The most challenging and controversial question...

YorkshireBloke

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Hi Ian,

OK; so go on then, you've put us all on the donkey with your re-entry to the world of analogue purity...

I know you've committed 100s (thousands??) of hours to learning and perfecting hybrid workflow... There must be something about analogue that has "lured you back...".

Robert
 

Ian-Barber

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Hi Ian,

OK; so go on then, you've put us all on the donkey with your re-entry to the world of analogue purity...

I know you've committed 100s (thousands??) of hours to learning and perfecting hybrid workflow... There must be something about analogue that has "lured you back...".

Robert
Its difficult to explain really. I thoroughly enjoy the process all the way from capture to print regardless of the workflow but I also like a challenge. At the moment, the darkroom as you now is in the loft space and I only have 6x4 feet to play with and this weather has prevented me from spending a lot of time in there apart from early mornings where I have just been experimenting with different things such as making ring arounds using different filters.

I have spent the past 15 years + working Photoshop and it's like anything else, eventually it gets easier the more do it so I just wanted to set myself some new challenges and see what results I could get from wet printing.

Watching the print emerge from the tray is both exciting and can be disappointing at the same time but yet I still find that a challenge to try again.

I have been collecting odds and sods from ebay and have started to gather quite a few items now, the only item I am lacking is an enlarger timer, at the moment, I am either counting in my head or using the stop watch on the iPad.

I do keep walking to the bottom of the garden to see if I could get a small shed down there and use that which I think would help with not having to balance everything on top on one another.
 

David M

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Alexander the Great is said to have wept because there were no more worlds to conquer. I suspect that Ian the Great has reached his Alexander moment with Photoshop.

If you're thinking of a darkroom in a shed, here's the Taj Mahal of all garden darkrooms. I suspect that many of us manage with less. It is certainly nice to be able to set out all the trays in a row, and to contemplate bigger sizes.

http://www.film-and-darkroom-user.org.uk/forum/showthread.php?t=14
 

David M

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The link works.
It seems that I "do not have permission to view this gallery." I can live with that. No sense in creating ambitions that I cannot satisfy.
 

Ian-Barber

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Alexander the Great is said to have wept because there were no more worlds to conquer. I suspect that Ian the Great has reached his Alexander moment with Photoshop.
I remember my first experience with Photoshop, it was around 1994 and version 3 had just been released where layers had just been introduced. Now in 2018, Photoshop has certainly come along way but these days, to me it seems to be more geared towards design rather Photography.

I use Photoshop at least once day and have done for as long as I can remember if only to see "what happens if I do this" probably the same for those brought up working in the darkroom. I think my only regret is that I don't have the years left in me to become a really experienced darkroom worker so my aim is to get as far as I can.
 

Ian-Barber

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If you're thinking of a darkroom in a shed, here's the Taj Mahal of all garden darkrooms. I suspect that many of us manage with less. It is certainly nice to be able to set out all the trays in a row, and to contemplate bigger sizes.
I saw Dave Miller's darkroom and its very nice indeed. The one that did initially inspire me although not as elaborate as Dave Millers was the one from Roger on the Isle of White.

 

martin henson

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I do understand anyone like Ian who has never worked in the DR and how exciting it is to create a print without any electronic intervention and see the image slowly merging in the tray, it is quite addictive.

As regards surpassing the hybrid method, I think in the hands of an experienced photographer and DR worker, the darkroom print would win the day, but in general terms the hybrid scanning method with the right equipment and knowledge is very hard to beat.

I like some members here I spent over 40 years in the DR then moved over to the hybrid method, I think the benefits for me outway returning to the wet darkroom, but you never know :rolleyes:
 

David M

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Martin has put his finger exactly on the key thing that every convinced darkroom worker remembers: that moment when a blank sheet of paper comes alive and grows. It doesn't seem to matter if the image was good or bad, it's a magical experience. Whatever the merits of digital printing, watching the paper jerk out of a slot really doesn't compare at all.
 

Ian-Barber

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As regards surpassing the hybrid method, I think in the hands of an experienced photographer and DR worker, the darkroom print would win the day
From my experience, I don't think this is a cut n dry as it may have been 15 years ago. I have visited 2 what I class as professional dark room workers, Andrew Sanderson and Dave Butcher and looked through many of their portfolios.

Andrew Sanderson uses many formats, 35mm through to 8x10 whilst Dave Butcher only used 6x7. Both portfolios were very impressive knowing what work was involved to get to the final print.

