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Hoping for some ciritque

This is a discussion on Hoping for some ciritque within the Black and White - Monochrome/Monotone - photography forum forums, part of the Photography & Fine art photography category; I aspire primarily to be a better portraitist, but, due to present circumstances, thought I would practice my composition a ...

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    Ulophot is offline Junior Member
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    Default Hoping for some ciritque

    I aspire primarily to be a better portraitist, but, due to present circumstances, thought I would practice my composition a bit with these. All done by window light, 4x5 with a 210mm. All are scans from finished prints, which may not show the lowest value separation of the original to best advantage. I have my own ideas of various shortcomings, so please feel free to point to weaknesses of any kind, offer suggestions for improvement in seeing or printing. In other words, let 'er rip! Thank you!







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    Welcome to the forum. I can see these as a collection of art photos, framed and screwed to the wall of a hotel room somewhere near the ocean. They are attractive compositions. Three of the four have that black background, but the third photo with the window is my favorite because it gives a bit more context to the subject. I'm interested that you seem to have shot these on film and scanned your prints rather than your negatives. Can you tell a bit more about that process? What film, etcetera would be of interest.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mbrager View Post
    Welcome to the forum. I can see these as a collection of art photos, framed and screwed to the wall of a hotel room somewhere near the ocean. They are attractive compositions. Three of the four have that black background, but the third photo with the window is my favorite because it gives a bit more context to the subject. I'm interested that you seem to have shot these on film and scanned your prints rather than your negatives. Can you tell a bit more about that process? What film, etcetera would be of interest.
    Thanks for your comment.

    I returned to photography about 3 years ago after decades as a pro and a financially obligatory hiatus of about 13 years. I work for a non-related company; it pays the bills. My interest is simply B&W film photography and tradtional darkroom work. My aim is portraiture, in natural light, on location, primarily 4x5, with 645 circumstances may dictate, and a Leica M for less formal work, "sketchpad" trials, and wherever my old photo journalistic skills may come in handy.

    Due largely to the scant time I have available for photography, I streamlined everything upon my return. For now, at least, I use only HP5+, D-23, and print on Ilford WTF semi-matte, varnished with Paul Strand's formula. Keepers get a bath in 1:20 selenium until I like the tone, typically 5-10 minutes, depending on paper contrast (lower contrast filtration makes prints which tone more readily).

    All I have is a modest, 12-year-old flatbed scanner; I'm not interested in scanning my negatives. I love darkroom printing and keep trying to improve. You can see some of my work here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/156933346@N07/
    The three warm-toned portraits are products of my effort since I started up again.

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    Thanks for your interesting, detailed response. It's rare to find someone completely immersed in analogue photography these days. Although you are forced to digitalize your prints to share them more widely. My compliments on how intricate and complex your prints appear. Also, I searched Paul Strand and came upon this interesting article https://www.artbook.com/blog-press-p...ladelphia.html about him. I can see a resemblance with your prints both here and in your Flickr stream. Thanks for piquing my interest and increasing my knowledge about a pioneer of photography.
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    Default Strand

    Thank you for your comments. I revere Strand's work, and spent a day at the archive of his prints in Philadelphia a couple of years back. Richard Benson said his negatives looked great, but they are hidden away in vaults up in CT, now inaccessible. Most of his prints appear to have been largely unmanipulated; he was a real perfectionist. There is a five-hour interview conducted around 1971, I think, available in the Smithsonian archives in DC and NY, which is very engaging.

    I look forward to getting back to portraits, but will have to settle mostly for continuing to retrain my eye and polish my craft in the meantime.
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    welcome to the forum!

    Critique wise - IMO of course, shot 1 is the strongest and my fave. Classical still life. Well done- I dig it!
    Shapes work well together!! Post process-wise feels a bit flat, I'd bump up the contrast if this were mine.

    Shot 2 - Not crazy about the angle. Some shapes 'lool' at us. Others 'look' away.
    Shot 3 - Same problem as shot 2. Window does not add to photograph imo - should have been cropped out.
    Shot 4 - Takes silver. It works well in a similar way to shot 1. But the PP here is better. Crop on the left conch feels a bit tight - I would have liked to have seen her full curve with some breathing room.

    Here's some additional advice I offered recently - it may well apply here and to BW printing in general. Hope it may help - welcome again!

    Just in case you don't know this, film is the opposite of digital - when it comes to protecting the extreme tones.
    In film...we protect the shadows from being 'clipped', because once they're gone ...gone forever. (In digital we protect highlights...because of clipping)
    Because of this...when I shot film, if the film was rated for 400 - I'd set it to 200. MANY photographers still do this. In general, Meter for the shadow detail...expose for the highlights ...it's likely still the mantra.
    When you do this, your tones will sing much more EASILY. Underexposure in film like digital, will also accentuate noise. Hope that may help.

    My apologies if you already know stuff like this.....
    Most of these images (processing-wise) feel flat. The best modern BW printing live or online should always show detail from pure black to white. These are good images comp wise, but to my eye processing-wise, the images do not sing. This is due imo to not enough tones being reproduced. Some shots are flat or underexposed - so they don't sing. Sometimes that evokes a mood when done deliberately...but overall people wanna see meat in the shadows and highlights.

    On the bottom of every forum page is that tone 0-255 graph. with Ansel's zones Even with forum compression, my monitor shows differences in all of those tones - Of course, if this processing is intentional - you're golden! Cheers and hope that may help.
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    Default Studies

    Marko, thank you also for your critique; much appreciated. These are a good learning experience.
    Respecting #4 and left crop, you may be right. At the time I printed, I found a wider crop seemed to weaken the image, but I was intent on seeing what I could learn from creating points of tension with frame-edge "magnetism" and dynamic balance.

    Can you tell me , please, what you mean by "PP"? Thanks.
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    woops - PP is post processing.
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