Sunday, February 28, 2010
Printing is an obsession. It was in the darkroom and it is with a digital print as well. When I worked in the darkroom things were much more stable. I used the same enlarger, the same chemistry and paper over and over and over. You got to know your materials. That did not necessarily make printing easy but it did take away some of the variables. If I made one acceptable print in a three or four hour session in the darkroom it was a good session. Acceptable did not necessarily mean "final" print. I would tack the acceptable print on the wall and look at it and wait a few days. Sometimes, really most times, I found things about the print that could be improved.
By now you must be wondering how processing a digital print could be worse than a darkroom print. It is because every element in the technological process is changing at a pace far beyond what happened with the elements in a darkroom. One variable affects other variables. Then, there is Photoshop that allows you to use layers so you can keep tweaking here and tweaking there without having to make a final decision. It is hard to find a digital rock to stand on.
I, and a lot of other photographers, obsess about making the best print possible. I've spent the day making variations of the image you see above. I've tried different papers, different shades of monotone, different this and different that, a tweak here and a tweak there. If I were to lay all of the prints I made today out for you, I just wonder if you would see the differences. Differences to me that are deal breakers but you might think they are miniscule. At least I have made one print that is acceptable to me and I'll tack it on the wall and look at it and wait a few days to see if I think I can improve it. That part hasn't changed.