Shadowing an experienced printer
Old 01-08-2016   #1
Lauffray
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Shadowing an experienced printer

This is an idea I've been thinking about for a while. I've been printing on my own for almost a year now and I've read some books and experimented and I feel I'm hitting a plateau in that area. I strongly believe in learning from others, not necessarily copying their methods but at least being exposed to other ways of doing/thinking, questioning and adapting those methods to my own.

Are there any experienced printers who wouldn't mind being shadowed as they work and bombarded with questions ? Preferably in town but maybe also NYC as I travel there quite often (or used to at least)
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Old 01-08-2016   #2
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Maybe find a class?
Or, offer to pay someone at a lab or school — like a private class/consultant fee — for some after hours tutelage?

Anything specific you're trying to learn?
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Old 01-08-2016   #3
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Originally Posted by Lauffray View Post
This is an idea I've been thinking about for a while. I've been printing on my own for almost a year now and I've read some books and experimented and I feel I'm hitting a plateau in that area. I strongly believe in learning from others, not necessarily copying their methods but at least being exposed to other ways of doing/thinking, questioning and adapting those methods to my own.

Are there any experienced printers who wouldn't mind being shadowed as they work and bombarded with questions ? Preferably in town but maybe also NYC as I travel there quite often (or used to at least)
Jerome,

In art school back in the day (1970's), I learned that making good negatives was the easiest way to make good prints. I was trained to make negatives that had the proper contrast that could be straight printed on a straight grade number 2 paper after having nailed the principles of multigrade filters.

John who you know from the NYC Meet-Up also went to art school, but he was trained to print on a straight grade of 3.

I was also taught a lot of discipline about consistency with not only exposure, but time and temperature. The more control I got the more I learned, and this sped up my results. On top of that I would make go through a box of 8x10 in a weekend.

My negatives were very easy to print, not a lot of dodging and burning was required, and most times I just agitated locally the highlights when the print lay in the tray of developer if required. I got to a point were I did not have to make test strips and I could squint and stop down the enlarger lens to the correct F-stop for my exposure because my eye was trained to recognize the correct amount of light required. The idea in art school is learn how to make a good negative that you can just straight print, and then learn how to consistently repeat that process.

I just saved you about 4 years and tens of thousands of Loonies. John also one said, "The best tool is a trained eye." I was a good printer back then, but I think my eye has gotten better, and when I get back into the darkroom again I'm sure it will be like getting on a bicycle.

Although I don't shoot large format there's a lot to learn from those forums. Very technical, lots of information, and these shooters really care about IQ and printing big. In a way I tend to shoot like a large format photographer, even though I only shoot small and medium format. Also know that I've been printing digitally the output from my Monochrom for a year now, and the wet printing that developed my eye surely has helped make me a better digital printer.

Cal
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Old 01-08-2016   #4
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Thanks Cal, great advice. Do you still print on fixed grade or do you use multigrade paper now ?


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Originally Posted by CK Dexter Haven View Post
Anything specific you're trying to learn?
I want to be exposed to different ways of doing things, and maybe pick up a way to improve my method, speed up some things I do, find out if something I thought was important is in fact irrelevant etc

I also have some practical questions about specific techniques, like burning skies or split grade printing. I've read a lot, but I'm the kind that learns best by doing
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Old 01-08-2016   #5
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Thanks Cal, great advice. Do you still print on fixed grade or do you use multigrade paper now ?
Jerome,

I outgrew using resin coated multigrade papers decades ago, in fact for me it took only one semester (my first). The idea of my advice, and what they teach you in 4 years of art school is to get enough control that you only need one straight grade of paper (fiber) to print negatives that are easy to straight print. Think like a large format shooter who is making a negative that is going to be contact printed. This is the challenge. Does not matter if you are shooting small format because the idea is that you are optimizing your negative for just one paper.

When my photography professor noticed that I got a level of consistency that other students did not possess he told me to start buying grade 2 fiber and adjust my negatives for the contrast of the paper.

Once you can do this you already are a pretty good printer. This seems to be the most basic skill required to become a fine art printer that they taught in all art schools. Not sure if all art schools have darkrooms anymore.

