The Peoples Choice

Discussion in 'Wet Process Machine & Traditional Prints' started by Bob Carnie, Mar 18, 2007.

  1. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    I may be opening a rather large can of worms here , but what the hell, I am going to Silver Conference and will be away for 21days and not able or willing to axcess the computer.

    Our entrys to Silver competition this year has been sent and they are going to be judged next week. I am hoping we will do well this year .

    This year Kevin and I did something different and we had a Pre Judging of our submissions to Silver Competition The Peoples Choice Award.
    We had over 90 prints in our gallery and we invited photographers and friends to judge the work. Each person was allowed three choices and basically they roamed the room and picked their favourite image by indicating its number. No photographer names were on the wall for possible biases.
    Out of 90 images , at least 40% were digital output to the new Harmon Fiber paper off our Lambda.

    The results were completely unpredictable and I was quite suprised.

    1st, 2nd 3rd 4th and 5th place by vote were digital capture original.

    then followed by equal voting on analogue and digital.

    What suprised me was that the room was full of traditional photographers and there was not the immediate reaction of digital vs traditional. Basically the buzz was about the beautiful imagery in the room.
    I am beginning to think that the debate is dead regarding digital vs analogue.
    My choices were some of the hand lith prints and one of the digital prints. Other close friends who eyes I respect were also mixed in their choices.
    I have also found an interesting trend

    Those who use digital capture are much more critical regarding digital print artifacts than traditional purists. They also seem to gravitate towards the analoque prints and like them.
    The analoque photographers seem to be more forgiving regarding the same artifacts.

    The last 65 days I have been printing solid for the competition and also a Elevator portfolio. I have to admit that both methods of output excite me and have changed my opinion on the raging debate forever.
     
  2. dwross2

    dwross2 Member

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    From similar experiences, I've come to similar conclusions. It's unfortunate that being afraid of worm cans even comes into an honest discussion of the history -past, present, and future - of photography. But it does. I've opened one or two myself. We all have.

    Hybridphoto is my natural "home" because my new work is half contact prints from large format camera negatives and half contact prints from digitally enlarged medium format negs. My goal is to make the two indistinguishable - not because I'm ashamed of either process (and I defend my use of film far more often than I defend my use of digital) but because I long to make transcendentally beautiful images.

    Most people are primarily interested in the image and how it strikes their soul, not how it was generated. Beyond that issue, though, is a deeper one. In my experience, people still expect 'truth' from a photo. As in: the unedited presentation of the facts that were in front of the camera when the shutter was released. A scenic panorama of the beach should not have that 'inconvenient' McMansion cloned out. Three geese in the air shouldn't magically become thirty.

    Surprisingly (or maybe not so) even this simple statement is one of those wiggly cans.
     
  3. BillSchwab

    BillSchwab Member

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    Bob,

    Interesting findings. I too am noticing the divide narrowing. I have not yet had the pleasure of seeing your lamda/fibre prints, but am very interested in doing so. After returning recently from a trip where I was putting a D200 though its paces for the first time, I have to admit that I am not yet terribly thrilled with digital capture for the type of images I do, (very often long exposures) however I am a babe in the woods with this and expect to work the bugs out where I can. Everything that was shot on medium format film was also done on digital and I will admit that in side by side comparrison, film still blew away the digital file.

    Best of luck with your journey!

    Bill
     
  4. Joe Lipka

    Joe Lipka Member

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    The only people that argue about the relative merits of analog and digital forms of photography are photographers. You asked the people to choose the best images. They did.

    They chose images. Not processes. Most people in the world don't care about the way you made it, only that you did make it and it interests them.
     
  5. roy

    roy Subscriber

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  6. BillSchwab

    BillSchwab Member

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    Very true, but they aren't the only ones. There are certain collectors out there that concern themselves with these things as well. I do see the gap as closing somewhat lately which is very nice to see.

    Bill
     
  7. donbga

    donbga Member

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  8. donbga

    donbga Member

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    Bill I'm curious to know what issues you had with the digitally created images that made it less desirable than film.

    I'm thinking very seriously thinking about getting a high end DSLR like the D200 so I'm always all ears to hear opinions about digital capture especially from those that are very experienced film users such as yourself.
     
