Is Traditional Photography THAT Hard???

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Wow, a thread so old I barely remember even writing it 😁

A lot has changed since then. Once young, I had a lot more pep to spend hours in my darkroom chasing after that elusive print (and at the time some disdain for those not up for the chase). Now, nearly 50 I can see some appeal to digital. As far as color work goes, I can produce images I like well enough, shoot from the hip, and be done with minimal post-processing and costs.

I haven't learned Photoshop because I could stay there all day tweaking and tweaking. So I use Lightroom which gets me there very quickly with minimum adjustments, the longest being cloning the dust off the film and scans.
 

Chuck_P

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Now, nearly 50 I can see some appeal to digital.

At 59 I definitely see the appeal to digital and will continue to use it for doing bird photography and family stuff.......I use Lightroom as well. But for whatever creative side or abilities that I may possess, I have to do it through b&w film and darkroom work.
 

redbandit

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...people reacting to the equally false ease of photography as professed by many. Ahhhh, but which came first?

Anything is easy if there is no challenge. Hence what I posted above in Post #66...if it isn't hard, one is not challenging oneself.

How can it be a challenge if you know what your doing? Its easy to "ride" the apparent difficulty of something, but you can look at photography as it is.

Just skills, once you figure out how to compensate for a subject in shadow, do you really think its going to be HARD or DIFFICULT for you the next time around? Honestly if you have done it, it shouldnt be hard the next time
 

removedacct1

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Just skills, once you figure out how to compensate for a subject in shadow, do you really think its going to be HARD or DIFFICULT for you the next time around? Honestly if you have done it, it shouldnt be hard the next time

I don't even know where to start with this. Amazing.
 
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About 20 years ago, when I was still pretty young (I am 47 now), I began getting sick every time I printed in my darkroom. I had a good ventilation system, didn't stick my hands in the chemicals, didn't eat or smoke in the darkroom (Actually I've never smoked anywhere). I have had serious health problems since early childhood, when I began having seizures. I'm not well now; I had a stroke in 2013 that left the right side of my body weakened. A few years after that, I had a couple of nasty antibiotic-resistant lung infections that took months to cure and left me with diminished lung capacity. Breathing those chemicals when I was young likely made me more susceptible to lung infections because I have a long history of getting bad lung infections going back to the time when I was doing darkroom work.

I stopped printing in the darkroom and bought a film scanner and printer to protect my health. Full stop. I'll be damned if I am going to die young so that a bunch of bigoted old men will think I'm a "real photographer." I have sold my work to people in more than 30 countries over the 25+ years that I have been a professional artist. No art buyer, museum curator, gallery director, or publisher has ever told me that my work was not "real photography." They just plain don't give a damn what process or gear you used, nor do they care how hard you had to toil to make the image.

Getting truly great results with scanning and digital printing is not easy. It took me several years to get good at it. I have a tutorials website with free tutorials for digital printing, scanning, film processing, and digital editing. I get emails every day from frustrated photographers thanking me for writing clear, easy to understand lessons that for the first time made it possible for them to get good results. This is for both my film and my digital tutorials. that indicates to me that digital or hybrid work is not a 'shortcut' or whatever other slur you want to throw. It takes a lot of knowledge, practice, and skill; just like darkroom work does. I actually found it harder to learn than darkroom printing.
 

VinceInMT

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How can it be a challenge if you know what your doing? Its easy to "ride" the apparent difficulty of something, but you can look at photography as it is.

Just skills, once you figure out how to compensate for a subject in shadow, do you really think its going to be HARD or DIFFICULT for you the next time around? Honestly if you have done it, it shouldnt be hard the next time

I disagree with an aspect of that. If one learns a skill and does not reinforce it over time, it can be forgotten. I took a break for a decade or so from film work (career and kids got in the way) and when I restarted, some of it was like learning it anew. Some of this might be age-related. For example, in my younger years, I could learn a piece of music on the piano or guitar and, months later, still know and play it. Now, unless I practice quite regularly, even the muscle memory begins to fade.
 

Sirius Glass

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I know it is more work, but I like the results of wet darkroom work better than digital files, so I do the work.
 