Today I'm only printing digitally using an Epson 3880 (17 inch wide) and a Epson 7800 (24 inch wide) using Piezography (7 shades of black). It seems the eye I developed from analog printing has helped me a lot with the digital printing. Really remarkable what I have done in one year. I have a Besseler 23C in storage because I don't have the space to set up my darkroom in Madhattan.

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Old 01-11-2016   #6
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Jerome,

I outgrew using resin coated multigrade papers decades ago, in fact for me it took only one semester (my first). The idea of my advice, and what they teach you in 4 years of art school is to get enough control that you only need one straight grade of paper (fiber) to print negatives that are easy to straight print. Think like a large format shooter who is making a negative that is going to be contact printed. This is the challenge. Does not matter if you are shooting small format because the idea is that you are optimizing your negative for just one paper.
What's the advantage of fixed grade paper over multigrade ?
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Old 01-11-2016   #7
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IMO it is simply a better looking surface, of course depending on your paper choices. I am only referring to resin coated papers, which I personally find ugly.

Cal really sums it up, although each person will need to experiment on paper grade, but shooting for your paper really works.
I'm using Ilford Multigrade FB not RC, I'm not even sure I can find fixed grade paper in store.
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Old 01-11-2016   #8
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Frankly I don't really understand this idea of 'starting with a good neg and they will print themselves.
This kinda resonates with the ken rockwell idea that you should buy a camera with a good jpeg engine and you won't have any troubles...
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Old 01-11-2016   #9
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I would add that if you could learn to draw with charcoal, it could be beneficial. Either life drawing or landscape...
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Old 01-11-2016   #10
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Originally Posted by photomoof View Post
Cal really sums it up, although each person will need to experiment on paper grade, but shooting for your paper really works.
Fred has the concept that they teach in art schools. First benefit is it teaches you how to be consistent really fast because you are concentrating on only one thing. Using multicontrast papers can be looked upon as a crutch, a crutch that IMHO can hold you back because contrast is so easy to correct. When I say consistent it means having that control in both developing film and printing. It is the combination of these two processes that become like a dance that involves two people and not two solo operations. Don't forget consistency in image capture and now you are choreographing three dancers. Optimizing for one grade of paper is an intergrative process where everything counts. Think of three dancers dancing together to put on a show together and not three solo performances.

Second thing it teaches and strengthens fundamental skills like exposure and composition to visualize the shot before printing. Can you control negative density to the point where you get a full tonal range regardless of light? Are your negatives easy to print? Do you require lots of dodging and burning to make up for bad or less than optimal exposure?

Third thing it teaches you is to use filters to control contrast at image capture which is something I feel most B&W shooters don't do. Do you try to optimize contrast at image capture? Steve once said, "You can't print what's not there." Pretty easy on a bright day to have skies print white blowing out the clouds as blown highlights. Again shoot like how a large format shooter would... get everything right at image capture for contact printing even though I'm shooting small format.

Fourthly is as you skill developes so will your artistic vision, then you will discover a voice, a vision, a signature, and a style that is your own.

"Less is more." If you are doing everything correctly your skills advance rapidly. Consider yourself lucky that you are a printer, not only because it is becoming a lost art, but also because becoming a good or great printer will make you into a better photographer. To me this is pure old school.

Graded papers are readily available, but not necessarily in resin coated. Graded papers are looked upon as more pro and less consumerish and are higher ended (cost more).

I don't like how resin coated papers look either (look like a sheet of plastic). In a fine art sense, and fine art printing, fiber prints cost more and maintain the traditional look of a silver wet print which commands a premium. Art dealers and galleries want the fiber prints over resin coated.

Cal
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Old 01-11-2016   #11
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I dunno frankly, sounds more like a headache as oppose to something creative i.e. freeing your mind.

At least if you're learning charcoal drawing you're starting with a blank piece of paper and choose where to add tones of black (light) and where to remove with your eraser (bleach), etc...

Alternatively I'd look at the work of competent people who print their own stuff (not magnum)...
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Old 01-11-2016   #12
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Cal you are a fountain of knowledge, I'm buying you a beer next time I'm in NYC
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Old 01-11-2016   #13
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Cal you are a fountain of knowledge, I'm buying you a beer next time I'm in NYC
Jerome,

Like I said I saved you tens of thousands of Loonies...

