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Bob Tyson <firstname.lastname@example.org> writes on 31 October 2000 at 11:13:36 -0800 > Conventional wisdom has it that Paul Strand invented "straight" > photography in the early 20th century and blew the pictorialists and > "hand-work" folks out of the water: bye bye, Mr. Steichen. Now we > have a machine at our elbow that can produce anything we want or it > introduces as artifact. I'm curious, and here I think this may not be > entirely off-topic, why do we expend such enormous energies inventing > this new medium when it is manifestly inferior in so many respects to > existing media such as C-printing, dye-transfer, gelatin-silver, > non-silver photographic printing materials, and so forth. (Not just > technically inferior but as or more expensive, given the lengths to > which people here will go to overcome its limitations.) Perhaps, though I'm not completely sure, inkjet printing on Epson printers is inferior to those processes. It is in some dimensions to some of them, anyway. Of course, C printing was used even though dye-transfer existed too, even though it was manifestly inferior. Heck, even R printing manages to hang on in niches. My analysis is that I can produce archival color inkjet prints of higher quality than I can get from local pro labs short of ruinously expensive "exhibition" printing (about $100 for an 8x10 print), and better than I can make myself in the darkroom. (I don't *currently* have a darkroom, and when I did I wasn't a very good color printer.) That makes it a no-brainer choice for me. I *could* invest in setting up a color darkroom (vastly more expensive than adding printer and scanner to my computer was) and take the time to learn to become a good color printer and see if I can satisfy myself that way; but given the rapid development of the digital technology, I'll benefit more by improving my digital skills while letting the technology carry me forward. It may be true that really fine printers can get far better results out of C printing than I can from digital. In fact it's likely; I was going through some workprints with Ctein last week and was reminded once again of the difference between me and *good* printers. But I'm pretty darned sure he could get better results out of my digital setup than I can, too. The difference is, I think, more between the people operating the technologies than it is between the technologies. There are additional benefits to digital for me, like the fact that there is less setup and cleanup time required for doing some digital work than for going into a real darkroom. This lets me get a LOT more time actually working with photos; it's easier to take an hour here and a half-hour there than to find 4-hour chunks. As I said buried in the above, I wasn't an expert color printer when I started doing digital. That definitely affected my decision; I wasn't throwing away much knowledge heading into this new technology. And when I made the decision, it was relevant that I wasn't producing prints for commercial clients or serious exhibitions. (I'm pretty confident that's no longer an issue, but I'm three printers down the road from where I started.) Overall, I object strenuously to your characterization of the medium as "manifestly inferior". That simply doesn't match my experience. > What I hear on this list is a search for a way to exactly REPLICATE > the verisimilitude and color range of photographic materials that > have been refined for decades. That's a great goal and one which I > share but what seems to me left out of it is this: each new process > and material in photography, graphic arts, and mechanical > reproduction has brought with it some unique truth or visual > signature of its own. Yes. I've thought about this too; in the early stages of a new imaging technology, many of us strive to emulate the old ones. And we strive to avoid the characteristic flaws of the new technology. Later, as people get used to it, things become more relaxed. This has certainly happened with photography; the record is quite clear on that. -- David Dyer-Bennet / Welcome to the future! / email@example.com Photos: http://dd-b.lighthunters.net/ SF: http://www.dd-b.net/dd-b/ Minicon: http://www.mnstf.org/minicon/ - Turn off HTML mail features. Keep quoted material short. Use accurate subject lines. http://www.leben.com/lists for list instructions.
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