Darkroom Advantage

Discussion in 'Darkroom Developing and Printing' started by wishful thinker, Jul 8, 2007.

  1. Listen you two - if and when you get a chance, go visit an exhibit of bw
    silver based prints. The particular photographer is not really important -
    just make sure that it is an exhibit of properly processed prints...you can
    be sure the "name" exhibits have such prints. Take a close look at the
    prints. Dodos and dinosaurs we may be...but that look/feel/presence is
    something I for one have yet to see in a digital.

    Yes, a digital is fast, quick, and instant gratifying as compared to that
    silver gelatine print. But all the hype notwithstanding, time will be the
    real test of digital's archivalness.

    The really fun experience is to go to the Ansel Adams Gallery at Yosemite
    Village to purchase one of the two dozen or so images which Adams in his
    will left with instructions that photographic prints be made available to
    the general public at reasonable cost. (That reasonable cost these days,
    btw, is $175.) The advice is to go when there is not a whole lot of folks
    around (early, early, early in the day) so you can get some undivided
    attention. After selecting the image you want, ask to see minimum three
    prints of that image and study them. There will be differences because
    these are handmade, not machine created. Pick the one you like best...I go
    for the one with the most detail in the shadows and in the hightlights. If
    I have to give up one, I give up the highlights. I have never failed to get
    a comment from the clerk to the effect that all the prints are the same -
    then I point out to him/her the key differences among the prints before us
    of that same image.

    Now go to the display of machine prints ($20 each the last time I checked)
    and do the same comparison/comparison. Lo and behold - no difference
    amongst the lot! And the look and feel of these are not at all the same as
    those silver gelatine prints.
    Lawrence Akutagawa, Jul 9, 2007
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  2. wishful thinker

    David Starr Guest

    Color in the darkroom is time & temperature. Color balance isn't all that hard

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    Retired Shop Rat: 14,647 days in a GM plant.
    Now I can do what I enjoy: Large Format Photography

    Web Site: www.destarr.com
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    David Starr, Jul 9, 2007
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  3. wishful thinker

    Dana Myers Guest

    Have you seen high-end inkjet prints? I've certainly seem
    them in galleries, and buyers are snapping them up as fast
    as silver-gelatin prints.

    The prints I'm thinking of are all captured on film, scanned
    at high resolution and range, and printed on high-end media
    with pigmented inks. I'm not talking about a quickie
    on an HP printer and glossy "photo paper".

    For example, Silvershotz, Volume 4 Edition 1, page 77,
    Andy Cross draws a comparison of the same image on silver-
    gelatin to the same image on inkjet. The editors conclude
    "The gap is closing and only the trained eye can now see
    the difference".

    Photography has evolved yet again, and it's up to us to
    either evolve with it or find peace as anachronisms.

    The difference between an image captured on B&W film and an
    image captured on a digital sensor remains obvious and will
    likely never go away, and this is exactly where the character
    and soul of a B&W print come from - even if the print is made
    Is there even a question any longer? Even in the last couple of
    years there has been substantial progress in the longevity of
    inksets and paper and the big money investment continues.

    Dana Myers, Jul 9, 2007
  4. wishful thinker

    Pieter Guest

    Butting in with a couple of comments;

    I put together a really nice home B&W (only) darkroom a couple of years ago.
    It cost practically nothing beyond the cost of studding up and sheetrocking
    a couple of walls. Most of the equipment I had in storage or (and here's
    the point) I got for FREE from folks going to all digital processing. So I
    have an old Omega B-22 enlarger that I've used forever, but with a good
    digital timer and a cold light head. A 4 foot plastic sink with
    thermostatic water temp control. A mounting press I haven't even used yet.
    Film and print washers. Trays of all sizes. Mostly free!