Printing really can advance your photography and make you a better photographer. The time you spend in the darkroom is well spent.

Not that I'm a shooter like W. Eugene Smith, but I would love to be a shooter and printer like him. His downfall though was that he loved control so much that editors black listed him.

Cal
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Old 01-12-2016   #14
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Just putting this here but in this thread I do not see someone who is entirely willing to learn or at least is looking for an easy way out.

I see this happen in a lot of forums and groups, a kind of selective learning and disregard of others approaches. If you really want to learn this attitude is not healthy and a real detriment to your experience, try everything and explore for yourself to find what best suits you. Don't be afraid to detach from the conventional and not be directed by the 'internet'.

Very much like AA v Mortensen practices.

Irony of this thread being the opposite of you originally requested, to be be exposed to other ways of working. In short, I wouldn't disregard what chikne or anybody else is saying. Perhaps even reading some psychology books will help and lastly don't forget to have fun
I assure you that my suggestions do not discount other people's approaches. I will also say way back when, before the Internet, the approach I am sharing was no more than pushing someone gently in one direction and was more of a guideline (utilized in many university art programs) to advance skill rapidly with few if any constraints on exploration.

I can ensure you that rigid thinking, constrained thinking, or limiting ones bounds on knowledge was not the intent of this exercise. By no means am I imposing: I'm trying to be helpful and share an experience.

I do not think what I'm suggesting is an easy way out. In fact it is a great challenge that continues today. Making a perfect negative is elusive and kinda rare. Just because I express myself clearly and concisely does not mean I am not humble.

I found the reference to charcoal drawing off topic and not really helpful. While I don't dismiss other skills like composition that can be intergrated from painting and drawing, I did not meantion that back in art school I was primarily a painter because it added little to this discussion.

As far as the Internet: it seems one has to filter a lot of negative spin and incorrect and incomplete information that is not helpful. A good example is this thread.

Cal
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Old 01-12-2016   #15
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I'm using Ilford Multigrade FB not RC, I'm not even sure I can find fixed grade paper in store.
I know Cal is not big on this... but Ilford multigrade fiber is a great paper and I loved the matte version of this paper. With a clean set of filters, you will get great results with this paper. And while Cal thinks its a crutch, I think it is a good way to learn where your negatives will naturally print... meaning which grade paper you'll usually need if you want to use graded papers for the reasons (mostly surface texture / tone) that others have mentioned.
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Old 01-12-2016   #16
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I know Cal is not big on this... but Ilford multigrade fiber is a great paper and I loved the matte version of this paper. With a clean set of filters, you will get great results with this paper. And while Cal thinks its a crutch, I think it is a good way to learn where your negatives will naturally print... meaning which grade paper you'll usually need if you want to use graded papers for the reasons (mostly surface texture / tone) that others have mentioned.
John,

Back in the day (1970's) it seemed I organically made negatives that printed well on grade 2. Prior to that I used Ilford Multigrade on that path of discovery.

You are correct that for my eye I found/discovered that Grade 2 was correct for me. Similarly you discovered that Grade 3 was mostly right for you.

Cal
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Old 01-12-2016   #17
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I have nothing against multigrade paper, but I come from the era of really ugly multigrade. I am useless, opinion-wise when it comes to today. I sold my Leitz enlarger 15 years ago.
I haven't been in a darkroom since the late 90s... and by that point I was doing mostly color. I do miss Agfa Portriga though... wonderfully warm and textured.
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Old 01-12-2016   #18
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John,

Back in the day (1970's) it seemed I organically made negatives that printed well on grade 2. Prior to that I used Ilford Multigrade on that path of discovery.

You are correct that for my eye I found/discovered that Grade 2 was correct for me. Similarly you discovered that Grade 3 was mostly right for you.

Cal
Yep Cal, I think it is most likely a good start for Jerome until he discovers what works best for him. I do miss that multigrade matte as well... it was like a pencil drawing at times.
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Old 01-12-2016   #19
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I have nothing against multigrade paper, but I come from the era of really ugly multigrade. I am useless, opinion-wise when it comes to today. I sold my Leitz enlarger 15 years ago.

