about Crappy Negatives

Of course, 45 years ago any serious introduction to the magic of photography began with a developing tank in a darkroom. Thank you Ralph Mercer. But even then with LIFE Magazine predominantly in color, my interest wasn't great and patience less for the tedium of Ansel Adams' zone system. All that note taking. Those negatives accumulated slipshod, loose or variously sleeved in what was to become a battered and broken cardboard box, masking taped–up, and too small for its contents. Stuffed on a shelf somewhere. More recently, a free HP flatbed scanner was provided with the new iMac – a good excuse to at least make a digital record. Some negatives were well stuck to their glassines, if that. But the struggling front light low res scans of crappy negatives did occasionally provide an intriguing result. What opportunity would digital provide to control the chaos? Especially tone. And with a lot of effort, pushing pixels does feel a bit like painting Mudhead portraits for Charles Hawthorne on a Provincetown beach sometime early in the 20th Century.


Athens Street