    I love film and chemistry. I hate digital. There is much to be said for
    being able to see your picture immediately and try again as necessary.
    However, for me B&W is about expressing yourself withing the limits
    prescribed by the process. With digital anything is possible. You can make
    an image from scratch if you wish by just manipulating pixels. With B&W
    chemical photography, craft and vision is everyting. Frankly, if Ansel
    Adams had done all those magnificent images in digital, I would likely react
    to them with some degree of cynicism - were those crosses really lit like
    that or did he just fake it in photoshop? Ironically, the image could be
    identical to the "real" chemically produced one, but my perception of the
    artist's craft and passion would be different. And that's why I do B&W by
    Pieter, Jul 9, 2007
  5. "isn't all that hard anymore."

    And then you are going to compete with people who can make contrast changes and
    selective color balance changes, who can increase saturation, etc. in
    Photoshop and then output to carefully controlled output stations at various

    In the end, you can't see the difference between a digital RA-4 print and
    an analog one (unless you study the print with a loupe)
    Philip Homburg, Jul 9, 2007
  6. But "trained eyes that can see the difference" describes most
    of the members of this group.

    The untrained eye, given a 5x magnifying glass or a bad case of
    myopia, has no trouble either. The untrained eye also thinks
    disposables make 'perfectly good pictures'.
    No, there is no question. Ink Jet != Silver Gelatine != Platinum
    != Gum Bichromate != Bromoil transfer .... and never will.

    So what?


    Ob Comp Illit: "!=" is "doesn't equal" in geek
    Nicholas O. Lindan, Jul 9, 2007
  7. wishful thinker

    John Boy Guest

    Popularity has nothing to do with quality; it is only a measure of the
    mean, and nothing else.
    John Boy, Jul 10, 2007
  8. wishful thinker

    Dana Myers Guest

    This seems like a pretty specious argument; somehow, just because
    a trained observer can determine, upon close examination, that a
    print is inkjet versus traditional, inkjet prints fall into the
    class of snap-shots from single use printers?

    That's just fallacious, which is the point the editors of
    Silvershotz were making. The gap is closing. Photography
    is evolving. No need to debate it.
    I've become accustomed to more objectivity on your part than
    this exhibits :). The specific "question" here was one of
    material longevity, not one of similarity. Of course these
    different processes are... um.. different. My point is that,
    just as commercial pressures led to traditional photographic
    processes becoming increasingly archival, the same thing is
    happening - at a very rapid rate - to inkjet inks and media.

    That's what.

    Dana Myers, Jul 10, 2007
  9. wishful thinker

    Dana Myers Guest


    Err, of course I meant "cameras".

    Dana Myers, Jul 10, 2007
  10. wishful thinker

    Dana Myers Guest

    People do that, and, really, end up missing the forest for the trees.

    I found myself in the habit of peering closely whenever I saw
    photograph on display, and realized I wasn't seeing the images,
    I was searching for technical details. What an insult to the
    photographer that created the image!

    Dana Myers, Jul 10, 2007
  11. wishful thinker

    Rob Morley Guest

    ITYM 'mode'.
    Rob Morley, Jul 10, 2007
  12. wishful thinker

    Rob Morley Guest

    You can put a darkroom together for next to nothing these days if you
    watch eBay and Freecycle for a few weeks. Feeding it is only expensive
    if you shoot as if you were using digital, or experiment/screw up a lot
    when printing. Reasonable[1] cameras can also be had for peanuts.

    [1] If you're not a brand snob and you're not looking for perfection -
    mid-level consumer cameras and better from the 1920s through 1980s are
    "classic collectables" that can still produce good results, while
    cardboard boxes and bakelite Brownies are more 'real' than a modern
    Lomo, and cheaper too. :) I recently went to an end-of-year
    exhibition at a local college where the best (IMHO) shots were from a
    totally home-made pinhole camera - all the others I was thinking either
    "I could have done that" or "I wouldn't have bothered doing that", and
    I've only recently reacquired the bug after a long break (I was never
    that good anyway, I just like fiddling with stuff).
    Rob Morley, Jul 10, 2007
  13. Although I wish it was not true, unfortunately, I can't agree
    with you. Digital sensors exist today which can produce better
    monochrome images (and color ones) than film and have existed
    for many years.