The one thing I regret in my recent past is not using my university photo lab, which was truly a first rate facility for black and white printing. I just never seemed to get around to finding time.
Fred,

In college I was Photo Editor and Darkroom Manager for the student newspaper. The huge benefit was that I had my own office and personal darkroom where I had 24 hour access. I spent a lot of time printing and developing. I developed lots of skill through practice.

Cal
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Old 01-12-2016   #20
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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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Old 01-13-2016   #21
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Consistency is indeed key, that is why I love my digital negative process.
C,

Please elaborate more on your digital negative process. This is very interesting to me.

Cal
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Old 01-13-2016   #22
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This is an idea I've been thinking about for a while. I've been printing on my own for almost a year now and I've read some books and experimented and I feel I'm hitting a plateau in that area. I strongly believe in learning from others, not necessarily copying their methods but at least being exposed to other ways of doing/thinking, questioning and adapting those methods to my own.

Are there any experienced printers who wouldn't mind being shadowed as they work and bombarded with questions ? Preferably in town but maybe also NYC as I travel there quite often (or used to at least)
Bonjour J้r๔me,

Bob Carnie gives darkroom workshop in Toronto : http://www.bobcarnieprintmaking.ca/index.html

I don't know anyone doing the same in Montreal sadly. If you hear about someone, please let me know as I too could be interested in taking a workshop and learning a few techniques.

I agree with Cal's comment on consistency, and I think consistency must be present in every steps of the process, from metering the scene to developing the negative to printing. A good straight print is really easier to achieve from a good negative with good shadow detail. But a straight print is just the beginning and what I think is the real beauty of the darkroom work is taking this first print and make it stronger and more effective with all the tools we have on hand in the darkroom.

It is probably my musical training (I'm a professional concert pianist), but what Ansel Adams said about the negative being the score and the print being the performance seems very true to me. When I am learning a new piano piece, I will analyze it to understand what are the key elements and what is their relationship. Some things are more important and must be put in the spotlight, while other things may seem secondary but they might help to reinforce the effect of the whole composition. I like to bring that way of thinking into my darkroom work. I might crop if there are too many superfluous things or burn to help direct the eye toward the subject. I might be wrong but I am having fun, so who cares!

Learning to critic our work in a constructive way is not easy. IMHO, it is easier when you are revisiting work you did some time ago. Sometimes I will come back to an older print I made, analyze it and see how I could do it better.
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Old 01-13-2016   #23
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Ditto. I am one who has never quite made a smooth jump into digital.
Fred,

I use to be a die-hard B&W analog film only kinda guy. I performed only image capture shooting mucho film thinking I would wet print later. My negatives are likely a bit too dense and are not optimized for scanning, and my thinking was why would I effectively want to take the same shot twice, which effectively scanning (making a digital copy from film) is.

When Leica created the Monochrom, I made the jump. Since January of last year I have been digitally printing Monochrom files using an Epson 3880 ( bought the Monochrom when it first came out) and Piezography (seven shades of black). The results are stunning and I quickly learned that the 3880 (17 inch printer) is too small a printer.

Through divine intervention (too many things had to happen right) I got a Epson 7800 that only made 1802 prints over its 9 year life before I bought it for $100.00. The 7800 was used just enough to avoid clogs, yet remains a fresh printer because it was seldom used. Soon I will empty the Piezoflush that I installed to maintain and store the 7800 and load ink. I was at the right place at the right time, a friend with a car offered delivery, and everything fell into place. Mike was moving back to Japan and was not going to take the 7800.

Come to the January NYC Meet-Up and see some of these prints this Sunday. By changing out two ink slots I can print digital negatives for contact printing on Ilford silver fiber paper on overhead projection film. Jon Cone has already done the heavy lifting. I need studio space and a vacuum frame and I'm where I want to be. I never thought I would need an Imacon or drum scanner, but now I have to consider it. The prints are that good.

