Roofers & Printers Shared A Penchant For DrinkThursday, June 14, 2012
|Lauren with President's Choice No-Name |
800 ISO colour negative film
Nikon FM-2 35mm F-2 lens
There was one reason why these good magazines and their then very powerful art directors or design directors (they have lost their power to the now ubiquitous photo editor) demanded that photographers shoot film. The photographer’s slide (with all the inherent problems then of colour casting because of mixed lighting or tonal shifts if the film had been purchased in tropical countries or the film was not professional film and thus film that may have languished on a shelf beyond its shelf life) represented an original. This original, give or take, was the photographer’s vision. This vision had to be translated on to a page by the art director (a benign and or kind art director one did little tweaking or cropping) by the printers. They liked to have the original as a master reference. More often than not the magazine printers would then to botch it, reproducing the picture too light, too dark, out of registration or with off colours. In those days we would often state that roofers and printers shared a penchant for drink.
Now with the digital image of a digital camera we have:
The photographer’s vision on the back of the camera may not coincide with the photographers’ vision on the monitor. Let us say that the photographer somehow matches this to what is thought to be the original of memory. This is sent via email to the art director’s computer. That computer would be calibrated (if at all) to different specifications of colour and brightness, not to mention the more esoteric use of a different colour system (there are many such as Adobe RBG, etc). Once this image is tweaked by the art director (and more tweaking is now available to the art director than ever before) the image is sent to the printer by email. And the whole process begins again. Where is the original?
|Corel's Early Colour Process setting|
A second reason why some of us (I include myself here) used slide film is that this film stock had poor latitude. You had to be accurate with exposure. Some of us (and I include myself here) took pride in taking photographs that were not guessed at by a non-sentient automatic camera. We chose our exposures using a good light and or flash meter.
Once scanners came into use, it was no longer necessary to have an original slide. The art director could retain the sharpness of the photographer’s original without having to resort to the often lack of sharpness of the internegative (a negative that allowed labs to make colour prints from slides). Before scanners and digital files, colour photographs had to be colour separated into a process that involved a physical thing (called colour seps). Now that digital image does not ever have to be seen on anything, except that monitor, and only becomes a “solid” presence if the magazine in question is that of the staples-in-the-middle kind.
I began to waver on my insistence and pride of shooting slide when I noticed that New York City’s MOMA had colour prints on the wall made from colour negatives. I began to waver yet again when I read that photographer of the National Geographic who went to very difficult areas (the arctic or Mount Everest) knowing they could not return for a re-shoot, used colour negative film.
|Corel's albumen print effect|
And now few of my fellow, but younger, photographers, would understand the difference between negative film and slide film. Few would understand that until the advent of good scanners, photographers who shot b+w film usually printed their negatives or relied on trusted labs to interpret their vision. The scanner did away with that pronto. In fact a good b+w negative when scanned will show better shadow detail on a well printed magazine than that ultimate print done with time and effort by a good printer in a traditional darkroom.
The paradox (and to me a tragedy) is that never have prints from photographs (be they digital of film) ever been as excellent as now and yet so few of those photographs taken, ever see the light of day except on a computer monitor.
Now that I have let my rule of only using colour slide, slide a bit, I can report here that there is something to be said for colour negative film (and particularly in the this age of film-less cameras) and some of its capabilities of which I had not inkling of.
I recently took some pictures using a roll of 1600 ISO Fuji Superia. It is amazing in detail, reduced grain structure and the ability to make my Nikon FM -2 cameras a delight to use in little light. I am hooked.
On the opposite end of the spectrum (absolute lack of quality) is President’s Choice No-Name 800 ISO negative film (formerly manufactured by Fuji). The pictures you see here is from my last roll (none to be found anywhere, alas!) are from that film. It has a colour reproduction that if not carefully monitored (and I am not careful on purpose) by accurate scanning, the colour reproduction resembles badly restored Technicolor. I love it!
Since not all the pictures here are in colour I will explain that I have, of late, been using Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo X2’s Time Machine setting in its Photo Effects. What you see are the sepia albumen print setting and the early colour photo process (an imitation of the Autochrome). I am very happy and I plan to shoot a lot more colour negative film.
|Corel albumen print setting|
|Corel albumen print setting|
|President's Choice No-Name film|
|Corel Paint Shop Pro X2 Early Colour setting|
|Corel Paint Shop Pro X2 albumen print setting|