What Have We Lost?

August 26, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

You do have to wonder.

I shot hundreds and hundreds of rolls of film when I was a young photojournalist. And spent hours and hours in the dark room.

And hours.

Push-processing film. Test strips and the purple filters for the variable contrast paper. The coated paper that could be developed, stopped, fixed, rinsed and dried pretty quickly. The Ektamatic machine that made prints that were dry in a couple of minutes. The dance of the hands in dodging and burning.

And I was never really very good at any of it. But I knew what good was.

Before everyone starts to think I'm going all 'curmudgeon', and thinking of days gone by - I will tell you that I am better at what I do now, and a big reason for that is that I work in digital.

There is something though that I think I have lost, and that the photography industry as a whole has lost as well. And that is the workmanship on some level and the attention to detail that was required to produce a fine print.

This is why the details about one of Ansel Adams' most famous photographs are so important. If you read his words as quoted HERE about how the photograph came to be you'll see the workmanship involved in making him one of the most famous landscape photographers in history.

And here's one of the most important quotes, in my opinion, "Fine prints are like a musical performance, “Mr. Adams says. “The negative is the composer’s score and the print is the performance."

So when your photographer urges or insists on producing your prints him- or herself - instead of just handing over files, I hope that you're getting a virtuoso performance.


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