Just so Much Data

I am mailing out your prints today. Snail mail. Look for them.

When you get them you will find 7 prints and a CD.

Without looking at them closely or reading the notes on the back of each print, lay them all out in good light. Good light is a relative term. I laid them out on the floor of a south facing window of my studio. Because of the rain here, the light is very soft and cool. I also held each print up to the track lights that light up the wall behind my computer monitor. It is 2800 degrees and similar to gallery light. I also held them up to a wall that is lit with a mix of window light and track lights, light that one might have in their home. How a print may be viewed is important to me, but I can be fussy that way.

After you have laid them out and looked at them for a while, choose your favorite. There may be one, there may be none, and it is entirely possible you like aspects of two or more prints. Say the shadows in one and the high lights in another. It is not rocket science, but rather a very personal, subjective thing.

I enclosed a CD with your original file and my adjusted file. Bring them both up side by side on your monitor to see the differences.

After you have picked your winner, if there is one, flip them over and read my notes. It might be helpful to them lay them out in orders so as to see my methodology. The differences are fairly subtle and as I said, you may not like any of them. As you will see, different papers behave differently. If you get a printer and do your  own stuff, you will probably find yourself doing tests just like this. Doing subtle tweaks to massage tones and colors in place. But you have to make sure your monitor is calibrated correctly and you have the appropriate color profiles on your computer that match the papers you use.

A lot of photographers over the years have given no credence to the printing process. They take their film to the lab and say print it, match it. I have always seen it as a separate, creative process. It is a akin to music. When you give a pianist sheet music of a Bach Sonata, do you want them to just play it, or do you want them to perform it? There’s a huge difference. I always tell folks I interpret my images, that a piece of film or a digital file is just so much data. It was in the darkroom and now in front of my computer and through my prints that I make the data perform and come to life. And the print is the ultimate statement of that data.