Mike Lopez

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About 20 years ago, when I was still pretty young (I am 47 now), I began getting sick every time I printed in my darkroom. I had a good ventilation system, didn't stick my hands in the chemicals, didn't eat or smoke in the darkroom (Actually I've never smoked anywhere). I have had serious health problems since early childhood, when I began having seizures. I'm not well now; I had a stroke in 2013 that left the right side of my body weakened. A few years after that, I had a couple of nasty antibiotic-resistant lung infections that took months to cure and left me with diminished lung capacity. Breathing those chemicals when I was young likely made me more susceptible to lung infections because I have a long history of getting bad lung infections going back to the time when I was doing darkroom work.

I stopped printing in the darkroom and bought a film scanner and printer to protect my health. Full stop. I'll be damned if I am going to die young so that a bunch of bigoted old men will think I'm a "real photographer." I have sold my work to people in more than 30 countries over the 25+ years that I have been a professional artist. No art buyer, museum curator, gallery director, or publisher has ever told me that my work was not "real photography." They just plain don't give a damn what process or gear you used, nor do they care how hard you had to toil to make the image.

Getting truly great results with scanning and digital printing is not easy. It took me several years to get good at it. I have a tutorials website with free tutorials for digital printing, scanning, film processing, and digital editing. I get emails every day from frustrated photographers thanking me for writing clear, easy to understand lessons that for the first time made it possible for them to get good results. This is for both my film and my digital tutorials. that indicates to me that digital or hybrid work is not a 'shortcut' or whatever other slur you want to throw. It takes a lot of knowledge, practice, and skill; just like darkroom work does. I actually found it harder to learn than darkroom printing.
Congratulations on your introspection and decisions to put first things first. And good luck with your health conditions going forward. That sounds like a real bitch, and I wish you the best.
 

Paul Howell

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My first DSLR a Sigma SD9 ISO topped out at 400, which was beyond unusable, in good light at 100 it was very close to film. My second camera Pentax K2000 that I bought for travel as it uses standard AA batteries is very good at 400, 800 on the edge of usable. Sigma SD 15 much better than the SD 9, Sony 700, 900 really good to 1600, my last is a Sony 77II is really good to 3200 and shoots 12 FPS without issue. Over the past 19 years digital will now outperform film in many respects. But there is something that I really like about film, so I still shoot 80% film.

 

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@chriscrawfordphoto Thank you for sharing. Sorry to hear about your health issues, and hope you're doing better. "Real photographers" are cancerous to this community and your post is an excellent articulation of why. It should be permanently pinned somewhere visible.

Happy new year.
 

wiltw

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  1. Having spent my first 40 years in photography with film and darkroom, both in color and in black-and-white, I am quite at ease in the darkroom manipulations of analog photography.
  2. Having spent about 20 years in digital photography, I am somewhat at ease with many digital manipulations, but have NOT mastered many of the tools available...I do not bother using HDR, for example, or focus merge.
But I can say with certainty that all of the manipulations that I have learned in digital are much easier to accomplish than trying to do similar things with film and paper!
  • Screw-up cover-up is so much easier to accomplish with digital postprocessing!
  • Adjusting for better contrast is so much easier to accomplish with digital (especially for color photos!) postprocessing
  • Localized adjustments are so much easier to accomplish with digital postprocessing
But I still long for Cibachrome/Ilfochrome paper and chemistry and almost all of my favorite color transparency emulsions are now long gone. Somehow darkroom sessions were truly enjoyable and rewarding and even relaxing, unlike postprocessing sessions in front of a computer screen. But those materials are gone, some of the film formats are gone, so I have not bothered to shoot film in over a decade.
 
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Dock

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I was reading the latest issue of Black & White Photography (by the way -way to go Jorge! loved it! and thanks Ailsa for the copy!)

