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Tuesday, 16 March 2021


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Interesting about Norman Seeff...before I graduated into commercial photography, I used to shoot a lot of 35mm Panatomic-X under strobe, and remember thinking, when I used to see his album covers (and before you could ever get technology info from a photographer for any reason), that the prints sure looked like Panatomic-X. 50 years later, problem solved!

"16x20, from 35mm Panatomic-X negs." Just curious how the Pan-X was developed. I found that underdevelopment (at least by Kodak standards) slightly give a very smooth, almost grainless neg.

Great stories and insight! Thanks for sharing. There was great photography and graphics on record covers, but what I miss more are the back covers that were sometimes chock full of information, appreciations, lyrics, or photos of the band, crew and ephemera.

By the way, I'm pretty sure it's the younger folks behind the resurgence of vinyl records. If they're mocking anything, it's that so many of us got suckered into replacing them with CDs.

Speaking of album covers, I have always liked the Stephen Paley photo on the cover of Live Cream. It really matched up well with the music and conjured up in my mind imaginations of seeing them live.

Two mistakes with prints, I think.

First is that people forget that prints are physical objects. So, if the image subtends π/3 it does not matter if it is giant thing on wall far away or small thing you hold in your hand close by. It does matter because prints are physical objects: holding a thing in your hand matters.

Second is that people forget that prints are physical objects. So if you are looking at vast print far away you can pretend you have only one eye and do idealised ray optics, but if you are looking at a small print close to, then you must remember that you have two eyes, quite far apart, and they see quite geometrically different images of the print now, and so it looks quite different.

Prints are not images: they are physical objects. Images are boring, prints are not.


My first thoughts when i saw this headline: Frau Merkel und Herr Kohl (Madonna and Helmut). And I am even not german!

Mike, we all know size matters. It’s kinda like money. When they say it’s not about the money, it’s about the money. And now, with PS’s new feature of Super-Resolution, as reported on by among others Scott Kelby, size will be within mere mortals’ grasps.

I too love album covers. I have a poor education and a lot of what I know about jazz I got from reading album covers.
When Creed Taylor decided to break away and start CTI records he tapped the great photo enchanter Pete Turner for cover art.
One of my favorites being the chopper shot on the cover of Kenny Burrell's God Bless the Child.
If you look at the inside of a vintage vinyl copy you will find this offer.
"cover photograph available as a large (11x14in.) custom color print for $19.50. Each photograph is printed by K&L Color Laboratories according to the photographers own standards".
In the army in the late 60's I spent a lot of time under a set of Koss Pro4a headphones being transported by all sorts of music while enjoying the album covers too.
It's kind of a dreary, rainy day here in the scenic Loess Hills of Western Iowa so perhaps it would be good to pull out one of the AC Jobim "lounge" albums and follow it off with Revolver while the corned beef cooks.
Just upgraded my cart to an Ortofon Red so it should sound pretty good.

[Mike, I grew up down the street from Johnny Koss, the son of the founder of Koss headphones whose name was also John I believe. The Pro4a was a standard for years way back when. --Mike]

A visit to http://normanseeff.com is worthwhile.

I find those observations and insights by Jeff Markus to be both interesting on an intellectual level and engaging on an emotional level. The common thread is the power inherent in a well-crafted physical print. Thank you, Jeff.

Surely, there is a book in this topic. One that distills the experiences and insights of expert printers as to the effects of size and format shape and to the power of the print itself.

Crabby Umbo and Bill Tyler,

You guys both nailed it. Norman has always shot with strobe and umbrellas, whether in studio or on location. Rating Pan-X at 32 ASA and Kodachrome 25 also at 32 ASA allowed us to interchange color and B+W loaded bodies at will, without having to worry about exposure.

For processing the Pan-X I used D-76 as what could be described as a partial-replenishment soup, using less fresh developer than Kodak specified. This insured that highlights on peoples' faces never got too dense to print smoothly, a slight compensating effect. The negs would be just a touch thin and flat, but with good detail in the shadows. Though I never tested it out, it was my understanding that this also served to soften the grain somewhat.

Mike, I'm a bit older than you are, and I sure do miss going to record stores to look at covers. Used to do that even when I had no money to buy anything, it was just the best way to see what was current in photography and graphic design. That was how I first became aware of Norman's work, several of my favorite covers were done by him. And you would meet the most interesting
people there. In high school, the first couple of times I ever smoked the evil weed were in the blacklight room at the back of a record shop on the Sunset strip.

When cd's started really selling I did several jobs reprinting Norman's old covers, because record companies had lost the original artwork. It was always a letdown to see how the tiny 6x6 images compared to 12x12's. Norman's Ray Charles shot, an outtake from an advertising shoot, was used for the cover of "Genius Loves Company", but only released as a cd as far as I know.
That was a great shoot, Ray told us the story of how he learned to drive...

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