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Herr Barnack

Film photography has found its feet again

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4 hours ago, ianman said:

By "wet printing" a scanned image I suppose you mean a digital c print? 

Correct (at least that was what I was referring to).

2 hours ago, adan said:

I think James means that since you also have the negative, a wet print is still always one option (ignoring the scan).

I think he means a digital c-type print – a wet print from a scanned digital file.

Edited by wattsy

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4 hours ago, logan2z said:

Some excellent points made in this thread on the virtues of a hybrid workflow.  Maybe my views on the subject have been too myopic.

 

The point you seem to miss from your opening comments is that it is entirely possible to reproduce the characteristics of film through a hybrid workflow in a way that no plug-in or post process fiddling can  completely achieve with a digitally captured image.  With a good, faithful scan, you're already there without having to resort to plug-ins  and 'film packs', which can give a good approximation, but ultimately cannot close the circle.  Where you take your faithful scan from that point is entirely up to you. You can look at this in several ways, the obvious one being that a hybrid workflow adds a few more creative layers to your output.

You may see that as pointless'  I see it as an ongoing continuation of my education as a photographer.

This is probably the main reason why many of us who choose the 'hybrid' route do so.  Film photography requires a degree of pre-planning that only film photographers will understand. 

I'm probably in a minority on this forum in that I had a formal education in photography in the early 70's, a time when film was what we learnt photography with. The most absorbing aspect of this education for  me , ongoing since those days almost 50 years ago,  is concerned with black and white negative film types and their relationship with different developers. 

The hybrid workflow adds creative possibilities that your opening comments ignore.

A few years ago, I set up a Facebook group (Film Photographers International) for photographers who use film and traditional processes.  There are some inspirational practitioners amongst the 4000-odd members and even the dross that sometimes gets posted allows you to judge the possibilities of different film types beyond the image you're looking at.  

This is one other clear benefit of the hybrid workflow, it allows work to be shared and inspire huge audiences.  You're very welcome to join the group.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

I agree wet printing has its own appealing. But I think the recent film coming back is relying on the so called "hybrid method". 

I would not be surprised if all new films are going to emphasize the "scan-friendly". 

Edited by Einst_Stein

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7 hours ago, Einst_Stein said:

I would not be surprised if all new films are going to emphasize the "scan-friendly". 

All the more surprising then, that no-one seems to think an easy to use but fully competent scanner is worth producing anymore. 

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11 hours ago, Ouroboros said:

 

The point you seem to miss from your opening comments is that it is entirely possible to reproduce the characteristics of film through a hybrid workflow in a way that no plug-in or post process fiddling can  completely achieve with a digitally captured image.  With a good, faithful scan, you're already there without having to resort to plug-ins  and 'film packs', which can give a good approximation, but ultimately cannot close the circle.  Where you take your faithful scan from that point is entirely up to you. You can look at this in several ways, the obvious one being that a hybrid workflow adds a few more creative layers to your output.

You may see that as pointless'  I see it as an ongoing continuation of my education as a photographer.

This is probably the main reason why many of us who choose the 'hybrid' route do so.  Film photography requires a degree of pre-planning that only film photographers will understand. 

I'm probably in a minority on this forum in that I had a formal education in photography in the early 70's, a time when film was what we learnt photography with. The most absorbing aspect of this education for  me , ongoing since those days almost 50 years ago,  is concerned with black and white negative film types and their relationship with different developers. 

The hybrid workflow adds creative possibilities that your opening comments ignore.

A few years ago, I set up a Facebook group (Film Photographers International) for photographers who use film and traditional processes.  There are some inspirational practitioners amongst the 4000-odd members and even the dross that sometimes gets posted allows you to judge the possibilities of different film types beyond the image you're looking at.  

This is one other clear benefit of the hybrid workflow, it allows work to be shared and inspire huge audiences.  You're very welcome to join the group.

 

 

Not knocking the hybrid workflow, but it still does not fully mimic a fully chemical one either. Any scan will lose data and introduce artefacts, any inkjet print may come close, but not match a chemical print.

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That is true, but you also have to account that every enlarger will also introduce softness and distortions, as will the filters in color enlargers and so on. I realize that these are "optical" changes, compared to "digital", but I think these differences are no always significant. The biggest advantage in my mind to analog printing is when you have a good negative with a moderate tonal scale on big film and print it at small or moderate sizes. Then you can truly achieve results that inkjet and scanning have real difficulty matching. In that case, you are limited by the grain in the paper and so you can print extremely sharp prints with exceptional tonality. But as you go up in size, it becomes harder and harder to maintain a perfect optical path...you need absolute rigidity in your enlarger (and often even in your building), your film and paper need to be absolutely flat, which requires scrupulously clean glass negative carriers and vacuum easels (which of course are more difficult to obtain/make as you increase in size), you need good, stable light sources, high quality filters, extremely high quality lenses specialized for large printing, which need to be used at optimum apertures. Print processing and handling require large amounts of now expensive chemicals, and scrupulous technique in handling, processing and washing. Meanwhile, with digital the difficulty is primarily front-loaded. The most important aspect by far is the scan. If you have a perfect scan, printing a 1 meter/40" wide image is just as easy as an A4/8x10" print. Additionally, with less than ideal film shots, such as those taken at night, in difficult lighting conditions, or just images that got damaged, in many cases it is possible to completely salvage them with minimal effort. I do not think analog and digital printing is opposed to each other anymore...they are two techniques to achieve the same end goal -- a fine print. 

