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Friday, 20 August 2021


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What if you used a few digital photo frames (maybe score some older models cheap on Ebay)? Load up the "selects" on a few scrolling digital frames that you can see regularly, set them to random, and note which pictures draw your attention over time.
Not quite the same as a wall of work prints that you can consider more carefully, and likely in comparison to each other, but...

Back inn the day , Enlarged contacts were a regular service of many labs. I used to get them from Modern Age, and Duggal.
Of course they had 8x10 enlargers which had 10"x10" carriers, you could get a whole roll on 16x20 which was enough to see them much better. 9 - up on 16x20 is bigger still.
Nice way to look at work, a real pain to store.
Mostly we processed B&W ourselves and proofed on 8 1/2" x11" AZO
Everything fit much easier than 8x10.
Those AZO contacts are pristine after 50 years.

Percolation time is essential to sort out infatuation from true love. The enthusiasm at exposure may not hold up after a few days.

I often find images I don't like after I make them. I attribute them to temporary demonic possession.

If you want to make a choice of terminology, I consider an image to exist as pixels on a screen while a photograph is an artifact.

My work print process, since the 80’s, has been very similar to yours, as have been the often surprising results from culling over a week or two. But I have done the same thing with inkjet prints since transitioning from film to all-digital in 2009. For me, a print is still a print. And I find that I still shoot as deliberately with digital as film; the difference being that some of my prints (the minority) are now color.

Dude, I don’t care how long it takes, just make sure it meets the MJ TOP standard of justifiable and coherent, per your excellent writing. MJ TOP JC for short. ‘Nough said, carry on.

Some guy had a newsletter named “the 37th frame” sort of the opposite of what you describe.

Back when photocopiers were gigantic pieces of office furniture, they contained a lens that was perfect for building an 8x10 enlarger setup to make 16x20 or 20x24 enlarged proofs. I picked up 4 or 5 lenses on the street in Manhattan back in the early 80s. For that matter the pre-press and printing industry was exciting Manhattan and there were 20x24 stat cameras on the sidewalk every few days. Still have a box of lenses from them.

Hello Mike,

I find your process interesting. It does produce the best results for you, no doubt. But I wonder if you tried at least once to put the winners of a few batches together and to reapply the process, if that makes sense. Is the second percolation more difficult? I would say it should be, but only you can confirm this.

Can't wait to see the selected pictures this time. Thank you for doing this!

This process seems to be the diametric opposite of how Instagram works, publishing attention-grabbing, often superficial images in order to collect 'likes' and gushing comments before the viewer moves onto the next brief stimulus.

Looking forward to seeing the selected images and some of the stories that accompany them.

Plus One for enlarged contacts. A great idea until you started wondering how you were going to store them? I started professionally at a studio that shot mostly sheet film for advertising, and we had an 8 X 10 enlarger where we could put a whole roll of 35mm into the glass negative carrier. One of the photographers liked it, but since we did zero 35mm for money, it was mostly his personal stuff and we were told not to do it for him.

BTW, think I read somewhere that W. Eugene Smith made 5 X 7 workprints of everything he shot, everything! At least on certain projects.

BTW, ditto on coffee. Caffeine aggravated all kinds of muscle problems for me so I quit it in my 30's. It started creeping into my life again in my late 50's, and now in my mid-60's my doctor started to see a small heart palpitation, so I quit it again. Problems disappeared. Hated all decafes I tried, so I now limit myself to one strong coffee shop brew Sunday morning and that's it! BTW, heart palpitations (and muscle cramps)? Also could be lack of potassium. I also added a banana a day, and the cramps disappeared immediately.

Percolation helps with a lot of other things in life too, like solving difficult computer problems ... if one is stuck it often helps to move on to other things and come back later while the information collected in the first pass percolates. Revisiting the problem later will often bring insight that one missed before.

Unrelatedly about Instagram:

I have as many gripes about Instagram as any older human might, but they are mostly around how the *mechanics* of the site are terrible. While there certainly exist folks who go after cheap likes in my experience there are also a lot of folks who no doubt percolate over what to post for a long while before sending something out.

Linguistic note to Gerard: Yes, "percolator" has the same meaning in American English - a device for making coffee by repeatedly passing the fluid through a bed of ground coffee. Boiling water is forced up through a tube in the center of the percolator. The top of the tube projects through a perforated basket that holds coffee grounds. The water lands on top of the grounds and percolates back down into the main part of the pot, collecting coffee goodness on its way.

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