All was well until I turned to the Letters to the editor section. I haven't seen issue 24 but apparently some poor guy mentioned in that issue, that he believed digital imaging is a different art form than photography. The digital camp of course went berserk and wrote several letters defending thier medium in this current issue. But the one thing that stood out and almost gave me a migrane, were the comments regarding some of their mentalities for going digital. I got the impression that many went digital because they could not cope with or have any success with wet methods. I can't understand this. I processed my first roll of film when I was 16 with zero experience, and I also made a rather nice black and white print in the highschool darkroom of that image. I did not find this hard, cumbersome, inconvenient, annoying, frustrating, or difficult in any way! I actually found it magical. I ummmm, simply followed basic directions to achieve this result! BASIC! Mix this with that, pour this into that for x minutes. Wow, that is soooooo hard isn't it??? But apparently scores and scores of "photographers" can't produce work they are satisfied with by using these methods, and thanks to digital one reader says they have a "new lease of life in photography". I'm dumbfounded that people find wet methods so difficult that they must rely on computers to give them the means to be "photographers". I am no master in the darkroom, but the results I achieve are my own and that means a hell of a lot. If computer aided photography can improve my results shouldn't I go with that? Never.

(as usual thanks for letting me blow off some steam)

When the only tool you have in your toolbox is a hammer, you never force anything, you just get a bigger hammer!
 

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How can it be a challenge if you know what your doing? Its easy to "ride" the apparent difficulty of something, but you can look at photography as it is.

Just skills, once you figure out how to compensate for a subject in shadow, do you really think its going to be HARD or DIFFICULT for you the next time around? Honestly if you have done it, it shouldnt be hard the next time

Please excuse me. I let my personal outlook get expressed as a general truth.

My challenge is to get better seeing light...and certainly not limited to gaining more technical photographic knowledge and being better skilled at its use. If my goal was aquiring as much photographic knowledge and skill as possible, I most likely be heavily involved with digital photography. As Chris mentioned, it takes hours of study and work to become proficient, I have chosen another printing process (or two) to use in my lifelong photographic challenge.

I played a lot of basketball, starting at 13, some college 50 years ago, and full-on fullcourt games until my boys were born when I turned 43 (and after a few knee surgeries). One gets in the habit of playing to play ones best. I have lost a lot of games feeling good...I busted my ass, the team played together tightly, hard, and smart with no drama. And those 20-somethings were dang surprised that us 30s and 40s year olds came close to beating their ass...and most times we did.

Having my print(s) on the walls with some of the best (West Coast) photographers out there (or were out there) scared the shit out of me. And sometimes I got the shit beat out of me -- and I picked my self up and thought, "I'll take what I have learned, get some better practice in, and next time I'll wear a cup." Still learning, but a bit more relaxed about it now at 68 years old.
 

redbandit

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Please excuse me. I let my personal outlook get expressed as a general truth.

My challenge is to get better seeing light...and certainly not limited to gaining more technical photographic knowledge and being better skilled at its use. If my goal was aquiring as much photographic knowledge and skill as possible, I most likely be heavily involved with digital photography. As Chris mentioned, it takes hours of study and work to become proficient, I have chosen another printing process (or two) to use in my lifelong photographic challenge.

I played a lot of basketball, starting at 13, some college 50 years ago, and full-on fullcourt games until my boys were born when I turned 43 (and after a few knee surgeries). One gets in the habit of playing to play ones best. I have lost a lot of games feeling good...I busted my ass, the team played together tightly, hard, and smart with no drama. And those 20-somethings were dang surprised that us 30s and 40s year olds came close to beating their ass...and most times we did.

Having my print(s) on the walls with some of the best (West Coast) photographers out there (or were out there) scared the shit out of me. And sometimes I got the shit beat out of me -- and I picked my self up and thought, "I'll take what I have learned, get some better practice in, and next time I'll wear a cup." Still learning, but a bit more relaxed about it now at 68 years old.

why do people use "sports" as some way of proving some point?
 

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Sirius Glass

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Please excuse me. I let my personal outlook get expressed as a general truth.

My challenge is to get better seeing light...and certainly not limited to gaining more technical photographic knowledge and being better skilled at its use. If my goal was aquiring as much photographic knowledge and skill as possible, I most likely be heavily involved with digital photography. As Chris mentioned, it takes hours of study and work to become proficient, I have chosen another printing process (or two) to use in my lifelong photographic challenge.

