Interview With Andrew Sanderson UK Large Format Photographer

Ian Grant

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But I, for one, am not talking about changing reality. What I do digitally is exactly the same as a "wet" printer. If you want "reality" then you need to leave every dust spot and imperfection in the negative and not make any corrections using multigrade paper and filters. Not forgetting that a B&W print never reflects reality; after all, the world is really in colour :D

I replied to your earlier post, I dn't disagree with your comments, except darkroom printers re-touch the same dust spots etc in an analogue way, it's not much different.

I know you go down a hybrid route, I go down both and to me there's no real difference. I'm sure that experience of darkroom printing makes digital work so much easier, and that's not just my experience. It's actually why most Degree courses in Photography still require a darkroom element and darkrooms are being re-installed.

Maybe you should go do a darkroom printing coarse, not to convert you but to see the other approach.

Ian
 

Joanna Carter

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Well yes there's a step (or more than one) using Digital that can make huge changes to the final output. It's not you that might be cheating, but there's plenty who would and do try.
I don't have to cheat; my photographs are well envisioned, well taken, well processed and well printed. Using an enlarger doesn't prevent cheating, otherwise Frank Hurley would never have become so famous; not forgetting Alfred G. Buckham either. Their photographs are well worth looking at as well.
 

Ian-Barber

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The modern printers from what I have experienced can produce exceptional prints, some even claim that the DMAX on some of the Baryta papers are equal if not more than a silver print. Now whether a darkroom print looks any different especially when its placed in a picture frame behind glass I cannot really say.

Does it not really boil down to what process the individual enjoys and where their individual skillset lies.
 

Joanna Carter

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Maybe you should go do a darkroom printing coarse, not to convert you but to see the other approach.
I'm sorry Ian but that sounds somewhat condescending. My father taught me the basics of darkroom printing, starting from the age of 11 and I did a course in photography using 5x4 cameras and darkroom printing in my teens; I know how to work with an enlarger, I just choose not to and I can produce the same results
 

Joanna Carter

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The modern printers from what I have experienced can produce exceptional prints, some even claim that the DMAX on some of the Baryta papers are equal if not more than a silver print. Now whether a darkroom print looks any different especially when its placed in a picture frame behind glass I cannot really say.

Does it not really boil down to what process the individual enjoys and where their individual skillset lies.
Indeed
 

martin henson

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Well, I suppose we good carry this conversation on and on but at the end of the day does it really matter if you enjoy either process, it's all photography.

I sell prints from my website, and over the years I have only had one person ask a question "are your prints made in a darkroom" I said no, my pictures are from the Hybrid process and fully Digital capture, this speaks volumes to me as most people are not interested in what camera, medium or process was used to make the print, if they like it they will buy it, so lets move on and let Andrew have his moment :rolleyes:
 
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David M

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I suspect that Andrew, when he said "hold in the hand" was contrasting his work with images seen only on screen and not to trying to make a direct point about digital prints. He may well have his own views on that.
We on this forum are constrained to see images on screen and the vast majority of images are now consumed on screen. Don't forget, the iPhone is said to be the most popular camera in the world. Being able to take an image in Australia and have it seen immediately by your auntie in Scotland is something entirely new. The huge number of images that can be made is something new, too.
I don't believe these kinds of image are any sort of threat to (what can we call it?) serious photography.
We should be grateful to Andrew for igniting the spark of a very interesting discussion.
 

Ian Grant

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I'm sorry Ian but that sounds somewhat condescending. My father taught me the basics of darkroom printing, starting from the age of 11 and I did a course in photography using 5x4 cameras and darkroom printing in my teens; I know how to work with an enlarger, I just choose not to and I can produce the same results

Fair comment, I wasn't suggesting you used scanning etc to cheat, your images (that I've seen) aren't of that nature.

I think you've just backed up my point that a grounding in darkroom work is actually important or useful when it comes to scanning and digital output, it makes everything a lot easier.

Ian
 

David M

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Yes indeed. I suspect that many members of this forum have had experience of the darkroom and I'm sure it helps. Without darkroom experience, the Unsharp Mask in Photoshop (and doubtless other software) is bafflingly named. Unsharp masking isn't a sharpening procedure at all: it's contrast control and the sharpening effect is not always welcome. A good deal of Photoshop shows the influence of the darkroom, like Dodge and Burn instead of Lighten and Darken. If you look at the language used by Photoshop, it's a mixture of re-purposed traditional terms and scholarly neologisms.
Nowadays, beginners will almost certainly experience all this backwards. My understanding is that students of Photography are keen to learn about the darkroom. This is not quite a renaissance of interest in fine printing. I suspect that all the wet processes are now equally exotic, from Lomo to 10x8 Zone work.
I did hear an anecdote from a well-known dealer. Apparently, photography departments, under pressure to modernise, and liberate all that tempting space, were closing their darkrooms. He cleared all the now "worthless" kit. Another establishment, having made the move earlier, were under pressure from students to provide a more rounded experience and needed a batch of enlargers at reasonable prices. So it goes.

This has made me wonder about the future supply of LF lenses. We have seen that fresh new camera makers can spring up, as older ones depart, but what of new lenses? Is anyone making them?
 

Ian Grant

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I did hear an anecdote from a well-known dealer. Apparently, photography departments, under pressure to modernise, and liberate all that tempting space, were closing their darkrooms. He cleared all the now "worthless" kit. Another establishment, having made the move earlier, were under pressure from students to provide a more rounded experience and needed a batch of enlargers at reasonable prices. So it goes.

This has made me wonder about the future supply of LF lenses. We have seen that fresh new camera makers can spring up, as older ones depart, but what of new lenses? Is anyone making them?
I've heard of darkrooms are being re-instated, there will of course be the odd exceptions. I know a girls school in Handsworth, Birmingham, recently opened a darkroom again.

I don't know if Congo still make lenses, the issue is no-one makes shutters any longer. Copal were the last. There are companies who could make lenses if there was demand but there's still too many on the second hand market at low prices.

Ian
 
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