Porthmadog Station – 2012 

Hot Hint No 2 – Review The Printing Style Of Other Photographers

If you want to understand how and why prints work as pictures firstly look at the prints made by great photographers in detail preferably at an exhibition. This review calls for intense observation, not just a cursory glance. With this review of printing styles you are gazing into the photographer and printers soul. When carrying out your review, what in your opinion are the strengths and weaknesses of the presented printing style? Do not consider the picture or the crop, concentrate on the selection of tones. How does the selected brightness and contrast reflect the potential you see in the digital negative?

Use your imagination

Imagine how you might print the same digital negative you are reviewing. How would you re-engineer the tones to make the picture in your own style? How does your imagined interpretation vary from the original? One of the roles of the printer is to give clarity of vision to the picture by determining how best to give dominance to the selected subject matter. Clear communication immediately fails when the viewer is uncertain as to which picture element is the intended subject matter. As a photographer and printer you are the viewers eyes with a responsibility to help the viewer see the subject as you do.

How are you going to put your spirit and emotions onto the printing paper? The art and craft of printing is about putting your personality onto the paper and making an emotional engagement with your audience. An expressive printing style is not a mere mechanical process where pre-set adjustments are appropriate.

Remember, there is no definite link between the tones as recorded in the negative and the print. Once you break that type of thinking you open the door to expressive printing that meets the viewer at an emotional level.

An extract from “The Dark Art – A black and white digital printing manual”  by Andy Beel FRPS.

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(c) Andy Beel FRPS 2017