Ansel Adams - Which Book?

Film Photography & Darkroom discussion

Moderator: Keith Tapscott.

CJBas
Posts: 35
Joined: Thu Aug 02, 2007 4:06 pm

Postby CJBas » Fri Aug 10, 2007 10:43 am

"You are misinterpreting “Expose for shadows. Develop for highlights.” What this means is that shadow detail is controlled in exposure. Highlight density is controlled in development. This has nothing to do with the zone system. It is merely a statement of how film works."


What you just said is EXACTLY what the zone system is based on.; that statement of how film works. Had you bothered to learn something about it you would know that. Knowing how film works does one little good if you don’t make use of that knowledge.
********

"I'm glad you posted such a speldid example of a severly compressed tonal range. The photograph in question shows what I object to, and exactly why Kodak wrote what they did. The scale has been compressed to the point that the overall contrast is very weak. If you say you like that effect, fine, I cannot demand that you share my aesthetic sensibility. The tonal weakness cannot, however, be dismissed by the wave of a hand. It is a perfect example of technical wizardry, but the result is not pleasing to my eyes. I have watched many hours of film noir made in the 40s and 50s, and I have seen many such scenes lit by street lamps. The dramatic shadows and burned-out light sources are quite effective when processed and printed normally.

I recommend watching black-and-white movies from this period to get a good idea of how to expose and print your film. The image you show here is unsatisfactory from a tonal perspective. It is aesthetically unpleasing."


I spent my career in the motion picture industry and have watched quite a lot of movies. Thank you. As for “no contrast”? I guess you didn’t bother looking at the p;icture The light sources are in the picture (white) and there is detail in the deepest shadows. And all ranges in between. It is predominately dark, but certainly not lacking in contrast. As for whether it would appeal to you; I felt certain that you’d see to it that it wasn’t since it discredits what you seem to have based your photographic identity on. It appeals to a great many others as well.

As with other things; your saying that the contrast range is not there does not change the fact that it is.
******************

"But aesthetically that would have been more pleasing. You must recognize that getting shadow detail in some situations simply isn't practical, and forcing the situation results in severe losses of overall print quality. Again, that's why fill-in was invented..."


Actually, as the photograph demonstrates, it is practical.
****************

"If you really wanted to make a better photograph of such a scene, it is not done by altering development, but by lighting. If you are familiar with location photography and cinematography, you know that pros bring tons of lighting equipment with them on their assignments and sets. The answer here is not reduced development but more light on the subject.


There are several illustrated examples in Adams's books in which he claims adjusting development will make a better image. In each of these cases what he really needed was some kind of lighting set-up. One of my main complaints about the zs is precisely this. To me, the zs photographer is lazy; when he should be figutring out how to light his scene, he's trying to figure out how to compress 47 stops into 6, using N-2000 development. You don't have to accept what's given. You can change and improve the lighting. That will always work better than zs manipulations."

Now there’s some excellent advice (I knew you would get to that): Spend thousands of dollars on banks of lights, hire a crew to work them, get police to block off the area (which would be necessary in such a situation), and bring in a generator to power the lights. That’s FAR more practical that making use of the film you already have in your camera. I’ll have to remember that when traveling and the next time my photography class wants to learn how to shoot at night.

Sound ridiculous? It does to me too. I expect it does to everyone else as well. If you want to talk about something NOT being practical; you just did.

Cinematographers have to use such lighting set ups because, being motion picture, they are limited to shooting at roughly 1/48th of a second. Still photographers are under no such restrictions.

Why in the world should someone go to such expense and jump through hoops when a camera, tripod, and a coupld of willing subject are all that are needed to make such a photograph? Do you really think such effort and expense are justified ONLY because someone says you shouldn't make full use of your film? I don't. And I certainly would never recommend that to anyone and keep a straight face.

Now tell me this: With all your thousands of dollars of lights, and crew, and generators . . . how are you going to get the boy’s ghost in that picture?