Cal
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Old 01-13-2016   #24
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This is an idea I've been thinking about for a while. I've been printing on my own for almost a year now and I've read some books and experimented and I feel I'm hitting a plateau in that area. I strongly believe in learning from others, not necessarily copying their methods but at least being exposed to other ways of doing/thinking, questioning and adapting those methods to my own.

Are there any experienced printers who wouldn't mind being shadowed as they work and bombarded with questions ? Preferably in town but maybe also NYC as I travel there quite often (or used to at least)
I had a look at your flickr account and your photos seem very popular with 20+ favorites for some of them. And i assume those photos are scans of prints.

Continue to do whatever you're doing and forget about shadowing anyone, because no one is going to teach you for free. And by free I don't mean money only.
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Old 01-13-2016   #25
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Cal, I have tried lots of different digital negative processes, from Ron Reeder to Mark Nilson to Dan Burkholder and many more. Using PS curves, QTR ink curves, blocking colours etc etc which they all work well for alt process but not so much for silver.

Currently I employ Rosenburgs process which I find is the best for silver from all my testing. It is definitely a bit more complex and nuanced but offers a lot of advantages and a great deal more control in the process.

Since it is linear also I combine it with split-grade filtering for even more control without having to reprint the negative for minor adjustments. My setup is simple, I have an old epson r1800 (restored with piezoflush) with the standard ink set - the 1.5 picolitre droplets it offers works wonders for digital negatives. I also should have a drum scanner coming soon, have not used Cones ink-set yet but I imagine it would only improve results but for now I'm doing just fine, maybe when I have the space to get a larger printer.

Photomoof, for the digital negative route I find you must be pretty well versed in digital editing/photography in general. It is rather a steep learning curve and even more so if you have a hard time with digital.
C,

Jon Cone has three different methods: one is for digital silver using an Ilford Fiber paper; but the other two are for alternative processes (one is Carbon printing).

I would have to investigate what is involved in downloading curves, and by no means am I as far along as you in making digital negatives, but since I believe what I said about the method for silver prints might apply to the two alternative processes (I only have to change two ink slots to be able to print digital negatives on overhead transparency film) we might be able to help each other further on down the road.

Wouldn't it be great to adapt Jon Cone's methods to print just like a large format shooter on Kodak AZO.

Let's talk some more. I already have the printers and most of the ink already loaded. Do you have a mucho large vacuum frame? And how large do you print? Where are you located?

Cal
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Old 01-13-2016   #26
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Sure they will.

Has no one mentored you?
Fred,

I was lucky to have many many great mentors, but unfortunately I have probably disappointed all of them. They saw great talent and were all so generous, but back in the day I was poor, had no family, and was a scary guy who also was a major head case.

One of my art professors made me his artist assistant and constantly fed me work so I could sustain myself. For one entire summer he gave me the keys to his loft in Soho while he was away where I kinda was the general contractor overlooking and safeguarding a loft that was being built out on Grand Street in SoHo.

I did photography for Ed and got my name mentioned with Lewis W. Hines in Art Forum for photo credits. I also had spring break in Ed's other loft on Broome Street.

In art school I definately got a lot of preferential treatment because I displayed great talent and promise, but I was a mess and so was my life. I had the responsibility of taking care of myself with no family and in the end it took me a decade to get a 4 year degree. Now I have a MA and MFA.

In a way I relied on the kindness of total strangers that did not disappoint me. I owe a lot to them... and I never thought I would become an old man.

Cal
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Old 01-13-2016   #27
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Originally Posted by calebarchie View Post
Cal, I have tried lots of different digital negative processes, from Ron Reeder to Mark Nilson to Dan Burkholder and many more. Using PS curves, QTR ink curves, blocking colours etc etc which they all work well for alt process but not so much for silver.

Currently I employ Rosenburgs process which I find is the best for silver from all my testing. It is definitely a bit more complex and nuanced but offers a lot of advantages and a great deal more control in the process.

Since it is linear also I combine it with split-grade filtering for even more control without having to reprint the negative for minor adjustments. My setup is simple, I have an old epson r1800 (restored with piezoflush) with the standard ink set - the 1.5 picolitre droplets it offers works wonders for digital negatives. I also should have a drum scanner coming soon, have not used Cones ink-set yet but I imagine it would only improve results but for now I'm doing just fine, maybe when I have the space to get a larger printer.