Having said that, I digitally scanned one of Andrews negatives, edited and and printed it to the best of my ability with some Epson Signature paper with the Epson R3880 UC Inks and the results were superb even down to getting the blackest black to print at just over RGB (7,7,7)
 

David M

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This is a Godzilla v King Kong question and there's no right answer until we can construct firm rules on what constitutes "Good" and "Best." We are never going to do that.
If anyone has the answer, let him speak now.
And although getting a really dense maximum black is praiseworthy, it's neither sufficient nor necessary as a measure of print quality. Images of fog would automatically be considered poor if that were the case. I can easily and routinely print a blacker black than my Pepper No 30.
My suggestion is that there are master (and mistress; but is that quite the word?) printers using both methods. We might equally ask if bronze or marble is "the best". Or clarinet and trumpet... steak and chips or fish and chips... and so on.
One point about the difference is the very large range of paper surfaces available for digital printing. Once upon a time, everybody swore by air-dried Record Rapid, until it vanished. Then we swore by air-dried Seagull. Or was it something else? The air-dried glossy unglazed surface seemed to be the only acceptable one.
Up to now, no digital paper-maker has managed to duplicate the problems of flattening wet-processed prints, but a friend suggests that as modern pigment inks dry waterproof, soaking the print and then drying it without pressure should do it. Some of the subtle clues that tell us how a print was produced would then vanish. It might be even harder to tell the difference. I have yet to make the experiment.
One small final point. Digital printing, in my view, is cursed by the effects that Photoshop (and others) generate so easily, but this is outside the question of printing.
 

martin henson

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I really don’t think the question is what’s best, there both good, the answer is what is the most rewarding and enjoyable to each person, I remember well the good times in the DR I also remember the frustrating times.

Since moving to the hybrid way I personally find it more fun and rewarding than the DR, I suppose convenience is the word, I also love printing on the vast selection of papers available for inkjet especially matt papers and Japanese kozo, so it horses for courses, do what you enjoy, and try not categories what’s best or worst, it’s pointless.
 

martin-f5

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taking a brand new sheet out of the box, FB warm tone, and knowing you only have one chance, you have to do your best for this piece of paper....
Holding it in your hand after drying and pressing it is so different to the best inkjet paper.
Well yes the digital way gives me so perfect results, racer sharp and pixel exact, but it isn't that what I want to get,
for me there's no live in it.

Cycling up a mountain isn't the same like taking a car.
Being on top of the mountain and having done it at your own gives you a feeling you can't replace with your car.
You all know this and probably you also struggled in DR like me, thought I can do in digital, thought I can scan and print, but going "down" in the DR is so different.
 

David M

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Now this is a good question. Can't trace any light-bulb moment.
I was once a member of a camera club, when everything was darkroom-generated and almost everything was black and white 35mm-based. I bought an MPP camera and got hold of a monster of a 7x5 MPP enlarger that needed rebuilding. When I moved to a much smaller house, (life is never smooth) all I could make were contact prints, but I don't think this was a major factor in changing over, although I did find the size restricting. In retrospect, it was a very good exercise – there's no hiding place in contacts.
I believe the changeover began when my employer began to use computers and I had to learn quickly. This was in the days of QuarkXpress, but we used Photoshop of course. I remember being astonished when someone demonstrated how to clone a flower and place it somewhere else. I became familiar with Photoshop and Illustrator. I still like Illustrator although I have high hopes of Affinity.
All this time I was still making darkroom prints but when employment retired from me, I was able to take my now-outdated Mac with me. We moved again, and I had a darkroom. At this time, the advantage in monochrome printing lay clearly with the wet process, but my digital colour prints were better than my darkroom ones. I was at best an adequate colour printer, perhaps because I didn't do it often enough.
It began to seem to me that I had much more control on screen than on-easel and I quite liked the micro-tinkering.
As printing technology improved, I began to process my negatives for the scanner rather than the enlarger (basically, less contrast, as you know) and now I seem to be using film originals in large format with digital output on a nice Epson printer.
Although I do possess a couple of digital cameras, I've avoided getting a clunky, clumsy, heavy and over-complicated DSLR. At the moment, I seem to be perched between LF and my iPhone. I haven't joined an iPhone forum, if there is one.
For me, the major disadvantage of digital production is the wide variety of back-aches that it provides.
I'm not sure if this properly answers your question, but now you've induced me to think of it, I don't think there is a single answer. A succession of circumstances, perhaps, with a bit of curiosity thrown in.
 

David M

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One thing I forgot to mention was that I consider that experience in the darkroom is invaluable when using Photoshop. I'm not sure if this applies in reverse. Has anyone found it so?
 
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