Ornello
Posts: 833
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2006 9:49 am

Postby Ornello » Fri Aug 10, 2007 12:54 pm

CJBas wrote:
"You are misinterpreting “Expose for shadows. Develop for highlights.” What this means is that shadow detail is controlled in exposure. Highlight density is controlled in development. This has nothing to do with the zone system. It is merely a statement of how film works."
What you just said is EXACTLY what the zone system is based on.; that statement of how film works. Had you bothered to learn something about it you would know that. Knowing how film works does one little good if you don’t make use of that knowledge.
There's quite a lot more to the zs than merely "...expose for the shadows...etc." The basis of the zs is 'visualization' which is essentially assigning print density values to the various reflectance values of the scene and manipulating negative and print contrast so that this is accomplished. I have read Minor White's book and all of Adams's books. I understand what the zs tries to accomplish. I do think it's all hokum, but I certainly do understand the intent of it. Perfectly.
"I'm glad you posted such a speldid example of a severly compressed tonal range. The photograph in question shows what I object to, and exactly why Kodak wrote what they did. The scale has been compressed to the point that the overall contrast is very weak. If you say you like that effect, fine, I cannot demand that you share my aesthetic sensibility. The tonal weakness cannot, however, be dismissed by the wave of a hand. It is a perfect example of technical wizardry, but the result is not pleasing to my eyes. I have watched many hours of film noir made in the 40s and 50s, and I have seen many such scenes lit by street lamps. The dramatic shadows and burned-out light sources are quite effective when processed and printed normally

I recommend watching black-and-white movies from this period to get a good idea of how to expose and print your film. The image you show here is unsatisfactory from a tonal perspective. It is aesthetically unpleasing.".
I spent my career in the motion picture industry and have watched quite a lot of movies. Thank you. As for “no contrast”? I guess you didn’t bother looking at the picture.
Yes, I certainly did.
The light sources are in the picture (white) and there is detail in the deepest shadows.
Yes. There shouldn't be, in this case, unless you provided light.
And all ranges in between.
But the gradient is too low.
It is predominately dark, but certainly not lacking in contrast.
It certainly is lacking in contrast (gradient).
As for whether it would appeal to you; I felt certain that you’d see to it that it wasn’t since it discredits what you seem to have based your photographic identity on. It appeals to a great many others as well.
I have made similar images, many times, but I would not do what you did, ever.
As with other things; your saying that the contrast range is not there does not change the fact that it is.
No, the gradient is quite low. The contrast is lacking. It's what is called 'muddy'.
"But aesthetically that would have been more pleasing. You must recognize that getting shadow detail in some situations simply isn't practical, and forcing the situation results in severe losses of overall print quality. Again, that's why fill-in was invented..."
Actually, as the photograph demonstrates, it is practical.


I'm sure I don't agree with you on the meaning of the word 'practical'. What I mean is that the attempt to compress an excessive range into a printable negative results in an unsatisfactory image. In other words, this is not a practical way to achieve the desired result. There is a result, but the result is not the desired one.
"If you really wanted to make a better photograph of such a scene, it is not done by altering development, but by lighting. If you are familiar with location photography and cinematography, you know that pros bring tons of lighting equipment with them on their assignments and sets. The answer here is not reduced development but more light on the subject.

There are several illustrated examples in Adams's books in which he claims adjusting development will make a better image. In each of these cases what he really needed was some kind of lighting set-up. One of my main complaints about the zs is precisely this. To me, the zs photographer is lazy; when he should be figutring out how to light his scene, he's trying to figure out how to compress 47 stops into 6, using N-2000 development. You don't have to accept what's given. You can change and improve the lighting. That will always work better than zs manipulations."
Now there’s some excellent advice (I knew you would get to that): Spend thousands of dollars on banks of lights, hire a crew to work them, get police to block off the area (which would be necessary in such a situation), and bring in a generator to power the lights. That’s FAR more practical that making use of the film you already have in your camera. I’ll have to remember that when traveling and the next time my photography class wants to learn how to shoot at night.