I find that acquiring knowledge is not sufficient, one must also learn to apply the knowledge well and with ease. Therein lies the fly in the ointment.
 

Bill Burk

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I haven't learned Photoshop because …
I remember going up sixth street to the graphic arts building and taking the elevator up to see a Photoshop guru.

Great America ordered updated tickets and the graphic artist only sent the plant a low resolution composite (we had no intermediates).

We had the original photograph though, and the guru saved the day.

I always appreciated that the traditional controls maintained the traditional names. It’s comprehensible to set a radius for unsharp masking because you can visualize a film acetate sandwich in a contact frame on a turntable under a point light source…

If I hadn’t focused my attention here I might have become a Photoshop guru.
 

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I find that acquiring knowledge is not sufficient, one must also learn to apply the knowledge well and with ease. Therein lies the fly in the ointment.

Agree. Acquiring knowledge and skills is not the same as gaining wisdom, but can help on the path.
 

Vaughn

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why do people use "sports" as some way of proving some point?

I was not proving a point, but providing insight into a real life situation and how challenging myself beyond just skill/experience has been a factor my life. It was not an analogy.

The same applies to my decade of packing mules and designing/building/maintaining wilderness trails by hand.

I don't see any differences in accepting challenges from photography, a basketball, a mule, a curator, or a whole dang wilderness. Fortunately, something being difficult and/or challenging does not keep it from being a hell of a lot of fun.
 

jtk

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But I still long for Cibachrome/Ilfochrome paper and chemistry and almost all of my favorite color transparency emulsions are now long gone. Somehow darkroom sessions were truly enjoyable and rewarding and even relaxing, unlike postprocessing sessions in front of a computer screen.

fwiw I've done a lot of color printing, including that of cibachrome transparencies, but I've seen very little evidence that darkrooms were more than necessities (like restrooms).
I was not proving a point, but providing insight into a real life situation and how challenging myself beyond just skill/experience has been a factor my life. It was not an analogy.

The same applies to my decade of packing mules and designing/building/maintaining wilderness trails by hand.

I don't see any differences in accepting challenges from photography, a basketball, a mule, a curator, or a whole dang wilderness. Fortunately, something being difficult and/or challenging does not keep it from being a hell of a lot of fun.

Accepting challenges can be a virtue. Avoiding them might not be...

Back when I paid attention to the lives of photographer friends I noticed a lot of alcoholism. I'm not sure that "relaxing" in a darkroom is different from hiding.
 
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fwiw I've done a lot of color printing, including that of cibachrome transparencies, but I've seen very little evidence that darkrooms were more than necessities (like restrooms).


Accepting challenges can be a virtue. Avoiding them might not be...

Back when I paid attention to the lives of photographer friends I noticed a lot of alcoholism. I'm not sure that "relaxing" in a darkroom is different from hiding.

A darkroom might be a good place to hide their alcohol from their wives.
 

VinceInMT

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…Somehow darkroom sessions were truly enjoyable and rewarding and even relaxing, unlike postprocessing sessions in front of a computer screen.…

I get that relaxing part. For me, it’s because it’s a “flow” activity and the mind and body are fully engaged and the concept of time evaporates.
 

jtk

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I get that relaxing part. For me, it’s because it’s a “flow” activity and the mind and body are fully engaged and the concept of time evaporates.

Flow seems to be your feeling or concept...photographers engage actual time directly whether they like it or not.

Just skimming posts here I notice that "wives" figure into "darkroom". Sounds like a suburban, old fashioned way of thinking. When married I did sometimes work with my wife in my darkrooms (usually tiny spaces, sometimes bigger studios). I think our activities were competitive...she produced large artworks in her usually large studio (woven sculptures) and I produced intensive small objects (prints etc). For the most part my women had their own realities which blended (more or less) with mine. A matter of mutual respect. A child expanded the realm, and subsequent women expanded those realities..

I have no idea what it would be like to be totally alone, but I do know that zen practitioners pretend that.
 
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