Workflow Progression through my life

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by carbon_dragon, Sep 21, 2018.

  1. I learned photography in the early 1970s on a Konica I and my high school's Mamiya Sekor 1000DTL. I mostly shot Tri-X, often pushed to 1200. I developed film (in D76) and printed using a serviceable enlarger on polycontrast resin paper (never my best skill) for the yearbook.

    Later in life, I purchased a Nikon Coolscan V and got used to the workflow of taking the pictures with my film cameras, developing the black and white and taking the color to local photofinishers, scanning the black and white and color negatives and slides, editing the resulting photos in Photoshop, and then printing on the Epson.

    Then digital came along. Now the workflow was much simpler. Go out and shoot the digitals onto cards, come back and plug them into Photoshop at first, and then Aperture, edit them, and post some. I didn't bother printing anymore. Mainly because those Epson printers required regular use or they dried up and became useless, and because the ink was so expensive.

    Recently I got back into photography and took out some of my film cameras for exercise. This necessitated that I step back into my previous workflow with the need to buy chemistry, develop the film, scan the negatives, and edit and post them. It was interesting to remember how different the experience is. Developing black and white is a kind of magic, to see the images on the roll after you finish the developing. You're never sure if the shots will look good, while shoot digitally allows you to check the image on the rear screen. The whole developing process, and the scanning process is time consuming and slow, but there's still a certain joy of discovery that is perhaps greater for being delayed?

    How has your workflow changed during the time you have been taking pictures? What are your thoughts on whether it feels better now than it used to, or do you miss what you used to do in the old days? How do you feel about what things are like these days? What do you prefer from your earlier workflows? What are you grateful for in the present?
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2018
    movingfinger likes this.
  2. I’m grateful for the opportunities photography has given me with people and places. I’m grateful to be able to express myself visually. I’m grateful to share my stuff with others. I don’t spend much time thinking about workflow or comparing the present to the past. I’m mostly happy to just do what’s in front of me. Workflow is simply a support beam for the main structure of my photography, which is more about vision than process.
  3. With you, I go back to the early 70's with both color (professionally finished) and B&W in my own darkroom. I started processing Tri-X, Pan-X and Plus-X, in my parents bathroom when I was 12. Later I started a career in IT and got back into serious photography in the early 90's largely because I wanted to do something that didn't involve computers.

    Fooled me . . .

    Now, I want to get back into serious B&W darkroom work. I've looked into a camera club that I was a member of years. The problem that I see is that their "Monochrome" print competitions are dominated by digital images. This will make it very difficult to compete.

    I have considered trying to put together a group of darkroom workers to meet about once a week and share prints for trade and for critique. Is anyone else doing something similar?
  4. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    I have good digital cameras and a pretty decent printer and I can get to "satisfactory" or even pretty darn good with digital monochrome, but a genuine film / darkroom print is awfully hard to beat IMO. I'd bet once you get back into the groove on darkroom work, your contest results would be a pleasant surprise. The few situations where I still have an old negative and a print from my darkroom, and have scanned the same negative and printed with the inkjet, I'd give the edge to the old style print.
  5. Sandy . . . The problem is that they are starting with digital images, not processing and scanning prints and they are having their images printed professionally, not doing it themselves. I agree that there is a beauty and depth to a silver image that can't be duplicated but they are able to sharpen and manipulate content in ways that I can't.

    Such is the life of a luddite . . .
  6. One of the changes I notice in my workflow is that I take my workflow less seriously now than before. This suites the kind of photography that I do and has improved the quality of my works.
  7. You actually care about the content of your final image more than fiddling with gear and process? Welcome to the true definition of photography my friend. You're kicking a headwind on this website though.

    I've printed ever type of chemical process you can think of. In terms of classic wet lab the process I enjoyed the most was making 8x10 contacts with a friends view camera. Watching those puppies develop in a tray of neutol on Agfa Portriga was astonishing. It wasn't the process that was exciting, It was the expectation of knowing those final contract prints weren't going to be less than stunning, and they were.

    Then I had this client that was shooting custom cars for a national magazine back in the middle 90s, but he also wanted prints for clients to sell. This being before commercial scanning was fiscally viable we had to use conventional wet lab process. Cibachromes from his 6x7 trannies were too harsh and impossible to work with. Internegs were dull and lifeless. I was able to talk him into shooting Royal Gold 25 in 120 format in his Mamiya and I optically printed on Kodak Duraflex . Some of the best color work I've ever printed and light years better than any direct optical print from slide. Then Kodak kills off RG-25 and film scanners made it all moot anyways.