Sound ridiculous? It does to me too. I expect it does to everyone else as well. If you want to talk about something NOT being practical; you just did.
The result is unsatisfactory, no matter how you spin it. I was talking about how it would actually be done in Hollywood in the B&W days; if you wanted to see normal gradation and shadow detail, you would have to light it properly. If you stop and think for a minute, you'd realize that you would not easily accommodate such a large range with your eyes. In other words, you would not be able to see into shadows at the scene, unless you shielded your eyes from the light source and allowed your pupils to dilate, and looked only at the shadow area. The photograph you made does not reflect the experience a human being has when viewing such a scene all at once. Sure, if you went up to the light source and looked directly at it, your eyes would adjust to that bright light...up to a point. They would not be able to see into the shadows at the same time, however.
Cinematographers have to use such lighting set ups because, being motion picture, they are limited to shooting at roughly 1/48th of a second. Still photographers are under no such restrictions.
No, the reason is that almost all motion picture work is done on color negative film, the contrast of which is not easily manipulated.
Why in the world should someone go to such expense and jump through hoops when a camera, tripod, and a couple of willing subject are all that are needed to make such a photograph? Do you really think such effort and expense are justified ONLY because someone says you shouldn't make full use of your film? I don't. And I certainly would never recommend that to anyone and keep a straight face.
What I am saying is that the result doing it this way is unsatisfactory, and if you were going to do it right you would light it.

Now tell me this: With all your thousands of dollars of lights, and crew, and generators . . . how are you going to get the boy’s ghost in that picture?
I'm sorry I don't follow you.

CJBas
Posts: 35
Joined: Thu Aug 02, 2007 4:06 pm

Postby CJBas » Fri Aug 10, 2007 5:03 pm

Ok’ here we go.

“There's quite a lot more to the zs than merely "...expose for the shadows...etc." The basis of the zs is 'visualization' which is essentially assigning print density values to the various reflectance values of the scene and manipulating negative and print contrast so that this is accomplished. I have read Minor White's book and all of Adams's books. I understand what the zs tries to accomplish. I do think it's all hokum, but I certainly do understand the intent of it. Perfectly.”

All of that is jsut a convoluted way of saying, Expose for the shadows and develop for the highlights” I can see you got th words right, but it seems you never got around to internalizing any of it. In practice it amounts to an intuitive grasp of the scene you’re shooting and the materials you are working with. It also amounts to understanding that the materials you’re working with are malleable and not fixed. You can do whatever you want with them.
***************************

Quote:
The light sources are in the picture (white) and there is detail in the deepest shadows.


”Yes. There shouldn't be, in this case, unless you provided light.”


Details that are there in the shadows should not be there unless I provided the light? What an outrageous statement. The light was there. I just made full use of it. Again; I don’t travel with a light truck and a crew. I shoot the world as it presents itself to me. And I know how get the films I use to capture that.

I cannot fathom how anyone would, in good conscience tell photographers who are trying to learn, that they should turn their back on tools and techniques that are at their disposal. To my way of thinking that is unconscienable. You have advised people that there are parts of their negatives that are unimportant because they’re in the shadows or the highlights. You have told people to avoid shooting certain scenes because they cannot do that by following manufacturers’ recommendation; yet you also tell them that they can’t trust the manufacturers’ recommended film speeds.

You advise aspiring photographers to accept ‘adequate’ negatives and prints when they could be striving to make excellent negatives and prints. These are NOT the actions of an admirable teacher.
**************************

“The result is unsatisfactory, no matter how you spin it. I was talking about how it would actually be done in Hollywood in the B&W days; if you wanted to see normal gradation and shadow detail, you would have to light it properly.”

Hollywood. Great. We’ve all got Hollywood bucks to spend..

Of course it’s not a Hollywood photo! It was never intended to be.
*****************************

Quote:
Cinematographers have to use such lighting set ups because, being motion picture, they are limited to shooting at roughly 1/48th of a second. Still photographers are under no such restrictions.


