Before I start in talking about subtle, often modest scale Japanese photography and the legacy of photographic prints as intimate, introspective, and highly crafted objects, I think I need to point out that there are of course infinite ways to use print technology to produce timeless, penetrating, poetic, and even monumental statements. This is a pluralistic and global world we’re apart of, with many avenues available for communicating and showing work and that is increasing, not decreasing. I see totally opposite approaches to using photography existing at the same time, at the same place, and I can appreciate all of it as valid, interesting, significant, and in a way inevitable. I try to appreciate work on its own terms if I can.
Adobe Lightroom is a fairly new and very sophisticated graphics software application that is allowing photographers to manage, optimize, catalogue, display, web view, and print their digital files. At this point it is a perfect complement to other Adobe programs, especially Photoshop. Lightroom can do what Adobe Raw and Bridge do, and a whole lot more. It does not do certain localized selective retouching and composite procedures the way that Photoshop can, at least not yet; but it can do most of the important image alterations in a very non-destructive way. Lightroom is rapidly becoming the platform of choice for digital photographers and already has most of the primary features previously only used in editing programs like Photoshop while progressing beyond with features Photoshop never had or may never have. As far as I can see, it is the most complete platform for working with digital camera files, and keeping up with all the user data associated with these files. Lightroom is composed of five modules, which are: Library, Develop, Slide Show, Print, and Web. These modules may be used together or separately according to what is needed in a person’s digital workflow. This outline contains info only on the Library, Develop, and Print modules as they apply to a working photographers primary needs.
Think about what you need to achieve before you pick up the camera.
The best way to make a great print is to know what one actually looks like. The only way to learn is by looking at a whole lot of work from great printmakers throughout history, and hopefully the best of your own time period. Looking at photography books is nice but is really looking at a simulation of a print not a real artwork (unless you are a book artist). There is no substitute for the real thing.
For me, the notion of what constituted the photographic art form started in the early 1970’s, when photography was an analogue and optical-chemical discipline.
For all practical purposes the techniques I used in my formative years were subtle refinements and adaptations on what photographers in the 1930s and ‘40’s had done. And they were working with subtle refinements on what great photographers in the late 19th Century had created. My 4×5 view camera, film, and chemistry differed little from that used by Ansel Adams or Walker Evans. Their techniques were fundamentally not far removed from what Frederick Evans, Brassai, or Atget used a generation earlier.