U of S | Mailing List Archive | alt-photo-process-l | Truth Beauty — Pictorialism and the Photograph as Art response to Chri

Truth Beauty — Pictorialism and the Photograph as Art response to Chris & Judy's posts

Chris & Judy,

I have this book and have really been enjoying it.  Chris and Judy I think you are both correct.

Judy—the images in SOME cases are reproduced in the book such that shadow detail is lost.  I think this is the only failing of the book—the images in some cases are not close to being faithfully reproduced.  A bit of dot gain there!  I picked two images reproduced in the book that I was familiar with:

1.  Flatiron—Evening by Steichen, Camera Work no. 14.   http://www.photogravure.com/photogravure_images/medium/CameraWork_14_08.jpg
(by the way, www.photogravure.com is a great site.)
In Truth Beauty, the image is really blocked up in the area below the gentleman with the hat—overall the image looks darker in the book.  
I am going to check another great book, Camera Work—The Complete Photographs and see if it is in there.

2.  The second image is a portrait of Alfred Stieglitz by Clarence H. White  

Again, here the jpg online shows much more detail—especially noticeable in the dark jacket.

True, all of these are reproductions and could even be from different prints.  However, the fact that some reproductions show more shadow detail indicates that it was there in the first place and probably even more so.

Chris, I have always felt that when I see the original prints at galleries and museums, most of the vintage alt process prints are darker and the highlights have more tone in them than just paper white.  I have thought that perhaps this was the "look of the times" but perhaps also a safe way to print, since blown out highlights would be a really good way to kill a print.  I'd like to hear from others on this.

By the way, I don't always print with near paper white in my prints and maximum black.  I think this concept is over rated and one of those rules that prevents printers from achieving great prints with some images.  I enjoy making prints with darker, richer highlights too.  I don't always go for DMax in all my prints either.  I can if I want to, but some images look better to me with out the extremes of maximum black and paper white.  It's funny, the Ansel Adams print in Truth and Beauty almost looks and feels out of place.

I am enjoying exploring the differences in printing with polymer plate photogravure in comparison with platinum/palladium.  I find I like a darker look with the photogravure, though I am working on printing with only very very light tones also.

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