”No, the reason is that almost all motion picture work is done on color negative film, the contrast of which is not easily manipulated.”

I thyought we were talking about B&W photography. Did I miss something?
***************************************

Why in the world should someone go to such expense and jump through hoops when a camera, tripod, and a couple of willing subject are all that are needed to make such a photograph? Do you really think such effort and expense are justified ONLY because someone says you shouldn't make full use of your film? I don't. And I certainly would never recommend that to anyone and keep a straight face.


”What I am saying is that the result doing it this way is unsatisfactory, and if you were going to do it right you would light it.”

It’s unsatisfactory to you because it wasn’t made the way you want a p;icture made. It if had been you’d find it perfectly satisfactory.

Sorry, but your personal beef with Ansel Adams has so clouded your objectivity that you are obviously no longer to look at anything without first passing it through you I-hate-Adams test.
*****************************

“But the gradient is too low.”

“It certainly is lacking in contrast (gradient).”

“No, the gradient is quite low. The contrast is lacking. It's what is called 'muddy'”

Sorry bud, put your meter on it. There is a lot of ‘gradient’ there and plenty of contrast. In fact, if you didn’t know that this photo was made by taking film to its extreme, you’d have no objection to it at all.

Everyone who sees it, at first glance, think it’s a normal photograph shot under available light. It’s the ghost of the boy that gives it away as being something quite different.
*******************************

Quote:
Now tell me this: With all your thousands of dollars of lights, and crew, and generators . . . how are you going to get the boy’s ghost in that picture?


”I'm sorry I don't follow you.”

More proof that you really never looked at the picture.
********************************

Now, for anyone who’s still with me, here are a couple of more examples of photographs in which the principle of “Expose for shadows, develop for highlights.” was used.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/11201989@N02/1074720458/

Believe it or not, perfect magnolia blossoms are pretty rare. More often than not they have a faded or broken petal, or pistols have broken off and fallen into the petals (to remove them invariably disturbs the blossom even more). I got a chance to shoot this when I was pretty young (still in my 20s). Another problem with photographing a magnolia is that the leaves of the tree act like sails and even the slightest breeze will cause it to sway. So it takes patience.

This may not be the best photo to show because video screens do tend to dump shadows and highlights. This is a digital photo of a print. If you adjust your monitor you can see that there are details of the dark leaves of the tree as well as shading in the white petals.

This is a photo where there are not a great deal of mid tones. It’s almost all highlight and shadow. If someone takes the approach that the brightest and the darkest parts of a scene are “unimportant”, then they can throw out this photo altogether.

Over the years it has become one of my more popular photographs. My wife even tells me I shouldn’t offer it for sale for a while because there are so many copies out there. My agent even bought one for her own private collection. It is exhibited where everyone entering her home sees it as soon as they come in the door.

Shooting this right did require an understanding that it would take some attention to make both the blossom and the leaves printable. It was shot on GAF 250 4x5 film (long out of production). I knew that I’d have to give it plenty of exposure for the leaves, but be careful and hold off on development in order to keep shading in the blossom.

It was developed in DK-50 1:50. GAF film responded well to that. Ilford does not. I don’t think I’d use that developer on any modern film.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/11201989@N02/1074709994/

If you’ll look into this you’ll see that the intricate carvings in the tracery of the nave of this church are easily visible in this photograph. Of course, most of this photo is shadow. The details there are not “unimportant”. They are critical to framing the statue in the foreground.

This was shot on T-Max 400, a film which I found I don‘t particularly like (but that’s another matter). The results were quite good. But to get a printable negative, understanding that I needed to EXPOSE FOR THE SHADOWS AND DEVELOP FOR THE HIGHLIGHTS still came into effect.

And that’s what an intuitive understanding of what Adams quantifies in the zone system is really telling you. Yes, have an idea of what you want your final print to look like. Understand the film and paper you’re using. Know their limitations and what you need to do in order to give yourself the most easily printable negative.

