Join Chris Orwig for an in-depth discussion in this video Contrast, tone, and black and white versus color, part of Narrative Portraiture: On Location in New York with Rodney Smith.
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Chris Orwig: What about contrast and tone, and tone in regards to even color or hints of color?…Rodney Smith: Well, you know, I used to be so fanatic about print quality and really…fanatic when I did silver prints. And I'd be very careful not to enlarge…certain images beyond a certain size, because I didn't think the grain structure…could handle that, particularly shot on Tri-X or something.…
See, I guess when I was younger, I was trying to make the silver gelatin print…something a little bit like a digital print,…that is, unbelievably sharp and tonally resolute beyond--like as…extraordinary as I could do it.…While I sort of changed that barrier a little bit, I'm still as meticulous in…processing the film, and if you made small prints out of them, they would…probably have all of that.…But the bigger prints are almost like a film in the sense that the grain…structure from the film I kind of find as an asset.…
I find it, instead of trying to get rid of it--I mean, I don't want it too much--…I sort of like the atmosphere it adds to the picture.…
The course begins with a wide-ranging conversation between Chris and Rodney, during which they discuss Rodney's work, his approach to photography and models, his love of film and of black and white, and the importance of creating photographs that both ask questions and tell stories. Next, Chris tours Rodney Smith's studio, including the darkroom, to get more familiar with Rodney before photographing him.
Chris then takes a series of portraits of Rodney. Along the way, he reviews his gear choices and the compositional decisions he makes, and discusses the importance of committing photographs to paper, particularly in today's digital age. Finally, Chris reviews the images and shares some insights from his conversation with Rodney.