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Basically over-exposing the film and under-developing it can help bring out details in the shadows yet not washout the image. Then burning and dodging in the darkroom. Ansel would also use a custom, multi-light projector to expose sections of the photographic paper from his large-format negative, allowing more light in dark areas and less in thin areas. He employed many photographic techniques beyond "just" getting the exposure right.
 

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Love his stuff and his artistry, both with the camera and in the darkroom. I did a lot of darkroom stuff when in the Army as the facilities were free and I had a great teacher. We would go through the Korean country side with my new Canon F1, his Rollei and a 16mm movie camera, then return to the darkroom for my lessons...LOL. Still love monochrome work, but no darkroom puts me at the mercy of film processors, never ever satisfying. Have to do more with my digital stuff, but his images and magic are always at the back of my mind. Thanks for this post!
 

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Adams

Not sure what this has to do with Ducati but back when I was young and in the industry, a friend and worker in my camera store in Portland started a relationship with a customer that was enchanted with photography. One day, around 1976 or 77. 78, she drove up to Adam's house and knocked on his door and introduced herself. He invited her into his home where prints of his work adorned the walls. He sat down with her and offered suggestions as they looked over her portfolio. He was very gracious. I knew she was a nurse by profession really had no interest in talking about anything other than photography. I spent a lot of time with her because she had an insatiable need for film and darkroom supplies and enjoyed showing me her work. I was impressed with her love of photography and I asked her if she really went to Ansel Adam's home as my friend had told me, and she said, "of course, he lives right here". Pragmatic to the point that my question was a distraction to showing me her photos.
 

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I fight with my brother all the time about this... he's a purist who thinks the composition should be complete when you snap the shutter, I've always felt that post processing with a light touch could improve even great shots. He got mad at me when I told him NOT to blow out the highs in a morning shot and that it would be better to move the histogram in post but have a raw image with ALL the data to work with, that's started a long ongoing debate... which will continue since I'd never admit to him that he's right...

However... I've got to say that over the last couple years I've drifted more to his way of thinking, and a big part of the reason why is due to the overprocessed look that permeates photography today. When I peruse the flickr stream and 90% of the shots are stupidly oversaturated, dripping color, and with obviously heavy DR editing (compressing here, stretching there), it makes me wonder if the original shot was crap and they had to overtweak it to get something usable.

I think the problem is that the tools available in a darkroom required the development of skills to understand and apply... wheras today anyone can push a slider in photoshop and ruin an otherwise good image. Even at the high end... now people EXPECT to see unrealistically contrasty oversaturated photos that no longer resemble anything you can actually find in the real world, I guess I think it's gone too far.
 

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I fight with my brother all the time about this... he's a purist who thinks the composition should be complete when you snap the shutter, I've always felt that post processing with a light touch could improve even great shots. He got mad at me when I told him NOT to blow out the highs in a morning shot and that it would be better to move the histogram in post but have a raw image with ALL the data to work with, that's started a long ongoing debate... which will continue since I'd never admit to him that he's right...

However... I've got to say that over the last couple years I've drifted more to his way of thinking, and a big part of the reason why is due to the overprocessed look that permeates photography today. When I peruse the flickr stream and 90% of the shots are stupidly oversaturated, dripping color, and with obviously heavy DR editing (compressing here, stretching there), it makes me wonder if the original shot was crap and they had to overtweak it to get something usable.

I think the problem is that the tools available in a darkroom required the development of skills to understand and apply... wheras today anyone can push a slider in photoshop and ruin an otherwise good image. Even at the high end... now people EXPECT to see unrealistically contrasty oversaturated photos that no longer resemble anything you can actually find in the real world, I guess I think it's gone too far.
Well Said!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Did you ever shoot with Kodachrome 25 or Fujichrome 50? Not to mention printing with Ceibachrome.

Over saturated colors and high contrast are nothing new.
 

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I think part of my philosophy has been just from learning how the pro's use the equipment I've got... which is mostly cinema gear. With digital media, cinematographers generally set up their shots to use the full dynamic range of the camera to represent the full dynamic range of the scene (no clipping top or bottom). The resulting footage usually looks REALLY drab... but it has all the information that the camera could possibly have collected from the image.

Here's an example of (sort of... not exactly but close) what I mean:


It gives you the most flexibility in post to interpret the scene however you want... because all the data is there.
 

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And what you are talking about, if I understand, is exactly what Adams was a master of. He was the man that perfected the zone system. When he made his initial exposures he know what he wanted in each zone. And he then followed that up with how he would process the film to get his prime interest into the zone he wanted. And that's just to get s negative. He would then expose the paper knowing ahead of time how much exposure he needed for each area of the print to put those elements into his desired zones.

Zones were his definition of dynamic range. It's very apparent if you go back and watch the video where they show the initial exposure and the final results.

Digital sensors are getting so good at shadow detail there's almost no excuse for blowing out highlights. You can underexposed by several stops and in post processing bring out the shadows and still have perfectly exposed highlights. Think about wedding photography where the bride is wearing that brilliant white lace dress and everyone else is wearing black.
 

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Even with the advancement of digital sensors, their dynamic range is on the order of 4–5 logs. Compare that to the human eye at 9 logs of dynamic range. Ansel was a master of increasing the dynamic range of film and paper. A correctly performed "high dynamic range" digital photo can look great...as long as you don't go overboard with saturated colors (as was mentioned).
 

