I Still Think The Old Ektachrome GX (SW) Was Better Than Current E100

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I've spent my whole adult life shooting in the outdoors with both color film and black and white. I've trekked thousands of miles through mountains and desert carrying large format gear, and made many many color prints of the very highest quality. At current replacement cost, an 8x10 color shot isn't a buck, but around $35 dollars every time you trip the shutter. And never once have I felt the need to resort to a polarizer. I have tested them. And the eye's perception of color saturation actually has less to do with how "colorful" something is, than the specific relationships between hues and if they are wisely modulated by intervening neutrals or not. Many color photographers mistake sheer decibel level of color from its effective use. And that mistake has only gotten way worse now that it so easy to silly-saturate things in PS. But often less is more. Go to a museum and take a look at some of Rothko's use of color in his paintings, or Van Gogh's; they had real color strategies, and not just a set of bright pigments.

Don't get me wrong. Some of my favorite coffee table books contain the work of color photographers who were addicted to polarizers for certain reasons, not necessarily color saturation itself. One example is Yoshikazu Shirakawa, whose famous Himalayan work often encountered the extreme glare of snow and glaciers. But so have I, without polarizers. And great work has been done before polarizers were ever invented. So a lot has to do with personal style. Yet it is also important to get a good handle on how your shots are going to be specifically reproduced. A competent slide or chrome or color negative is just a starting point.

The polarizer eliminates reflections on leaves as well, as my last post shows. Eliminating the reflection of light in the leaves tends to saturate the colors but often makes them lifeless. Like most things, moderation is helpful.
 

DREW WILEY

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I've done an entire exhibition mainly involving complex reflections with layered ice and water. If the curator hadn't recognized that, he wouldn't have specifically picked out those very images among many others. And my outdoorsy and climber friends understood it too, since they'd no doubt pondered over icy reflections many times, at least from a safety standpoint. But one attendee was just so unnerved by a particular image, unable to recognize what was in the frame, that he actually cussed me out in front of everyone. I didn't take it as an insult at all, but as an interesting psychological response. He wasn't mad at me personally, but was just totally frustrated trying to figure my deliberate usage of an ambiguous picture plane and rare highly nuanced hues he had never seen before. Those were printed big on glossy Cibachrome, which was ideal with respect to its semi-3d rendering. Oversized postcards and routine picture-bookish fare that most certainly was not. Reflection and glare and their complexities of overlapping nuances are my photographic allies, in both color and b&w work. I don't want to suppress those.

A skilled color printer has ways to selectively emphasize or de-emphasize certain hues in relation to each other, and overall contrast and tonality issues as well. It's done differently than in black and white printing, and differently in current digital scanning and printing than in the all-darkroom workflow I prefer, perhaps faster these days digitally, but not necessarily better. The main thing is that one needs to understand what they are aiming for, and that takes a fair amount of experience either way. Just slathering more sticky sweet jam and jelly onto an image using PS etc saturation controls doesn't make an image any more palatable visually than a bowl of sugar cubes treated in that manner. It just fatigues your visual taste buds faster, to the point that you can't discern anything well. But if someone just wants a loud splash of color to complement their red sofa, well, forget everything I just posted.
 
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Well, I've done entire exhibitions mainly involving complex reflections with layered ice and water. If the curator hadn't recognized that, he wouldn't have specifically picked out those very images among many others. And my outdoorsy and climber friends understood it too, since they'd no doubt pondered over icy reflections many times at least from a safety standpoint. But one attendee was just so unnerved by a particular image, unable to recognize what was in the frame, that he actually cussed me out in front of everyone. I didn't take it as an insult at all, but as an interesting psychological response. He wasn't mad at me personally, but was just totally frustrated trying to figure of my deliberate usage of an ambiguous picture plane and such rare nuanced hues. Those were printed big on glossy Cibachrome, which was ideal with respect to its semi-3d rendering. Reflection and glare and overlapping nuances of those are my photographic allies.

You ought to show these pictures rather than teasing us.
 

DREW WILEY

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Nobody could perceive even 5% of the real effect over the web. It's not just the scale and extreme detail involved, but the sheer inability of the web to communicate those subtle surface plane nuances which are indispensable, as well as the web's clumsiness in subtle color presentation. Even a big inkjet or RC color paper presentation would fall flat. Those images were shot with Cibachrome in mind. Of course, I print on other color surfaces too, but relative to different kinds of subject matter. And now I've got Fuji Supergloss as a worthy replacement for Ciba and its kind of imagery.

But don't worry, soon even ordinary web images will be too good, as the "norm" devolves to fuzzy Utube and ransacked social media platforms instead.
 
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