Thursday, October 22, 2009


You may want to read what I previously wrote about perfection, but I wanted to expand on the subject.
Perfection 1
Perfection 2
Perfection 3

We may aim for the bulls eye but be happy that we got close. Really, all we need in an image is that the imperfections don't interfere with our enjoyment of the image. One could even make the case for an image being too perfect, shadows so open they look unreal, repetition so perfect you almost itch for just a little imperfection.
In practice, what we really want is for our images to be that little bit more perfect than the ones we have been doing recently- ever improving, strengthening, perfecting.

In order to make our images that little bit better than our current skill set, we are going to have to change something.

One option is simply to spend more time waiting for the perfect image. The difficulty with this is it isn't as much fun, can be very frustrating and besides you end up with fewer good images from which one or two are going to surpass the others - not a sensible option, yet one which many hobby photographers follow.

We could approach this in a logical fashion, carefully analyzing what makes our images less than perfect and working to improve those characteristics - efficient if a bit cold and methodical and not a lot of fun. Probably more sensible than a careful analysis of each image is simply to go with your instinct of the one thing that most obviously weakens an image or even better a series of images and work on that weakness.

How you go about working on your weaknesses depends on what they are. If you aren't sure, then a read of my first book "Take Your Photography To The Next Level" would be a darn good start but if you know what your images lack, then you simply have to come up with a battle plan to improve that.

For some it will be composition, for others tonal quality, or perhaps it's because it isn't clear what the image is trying to say, or perhaps you like to include the kitchen sink in all your compositions, firmly believing that more good stuff is better.


Aleksei Saunders said...


Speaking of perfection I've got a print question for you. I've recently begun to print more black and white images on my Epson 3800. I really do like this printer and I feel I've gotten the tonalities where I want them on the image.

My problem is the perfection of the print. I've been doing my darndest to reduce scratches and dust on the finished print but it always seems as if one or two small white spots appear in my darkest areas. I’m going a little bit mad and in danger of running out of ink because of this one particular print I’m working with.

For printing – when is enough enough? Do you consider a small white spot or two (perhaps caused by dust but I’m not sure) in a dark region of the print a concern?

Thanks –

George Barr said...


you don't mention what paper you are using. I tend to use Harman FBAL gloss, Enhanced matte (ultra wonderful, super duper, extra deluxe or whatever they call it this week) and Moab Entrada. The environment in which I print is a long way from clean as I have cats and power tools in the vicinity. I do give the paper a tap while vertical before placing it in the printer. I occasionally have to remake a printer but the majority of prints do not have any spots.

This of course doesn't help you fix your problem. Tell me more - paper, how fed, etc.


Aleksei Saunders said...


Sorry - I should have included that on the first go 'round. I’m using Iford Gold Fiber Silk from a 17” roll cut to size and then flattened with the Bienfang De-Roller. Next time I think I will be purchasing sheets and just living with a little bit of waste.

I’ve fed it through the sheet feeder and through the back manually – I’ve not tried the front feed as I don’t have a suitable backing sheet as Eric Chan recommends on his site. I’m not certain that it has anything to do with the “pizza wheels” that contact the paper once it swells with ink.

I’m handling everything with gloves and blowing the surface of the paper with a manual rocket blower (the kind for lenses, etc). This is both before and after the de-rolling. I’m using Eric Chan’s ABW profiles and his recommended density and distance setting for the print.

Perhaps I’ll knuckle down and buy some more Harman. I’ve used it before and was very happy with it; I’m using the Iford GFS at the moment because that is the size I needed for this project.

Along those lines – have you tried the Harman warm tone? I’m printing b&w dune images (I think it is a right of passage for some photographers) and I’m wondering if the warm tone will be more appropriate for images of dunes.

Thanks for reply,

P.S. Looking forward to the new book!!

George Barr said...


you are perhaps exposing yourself to a number of risks including the cutting of the roll and laying the pristine paper along the deroller surface which I would not use before printing. There is a small chance that the blowing from the rocket blower is actually adding more dust than it's removing through static. I think your idea of using sheets and living with the waste is probably the way to go - will be interesting to see if it fixes your problem.

I have not used the warm tone paper.


Alex Saunders said...

Thanks for the input George.


Sandy Wilson said...

Perfection, Don't try for it you will never reach it.

Quote by Ansel Adams.

Now near perfection thats a different story, because that is possible.