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Tuesday, 16 April 2013


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No news here. Prints are the only way.

Considering what happened at the Boston Marathon, the headline and the image seem apropos. In fact, I thought the post was going to be about that when I saw the headline.

[I know nothing about it, haven't even seen the news reports yet. My gut feeling is that it's domestic terrorism. But of course I don't know anything more than anyone else does. --Mike]

I really like some of these, as artworks.

Maybe I am too young or I not fixated on the original. But I actually like some of these composite images. I think these could be a fun mixed photo project.
I also think this is much much better than the blue eyed Lincoln!

Of course, one could easily argue that classic darkroom prints have the same problem. With each being essentially hand-crafted separately, and in some cases the artist's view changing over time, no two will even be the same.

Of course you'll still be seeing what the artist wanted you to see when he made the print, and not what some webmaster wanted you to see...

Are reproductions in media other than online more accurate? Or are they just harder to quantify without significantly more work or legal considerations?

Wow. One of the best web sites I've seen. Thanks, Mike!

Venus on the half-shell is just as silly, and Girl with Pearl earring is just as beautiful as the original.

Interesting. Yesterday I visited the exhibition of Man Ray portraits at the National Portrait Gallery, London. 'Larmes' ('Tears') was not there because it's not a portrait, but there were two versions of his famous solarised profile of Lee Miller. The print was quite tightly cropped but a contemporary magazine reproduction gave the profile more space (I liked it better). Likewise there were two prints of an image from 1930 showing Nusch Eluard and Sonia Mosse embracing. The 1936 print is larger, a little more contrasty, sharper and more tightly cropped than the first version. Which means that Man Ray reinterpreted his images exactly as Bernard suggested above.

As Ansel said, "The negative is the score and the print the performance." In the book _Looking at Ansel Adams_ they show many examples of how his prints evolved over time.

Clearly there's something wrong with me. The more I look at these, the more I like them.


Really frightening. I'm so scared that tonight I'm gonna sleep with the lights on (hopefully with the right white balance).

One of the things one can't help noticing in exhibitions run by dealers is that while vintage prints usually command a higher price than recent ones, the print quality of the recent ones is often markedly 'better', especially if made by stars of the printing world. That's another aspect of the point Bernard made just above. I don't think that there ever can be 'one true version' of any photograph. Once the photographer is dead the question of whether future prints are a true interpretation becomes unanswerable.

Printed photo-books can't match the quality of full size prints but I'd hate to be denied access to any photographer's work on those grounds. And so to the Web. If works of art have anything to say to anybody then the limitations of reproduction on screen can't invalidate that medium altogether. And in due course it may be possible to visit a print in a museum or, halfway stage, buy a photo-book. Henry

Hi Mike,
It could be equally interesting to give the same neg or digital file to 5 or 10 different printers and see what the results are ;-)

The idea of an individual photograph only printed one way is also foolish. Many interpret the negative differently as the years pass, for many reasons.

I think a lot of you guys are suffering from "man with a hammer sees only nails" syndrome.

Most of the works featured are reproductions of PAINTINGS and various works on paper, not photos. In that context there is, indeed, only one correct version.

Of course nobody is entirely sure how colour perception varies from person to person. We may spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about consistency when in fact everyone sees it differently anyway.

I have seen that Man Ray image printed by him in both the brown and the whiter versions, but don't recall seeing the greenish ones.

The whole "vintage prints" thing can be funny. Neil Selkirk's Diane Arbus prints are of much higher technical quality than her own prints but something about her prints has a physical presence that his do not. I went to the Larry Winogrand show at SFMOMA last week and Winogrand's prints were easily identifiable by their rather obvious burning and dodging compares to the posthumous prints.

I used to think they were both mediocre printers but started to wonder if I were like that BBC engineer who apologised to Jimmy Hendrix about not being able to fix all that feedback and distortion.

giant missed opportunity, it really needed to be '96 tears' ;)

That's nothing, if your software doesn't apply gamma correction properly you might mistake an apple for a pear.

I've been bothered by this since the nineties, and I'm curious to see how it's going to play out with digital source material.

With analog sources, I can understand that everyone is going to be working from a different source, a different capture device, and with a different display, so the final images will be quite different. Will we see wild color and tone variations--beyond profile mis-matches--in appropriated digital images?

Kenneth Tanaka

"I think a lot of you guys are suffering from "man with a hammer sees only nails" syndrome."

Very true, of course, although I suspect Mike intended to highlight the effect of the experiment on photographers.

However, I suspect that a lot of photographers when they sit for hours at the computer gently tweaking an image until it looks exactly right - notwithstanding that they know about the vagaries of any subsequent viewing platforms - are intent on producing a unique finished work analogous to a painting.

Darkroom prints are slightly different of course

I guess commenter Bill is right, more or less. I saw 'Girl with the Pearl Earring' in The Hague (I live not far from it) and none of these reproductions is correct. But then, even the original isn't. When you're in love, your eyes don't see that accurately.

What is most interesting about this phenomenon, to me, is that despite all the variation a great image remains a great image.

Do we learn here that the web is terrible, or do we learn that the fine details of reproduction don't really matter as much as perhaps we thought they do?

Maybe, maybe not, at least Ms. Johansson gave a nice GwaPE, don´t you think so Erik,....to respond in terms of the latest Pentax/Ricoh "GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR"

Greets, Ed

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