  9. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

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    Don, I think Bill's problem is that he is doing looong exposures (10 min+) and wanting prints with very smooth tones. IMHO, this is an area where film is still winning due to noise issues in long exposures from digital. Nice thing with digital in this regard? No reciprocity failure!
     
  10. donbga

    donbga Member

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    I suspected this might be the case knowing of Bill's work but I thought I would ask to be sure.

    As I understand the the operation of the D200 in regard to long exposures, a long exposure of the subject is followed by an equally long 'dark' exposure so that the digital noise from the original time exposure can be subtracted by the camera image processing software/hardware.

    Don
     
  11. BillSchwab

    BillSchwab Member

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    Hi Don,

    Most of the images I was making were limited to 30 seconds and I was quite pleased to find that the usual noise and artifacts associated with exposures like this on my earlier digicams were not a problem. My problem was still with resolution issues. I shoot with Tri-X and side by side the digital files were no match. They were softer, lacked in the detail I got with the film, etc. I will again admit to being a babe in the woods with digitally captured files and do not know all the tricks used by those more knowledgable than I. To be honest though, when I have a $2,000.00 camera going up against a $4.00 roll of film, so far the $4 roll of film wins hands down. Comparing a digital neg made with each... well, there was no comparrison. I'm certainly not giving up that easy and will continue to try. I just never have to try that hard with my film exposures.

    It worked as a great Polaroid though! Otherwise I do like the camera very much for snaps and such. I'm also testing it out with my strobe system for the odd editorial job and liking my findings so far.

    Bill
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 18, 2007
  12. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Some rambling thoughts on the subject (as I avoid a task that needs to be done)
    With regard to D capture, D image processing and D/A out put.
    It doesn't surprise me that the results were as well received as Bob states. Digital capture mates wonderfully with this kind of workflow. Digital processing allows for an almost unlimited opportunity to fix issues and fit the image to the output device and or material. Digital capture, in my experience is a better fit in this workflow than scanned analogue capture.

    The restraining point with digital capture is, and will be for a while yet, resolution and tonal range. The former is less of an issue in practice as it is on paper. A properly rez-up digital capture can and will look smooth and pixel free, and therefore seem natural. Only upon close inspection will the viewer notice that the image lacks the detail one might expect. The latter (limited tonal range) can be addressed very dramatically by employing Photoshop's HDR or similar.

    It also doesn't surprise me that the images were chosen over the traditional prints, although I would think it could be just as likely to have gone the other way and doesn't necessarily suggest one is better than the other. What I assume was chosen was the image not the process.

    With regard to the image.
    There is now an open field where an artist can choose to do lith, pt/pd, ilfochromes, c-prints and on and on, from a single capture, exposure or creation. If, as many will state, it's all about the image, then the image should really be coming in to its own.

    The item that still appears to be left out of this conversation is the inkjet print. Many, here and elsewhere, have been singing the praises of inkjets, but, for my self, and, I think, with regard to the general buying public, the inkjet has yet to find its place. Inkjets are still being touted for the imitative strengths and have yet to be promoted for the single most unique characteristic: the ability to put a lasting image on almost any material (as well as being a populist's tool).
     
  13. Kerik

    Kerik Member

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    jd,

    I agree to a point. From what I've seen, inkjets are becoming more accepted in the higher-end gallery market. And this trend will continue, I am certain. As more "blue-chip" artists incorporate the inkjet print into their oeuvre, resistance to the medium will become futile. For example, I just got Emmet Gowin's latest book. About half the images are hand-made vandykes, kallitypes, etc. and half are color pigment (inkjet) prints.
     
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  15. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I don't doubt that you are correct.
     
  16. donbga

    donbga Member

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    I'm a little surprised to hear of the poor performance of the D200 compared to the Hassie using TRI-X film that has been scanned (though I'm not disputting what you say). Perhaps the the descripency is optics. Better glass on the Hassie than the Nikon.

    Most of the so called experts often report that the biggest point of failure for image resolution from D cameras are caused by inadequate optics.

