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Old 01-12-2016   #20
Former PH, USN
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hepcat is offline
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Eastern Iowa
Age: 64
Posts: 1,268
I spent the better part of two years in a Navy photolab darkroom, daily doing custom and quantity hand-printing from about twenty different photographers' negatives. Cal's advice is advice that is worth following. Too many "guys who own cameras" today expect that framing, pressing the shutter release, and letting the camera do the work is "photography" and as they grow, are disappointed in their results.

A significant theme in really learning how to be a photographer is learning consistency. Consistency in learning the properties of a single film emulsion. Consistency in exposure and filter application. Consistency in learning the properties of a single film developing process, and consistency in printing those negatives. If you can't produce consistency, you can't deviate from it consistently. If your results are random, you can't replicate either your successes or failures. You have to know, understand, and own the rules before you can creatively break them.

Narcissistic "photographers" eschew the "rules" and tell us they're not important, but the truth is that any photographers' work that takes your breath away not only understood the rules, but are consistent about their work. And when they deviate from them and make something amazing, it's seldom accidental. Once again that consistency comes into play. Of course, that takes self-discipline, time, and hard work. Often folks in the digital age aren't willing to put the time in it takes to learn consistency and self-discipline.

So, if you really want to learn to print well, learn how to print consistently, and as you learn how to do that, you'll also learn what makes a good negative, and what makes one print dull and unexciting and the next one snap... and then you can consistent make prints that snap. THEN you can begin to vary the process (once you really HAVE a process) if you want to begin to explore alternative processes... consistently.
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