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Digital BW love. Am I the only one?
Old 12-12-2019   #1
tifat
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Join Date: Dec 2006
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Digital BW love. Am I the only one?

Mike Johnston from The Online Photographer recently posted a piece that was highly critical of the state of digital black and white. My reaction is somewhere between angst and outrage. Am I missing something when I look at photography or does he have a ridiculously narrow view of what a black and white image should look like?

When looking at prints I want to see a full range of tones (usually but not always) from black black (but not necessarily ink black) to a clean paper base. I avoid dumping in the blacks or blown highlights. I prefer a clean neutral print with no evidence of manipulation or excess artistry.

A part of my expectation from digital printmaking is the result of a fairly long background in silver and platinum printing. Platinum from a large format negative limits the opportunity for manipulation. This affected my thinking about silver printing and I currently use pyro with VC paper with minimal (none) dodging or burning for silver. When starting with digital, I carried this approach forward and have found the transition pretty easy. I'm finding the look of my digital prints somewhere between silver and platinum but different. I don't expect any process to look like another.

Anyway, I'm not sure where I'm going with this question. I'm almost completely happy with my approach to digital (Leica CL with M lenses, Ricoh GR III, 95% jpegs with Lightroom, Canon Pro-1000, Hahnemuhle Photo Rag). I guess that's all that matters. But I live in rural New England and work mostly in isolation. When I read posts like Mike's I wonder if I'm missing something.
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