    Don
     
  17. BillSchwab

    BillSchwab Member

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    That is very possible Don. This is why I am not giving up yet. However, I've been using my old standby 80 - 200 2.8 from my editorial days. It is a great lens and I'm not seeing the performance out of it I should be. Keep in mind that it is not a massive difference, I am just very picky on top of being fairly new to digital capture.

    Bill
     
  18. donbga

    donbga Member

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    Me too, thanks for the clarification.

    Don
     
  19. BillSchwab

    BillSchwab Member

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    Actually from my perspective, it is rebounding. At first it seemed quite accepted and I sold a lot of big 24 x 24 inch inks, but then interest just stopped almost overnight. I'm not really sure why. Maybe ity is changing though as I just got my first order for them in over a year from a big casino company. However, my experience is with more traditional galleries and for them, the inkjet has been a very hard sell. Many of the more established collectors will not go there unless, as you say, it is a very big name. For instance, they started selling large inkjets of Imogen Cunningham from the Trust last year... very inexpensively... around 1200.00 I think. From what I have heard, they have not done very well with them at all and are now going to sell Imogen's inkjets through Pottery Barn for even less. I still believe it will come around as younger collectors get in the game.

    Bill
     
  20. BillSchwab

    BillSchwab Member

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  21. Kerik

    Kerik Member

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    Wow - That's a beautiful image... I won't be bidding, though!
     
  22. sanking

    sanking Member

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    Is there any good data or research on this? I don't know much at all about this subject but I have been told recently by some very knowledgeable collectors that high-end galleries are becoming increasingly reluctant to handle inkjet prints.

    Sandy King
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 20, 2007
  23. Kerik

    Kerik Member

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    No data or research. Just my observations, with Gowin as an example. One of the galleries I'm with, Watermark in Houston has no problems with inkjet prints. One of my other galleries, Studio 391 only handles traditional prints.
     
  24. Ted Harris

    Ted Harris Subscriber

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    Sandy,

    I can add to Kerik's comments. I went to Photo LA 1n 2006 and 2007. In both instances the majority of the color prints on display were inkjet or Chromira ... most of those inkjet (where the photographer/gallery bothered to note the print type that is). I tried to keep a running talley as I went through prints and my best shot is that 2006 was ~ 85% inkjet and 2006 was about the same. For black and white 2006 was something like 60% and 2007 was a bit higher. Keep in mind that both sets of numbers are skewed by the number of older prints on display (e.g. Strand, Ray, Erwitt, etc.) which probably account for some 20% of the total work hanging. All this means is that the contemporary numbers are even higher for digital prints.

    There was absolutely no price differential observable that is attributable to the printing technology. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, those gallery owners who handle artists who produce only traditional prints had nothing good to say about inkjet prints and stated they strongly advise their clients not to buy them. Of course, galleries that handle artists producing both traditional and ink jet prints feel exactly the opposite and work hard to educate their clients that the image is more important than the production method. The number of galleries displaying only traditional work (excluding those which specialize in older work) seemed to decline this year from last.

    Both years I randomly interviewed folks at both the opening night festivities and on subsequent days and most of those I talked with didn't care .... a lot were only vaguely aware of the difference.

    Since Photo LA, along with Photo San Francisco, Photo New York, and Paris Photo are the largest gatherings of the work of many photographers and galleries this is one of the best bellweathers you are going to get.

    I wasn't at 2005 but I was at 2004, although I have to admit I wasn't paying as close attention as I did at 2006 and 2007. My impression is that the percentages increased a lot from 2004 to 2006.
     
  25. wiz

    wiz Member

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    This is an area where digital, if handled properly, can stomp film into the ground.

    Is Bill shooting in very dim light (moonlight, dawn or dusk, building interiors, etc) or in daytime illumination with long exposures (things like cotton candy waterfalls)?

    I've done some quite stunning images by shooting with a Nikon D2X, setting the long exposure noise reduction off, 2, 3, or 4 second exposures (the camera can keep up with raw images at one ever 2 seconds with an Extreme 3 card, or 3 or 4 with an Ultra 2) and let the camera just churn away for the next few minutes, writing dozens hundred images. Start and end with a "dark frame" of your own and use astronomical stacking software to process the stack.

    The end results are incredible, as far as tonality and shadow detail.
     
  26. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Wiz can you elaborate?
     
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