Photomoof, for the digital negative route I find you must be pretty well versed in digital editing/photography in general. It is rather a steep learning curve and even more so if you have a hard time with digital.
So you're making a negative from an inkjet printer is it?
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Old 01-13-2016   #28
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Sure they will.

I have hung around with some great photographers, and learned so much. When I was in grad school a well known photographer invited me and others working on a project to stay in his studio in NYC. I learned about photo possibilities which would never have occurred to me without his "free" advice and instruction. He introduced me to his friends, was very generous.

For years, while in school, I hung out with a commercial photographer who loaned me equipment and gave me Tri-X for helping him shoot pro football. Not "free" I guess, but a good deal for a lot of teaching. First Leica I ever used, first view camera, and a large pro lab, mine whenever I wanted it. First news photos published.

I never learned more than in visits to studios and labs of pros. And it has never stopped.

Has no one mentored you?
I have attended the lectures of some magnum members here in Toronto, during Contact Photo festival. what I learned from these lectures was a simple answer to all my photography-related questions, put into words by Alex Webb, "your only teacher is your own photos".
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Old 01-13-2016   #29
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So you're making a negative from an inkjet printer is it?
Chikne,

Not yet, but that is where I would like to go.

What is holding me back is that I live in Madhattan and don't have studio space for even a darkroom. Of course contact printing from digital negatives requires a vacuum frame for best results. The idea is make a perfect negative and contact print limited editions. I would need lots of studio space.

Currently this is what I have: a 27 inch Eizo, a 3880, a 7800 and a three year old maxed out Macbook Pro. At this point I am printing the output from my Monochrom and not scanning (know that I shoot lots of medium format) using a warm neutral to selenium splitone inkset that I blended. I'm using a QuadtoneRIP and not the Epson OEM driver for higher resolution. I've been only printing digitally for now a little more than a year, but last year I spent $8.2K in paper and ink. The initial $5K total was to feed the 3880 and the more recent $3.2K is to feed the 7800 which I don't have online yet. I basically stuck with only one paper (Jone Cone Type 5) and only recently am I exploring other papers.

If you are interested in this process there is extensive info at Jon Cone's website, but I have to warn you that it almost requires a masters in journalism because it is an overload of information that requires filtering and sorting. PM me if you have questions. Understand that I still develop lots of film, even though it is inconvenient with a girlfriend, a dog and using a changing bag.

Cal

POSTSCRIPT: Fred, Piezography is kinda turnkey, but it favors the larger Pro printers. The 3880 is marginal IMHO because of paper handling limitations, and also because the resolution and fidelity of Piezography is so high. Only worth it if you want to print big or for exhibition.
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Old 01-13-2016   #30
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How would you say this negative from inkjet system rate as opposed to making an inkjet print which you would copy, with a copy camera, on 5x4 film which would then be used for enlargement?

purely out of curiosity...
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Old 01-13-2016   #31
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I remember Fred Picker's advice 30+ years ago. Get a deep freezer and fill it up with paper and film, enough to last you your lifetime. By the early 80's, many fine quality papers were already gone. I would love to still have some Oriental Seagull.
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Old 01-13-2016   #32
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I have attended the lectures of some magnum members here in Toronto, during Contact Photo festival. what I learned from these lectures was a simple answer to all my photography-related questions, put into words by Alex Webb, "your only teacher is your own photos".
I am certainly glad that I didn't follow that advice as a youngster. I'd have missed out on SO much. One of the things I've been able to learn over the years about photography is that there are two areas of knowledge: those things I know, and that it's important to know about those things I don't know. The few things I know, I know well. There are, however, lots of those things I know that I don't know... and that's where the instruction of others is invaluable.

