I had several great teachers. I was 40 before I processed my first roll and
printed my first print. Two months later some of my work was on walls around town
(thanks CamerArts). Even at 41, I become very frustrated, very quickly. My
teachers (Ralph Talbert and Miguel Blanco) and the local camera store (CamerArts)
have been my mentors and shrink. The result is that my work is improving and
requests for shows are increasing. Another result is that I have switched from
Delta 100 (I believe a cousin of TMAX) to FP.
I learned on the tough-stuff, but not everyone can endure the time and expense.
So, for school students, I believe instant success breeds additional success. But,
I also believe that learning one's craft can be filled with pain and well as love,
and learning directly from the masters is part of that process, even if it may mean
times of frustration.
> I continue to maintain that, when properly processed, T-Max 400 has an
> equally long tonal range, the same speed and a lot less grain. The phrase
> "when properly processed" is important. Anyone who can read a thermometer
> and a timer can process this film correctly. Kodak recommends a temperature
> of 24 degrees C. and I believe that the fim responds best at this temperature.
> Beginning photography students should learn how to do things correctly. I do
> not permit my students to use autoexposure cameras. I do not accept work
> from them that exhibits poor craftmanship. I do not agree that it is good
> idea to let students use Tri-X because it is easier to use than T-Max 400.
> It seems to me that this is encouraging them to slop around in the darkroom.
> Once they learn it is OK to pay little attention to time and temperature when
> processing film, then why sould they be expected to pay any attention to
> getting the exposure correct, or for that matter such things as depth-of-
> field and its relationship to aperature, hyperfocal distance, etc. etc.
> Sometimes when I call a student's attention to an out-of-focus print, a
> print which is too light or too dark, a print made with a dirty or scratched
> negative, a print with too much or too little contrast, etc. they say, "Thats
> the way I wanted it to look." The implication is that they were in control
> and planned to make the print that way. In fact, they were not in control of
> the process. What they produced was an accident. My reply in this situation
> is, "When you have learned how to make a good print, you may produce all the
> blobs and blurrs and spots you want. In the meantime, here is what you must
> do to avoid this .........."
> My point is that the syntax of this medium is the science and technology
> behind it. Every artist must learn to control the medium he chooses.
> Let the flames begin.
> Bob Schramm