    Only time I scan film is when I have to. Sorry, but it's a stupid, illogical process taking digital pictures of film -vs- the original scene and being an engineer I can't fool myself into flat earth conclusions because I need the noise of a chemical process to think for me. My workflow has evolved based on final quality expectations. Big film optically printed the old fashioned way is fun because it delivers superb results. My digital captures ink jet printed on Hahnemuhle stock and properly profiled are just as good in their own way. Everything in between is forgettable, especially 35mm and film scanners.
  8. For me, I never had a gift for the darkroom print, though seeing the print materialize in the Dektol was pretty magical and I’m glad I had the opportunity to do it. I have the greatest respect for the amazing darkroom work photographers did to create truly amazing prints. But the ability to scan and print on Epsons (marginal ones at first and better ones later) was what allowed me to actually create decent color prints. Not to mention the room it takes to create a good (even small) darkroom. Maybe if I had trained under a really good print man, I’d be more “connected” to the silver print.

    The digital stuff I do now, mostly with a Leica M9, still feels pretty traditional on the picture taking end. But the pictures get to the computer in a much cleaner and faster way than even the hybrid film to scan method. But I’m not saying it’s better, just faster. At this point, cameras are producing images better than what I can get with 35mm film and a good film scanner (though digital IR isn’t the same as Kodak HIE) though it’s close. There’s a reason some digital cameras have “film type” modes. We have lost somewhat the choice of emulsion to dictate the result.

    To some extent I am reminded of what I read in the history of early Leicas. 35mm was no doubt an inferior system than large view cameras with their big negatives and contact printing. Enlarging was effectively accepting a poorer result in exchange for convenience (lower weight, smaller size, cheaper film, etc.) It was a disruptive process which was repeated when SLRs were invented and when cameras went electronic and when digital cameras grew into their own.

    I feel like film and older cameras kind of connect me to my past and that’s a good thing. Sooner or later my scanner is going to die though, and the only reason I can still use it now that Nikon no longer maintains the software is that Vuescan can talk to the scanner. But I have an awful lot of frozen (and some refrigerated) film though so I figure I can try to use some of it up. If I’m going to use the color though, I need to find a place to send it or bring it for development in Atlanta.
  9. I'm with Ansel (1983, at the dawn) on this one

    Ansel Adams, 1983 Examples: The Making of 40 Photographs. Little, Brown and Company. p.59
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  10. The technicians have their jobs and we have ours . . .

    The first, practical, commercial, solid body guitar in history was built by a man who had already largely transformed the history of amplified live music. Leo Fender who built his line of amplifiers starting for pedal steel country players, through the 1940's and then revolutionized guitars with his "electric Spanish style guitar" (which become the still produced Fender Telecaster) never learned to play the instrument himself.

    My avatar image is me, at the Trocadero in Philly, playing a 1958 Fender Telecaster. My father had already owned the used guitar for two years when I was born in 1961.
  11. Phil . . . There was a time, but I no longer have any interest is jumping . . .
  12. Ah you brought back some nice memories with your workflow description. Although I started in the mid-60's (not my age but the decade of the 20th century) my workflow paralleled yours. My first non-hand-me-down camera was the Mamiya Sekor 1000DTL (double through the lens). It was the first SLR with two options for metering, spot or average. I did BW in my own darkroom but never color. I too became a 'hybrid' in the late 90's (again, the decade ;-), shooting film then scanning it into digital. In 2007 I got my first digital camera and each year since I shot less and less film. I do have a Mamiya 645 medium format and I still like shooting Kodak Portra - for some reason I like the color rendition better than digital. But that doesn't stop me from shooting about 95% digital and maybe 5% film. The simplicity, low cost, instant feedback of digital cannot be beat, and despite what I said about portra, the quality of digital is outstanding. Scanning film is slow and tedious and getting rid of dust is aggravating. I have no desire to get back to chemical darkroom and enlarging, etc. I love seeing the darkroom work of others, especially quality large format camera prints, but I don't have the talent and mental stamina it takes to do that. I still prefer photographic prints on quality papers over anything on a computer screen. I get such prints from my Epson 3880. I am grateful now for digital and the control it gives me. In particular it allows me to do color and BW from image capture to a quality final print with every step of the process under my control.
    carbon_dragon likes this.
  13. I’m mostly happy to just do what’s in front of me. Workflow is simply a support beam for the main structure of my photography, which is more about vision than process
    terrykelly likes this.
  14. Isn't the process all about carrying out the vision -- realizing the vision?
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  15. I'm not exactly sure what majorcyvaco is up to, but this is a direct quote taken from one of my posts above.
    Carbon_dragon, yes, it would seem to me the process is all about carrying out the vision. Often, however, in these discussions, the process seems much more important to a lot of people than the vision and seems to be the end in itself. When process gets discussed, it's often not put in the context of the eventual vision and how the process impacts or helps serve the vision. Often the process seems to have something much more to do with nostalgia for days gone by or just a love for a particular process itself without much thought being given or at least much being said about the vision or the link between process and vision. These discussions, in fact, often lead me to want to ask, "What vision?"