At least; do that if what you are trying to produce are exhibition quality prints. If not, by all meant let the shadows and highlights go to hell. For newspaper reproduction it won’t matter.

But if you are trying to produce a gem, a true work of art, it behooves you to understand the tools that are at your disposal.

If a print that is a work of art is your objective then I strongly urge you to use a compensating developer and to agitate no more than once a minute after the first 30 seconds. The reason for this is that a compensating developer will, while things are sitting still, expend itself on the highlights but keep on working on the shadows. Your negatives will be easier to print.

Also bear in mind that manufacturers’ recommendations are highly optimistic about their films’ speeds. If it’s rated 400, try 360 and adjust developing appropriately. You may want to even cut it to 200. The same with any other speed of film. If you don’t get the shadows adequately exposed on the film there is no way to compensate for this in developing or printing.

Also bear in mind; anyone who is claiming to have all the answers . . . DOESN’T.

Pim
Posts: 32
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Location: Alkmaar

Postby Pim » Sat Aug 11, 2007 2:06 am

So for "Aspens" for example, Adams should have taken tons of light to the wood instead of N+2 development and now it's a realy lousy picture?
Don't let your soul get digitalized, it just won't work!!

Ornello
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Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2006 9:49 am

Postby Ornello » Sat Aug 11, 2007 2:32 pm

The image lacks contrast. You greatly underdeveloped the film. There is nothing more to be said. Like almost all zs practitioners, you cannot be reasoned with, you're completely incapable opf seeing what's in front of you: a print that is muddy and lacking in gradient in the vital mid-tones. I do understand about expose for the shdows and develop for the highlights, but that does not mean that this is a successful image. Sometimes shadows should lack detail, to preserve overall gradient in the mid-tones. You cannot have everything. Part of being a good photographer is learning the limitations of the materials. Film and paper have a limited range. The eye does not 'like' flat images. Putting 47 stops onto a paper that looks best with 6 or 7 does not result in a successful image. That is why the zs is incorrect. Just because you can do something does not mean you should.

CJBas
Posts: 35
Joined: Thu Aug 02, 2007 4:06 pm

Postby CJBas » Sat Aug 11, 2007 2:50 pm

Since you never looked at it, how would you know?

http://www.flickr.com/photos/11201989@N02/

Granted these are 2nd generation photographic copies of 16x20 prints, but they present he image reasonable well. Contrasty images, yes, of contrasty wcenes. If only mid tones were important (as you claim) there would be very litle left of any of these photographs.

You are so engulfed with a hatred for ansel Adams - for what reason you've never mae clear, but it seems to be jealousy more than anything else - that anything and anyone who doesn't villity him as you do is automatically a fanatic.

What you do with your own photos doesn't concern me at all. That you set yourself up as holding the keys to photographic heaven and then do your gbest to keep people trying to learn the craft from actually learning all they can about it is inexcusable and undefendable.

Pim
Posts: 32
Joined: Sat Jun 23, 2007 4:59 pm
Location: Alkmaar

Postby Pim » Sat Aug 11, 2007 5:25 pm

Does Greg Winterflood, who started tis topic, know what book to read already? Or did he loos interest in Ornello's endless monologues?
Don't let your soul get digitalized, it just won't work!!

kcf
Posts: 111
Joined: Thu Dec 15, 2005 6:48 pm
Contact:

Postby kcf » Sat Aug 11, 2007 7:16 pm

Well, I don't think Ornello has shown anything like hatred for Ansel Adams. He states that Adams' conclusions are false. He also shows through quotations from Kodak's research from earlier decades that they too disagreed with Adams' conclusions. I think he makes a very professional case.

I see no evidence to support any contention Ornello is jealous of Adams or that jealousy motivates his argument. To suggest jealousy were the motivation for Ornello's position is to enter into the wildest speculation, especially, again, as Ornello has shown that Kodak also concluded against Adams' claims about altering developing times.

