I was reading The Nocturnes blog today, and Tim Baskerville posted a commentary on my review of Bruce Fraser’s sharpening book. Tim also posted a link to an audio commentary by Brooks Jensen of Lenswork magazine. Mr. Jensen’s take on the book is rather dismissive — a whole book on sharpening?
I’m a Lenswork subscriber, and have also read the great books from Lenswork Publishing. I appreciate humorous anecdotes from old school curmudgeons as much as the next guy. Maybe even more. I’d actually like to be an old school curmudgeon myself one day.
But I’d also like to point out that there is no fundamental difference between reading Ansel Adams The Negative and reading Bruce Fraser’s sharpening book. These books are just simply ways to pass knowledge down from someone who is an expert on a particular subject, to people who want to learn about that subject. If you are happy with how sharp your digital images look with your current techniques, that’s OK. But if you shoot digital and make prints, you could probably learn a lot from Bruce’s book.
So why the big reaction? It’s just a book. Heck, when you’re done with the sharpening book, you should probably read Katrin Eismann’s Photoshop Masking & Compositing. Does the subtext of a film versus digital debate never end? Will Lenswork ever pay attention to this new fangled invention called color photography?
There’s nothing wrong with learning more about the craft of printing digital images. There’s also nothing wrong with paying someone else to worry about the printing, and just focusing on making images. Heck, it worked for Cartier-Bresson, who apparently didn’t make any of his own prints. But nobody needs to go into shock just because some people choose to focus on a particularly crucial aspect of digital post processing. And an intensive focus on post-processing doesn’t mean you can’t be out there focusing on making great images, too.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’ve stared into the hypnotizing glow of the computer monitor long enough to completely understand and respect those who choose to stick to traditional film based methods. But for a large percentage of photographers, working with digital tools is a fact of life — so we might as well make the best of it. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some images to sharpen.