    For example, how many people have seen any satellite photograph
    on a poster? Satellite images have all been digital since the
    early 1960's.

    Please don't tell me that you saw an image on Google Earth and
    it was not up to the quality of silver. Google Earth pictures
    are the low end of satellite digital images.

    It's not a question of technology, it's a question of market.
    If 1 person is willing to pay for such a sensor in a camera, it
    won't be made. If 10,000 are it might be. If a million are,
    someone might make it.

    If 99% of the market is happy with 8mp 24 bit (8 bits per color)
    cameras with Bayer sensors, that's what will be sold.

    The same thing happened to the film market. Look at the films
    that were available 20 years ago, and what is available now.
    Most people were happy with color negative film with wide
    exposure latitude, "rich" (as in exagurated) color and
    relatively large grain and low accutance. (pardon the spelling

    Geoffrey S. Mendelson, Jul 10, 2007
  14. This is true but irrelevant. The question is will the original
    poster's nephew see it and if he does care?

    So far to me the question has not been really answered, how do
    you interest someone brought up on video, computer graphics and
    digital photography in silver based photography?

    Geoffrey S. Mendelson, Jul 10, 2007
  15. If you think so, you are welcome to take anything that you find or
    get off of these lists, stick it in a USPS four-pounds-or-less flat rate
    air mail envelope and send it to me. :)

    All I've seen here are "complete darkrooms" which means an old
    enlarger which has sat for many years, a negative carrier,
    lens and one or two trays, for over $1000.

    I'd love to have any medium format (even cheap folders) cameras,
    lenses and accessories for a 23c II, safelights, roll film,
    darkroom accessories (dodging and burning sticks, masks,
    multigrade filters), developing tanks, bulk loaders, reloadable
    35mm casettes, etc.

    Chemicals have to come surface mail and should be unopened packages or
    bottles of powder (no liquids).


    Geoffrey S. Mendelson, Jul 10, 2007
  16. wishful thinker

    Henry (k) Guest

    Dnia Mon, 09 Jul 2007 14:38:31 -0700, Dana Myers napisa³(a):
    Captured image is only source for good print. So image from
    B&W film is good source for scanning and digital print.
    Of course if somebody prefers to look through magnifying glass
    then B&W print from englarer has higher resolutions. But
    I'm from the people which just prefer to make bigger prints.
    I have darkroom and make from time to time some englarements,
    but only for fun - my albums are filled with digital prints.
    So don't focus on effect, because advantage of darkroom is
    not in prints but in work to create them.

    Henry (k), Jul 10, 2007
  17. dSLRs tend to be 12-bit, moving to 14-bit.
    Fuji makes plenty of high quality films. At the moment I really like 160S
    and Astia 100F.
    Philip Homburg, Jul 10, 2007
  18. wishful thinker

    Jew Guest

    Jew, Jul 10, 2007
  19. wishful thinker

    Jew Guest

    If I recall properly, you are in Israel. True? Perhaps we can get some
    hardware together and ship to you. I recently bought an unused 23C with
    two lenses, trays, easel, power regulator, measures, tanks for $100. I
    donated it to a school after I could not give it away to the local colleges.

    Are there duties or other penalties for shipping to you from the USA?
    Jew, Jul 10, 2007
  20. wishful thinker

    Jew Guest

    I truly wonder if that is correct. Even back then they were dropping
    film in canisters back into the atmosphere to be picked up by dragging
    nets behind aircraft. If you could provide a credible source for that
    information, I would appreciate it.
    Who can tell by looking at a monitor? I swear, so many people use it for
    the standard and don't know what a real print is.
    Hasselblad is trying very hard to bring their 16mpx back to the market.
    Too bad it's still a physically small thing.
    :) Cell Phone cameras suffice for most!
    Jew, Jul 10, 2007
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