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Even with the advancement of digital sensors, their dynamic range is on the order of 4–5 logs. Compare that to the human eye at 9 logs of dynamic range. Ansel was a master of increasing the dynamic range of film and paper. A correctly performed "high dynamic range" digital photo can look great...as long as you don't go overboard with saturated colors (as was mentioned).
Yea the human eye is pretty impressive. I've got an 18 stop camera and a number of 14-16 stop cameras (though dynamic range specs are slippery). The human eye is around 20 stops with iris, pretty good.

There DR specs for digitals have been improving rapidly over time... not something most people think about (resolution seems to be the main visible spec used by consumers... totally missing the boat). Not too may years ago they couldn't match film's 13'ish stops, but those days are long gone. Still many directors stick with film and IMO they have an argument that there are some non-linear behaviors of film that result in very pleasing images that are harder to match with digital (sort of like audio tube amps).
 

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resolution seems to be the main visible spec used by consumers... totally missing the boat
Bingo!


IMO they have an argument that there are some non-linear behaviors of film that result in very pleasing images that are harder to match with digital (sort of like audio tube amps).
House!
 

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Digital sensors are getting so good at shadow detail there's almost no excuse for blowing out highlights. You can underexposed by several stops and in post processing bring out the shadows and still have perfectly exposed highlights. Think about wedding photography where the bride is wearing that brilliant white lace dress and everyone else is wearing black.
Yea, cool as hell... we have the DR to hold the highs without having shadows fall below the noise floor of the shot... I've been blown away by how far the high end (and now even quality consumer) camera's have come. If I had the money I'd be buying a new stills camera every year or two.

-Cameras capable of 100k+ ISO shots that aren't grainy (incredible low-light performance).
-Resolution far exceeding the grain size of even fine film - allowing you to 2x (or even more) crop zoom and not loose image quality... rendering teleconverters obsolete (sensor resolution so near optical resolution of lens that TC's don't add data).
-Vibration Reduction on Super Tele's so good that you can shoot long lenses without tripods!
-Some of the higher end stills cameras able to capture 4k video of sufficient quality to be mixed with cine-cam (cameras costing 10-20x more) footage without major post work.

It's kind of a shame so many people just lazily use their crappy cell phone cameras (which are better but still in the "terrible" quality range by my eye)... because the real cameras out there today are amazing.
 

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What do people do with their cellphone photos anyway? Just post them or send them to their friends. Then forgotten? Do man people print them out? Still don't find them impressive for anything larger than a laptop screen. BTW, anyone have any experience with the Tamron 100mm to 600mm lens, especially the second generation recently on the market?
 

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Wow, that was impressive. Since you cannot use flash during an outdoor performance of Noh, that is the way to go!! BTW, that is the only way to enjoy Noh theatre, out in the open court of an old temple with only torchlight. Mystical and enthralling, a bit of time travel back 1300 years! Saw my first one under a full moon at Narita-san, and old temple near Narita Airport. Rode their with a GF on my GS400E Suzuki. Unforgettable! (had to be as no photos were taken).
 

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What do people do with their cellphone photos anyway? Just post them or send them to their friends....
I believe that's exactly what most people do, and it's not a bad thing. Years ago people did the same thing with their Brownies and Instamatics. Online posts that include a photo or vid are much more popular w/viewers than are those w/only text. Most people are not interested enough in doing more than that to learn the complexities of capturing and storing images w/sophisitcated equipment. And instead of saving prints in a shoebox, now you can save all of your photos in the cloud. It's also much easier now to photograph everything you see because there's no film to buy and no waiting for processing. Instant gratification is a powerful thing. When was the last time you saw a Fotomat?

Almost all of my work is posted on a dedicated Facebook page because I want people to see my photos easily and to reach the largest possible audience. I was initially disappointed to realize that after all the time, work and expense of traveling to events, and capturing and editing images, that people only view them on tiny little screens. But if that's what people want, I'll accept it. Knowing this, I now bias my photos more to close-ups than long shots, and the stories that I post have fewer than 1,000 words.

 

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What do people do with their cellphone photos anyway? Just post them or send them to their friends. Then forgotten? Do man people print them out? Still don't find them impressive for anything larger than a laptop screen. BTW, anyone have any experience with the Tamron 100mm to 600mm lens, especially the second generation recently on the market?
One of my pet peeves (to use polite language) is people who use cell phones and cheap point & shoots to take nature photos. In doing so, they can get too close and disturb the animals, such as when they stick the cameras in the faces of nesting baby birds.

Tamron's 150-600mm telephoto zoom is very popular among amateur nature photographers in my area. My local camera store initially had trouble keeping it in stock. My buddy uses the first generation model extensively with his Canon 7D Mk II for bird photos. To see his photos, go to this forum and look up any thread by squirl033:
Wildlife and Animals

From what I have heard and seen, it is a good lens as long as lighting conditions are good. He admits it is not as good as a Canon L series "big white" lens, but it is a fraction of the price and has a longer warranty.
 

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People quite often seek my advice about buying a camera and lens. The first question I ask is what do they plan to do with the photos. If they just want to post photos of friends and family on Face Book, then I tell them a cell phone or point & shoot is adequate.

If they want to take high quality nature or scenic photos to mount on the wall, then they must be prepared to spend serious $$$$$ on quality DSLR cameras and lenses. As I stated before, I get irritated at someone sticking a cell phone in an animal's face.

Many local photographers are going to high end mirrorless or Powershot type cameras. The technology is advancing to where these cameras give DSLR quality and telescopic lens range without packing around equipment that weighs a ton.

I quite often get asked if I am a professional photographer when people see me out with my big white lenses. I tell them that I have the best of both worlds, a professional's expenses and an amateur's income. :)
 
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