Printing, whether darkroom or digital, is truly an art form in itself.
I wish I could agree, but I can't.
I eventually, after about six years of working in other peopleís darkrooms, came to think of myself as a damned accomplished printer. But the skills and attitudes are so different that I think they can hardly be compared in any meaningful way. And Iím not thinking here of the differences just in the carrier materials.
Wet prints were made via visceral, instinctive emotion, even in the case of the most boring technical subjects that you can think of: jet engine turbine blades, anyone? With people shots, the printing was about an emotional rapport with the subject youíd just photographed, and you would bring in, and express, all kinds of personal feelings that another printer simply couldnít imagine. That was the main reason that I always printed my own images unless they were advertising display prints too big for my facilities, in which case I supplied guide prints. That was a joke, but a grim one at the time.
Digital, on the other hand, allows far more minute and easy control over tiny areas. But unfortunately, thatís not what emotion and expression are all about. I suppose one could match a wet print on digi if one worked at it long enough, with the wet one to provide the emotional clout from which to start, but I have to admit that in the past many years, ever since I abandoned wet printing because of water problems here on the island, I have never felt the buzz and magic of printing in the same way again. Itís now cold, itís pretty much sterile. You become but an appendage of the machine. Iím sorry if this offends anyone, but itís the truth as I see it. Digital printing, the doing, is as emotionally dead as is a brick. Kissing a frigginí mirror.
Looking at the guide prints marked up in the Magnum opus, I can only conclude that some of those famed photographers must have been pretty lousy technicians! Better blame the processing kids instead.