Nor do I think Ornello has ever made any claims to knowing everything about photography or having all the answers. If anything can be said about Ornello, it is that he is one of the few people in black and white photography forums who has bothered to do any wide reading on the subject, this in addition to having done is own extensive testing of materials.

Ornello is always willing to share what he has learned with others, saving the rest of us a lot of bother. His contribution to these forums is invaluable. I am always surprised at the degree of rancor with which his posts are met. Such a caustic reaction is unwarranted and unfair.

Keith Tapscott.
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Location: Plymouth, England.

Postby Keith Tapscott. » Sun Aug 12, 2007 10:13 am

kcf wrote:Well, I don't think Ornello has shown anything like hatred for Ansel Adams. He states that Adams' conclusions are false. He also shows through quotations from Kodak's research from earlier decades that they too disagreed with Adams' conclusions. I think he makes a very professional case.

I see no evidence to support any contention Ornello is jealous of Adams or that jealousy motivates his argument. To suggest jealousy were the motivation for Ornello's position is to enter into the wildest speculation, especially, again, as Ornello has shown that Kodak also concluded against Adams' claims about altering developing times.

Nor do I think Ornello has ever made any claims to knowing everything about photography or having all the answers. If anything can be said about Ornello, it is that he is one of the few people in black and white photography forums who has bothered to do any wide reading on the subject, this in addition to having done is own extensive testing of materials.

Ornello is always willing to share what he has learned with others, saving the rest of us a lot of bother. His contribution to these forums is invaluable. I am always surprised at the degree of rancor with which his posts are met. Such a caustic reaction is unwarranted and unfair.
Some people swear by the Zone-System and others swear at it and I will openly admit that I don`t use it. Discussions about the merits and pitfalls of the Zone System often get heated and thankfully this thread isn`t as heated as some (so far).
A thread from another forum shows a wide range of different attitudes towards Ansel Adams and his Zone System if you can possibly be bothered to wade your way through more than a dozen pages of it.
Here it is: http://www.apug.org/forums/forum54/3330 ... ecial.html

Wake me up when you`re finished. :wink:
ZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz........cough!........ZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzz! :lol:

Ornello
Posts: 833
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2006 9:49 am

Postby Ornello » Sun Aug 12, 2007 11:46 am

kcf wrote:Well, I don't think Ornello has shown anything like hatred for Ansel Adams. He states that Adams' conclusions are false. He also shows through quotations from Kodak's research from earlier decades that they too disagreed with Adams' conclusions. I think he makes a very professional case.

I see no evidence to support any contention Ornello is jealous of Adams or that jealousy motivates his argument. To suggest jealousy were the motivation for Ornello's position is to enter into the wildest speculation, especially, again, as Ornello has shown that Kodak also concluded against Adams' claims about altering developing times.

Nor do I think Ornello has ever made any claims to knowing everything about photography or having all the answers. If anything can be said about Ornello, it is that he is one of the few people in black and white photography forums who has bothered to do any wide reading on the subject, this in addition to having done is own extensive testing of materials.

Ornello is always willing to share what he has learned with others, saving the rest of us a lot of bother. His contribution to these forums is invaluable. I am always surprised at the degree of rancor with which his posts are met. Such a caustic reaction is unwarranted and unfair.
One of the hallmarks of an unsound position is an irrational, venomous reaction to criticism. Almost every criticism of zs is met with by spite and scorn by its adherents. This, of course, makes me instantly suspicious of the whole zs approach...

Why are they so intolerant and viscous?

I am not 'jealous' of his work. If there is anyone in photography whose work I would aspire to, it would be somebody like Eugene Smith.

I cannot leave this without relating Bob Schwalberg's remark on Ansel Adams:

"It's definitely not true to say that if you seen one Ansel Adams, you've
seen them all.

But if you've seen two, you've seen them all."
Last edited by Ornello on Sun Aug 12, 2007 12:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Ornello
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Postby Ornello » Sun Aug 12, 2007 11:51 am

CJBas wrote:Since you never looked at it, how would you know?

http://www.flickr.com/photos/11201989@N02/

Granted these are 2nd generation photographic copies of 16x20 prints, but they present he image reasonable well. Contrasty images, yes, of contrasty wcenes. If only mid tones were important (as you claim) there would be very litle left of any of these photographs.