As an aside, I often work with an artist who works primarily on 4x5 and does her own printing. She is an excellent printer. She had a show at the National Museum of Iceland last year, and asked me to produce some of the prints for her. She did the bulk of the work herself, but there were a few images that she could not salvage, due to damage on the negatives. I got match prints from her and reproduced them as well as I could using some old stock of Harman Warmtone Gloss, which is the closet match to Ilford Multigrade Warmtone Fiber that I am aware of. No one could tell the difference...there was enough variation in the darkroom prints already, that any minor variations in tonality and print tone are within the margin of error.  I am not saying that it is impossible to tell the difference (pull out a loupe...you will see the dots), but even dyed in the wool darkroom printers couldn't see anything awry. I know, because I asked a few out of curiosity, and told them that I did a few of the prints and asked them to see if they could guess which ones. They couldn't. For me it comes down to personal preference and practicality. Choose what thou wilt... Whether it was shot on digital or film is far more of a factor than whether it was printed digitally or with silver.

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Everything Old is New again.  Probably the “purest” photography are the earliest processes which produce a positive.   The Daguerreotype. Collodion Wet Plate Ambrotypes And tintypes.  No enlarging, no old/new bastard electro processing.....just light hitting a sensitized surface and captured in its purity 

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6 hours ago, jaapv said:

Not knocking the hybrid workflow, but it still does not fully mimic a fully chemical one either. Any scan will lose data and introduce artefacts, any inkjet print may come close, but not match a chemical print.

My experience is that that is an overbroad generalization.

Any "rephotographing" of a film image - whether through a scanner lens, or through an enlarger lens - will lose information. I haven't seen many scanner artifacts (except with some Nikon Coolscans, which occasionally got "judder" in the movement and produced doubled scan-lines at the highest res setting).

Inkjet papers (just like chemical photo papers) come in a variety of quality, from consumer RC single-layer gloss or luster through high-end fiber-base papers with a transparent overcoating (e.g. Ilford Galerie Multigrade Fiber Glossy (wet) or the Harman Photo Gloss FB AI (inkjet) made by Ilford (UK)** but now marketed through Hahnemühle).

The extra gloss overcoat produces the "depth" usually attributed to wet-prints, but also present in inkjet papers that go to the same extra trouble. But the overcoat can be a two-edged sword - it increases visual depth, but diffuses (blurs) the resolution slightly. TANSTAFFL. (BTW, nothing will crush resolution as quickly as the pebble-texture of luster papers of either type - I use them for cheap work-prints only).

I also know, from years of experience, that the dry/wet/dry cycle of wet processing leads to its own small resolution effects, as the gelatin emulsion expands and contracts. As well as degrading the surface gloss - air-dried wet papers are never quite as glossy and smooth as they are fresh from the box in the darkroom.

I did a check of actual print resolution on gloss RC Ilford (wet) and gloss RC Epson (inkjet) papers a few years back. The wet-print process (enlarger/lens/paper/processing) resolved on the order of 400 lines per inch (16 lines per mm, or 8 lpmm). As we know, inkjet printers lay down dots at 1440 dpi, but what with dithering for tonality and multiple ink passes, I found they actually produced about 250-300 lines per inch (9 lines or 4.5 line-pairs per mm). Either of those exceeds the resolution of the normal unaided human eye.

Net, I find that - done correctly (appropriate setting of tonality, black/white points, output sharpening, best (or at least similar) materials, and so on) - there is no appreciable difference between inkjet or wet prints. Except convenience - and perhaps "fun".

I would say that having significant wet-print experience definitely sets a standard and acts as a guide to producing the best digital prints. It is good training.

_____________

**BTW - don't confuse Ilford Galerie inkjet papers made by a separate Swiss company, with Ilford-UK-made "Harman" inkjet papers. The merger and then split-up of CIBA-Geigy and Ilford years ago led to some trademark sharing, just like LEICA Camera and LEICA Geosystems.

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52 minutes ago, adan said:

My experience is that that is an overbroad generalization.

 

Mine too:  mimic....match????

If you can't achieve either to an acceptable level, then it isn't being done very well.

As I previously said, the negative is the starting point.  This isn't a contest, it's a choice. 

 

 

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Posted (edited)
14 hours ago, plasticman said:

All the more surprising then, that no-one seems to think an easy to use but fully competent scanner is worth producing anymore. 

I see the digital camera is the answer.  Who needs scanner except the negative to positive conversion SW?

I think if the film suppliers are serious, they should offer digital camera friendly film profile for each existing film, particularly for color negatives. Better yet, in all newly introduced films, if any, tune the color to make it straightforward.  Slide films may not need as it is already straightforward. B&W negatives could be challenging as it has widely variations and very personal.

  

 

Edited by Einst_Stein

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