As a follow up to my original post, I would liken photo printing to playing a musical instrument. The basics are pretty easy to learn. Then you practice for consistency of tone and technique. That practice takes a long time for most folks... and a LOT of practice. Once you've achieved consistency of tone and technique, then you can begin to develop nuance and subsequently, style.
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Old 01-14-2016   #33
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I spent a substantial part of my photography career in the darkroom printing other peoples' work. This idea here that a great printer is one who makes great negatives that need only be printed on one grade of paper----that sounds as bad to me as the idea that a great driver is one who can drive perfectly on a straight, well-paved road with no ice and no other traffic.
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Old 01-14-2016   #34
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This idea here that a great printer is one who makes great negatives that need only be printed on one grade of paper----that sounds as bad to me as the idea that a great driver is one who can drive perfectly on a straight, well-paved road with no ice and no other traffic.
I think that Cal is speaking of printing his work...and making it as easy as possible. Of course, when printing other people's work, you can't depend on consistency.
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Old 01-14-2016   #35
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I spent a substantial part of my photography career in the darkroom printing other peoples' work. This idea here that a great printer is one who makes great negatives that need only be printed on one grade of paper----that sounds as bad to me as the idea that a great driver is one who can drive perfectly on a straight, well-paved road with no ice and no other traffic.
Your point is well taken, but John is correct that I was refering to what I can control which is my own work.

For sure printing other people's work is another path and an other challenge that requires a flexible approach.

My approach certainly is narrow, and that is the point.

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Old 01-14-2016   #36
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As a follow up to my original post, I would liken photo printing to playing a musical instrument. The basics are pretty easy to learn. Then you practice for consistency of tone and technique. That practice takes a long time for most folks... and a LOT of practice. Once you've achieved consistency of tone and technique, then you can begin to develop nuance and subsequently, style.
Plus one.

One summer I shot on average 150 rolls of film per month (120 and 135) and somehow was able to process all that film monthly in weekend long marathon developing sessions. This concentration was not sustainable, but each tank of either four 120 rolls or eight 35mm rolls allowed me to critically evaluate my entire development process.

In a way it was like the "woodshedding" that musicians do. I also loaded up the truck when close dated Acros was only $1.89 a roll in 135, and at Adorama for $3.69 a roll in 120. I bought 700 rolls of Arista Premium when it was $2.89 a roll.

John mentioned to me that one of the best tools is a critical eye, and I would say that ones own prints and negatives can teach oneself a lot. The quote from that Magnum photographer is very valid. The key here is to develop a critical eye. I find that keeping a logbook helps with the forensics when I evaluate my negatives and prints. It is a journal that gathers information, much useless, but sometimes very valuable to connect the dots.

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Old 01-14-2016   #37
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If you use a master printer who makes good records, you can achieve the same consistency. I depended on color printers knowing me.
Well right, but Master Printers work with great artists I would imagine and most likely have the resources to make the job as easy as possible. I worked for a crap studio that gave me negatives that ran the spectrum from way too thin to dense as f. I thought I knew how to print well...I quickly figured out that I only knew how to print my work well.

On a side note, C-41 / E-6 is a bit more consistent in how negatives / positives are developed vs. the range of options for B&W development. While the color development process for film was more consistent, the thing with color printing that was different was that a certain color balance could be consistent through a box of paper if you used the same film. If you used various films, you'd have different color balances to deal with which was, for me, a pain.
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Old 01-14-2016   #38
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Well right, but Master Printers work with great artists I would imagine and most likely have the resources to make the job as easy as possible. I worked for a crap studio that gave me negatives that ran the spectrum from way too thin to dense as f. I thought I knew how to print well...I quickly figured out that I only knew how to print my work well.

On a side note, C-41 / E-6 is a bit more consistent in how negatives / positives are developed vs. the range of options for B&W development. While the color development process for film was more consistent, the thing with color printing that was different was that a certain color balance could be consistent through a box of paper if you used the same film. If you used various films, you'd have different color balances to deal with which was, for me, a pain.
John and others make the point that I would likely suck printing other people's work, I don't denigh that.

My hat is off to those that are forced to rescue images.

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Old 01-14-2016   #39
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Well I have 'shadowed' a master printer here for a short time and lets just say that usually isn't the case - it really is all over the place with some renown artists having some pretty shonky looking negs and poor communication. Luckily he does have a developing service which makes his life a lot easier when he needs to print.
Thanks for the info. I should've have known better.
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Old 01-14-2016   #40
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Yeah I already told you one had to print my stuff.
Fred,

Really funny.

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