You are so engulfed with a hatred for ansel Adams - for what reason you've never mae clear, but it seems to be jealousy more than anything else - that anything and anyone who doesn't villity him as you do is automatically a fanatic.

What you do with your own photos doesn't concern me at all. That you set yourself up as holding the keys to photographic heaven and then do your gbest to keep people trying to learn the craft from actually learning all they can about it is inexcusable and undefendable.
The zs is inexcusable and indefensible.

Ornello
Posts: 833
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2006 9:49 am

Postby Ornello » Sun Aug 12, 2007 12:09 pm

Pim wrote:Does Greg Winterflood, who started tis topic, know what book to read already? Or did he loos interest in Ornello's endless monologues?
The Adams books should not be tossed aside lightly; they should be hurled with great force...

Jim Appleyard
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Postby Jim Appleyard » Sun Aug 12, 2007 5:26 pm

[quote="Ornello"][quote="Pim"]Does Greg Winterflood, who started tis topic, know what book to read already? Or did he loos interest in Ornello's endless monologues?[/quote]

The Adams books should not be tossed aside lightly; they should be hurled with great force...[/quote]

Have you written anything better? You don't like Ansel's photos. Are people going to galleries to see your work? Is your work better?

kcf
Posts: 111
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Postby kcf » Sun Aug 12, 2007 6:28 pm

Have you written anything better? You don't like Ansel's photos. Are people going to galleries to see your work? Is your work better?
You don't have to be a famous photographer or even a photographer at all to be allowed to have an opinon. Everyone's entitled to his opinon about anything, including Ansel Adams' photographs.

Anyway, the question isn't about who's better or smarter or who ranks higher, it's about whether Adams' conclusions were correct.

CJBas
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Joined: Thu Aug 02, 2007 4:06 pm

Postby CJBas » Sun Aug 12, 2007 7:08 pm

Some quotes from Othello in this thread:

“The zone system is a fraud.”

“The zs is inexcusable and indefensible.”
[which, of course, is why it works so well for so many photographers]
“The Adams books should not be tossed aside lightly; they should be hurled with great force...”

“I recommend that you stay as far away from Ansel Adams' books as possible. They should be burned.”
[Care to add any other titles to the list to be burned?]

“He thought he knew more than Kodak, but he did not. It's better to follow Kodak's technical information (when it was good, back in the 40s and 50s) than Adams' ravings. Just because the man made a couple of famous photographs (you'll note I did not say 'good' photographs) does not make him a technical authority.”


“The Big Lie that Adams and his followers have promulgated, is that you must use their 'system' or else you will be lost...”
[not an accurate statement at all]

When I said, regarding learning about photographic materials:
Quote:
Anyone who tells you that such an understanding in idiocy or nonsense obviously does not understand the relationship very well themselves.

Othello replied:
”The information required to make extremely high-quality prints is not that difficult to obtain. It's on the film and developer packages, though I would caution that developing times given by most manufacturers tend to be too long. I would suggest cutting them back by about 1/3. As for exposure, the ISO standard tends to over-rate film speed by about 1/2 stop. So, if you give your film about 1/2 stop more exposure than the meter indicates, and cut development a little (25-30%), your negatives should be generally of very high quality.”
[i.e.; “Follow manufacturers’ recommendation...except regarding their recommended film speed and developing times.” Isn’t that the main thing you’re looking to a tech sheet for?]

“It makes no difference whatsoever to the tonal quality of the print, what development you give your film over a broad range, if you adjust the printing paper contrast.”
[So why bother reading the manufacturers’ recommendations in the first place?]


Quote:
But his exposure and development techniques for paper are as valid and worthwhile now as they were when they were written. Light still acts just like it always did. All of the tips and techniques he talks are available elsewhere. But if you read The Print cover to cover, I really don't think you'll need another book on printing black and white negatives.