    Read your OP. You talk somewhat vaguely about "the joy of discovery" but never once mention a vision or how this particular way of finding joy in discovery is in any way related to whatever vision you have. What is your photographic vision? Can you describe it, a photographic vision goal you have and how that's related to the particular workflow you find so joyous?
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2018
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  16. I'm not sure I have one, at least not an explicit one. I took up photography because it was the only really creative thing I had any talent for. My mom was an amateur artist and tried all kinds of things such as painting, sculpture, decoupage, and mosaics. I tried those and found I had no talent for them. I guess though that I am looking for something particular (at least at my present age) and that is an expression of tranquility and peace, through landscape photography. But it's more implicit than explicit. I figure that's fine as long as I enjoy it.
  17. It absolutely is. It's also fine to get joy from a particular process just because that process gives you joy. I don't find that to be the case for me when it comes to photography but I hear it often from others and accept it. You had tried to tie together the process and the vision and that was where I lost you.
    terrykelly likes this.
  18. In the old days. my workflow was sending chromes out for developing and then showing a slide show. Or if they were negatives, the lab processed them and returned them to me with 4x6" prints which were culled and then put in a photo album. The final "print" was pretty much what I shot. No cropping. No nothing.

    I went through a period of medium format film 35 years ago where I selected the crop and had a lab provide 16x20" prints which got framed and mounted on the walls in my home. Then with digital, I stuck to internet and a few prints I made myself with a home printer. I stopped doing that and pretty much just post on the internet.

    My new favorite process is to take slides and short movie clips and process them at home and show on my UHDTV with music, titles, credits, narrations, etc. Mainly of vacations or sometimes just short shows like this of something I did locally.

    I still shoot medium format film once in a while as it slows me down and let;s me think about what I want to shoot and how best to capture it. I'm attracted to beauty, interesting content, special light, awe, unusual juxtapositions, etc.

  19. My only 'workflow' with a film camera was taking films along to a local store to have them developed by a lab. I only started to learn anything about photography when I bought my first digital camera (a Canon Powershot) 15 years ago. So I've never been up to my elbows in chemicals or adjusted film exposures in a darkroom and feel no sense of nostalgia for this. It seems to me that though the physical processes of film and digital photography is different, there are some similarities.

    My guess is that the more experience film photographers had (and have), the surer they would be that most of their shots would be 'good enough'. Just because of their confidence in their abilities. That's not to say that they didn't/don't have disappointments and pleasant surprises! I can't imagine professional news or wedding photographers who shot/shoot film being unsure whether their photos would look good.

    Unless digital photographers feel the need - and have the time - to 'chimp' each photo (which I don't), the joy of discovery is - at least for me - the same as when I took a roll of film to the store. The main difference is that I can load photos into my PC the same day instead of waiting 3-7 days for a lab to develop rolls of film.
    I usually know in advance - just through the viewfinder - which shots are going to be 'good enough', which exposures may be hit/miss and which shots just might turn out to be very good by my standards. It's still exciting to look through batches of photos when I load them into the PC.

    For many types of photography (event, sport, etc.), I suspect that reviewing, rating and selecting photos is time-consuming on a screen as it was from contact prints. I'm sure that digital development (cropping, color/contrast adjustment, dodging & burning) is a lot faster using digital tools than it used to be in the 'old days'.

    I can't really compare workflows but I would think that modern photographers are much better equipped to 'mix and match' whatever technologies they prefer in different parts of their workflow.

  20. So far, he has made three comments. All are lifted from someone else.

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