Point is, I'm never going to do an update as a pure traditional darkroom book. The market just isn't there, and hasn't been for 10 years. That's the problem with the darkroom business; there is not a large turnover, which is why it started to collapse in the big 90s, long before the rest of the "analog photography" industry saw any measurable changes. Once the number of hobbyists stopped growing, the market for non-consumables collapsed. People don't need a lot of new darkroom equipment and they don't need a lot of new darkroom books.

What Mike is talking about doing is a labor of love (and, truthfully, if I do a digital expansion of POST EXPOSURE, that's probably what it will be also). If it makes money for him, that will be great, but if he does he'll be even more surprised by that than I.

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

I'm pretty sure I wouldn't like knitting.


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