Is it a matter of taste ?

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Soeren

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When I 'm out shooting I often shoot some very dark object e.g. Dark wood or some people vearing black clothes against a dark background or nightshots.
When printing the pics I like the black tones so I tend to not try to lighten things up but print dark. The people I show my pictures often goes
"Hmm good but its very black" or "wheress the midtones", "where's the greys"
All I do is print what I saw, well sort of.
So what do you guys and gals do when you decide how to print your negs.
Especially the ones with lot of black in them.
Regards Søren
 

modafoto

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I like deep black, too. I normally develop my negs som the contrast is raised a bit, and then I print for the highlights to show the details I want. Then the shadows may go black...but that's what I like. Only for cute portraits I print softer.

Morten
 

TPPhotog

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It depends on the picture, but if the shadows are black when I shoot them I make sure they a real black when I print them. For me the sky is black at night and that's the way I wil always print it.
 

jovo

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Soeren said:
The people I show my pictures often goes
"Hmm good but its very black" or "wheress the midtones", "where's the greys"

A print should contain exactly the tones you feel it needs to express whatever it is you want it to express, i.e. its' mood or emotion. It sounds like the folks who are commenting on your photographs are insisting that you conform to 'their' idea of what your image should be about. That said, if you're simply trying to provide a record of what you (and they) see, then you need to be certain your image is accurate in that regard. If you are 'imposing' a mood or emotion that isn't really there, then perhaps you should consider printing differently.
 

modafoto

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jovo said:
A print should contain exactly the tones you feel it needs to express whatever it is you want it to express

That couldn't be said more accurate, Jovo! I have a little problem with the theory of having details in all parts of the photo. If you want details all over you mostly end up with a dull sludge of grey on the paper. The eye is attracted to contrast and I find the contrasty photo more appealing than the grey photo. I need black and white in my photos, then the greys must fit in where they can :smile:
 
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TPPhotog

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Morten same here. I shoot Black and White, the Grey's are simply transitions in between in my pictures :D
 
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Soeren

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jovo said:
A print should contain exactly the tones you feel it needs to express whatever it is you want it to express, i.e. its' mood or emotion. It sounds like the folks who are commenting on your photographs are insisting that you conform to 'their' idea of what your image should be about. That said, if you're simply trying to provide a record of what you (and they) see, then you need to be certain your image is accurate in that regard. If you are 'imposing' a mood or emotion that isn't really there, then perhaps you should consider printing differently.

What a relief. Thats exactly what I feel they are trying. It might be Im exaggerating a bit in my prints but not much and as you all say its the blacks and white that count the greys just fall in between.
Regards Søren
 

ChuckP

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You can print any way you want. But if a large majority of people you want as an audience are telling you the prints are too dark you need to think about what this is saying. You need to keep an open mind to move forward.
 

BWGirl

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I guess it really depends on who you shoot for! If you shoot for yourself, then "to thine own self be true"! If you shoot for others, then you must kowtow to what they want.
I have always loved having that full range. I love black blacks & white whites. High contrast is it for me. But I've been trying a little 'softer' things too...still with my blacks & whites, but a wee bit less contrast. The jury is still out on that. :wink:
 
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Soeren

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ChuckP said:
You can print any way you want. But if a large majority of people you want as an audience are telling you the prints are too dark you need to think about what this is saying. You need to keep an open mind to move forward.

Yep I do keep an open mind and I do listen to the ones complaining about my prints being to dark. Its not a majority but some of the "old horses in the cirkus". When looking at their prints I think they see things in a different way and perhaps they don't move or change their way of seeing. The danger is if I take to much advice from them I won't stand out from the croud, To little and I won't get all the knowledge I need to make better prints. I think it's common in photo/camera clubs that everything tends to end up looking alike like when one made some exceptional prints using greasepaper and we didn't anything else for the next year but print made using greasepaper :sad:
Regards Søren
 

arigram

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There are those who believe in a religiously fanatical way that a negative has to have detail in the most remote highlights or blacks to be considered a good one.
It mostly those landscape zoniacs that can't seem to judge a photograph any other way and they usually mix artisans with artists.
So, let me shout out of angst:

Sometimes I do NOT WANT DETAIL IN MY SHADOWS!

So there!
 

rbarker

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From my experience, it seems that there are always people who can't get beyond the proscribed parameters demanded by whatever "school" to which they belong - at both ends of the spectrum. While I'd agree that an image should have detail only in those areas the photographer desires, I also believe that the photographer's desire should be tempered by the demands of the target audience and the intended use of the image (including the requirements of the presentation media).

Often, I think, it's best to consider the nature of the subject itself, and make decisions based on how you wish to present that subject. In other words, let the "story" behind the subject, and how best to tell that story, dictate the technique.

Large areas of detail-lacking black can work well if the mood of the image, and the composition and timing are strong enough to focus the viewer's attention on the essence of the subject and its portrayal. If the composition and portrayal aren't strong enough to carry that off, however, people's minds start to wander and look for detail where none was intended.
 

Gim

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Ralph Gibson and Edward Weston both have different techniques. Is either one of them wrong?? They are both making the interpretation they want and I like them both.
 

Charles Webb

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This is a thread that I probably should avoid, but something makes me want to comment on it.

I am sorry, but like many folks viewing photographs I do not like the chalk and soot effect so many show in their display prints. I have spent my lifetime trying to make full scale negatives and those negatives to represent what I actually saw and felt. I do not always achieve what I am looking for but I keep trying. I want black blacks, and white but not blown out whites.
I also want as many of those little grays that add detail as I can get. I believe a good negative can achieve this, because I have accomplished it many times. I do not agree that a full scale print will appear "muddy" it can
if the printer allows it to do so. Done carefully, It will be a pleasure to view!