”There are many good books on print-making. It's no mystery to make good prints. Again, just follow the directions supplied with the materials. Many of the papers available when Adams wrote his books have long been discontinued, and contact printing paper has all but disappeared from the market.”
[Tech sheets give no information regarding dodging and burning techniques, characteristics of light and shadow, nor of learning the characteristics of you own individual enlarger and safelight, which are the main themes of The Print.]



When I said clearly:
“I would never recommend following the zone system as if it were a religion. There's no advantage in that. But I DO recommend understanding it and making use of the fact that density and contrast really ARE controllable with the appropriate use of exposure and development.”

A couple of posts later Othello responded:
“Like almost all zs practitioners, you cannot be reasoned with, you're completely incapable of seeing what's in front of you: a print that is muddy and lacking in gradient in the.
[a print, the subject matter of which, Othello said he was unaware of . . . i.e.; a print Othello never bothered to look at.]Here’s the link to it again.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/11201989@N02/

Again; some contrasty photographs of contrasty subjects. None of them would have been possible without an understanding that it is advisable to expose for the shadows and develop for the highlights, which is what the zone system boils down to. As stated, these are photographs of 16x20 prints, so some things are lost in the generational transfers, but the images and the purpose for demonstration are still there.

“Why are they so intolerant and viscous?”
[Excuse me? After the vicious and venemous comments you have made, how can you make such an accusation?]

These statements of Othello’s are not those of someone seeking rational discourse. They are those of a religious fanatic.



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As to jealousy:
“If you've seen one Ansel Adams photograph, you haven't seen them all. If you've seen two Ansel Adams photographs, you have seen them all.” “Adams is so full of baloney that it's sickening. His books are full of delusions, misinformation, and outright lies. Those books have been responsible for ruining more negatives than any others.”

When he said Adams’ prints were grainy and gloomy someone posted
Quote:
Unbelievable! What possible point of reference could cause anyone to make this oddball statement?

Othello replied simply:
”Reality.”


Museum curators, art collectors, photographers, and the general public ALL OVER THE WORLD are in virtual 100% agreement that Adams produced many gorgeous prints in his lifetime. Not just one, and not just two, but MANY. And his negatives are so printable that acolytes are still making superb prints from them with ease. That would not be possible if his methods of exposure and development were “baloney”.

If you do not personally care for them, that’s one thing. But Othello does not limit himself to this. He states what is merely a matter of personal taste as extreme disdain as if it were a fact that everyone should see and accept without question.

I’ve met a few photographers who were jealous of Ansel Adams because his work sold for far more than theirs did. It’s not uncommon to find people who are jealous of one of what they consider one of their own who are successful.

Of course Adams is not God. But his contribution to photography, and the understanding of photographic materials cannot, and IS not being ignored simply because one or two of his fellow photographers feel threatened by his posthumous success. The few who rant against his work amount to no more than a powerful shot out of a popgun.

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Now, Eastman Kodak (to their credit) is very generous with their technical information. For some reason other manufacturers are not so forthcoming, or perhaps they just aren’t willing to go to the trouble.

If you want tech sheets. Here is a link that will put you in touch with a lot of them.

http://www.kodak.com/global/en/professi ... 36.7&lc=en


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As I stated, in my own photography classes I encourage students to become familiar with the principles of the Zone System . . . and then forget it. File it away with other information that may come in handy under certain circumstances. There’s no need to practice it as a religion.

Again; here is Othello’s reaction to that position: “Like almost all zs practitioners, you cannot be reasoned with, you're completely incapable of seeing what's in front of you.”

He also says, “One of the hallmarks of an unsound position is an irrational, venomous reaction to criticism.” Yet he seems oblivious to the fact that he is describing himself to perfection.

Sorry, but I can’t stand it when I see someone adamantly, frantically, rantingly, telling people to NOT take advantage of information that is readily available to them.

If anyone can think of any rational reason for someone to be doing that please let us all know.


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