I believe that many photographers print their excellent images way to far down, thus creating the too dark or too black effect. I believe this is done in effort to emulate artist's that have gone before or other contemporary works of today.

I also believe that if you want to print dark, do so, If you really like short scale prints Fine, but what ever you do try to enjoy every minute of what you are doing.
 

John McCallum

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ChuckP said:
You can print any way you want. But if a large majority of people you want as an audience are telling you the prints are too dark you need to think about what this is saying. You need to keep an open mind to move forward.
I think Chuck raises a good point. Sometimes when the viewer makes a comment about the print being dark they may be saying they would like to be able to see more detail. "It's too dark I can't see what's in there (but I'd like to)".

Some images I really like to print are also quite dark with specular highlights. I used to get similar comments about these images, so I changed my method.
One I found that works very well is to rate the film one stop slower (or at half the box ASA rating). This has the effect of lifting the overall exposure of the film and giving separation of the details in the darker areas.
It then becomes easier to 'print the images down' darker if you wish to, whilst retaining the appearance of detail in the shadows. It gives more choice in how to print the image.
 

BWGirl

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arigram said:
...So, let me shout out of angst:

Sometimes I do NOT WANT DETAIL IN MY SHADOWS!

So there!

It's Ok! It's Ok. You do NOT have to have details in your shadows if you do not want it. :wink:
 

Sjixxxy

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arigram said:
There are those who believe in a religiously fanatical way that a negative has to have detail in the most remote highlights or blacks to be considered a good one.
It mostly those landscape zoniacs that can't seem to judge a photograph any other way and they usually mix artisans with artists.
So, let me shout out of angst:

Sometimes I do NOT WANT DETAIL IN MY SHADOWS!

So there!

Shhh. The people in this thread may hear you.
 

CPorter

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ChuckP said:
You can print any way you want. But if a large majority of people you want as an audience are telling you the prints are too dark you need to think about what this is saying. You need to keep an open mind to move forward.

I agree fully Chuck. I like to say that my photograph must first satisfy me as the maker of the photograph. It's not always imperitive that it must satisfy others. However, one would be naive and stubborn to be resistent to the well placed observations of others, possibly a fatal move to one's own growth in the craft of his or her art.

It is a matter of tast in as much as anything else I think:

I often view a photograph that does not appeal to me and my sense of balance among the tones (and I don't necessarily feel that the word "balance" implies full tonal range; rather, it simply means to me that the tones that occupy the both the positve and negative space should compliment the subject matter, that is my sense of "balance" among the prevailing tones)-----and I struggle with it all the time. Personally, I think my better photographs contain only some area of full black and paper white. Too much of those extremes are distracting to me, but I will not force that point of view on others. Others may be able to treat those extremes in an expressive way---I simply have not been able to.

Regards,

Chuck
 

RobJon

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Print for yourself unless someone is paying. That being said I usually find there are 3 kinds of people, ones who love your print and all it's subtle nuances, ones who will spend far too much time giving you critique you didn't ask for and the third kind that look at pictures as hard documents for events and can't understand why you took a picture with no people in it. I prefer the first kind but there hard to find. :wink:
Rob
 

John McCallum

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arigram said:
...Sometimes I do NOT WANT DETAIL IN MY SHADOWS!

So there!
No-one says there has to be detail there if the artist doesn't want it. However, I think it is useful to have a negative that is capable of giving detail that may enhance the image. Then make the final decision about this in the darkroom (though it helps to have some idea about how the image will look at the time the film is exposed).
But why limit yourself right at the start? Having a good negative generally provides more artistic choice that can be exploited in the darkroom where personal taste can then direct.
 
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Soeren

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I keep my head raised now :smile:
Thanks all, that sorted things out and im feeling a lot better now.
Regards Søren
 

arigram

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Like I said, if you think of representational photography, sure full tonallity all over the place will be appreciated. A viewer might want to see what's hidden under a rock or if the open door leads somewhere if the only thing you give to the audience is a representation of a pretty thing.
Thinking of all the master and classic photoraphers I know, the photographs I love, I never, ever thought of the photograph missing anything.
And that is what makes a work of art.

I am not supporting bad craftmanship or bad tools.
But let not get obssesed with it.

In my opinion, if you are not satisfied from the image and trying to find something to hold on too, then it must be a dull image.
I am sorry but if you only care about if there is detail in the shadows then the photographer has either failed or you are too obssesed.
 
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Soeren

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I myself am not tied by the conventions saying that there must be detail in every tone from pure black to pure white, neither do I believe that the only way of composing is by placing your subject in the golden mean: I really have met people who believed that. You know some people are very persuasive and really like to get the last word, so its nice to go to APUG and get a second more nuanced oppinion from all of you, well from some of you :D
BTW very wise words Aristoteles
regards Søren
 

Ed Sukach

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I print any damn way **I** want to. If someone else wants something different - let them print their own.

Harsh? Maybe... but necessary, if you want your work to define your own style. Otherwise, what you will have is a diluted, de-emotionalized mixture of styles.

Print "better"? In whose judgement (read: aesthetic) is what "better"?

To thy own self be true. All else will follow.
 

Flotsam

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I can't define pornography... um, I mean, a good print, but I know it when I see it. :smile:
 
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